How to Build an on-demand app and not spend a Fortune

How to Build an on-demand app and not spend a Fortune

For the last several years we see great growth of the on-demand services. More and more investment pours into startups with this business model. 

The most developed industries in the on-demand economy are Transportation, Food Deliver and Dinner Reservation. This means that entrepreneurs in all other niches have lots of opportunities for launching an on-demand startup.

But still, the development of the solution for your idea can feel overwhelming. Especially if you don’t have a tech background. Development of infrastructure exactly like Uber can take thousands of hours of work from the professionals. This is a risky investment until you have tested your idea on the market.

The better way would be to launch an MVP in a shorter time and with fewer investments. I want to share my thoughts on how to build an MVP of on-demand service in your niche to test your idea.

How post will go further:

  1. Find out why on-demand apps are popular among consumers
  2. How on-demand services work
  3. An ideal way how to build an on-demand app
  4. How much it will cost
  5. How to test your idea without Spending a Fortune

Why on-demand apps are successful

I think that on-demand services are popular since they reduce the friction of getting things done. Customers get what they need faster, with higher quality and without extra communication.

I noticed that the on-demand model is more suitable for Services in which quality doesn’t highly differentiate from one to another specialist.

Before on-demand apps were getting services like this:

  1. Searching for specialists who can provide the service
  2. Comparing specialist and choosing the ones who you suppose fit your needs
  3. Book a specialist from selected ones who available when you need
  4. Get things done

The value of on-demand apps is taking care of the first 2 steps. They take care of searching, matching, and testing of the specialists. So when the customer books the service he can expect the same level of expirience. This makes booking services for a customer — faster, more certain and avoids extra communication

Advantages of the on-demand solutions compared to traditional:

  • Less time-consuming
  • Removes unnecessary communication
  • Removes uncertainty about the expertise of the specialist
  • Eliminates the stress of choosing between specialists

How on-demand services work

Most of the on-demand services follow this process:

  1. Customer Makes a request
  2. Matching Request to Specialist
  3. Providing Service
  4. Payment
  5. Rating Services

So ideally to make your idea working you will need:

  • Application for Customers to make a request
  • App where Specialists will receive and manage requests
  • The way how to onboard specialists on your platform and to manage specialists

The ideal way how to build an on-demand app

Bellow, I describe the structure of the fully working on-demand project. But building it requires a significant investment. And I think that building everything from scratch suitable more for those who already proved their idea on the market.

For those who are not, it is useful to understand how everything is connected.

App for Customers

Basic features

  • Registration and Authentication
  • Geolocation (If necessary for your on-demand app idea)
  • Profile Management
  • Service Booking and Scheduling
  • Managing Bookings and Services (Cancel, Edit, View History)
  • Contacting Service Provider (Chat or Showing contacts)
  • Push Notification
  • Payments Methods managing

App for Service Providers

Basic features

  • Registration and Authentication
  • Accepting and Managing Bookings from customers
  • Managing work schedule
  • Profile editing
  • Contacting Customer from the App
  • Payments Reports
  • Payment Methods managing

Also to manage Service Providers, Customers and the Process of your on-demand business you will need an Admin Panel.

Admin Panel

Basic features:

  • Specialists Onboarding
  • Customer Management
  • Specialist Management
  • Controlling Platform Settings and Data(Prices, Fees)

The last you will need a way how to promote your service and attract Customers and Service Providers. For this, you can develop Landing pages, Blogs, and other Marketing materials.

Cloud-based Backend API and Database will power Mobile Apps and AdminPannele

Technology stack for building an on-demand application:

  • React Native or Flutter — Mobile Apps development
  • Next.js/React, Redux, TypeScript — Admin Panel Development
  • Node.js, Typescript — Backend API development
  • Stripe — Payment processing
  • Amazon SES — Email Notification
  • Twilio — SMS Notifications
  • Amazon S3 — Storing images from users
  • Google Places API

It is an approximate list and can vary from the requirements of the particular application.

How much it will cost

To develop a full-flagged system you will need to pay for:

  • Design and Development of Mobile App for Customers
  • Design and Development of Mobile App for Service Providers
  • Design and Development for Admin Console
  • Design and Development of Marketing Resources (Landing pages, Blogs)
  • Project Management

Every On-demand project is different and has it is own requirements. But for sure to develop this project from scratch can take more than 1500 hours of work of specialists. Hourly rates vary from 20$/h to 150$/h.

You can agree that making such a big investment without testing your idea on the market is risky.

You should not spend a fortune to test your idea against the market. There is a more budget way how to get started with your service idea.

Do you really need to spend a fortune to test your on-demand app idea?

To understand how you can test your idea, let's recap what exactly brings value to the Customers.

The core value of the on-demand app is taking care of searching, matching, testing of specialist and removing unnecessary communication. So customers can always expect the same quality of the service when he needs it.

This means that you need to provide Customers only a user-friendly interface to book a service and great quality of service. While customers usually don’t care about the tech you use to onboard specialists, screen them and test.

So to get started you only need to develop an App for Customers so they can book a service. While you can Manage Service Providers manually or with the help of tools like Tookan.

You don’t necessarily need to build everything from scratch to test your idea. App for customers and Simple Backend API can be enough to get started.

Later, when you will test your idea on the market and your business will get rolling, you can start building other parts of the architecture.


On-demand services are getting popular and proved it as a great business model. But still, this model is implemented only in a few niches.

The full-fledged on-demand project consists of Mobile App for Customer, Mobile App for Service Providers, Admin Panel and Marketing Materials. 

The development of this infrastructure requires significant resources commitment. Investing so many resources in the Idea can be very risky until you get proof from real users. 

You can test your idea by Developing an MVP. To get started is enough just to have a way for customers how to book a service. While matching, searching for specialists and testing them can be done manually or with the help of tools like Tookan.


Thanks for reading! :)

I am Vova Pilipchatin, a freelance Software Engineer and Web Developer.

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