I am a non-technical entrepreneur who wants to build a mobile app. I am thinking of outsourcing the development to an overseas firm. I am not sure what the risks or alternatives might be. What are some options that I should consider, and what firms do you recommend?
I recommend that you get technical cofounder as soon as possible. Using a contract developer to create a prototype is ok but keep in mind that startups need to iterate and be very flexible in the early stages of company/product development.
A contract developer works best on a fixed spec and will be hard to adapt without a lot of extra costs and frustration on both sides.
Go get a tech cofounder, somebody invested in your product and willing to be flexible and adapt as you discover what your product really is.
Completely agreed with Daniel. Outsourcing your app's development is very risky and that risk increases exponentially if you yourself have never built and/or launched an app before.
Daniel's advice to recruit a technical cofounder is also something I agree with but this isn't as easy as it sounds.
Whatever path you decide, there are a number of things you can do to reduce the risk associated with app development. I'd encourage you to read through my other answers I've submitted to similar questions here on Clarity and if you have questions that remain, I'd be happy to talk to you in a call.
I am someone who was in you position, I am technical but not a developer so I needed to find someone/company who could build what I needed and wanted.
I went to freelancer and odesk as well as tried to hire local. I also tried to find a partner.
I had terrible experience overseas as well as local.
Connect with your local tech startup group and see if they offer some services or have a company who they have used in the past.
I can tell you that just because someone in India, China, South America is cheaper then local does not mean it's the best decision.
Spend a little more if you need to.
Have your dev done within or close to the same timezone. You will save yourself from staying up until 3am to have meetings.
You can shoot me a msg if you have other questions.