I was where you are. I built multiple businesses, most failed, finally one hit and I sold it. If you want to go through that process, I will give you the best bang-for-the-buck advice to do that.
I've been where you're at *multiple* times. The advice I gave myself was to throw my arms up and just get a job and focus on being better at developing software, the act of coding, since thats what me/you are "passionate" about.
If you want a business though, you have to first ask yourself, "Why do you want a business?".
Is it because you want to be well known and show up in all the publications?
Do you want to hire people and make decisions on where and how the company grows? What do you want?
Saying you want a business is the easy part.
You can code a platform and get it to the point of being able to be sold (which is great, but these days thats the easy part), but you need to do the other work: figure out what you want and set a goal and run towards it.
As I read your question theres a lot more context that can be given to your situation that I don't know about, I dont know you, and havent talked to you, but I can tell that you probably aren't excited to actually talk to people and try to sell it, which is a lot of developers.
Most developers think they can build it and customers will come, we've all heard that before, and that's the hard part I mentioned earlier.
If you're looking for a suggestion, then my suggestion is: stop building stuff for now. Figure out your goal (not an idea, not a company, but a goal outside of the actual platform) and when the goal amps you up and gets you excited, you'll run down that path, until then, keep coding and getting better at writing software and in your off time, go do hobbies like kayak or something. Make yourself bored, it will come to you then.
With my consulting company, we've closed millions in work as soon as we started following a rigid sales "process". Cost, and all that jazz matters a little bit, but how you present your work, how you talk about it, and how you walk the customer through your sales process is *huge*. Think about this: how would you tell me how to make a peanut butter sandwich? It's harder than you think. Seems simple, but if you can demonstrate how to do that clearly, you'll start closing sales. If you want, setup a call with me and I can walk you through it.
My consulting company, while building software for all types of industries, we 100% use Stripe at first. It's part of our process, so we know why and how to integrate it well.
It sounds like you are building your platform, which means you don't have any customers currently, which also means you don't have to worry about processing fees. The main thing you want to do, is make sure you use a Service Object to wrap Stripe code with, so you can change this down the road (much much farther down the road when you're doing 100's of 1000's in transactions per month) so you can move to a different provider for a cheaper transaction rate. Like I said, thats overkill to even worry about right now. Just use Stripe.
I run a consulting company. We’ve done work for Square and numerous other companies of all shapes and sizes.
1. Hire a person, company will cost you more since their rates “are blended”. That means you are paying more for a company since they include the cost of a project manager, et al.
2. You have to decide your budget. Do you have 5,000? Do you have 10,000$? It’s whatever you’re willing to spend on your initial build. Budget has nothing to do with how much the project costs, it’s what you’re willing to spend.
3. Same as budget, we’ve no clue what you’re idea is about, so can’t even begin to understand how easy or hard it is. We get the cost and time question every single time, there’s no way to get that information until we’ve heard some details.
Good luck. Obviously, we could schedule a call on here if you want to go over that.
What i've seen in the past, is people building simple clickable-prototypes using something like InVisionApp or even using Keynote presentation software + http://keynotopia.com/ to build clickable demos within that. Hiring programmers to build out your prototype is tough since the low-cost will get you developers with not enough experience knowing how to build "just enough". And hiring expensive ass developers will get you a project that blows through your budget just coming up with a style-guide.
How we usually help people in your position is: build a very quick proposal of work done with time + cost, and then see what its going to take to get you in front of people to get more money to finish the build-out. It's just like buying a house: you can't get a mortgage unless you put a little something in first, to get the bank to help fund the rest of it.
We have built a product on Twilio that we sell to doctors offices. To my knowledge, what you're asking for is not possible as-is.
What you could do though: When someone calls, have the system text message you "Hey, this number called, click here to call them back" ... and the "click here" is a URL that hits your server and initiates the call from your server, creates a call conference, and then drops you and the person you're calling back into the call conference.