Elance Blog

Two Guys in a Garage Build a Business with Elance

Sure, I could tell you about the 165,000 different expert professionals there are on Elance, or how businesses and entrepreneurs everyday on Elance are getting started, but in reality, seeing it in action is a whole different experience. Quoc Bui and Michael Moon, founders of Free the Apps, stop by and share their story, strategies and experiences in a multi-part blog series.

How is it possible that two 26 year old guys can start and maintain an $800,000 a year business with limited resources and only a few hours a week?? If you had asked me that question in early 2009 I would have thought it was an impossible task, but just one year later my best friend Michael and I are living the dream as founders of Free the Apps! That dream was made possible by not only Apple's iPhone and the app store, but also Elance.com and how easy they have made it to outsource all aspects of our business.

Last summer, we were hanging out and talking about the insane amount of revenue indie developers were generating through the Apple iTunes App Store. Being tech-geeks who love the latest technology, we talked about how cool it would be to release our own app in the App Store. The thought of creating an app and making it available for the world to use was enough to get us started. Making a few bucks off it was merely an afterthought, let alone creating a real life-changing business out of it. We got really excited to make it happen, but realized that we didn't have any iPhone app programming experience. So instead of spending months learning Objective C to develop apps ourselves, we did what any efficient entrepreneurs would do, we hired someone to build it for us! The idea to outsource our business was the single smartest decision we made.

With Elance, we’ve been able to research all of our outsourcing options and pick the team that is best for our projects. There are thousands of extremely talented professionals all over the world that are excited to work with us at a price that keeps our overhead costs low, and we’ve been able to leverage their talents to build quality apps for our users. Not only have we used the experts at Elance to develop our apps, but we’ve outsourced all aspects of our business. We hired them to design our website and SEO. Our eBook, “How to Make iPhone Apps With No Programming Experience” had the cover design, in-page formatting, and proofreading done by a professional from Elance as well. As I am writing this article, there are iPhone app developers from China, Russia, India and America, all working on our newest projects. Elance and the wonderful, top-notch providers have made this possible.

By hiring on Elance, we’ve generated over 18 million downloads across more than 20 applications in the iTunes App Store in less than a year and a half, have been mentioned in the New York Times, and have significantly cut the number of hours worked per week. If we had decided to do it all ourselves, we would have released three to five applications at most, while having spent countless hours learning, troubleshooting, and debugging them. Outsourcing was definitely a no brainer for what we wanted to do and achieve. I quit my 8-5 job back in March 2009 and have not looked back since. With outsourcing I am no longer limited by what I can do with my own hands, but what creative ideas I can think of next.

In our upcoming posts, we’ll talk about our success in the iTunes App Store without programming, detail our best practices for outsourcing, and tell readers how to create a steady passive income stream from home.

About the Author:
Quoc Bui and Michael Moon grew up together in San Diego, California. These young entrepreneurs are best friends from high school and have used the power of outsourcing through Elance.com to start multiple iPhone App companies including Free the Apps, Hipposoft, and Pici Apps all in the span of a year and a half.


Interesting success story. As a business person I would be highly interested in more detail such as cost of investment, pricing strategies, etc. Congratulations!

Congratulations on your success. You guys epitomize the spirit of entrepreneurship and demonstrate the unlimited possibilities that can be achieved by using the Elance network of technical professionals. I look forward to you upcoming post.

Robert Nelson

Proof that the global workforce is alive and well. As an Elance customer, I can attest to the power of connecting people around the world to create effective virtual work teams. And as a professional in helping people and organizations change, I see it as an engine for helping new entrepreneurs become successful.

Mostly, you can feel the energy and excitement of these two young men about the contribution they have made. You can read more about using tools like Elance to get you moving on your dreams at my blog, http://chooseonpurpose.com/blog

Bravo Quoc and Michael! Choosing on purpose does make a difference!

I think this is a great startup... my only question would be - How are they monotizing free apps and downloads?

Very inspiring story. I'd like to second the question below: How can you earn money from free apps - especially considering the initial outsourcing fees mentioned in the story.

There are many ways to monetize free mobile applications. Google Adsense, Admob, mobclix, iAd are just a handful of many available ad networks for mobile applications.

These guys are hugely inspirational and I used the guidance given in their eBook to develop my first iPhone app that hit the store two weeks ago: http://www.iflirt4u.com

I also, used out-sourcing extensively during this project and and will continue to do so as I build a suite of apps.

(needless to say, I'm not quite at the $800k mark yet!)

Awesome story! This is exactly the type of thing I would love to do myself, but just have been too hesitant to jump in and take all the associated risks.
Good luck guys and I look forward to the other posts and checking out your website. Always good to see people make it from my hometown as well :O)

As someone wanting to move a cloud-based application from the prototype stage to product quality version, and as a one-time Elance user for a logo, I read this post with great interest, and excitement, but also serious questions. My main concern with using Elance for my development needs is intellectual property: how do you protect your ideas if someone else is doing the engineering of the code? I admit I have not read the Elance material that might be related to this, but I have just felt it would leave me too vulnerable to losing my idea to someone else. In addition, as one comment has noted, monetizing free apps: yes Google AdSense, etc, but any suggestions for monetizing browser-extension apps (one part/variant of my cloud app idea)?

Any comments Quoc or Michael?

Timothy Gill

Inspirational but isn't this just an advert for eLance? There isn't much real detail in here... how much did the start with 1k, 5k, 20k? Also why not mention the guys they went with?

An excellent and VERY inspiring story.. These guys have blazed a trail for all those out there who have a great idea for an app- now you can make it come alive.

I actually read their eBook, and shortly after started my own app development company at http://www.foreverfreeapps.com.

I'm not quite at $800K but am hoping with our awesome apps we'll get there sooner than later!


I also want to have an iPhone apps but I have no idea, how much it would cost... Anyone has idea? Thanks... I am inspired by these people because I am also wanting to just work at home yet with good savings.

Hi Ronna27, IPhone Apps are getting very popular nowadays. It will cost minimum 200$, so it's not that bad, but we must remember that it must be well planned and market for the App should be well researched first. Hit me email here

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