An app idea sketched on the imaginative mindful canvas might work well in the fantasies. But on the grounds of stark reality, chances are high that your idea never sees the light of the day.
“Why is this writer so pessimistic already, in his approach?”, surely your mind must have created a firewall against my preaching by now.
Well, apart from having a bad lunch, I believe I have no intention of being grumpy and spreading “falsies” about our beloved world of app development. But why would you believe me? So well, here’s an eye-opener for your firewall.
I felt a cold vibe running through my body after seeing these stats. 80% – that amounts to a pretty large number of apps that have barely scratched the surface of profits, considering there are over 2.2 million apps in Apple’s App Store. By the time you get lunch tomorrow noon, there would be 500 more. Isn’t this cut-throat competition very cruel towards new ideas?
It ought to be. Banking on a mind-boggling $58 billion industry, which is expected to hit $77 billion this year, is surely not everyone’s cup of tea. The revenues are skyrocketing, and so are the risks looming around the failed examples. So, what should one do in such a scenario?
Give up on his/her dream “soon-to-be-app“ idea?
This is not how the mobile world is conquered. Painstaking facts can suck all the motivation, but all-round, backed up research with proper planning can get your ship sailing again. “How” would be the most obvious next thought in your mind? Let’s answer it in a series of questions that are almost certain to pop up.
1. How to validate an app idea
Hmm, so where were we? Ohh yes, App ideas and their high tendency to fail. If you are wondering that there would have been some bad luck hovering over those failed ideas, your gullibility amuses me. A bad stroke of luck isn’t completely to blame for the ideas that didn’t make it. Although, what might be a plausible hypothesis is that the people didn’t put much effort into validating their ideas before initiating any further process.
Validation is a pre-requisite before you get into deep waters with your app idea. Validating your idea can provide you with an edge with useful insights that can be used to weigh and predict your idea’s credibility and success chances. With these, comes an added advantage of faring better than the rest of the 80% we talked about earlier.
So without further ado, let’s dive straight into these steps:
DEFINE YOUR IDEA CLEARLY
“Maybe I can couple my carpool idea with the bike-pooling one”, or “Shouldn’t I also invest in 360-degree photography, with my video production app idea” – If you too are altering between 2-3 different concepts, trying to accommodate them under a single umbrella, trust me, the road down this path isn’t very smooth.
It’s better if you start off with one single, clear picture in mind. Even better if you jot it down clearly and expressively. Once expressed, start defining the boundaries of your idea. To initiate this, try answering the following questions:
Which problem is addressed by my app?
Who is bothered by this same problem?
What benefits can they get from my app?
This is the simplest method to reach the full extent of your concept. Apps that solve a problem are majorly favored by people around the globe. You can also lookup for existing solutions that exist in the app store to compare how different or similar they are. We are going to discuss this in the next section.
ANALYZE THE COMPETITION
As every problem can have multiple solutions, it’s rather simple to stumble upon multiple apps dedicated to a single cause. This explains the overcrowdedness of the app stores. So, before investing heavy loads of monetary and mental resources, it is safe to analyze the competition thoroughly.
Learning about the viability of the market’s demand and supply plays an important role here. If many apps are deployed to a single cause, it points in the direction of a big demand for that kind of service. If there are only a handful of apps (even 1) for a single cause, instead of multiple apps, it points towards heavy competition.
The best way to sift through the competition is by analyzing the individual listings in various app stores. The reviews and rating sections can serve as a goldmine of ideas for you. Among constant praises and rants of customers, lie hidden are the reasons and suggestions for their responses. Just imagine the impact of having this knowledge incorporated beforehand into your idea.
Also, look at various categories where your competitor’s app pops up. This will help you grasp an idea of the categories wherein you can have your app placed. Categories are a great way to analyze different versions of a problem and are beneficial in identifying the USP or constraints of your app.
2. How to test your idea with the audience
Imagine you are enabled with the ability to test the waters first – through the honest view of your customer even before you type one line of code, wouldn’t that be revolutionary? The audience’s viewpoint is easy to acquire and highly productive. Within restrictive boundaries of protecting the sanctity of your idea, you can easily gather feedback from the audience before you start building. Let’s see how
GET FEEDBACK FROM POTENTIAL USERS
User feedbacks are an immensely helpful way to gather information about your app idea. Indulge in various social media platforms to gain valuable insights about it. You can coax people to take surveys and provide feedback. Facebook, Twitter, Quora, Reddit – there are so many social platforms to find genuine users with a passion to help.
