Ideas and solutions for tech founders on a tight budget

When it comes to building your first product or website you’ll quickly learn how cost is a huge factor in working with the right people – but that shouldn’t stop you from launching your product or website.

Most of my projects start at around £3,000 because of how complex product design can be, the bare fact is that good design takes time and costs money. So what happens if you have a much lower budget?

Here are a few suggestions on how to proceed on a small budget.

Adjust scope

The first thing you can do is adjust your scope, you don’t have to launch a feature rich product! You can start with a basic MVP that will take less time to design and build (You can even skip the build and work with a prototype – Investors don’t care if it’s built as long as they can see potential)

Don’t do too much too soon when actually you can launch and become successful with far less. So try adjusting your scope.

Buy a pre-designed theme / template

Another great option is to buy a pre-designed theme or template. There are thousands of these online.

A theme will help you get a basic look and feel for your product and while you will have to revisit the design in your businesses future, a theme will be a great start and cost less than $100/£100

Lots of options available to you. For Web you can look at Wix, Squarespace and most decent hosting packages have web templates free. WordPress has a wealth of excellent themes.

For app design you’ll have to be a little more technical by downloading a GUI kit (pre designed apps). You can download these for free (InVision have some amazing ones – look here) or you can also pay for more premium UI’s over at Creative Market or UI8.

Another great resource is to give a search for ‘GUI’ ‘Free UI Kits’ – The community is very giving! 🙂

Find a cheaper / junior designer

Another great option is to search for a designer who’s new to the industry.

These will typically be college students or recent graduates. It’s easy to reach out to your local University and ask them to recommend someone for some work experience.

Another option is to head to sites like Fiverr, Peopleperhour and Upwork and search for low budget designers who have good reviews. Be careful, they could end up selling you a template or somebody else’s hard work. Be firm with your brief.


We’re really lucky to live in a world with so many excellent online free learning resources so why not try and learn it yourself to get started?

Figma is free and excellent, Sketch and Framer have free trials and worth looking at Adobe XD if you have a CC account. Download, install and jump onto YouTube and follow someone like Pablo Stanley who gives excellent tutorials.

Feeling like you can spend some cash on your learning? Try TeamTreehouse or who have video courses that will walk you through the basics and get you designing in no time.

Find a tech business partner

When I launched my first startup I traded my design time for some developer time. Martin eventually became my co-founder and we managed to get Howler to decent place before closing it last year.

Ask around, some designers/developers may have an opening and find your product interesting enough to give you some time. It’s worth going in with some investment leads or at minimum a business plan to hook their interest.

Stagger costs

If they don’t want to join the business they may be open to staggering costs so you get the perfect product but at an affordable monthly payment.

While this might not float with most, it could work nicely for professionals who take on monthly retainers.

Ask your network for help

Everyone knows someone that’s looking for work, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’m always recommending designers and developers to people who’ve contacted me.

So if your own network comes up empty, ask some designers on Twitter if they can recommend someone. Typically we’re willing to help, give it a try!

Keep looking!

I’m a firm believer in ‘pay for what you get’ but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a designer within your budget you just have to keep looking.

I did a poll and the results were very interesting, take a look.

I hope this helps, I really do. It breaks my heart turning away enthusiastic passionate tech startup founders because of budget.

Go make something amazing.

Follow me on Twitter & thanks to everyone who contributed to this blog.

Photo by Marc Schäfer on Unsplash

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