How much does it cost to develop a Clubhouse like MVP?

5 mins read

If you are here you probably already know what Clubhouse is and what it does. But how much would the mobile development cost to develop a similar app? Is it worth it? And would you be able to replicate the success Clubhouse currently has?

User Interface

If it were to describe the UI of Clubhouse in one word, it would be retro. While the retro current became more and more popular in other industries, like fashion and music, in tech it is not that popular, big tech players are still going for a clean and modern design.

The app reminds me of the beginnings of Instagram and Twitter when people were still figuring out how mobile apps should look like and what should they do. Now, let’s see how a cost estimate would look like for the UI/UX design of a similar app (not a copy of the actual Clubhouse design, let’s say we build it from scratch):

  • Logo and app icon — $500
  • Login/Signup flow — $1.000
  • Main screen — $3.200
  • Explore section — $1.500
  • Explore search — $600
  • Clubs explore — $1.500
  • Start a room — $1.300
  • Room — $1.600
  • Upcoming — $640
  • Invites — $640
  • Activity — $320
  • Profile — $1.280
  • Settings — $960

Total: $15.040

Several improvements could be added to this design, like prettier loading screens and error dialogs, better-looking icons, and overall a more dynamic/live feel of the app, but this is a discussion for another topic.

Mobile development

The mobile development part might seem complicated at first but remember, we are in 2021 when there are a lot of Saas solutions that we can use so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time. From the development perspective, we can split the development process into 4 parts.

Building the backend of the app

Several frameworks could be used for building the backend for an app like Clubhouse, there is no constraint so it is more a matter of preference. For convenience we will assume the backend will be built with your favorite framework in the Go language.

  • Environments setup — $640
  • Login/Signup API — $1.000
  • User profile API — $2.300
  • Rooms API — $3.200
  • Main feed API — $3.800
  • Search API — $3.200
  • Activity API — $1.900
  • Following API — $2.500
  • Upcoming API — $1.600
  • Topics API — $1.600
  • Invites API — $640

Total: $22.380

Building the UI and integrating the backend API into an iOS app

Next, we want to build the iOS app and integrate the backend API. After this step, we will have a fully working app, but without the actual core functionality which is the VoIP part. A cost estimate for this implementation would look like this:

  • Login/Signup flow — $2.240
  • Main screen — $4.800
  • Explore section — $5.500
  • Explore search — $3.200
  • Clubs explore — $3.200
  • Start a room — $2.500
  • Room details — $2.500
  • Upcoming — $1.600
  • Invites — $1.280
  • Activity — $2.000
  • Profile — $4.800
  • Settings — $3.900

Total: $34.320

Mobile audio streaming / VoIP

In 2021 audio streaming is not a technical issue anymore. While there are still scaling challenges, for an MVP of up to 1 million users, using a ready-to-use free solution like jitsi or a WebRTC server should be enough. This would also imply that we have to support some server costs.

If the MVP proves successful like Clubhouse is right now, we can start thinking about building a scalable VoIP infrastructure. For this, there are many solutions from just using more servers to choosing the right codecs, but this is a subject for another topic. Here, for convenience we will stick to a free solution and will estimate just the cost of integrating such a solution:

  • Setting up the servers — $1.600
  • Integrating VoIP in the app — $3.200

Total: $4.800

Mobile app testing

Testing an app like Clubhouse is not a trivial task. Many tests should be done to assure the optimal running of the app. Given this is an MVP we recommend only doing the minimum testing that would assure a proper running of the app and avoid doing automated tests at this stage of the app development. The testing should be done in parallel with the development to fix the possible issues as early as possible.

  • Manual testing of the app — $8.200
  • Load testing of the backend — $2.500
  • Load testing of VoIP servers — $4.000

Total: $14.700

The total estimated cost for the app development: $91.240
Monthly servers cost: 1000$-5000$ depending on the usage

Mobile MVP marketing

From this point on, the focus should shift to marketing and promoting the app. Getting into details about how to do marketing for a Clubhouse-like application would make this already long article longer. We can shortly note the channels that should be used for a successful launch.

Since this is an app addressed to pretty much everyone, the main goal of the marketing strategy would be to create some hype around the app and get as many people as possible to talk about it. To do this, the main marketing channel should be social media, tech reviewers, and tech news websites.

The goal is to create a snowball effect that would drive enough downloads to put the app on top in the AppStore for its category. Cost for marketing could vary wildly and a better approach here is to set a budget. For an MVP like this a starting budget should look like this:

  • Marketing — $10.000 - $15.000 / month
  • Partnerships — $50.000 - $100.000 / year

Total: $170.000 - 280.000$

appssemble can help you build VoIP and social MVPs

While building a Clubhouse like MVP does not pose any technical difficulties and does not involve a cost for R&D or paying for some shiny new tech, replicating their success might be hard to do. The new social media platform came after a year where working from home was the norm and people got used more and more to video or audio conferences instead of face-to-face meetings.

Social apps are popular nowadays, especially due to the times we transition. If you want to learn more about how can you build an MVP or you need a cost estimate for your idea, get in touch, we would love to help!


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