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Why Hiring an In-House Team to Build a Sports App Isn’t Always Possible

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Why Hiring an In-House Team to Build a Sports App Isn’t Always Possible

You’re finally there. After endless nights of brainstorming, you’ve identified an opportunity in the sports technology space to build an app that’s yet to hit the market.

Now all you have to do is flesh out the concept, find funding, and build a minimum viable product (MVP) that will allow you to speed through the funding stages to a massive valuation and lucrative exit strategy.

The only problem? You’re not a software engineer—you’re the visionary behind the idea. You need a team of sports app developers to help bring your app dream to life.

Can You Afford to Hire a Team of Sports App Developers?

Ideally, all startups would be funded well enough to build their own in-house tech team. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case. Building your sports technology team from scratch isn’t always possible, especially if you’re still seeking funding.

Depending on the funding stage you’re at, the composition of the core team, and a host of other factors, founders like you may have to weigh the options and consider the need for an outsourced development team.

And when deciding on an outsourced development team, there are additional factors to consider.


The upfront cost of hiring a development team is high. If you’re in the pre-seed or seed funding stage, odds are you won’t be able to afford these roles immediately. Like building a fantasy sports team, allocating capital is crucial to finding team members with the right expertise.

C-level engineering hires in the pre-seed or funding stages are expensive. Check out these median salaries from

  • Chief Technology Officer: $296,290
  • VP of Engineering: $280,723
  • Product Manager:$78,340
  • Software Engineer:  $110,140

Equity Considerations

Equity considerations for members of a new startup are becoming more standard. Are you prepared to give up a piece of your company to someone who might move on if things don’t move fast enough for them?

And how much of your company can you afford to give up? Many founders make the mistake of giving up too much equity to partners, investors, and employees, leaving nothing but scraps for the founders. This may leave you doing all of the work and the day-to-day operations while others reap all the benefits.

Signing & Annual Bonuses

Have you considered the signing bonus you’ll need to offer to attract top, or even intermediate-level, talent? Even engineers straight out of school can see a signing bonus of $10,000 or more, and more experienced engineers have come to expect signing bonuses of up to $125,000.

Plus, there are the costs associated with annual bonuses. Although based on performance of each team member, you’ll need to account for annual pay outs of roughly 10 to 25 percent of base salary.

Does Your Executive Team Have Enough Capacity to Hire and Manage a Development Team?

Building a team in the pre-seed or early funding stage for a sports app is like building a lineup for fantasy football. You need all the right pieces to fill out your sports technology lineup; each position must deliver unique value.

According to, the average pre-seed team is usually five people or less. That group of five usually contains the founder and your subject matter experts. It would be great to have a star developer on board, but you’ll need to fill other important roles first.

For example, depending on whether you have an MVP already, you’ll need someone who is both conceptual and technical—someone like a head of product. You’ll need someone who can both speak technical and inspire potential investors with a vision for a product.

Have you considered other factors, like regulation of the fantasy sports and gambling app space? Remember, this is an industry with a massive regulation component. Investing early in subject matter experts in gambling law and regulation can save you a ton of time later if your concept is considered more than entertainment in your target markets.

Finally, this is an industry with a legacy component. In the United States, sports gambling was legal in only one state until 2018. Gambling industry experts aren’t digital natives—they prefer brick-and-mortar environments.

With an executive team focused on all the other critical areas of your vision, it may make sense to make the most out of your budget and capacity to outsource the development.

Do You Have Enough Time to Onboard a Team?

According to Tom Ahi Dror, co-founder of Swimm, it takes engineers three to nine months from onboarding to where they’re adding and creating value to the Swimm product.

Hackerlife commissioned a survey of San Francisco-area tech companies and found that around 50 percent of engineers leave a company after two years.

What do all these factors say? It takes months to properly onboard a new engineer, and that’s a sunk cost that may simply evaporate should they quit.

Are you a first-time entrepreneur in the sports technology space? If so, you’ll need to make a compelling case to engineers that your product is solid and they should leave their current job to take a chance on you. That’s a tough sell, even with a strong track record.

Build the Sports Technology App of Your Dreams

Building a fantasy sports app requires strategic decision making in the early stages to execute the vision. Often, that means weighing the cost of in-house software developers against the risks of outsourcing. But, with the right partner, you can avoid the risks to achieve a great launch, all within your deadlines.

Our team at Locker Room Labs can help turn your concept into reality. We’re a partner you can delegate to and trust. Our workshop and MVP development processes are expert-led by a team of US-based engineers with decades of experience.

Or what if you have an unfinished project? We can help you get across the finish line with our staff augmentation services. We can step in and take the lead while meeting all of your software needs.

Ready to build the next great sports technology app? Let’s Talk.

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