There are several things that you should keep in mind to engage with your users in a better fashion. Focus more on learning whether people are willing to invest time and funds into your idea. You should equip your surveys in a way that respondents are able to offer both positive and negative views. Compile these to get a clear picture of the significance your idea holds in reality.
BUILD AN MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
In order to give the audience some real meat to bite, you can try building a minimum viable product for your idea. It is not necessary to build a full-blown technically advanced app with great features. It may not be a high-end prototype, rather be incorporated into static web pages or even a mockup. Your MVP should describe your idea well enough to keep the cash machine rolling.
Woefully, building up an MVP is one of the biggest challenges that the “wantrepreneurs” face a lot, due to the nascent stage of their ideas. To solve this problem, you can start by incorporating one single feature that is central to your idea. This way, the integration of MVP will become hassle-free and present a clear and simple picture to the audience. If they like it, that’s great. If eyebrows are raised, learn the reasons for their dismissal and rectify them.
3. How to raise funding for your idea?
Once you get the green light from the audience and the testers, one thing is assured – the idea is bankable. It’s a now or never situation after that. Working up for implementation of the idea, the next roadblock that one is most likely to face is the lack of monetary resources.
Building an app that generates pleasantries worldwide is not easy. One has to have enough capital to keep the idea afloat when the production costs rise. Humongous development costs, setting aside the budget for the marketing practices, alpha-beta testing costs, expenditure on the team building – these are a few of the multiple scenarios where the moolah is a constant necessity.
If you do not have sufficient capital to keep the ball rolling, finding accelerators that might end up funding your idea can rescue you. With the advent of the age of startups, there are increasing opportunities for like-minded people with whom you can have a discussion. Angel investors and accelerators are constantly scouting for great ideas to bank upon.
Websites like angel list and seed-db provide a wonderful platform to connect with accelerators to pitch your idea. Often investors, thought leaders, businessmen, and VCs are looking for people with certain ideas that they would wish to fund. They share their insights on various websites and blogs, such as the YCombinator platform. Here, investors post ideas which they would like to fund and be a part of.
Your MVP plays a tremendous role here. With something tangible in hand, you can drive them through the process of developing an app for that niche. Even better would be if you start drafting a portfolio for a formal proceeding.
4. How to start the development process?
Once validation, funding, and testing are done, the majority of the work is over. You have a clear picture of the journey that you are about to take with your idea. Now, with the funds arriving in the next few days, it is time to get hooked and start coding.
“Who said that I can code?”. While raising funds, building up MVP and portfolios, and getting the idea validated, did you ever think who’s going to bear the burden of development? “Should I learn to code or outsource the job?” – This dreadful question haunts every nascent app entrepreneur.
Before answering anything, just think of the timeline that you have set for your app. This fragile timeline is contingent on every decision that you make in the process. Deciding to learn coding to carry out the development process by yourself is a bold step if you are a newbie.
There’s no harm in learning a new skill, especially coding, that can take you to new heights in your career. But the cost that you would have to pay is the overhead time of learning technical languages, with increasing complexity, that can throw you months off your schedule.
Often, we do not consider the complexities associated with learning the programming languages used to build mobile apps – Objective-C and Java. As someone with zero experience in coding, it can take 6-7 months of your timeline, with no guarantee that you will emerge out as a successful programmer, ready to build the new Facebook. Everyone doesn’t have the same bend or aptitude for logical and mathematical abilities, right?
If you are okay with the above disclaimer, there are so many wonderful online resources that can help you master coding. Codecademy, Khan Academy, Pluralsight, and other professional courses available on Coursera, Udemy, Stack overflow are a few platforms, to begin with. Most of them are free to view and can enhance your learning and development skills leaps and bounds.
But remember, it’s not just about coding. The app’s design and interface have equal importance as implementing various features via coding. It’s often said, “Building an app is easy but engaging the audience with your app is a killer”. So apart from learning various languages, it is also important to generate an eye for the user interface and experiential learning.
So, is this pain worth taking? It is true that in the end you will emerge out as a master of the technical world, but can your idea wait that long? Seeing the fickle nature of the mobile industry, ever-changing trends, and the competition, it might not be a great option for people who aren’t blessed with the natural flair for the development process. So what should one do in such a scenario? Let’s wind up this chain of thoughts with a suggestion in the conclusion.
As I stressed upon earlier, for anyone starting out without prior coding experience, the quickest route to market is by contracting the programming task to outside ventures who are skillfully blessed. Thanks to these folks, you can actually focus on the core concept of your idea, with the development team building up the skeleton of your app.
So, how should one proceed with this task of hiring a sound app development team? In our next post, we will explore the intricacies of this hiring process, coupled with insights on the cost of development and the platform stack that you should choose for your app.