So you think you’ve got a great app idea?
That’s great! Before you pursue your idea, you should consider a few things first. Creating an app can be fun, but it is time consuming and requires lots of resources. You are confident. That’s good. But a wise person once said, “Being wrong feels very similar to being right until you realize it.” I’ve created a list of 9 questions based on experiences with the app development process.
If you think you pass this test, submit your app idea and we may be able to help.
1.) Does your app idea already exist?
Whenever someone starts talking to me about a “million dollar app idea,” the first thing I usually do is run a quick Google search. And I often find that it is a million dollar idea… that already exists. You shouldn’t feel too bad if this is the case. In the words of Pete from Mad Men, “Direct marketing? I thought of that. Turned out it already existed, but I arrived at it independently.”
A couple Google and App Store searches is the easiest market research you can do. If you haven’t done that, then you really have no business pitching the idea. And hey, if it does exist, that does not mean that your idea won’t work. You’ll just have to create a way to differentiate yourself and improve upon their idea. For a dating app example, Bumble is just Tinder but the ladies initiate the conversation. This small difference has made their app unique and successful.
2.) Do people act differently when you tell them about your app idea?
I have pitched many dumb ideas with the utmost confidence that it could work. Typically, you’ll get one of two reactions when pitching an idea that is less than impressive. One, the person will nod and pretend as if they are thinking about it and follow it up with a half-hearted, “Interesting.” Or two, they will float out a few of the potential problems, and this typically leads to me defending the idea like it’s on a murder trial with the evidence piling against it. Usually, a good idea shouldn’t require too much explaining to sell someone.
When you pitch a good idea, people will act very differently. They will encourage you to pursue it and start talking about the situations in which they would use it. If you are receiving positive reactions, continue to pitch the idea. If you continue to get positive feedback, you very well could be on to something.
3.) Could your idea be better if you pivoted slightly?
So you aren’t getting the reaction you want from people, but you know you are on to something. Head back to the drawing board and consider your idea from new perspectives. For example, YouTube began as an unsuccessful video dating site that randomly showed you videos from people on their site. They even paid women in Las Vegas to upload videos of themselves to create the illusion of an attractive user base. When that failed, they started uploading videos of planes taking off in a last ditch hope that people would at least share those videos. This led them to the idea that users probably had better ideas of what to upload. They rebranded themselves as a site for video sharing, and Co-founder Jawed Karim uploaded the first ever YouTube video which he called “Me at the zoo”.
4.) How will your app make money?
I really do hate this question because you instantly sound like you are trying to be Mark Cuban on Shark Tank. However, it is incredibly important that you have a monetization strategy. I made this mistake. I thought if only I could draw people to our app, then the money would follow.
However, the reality is that hosting costs are expensive, and people will not pay you a dime unless you give them a good reason. When people pitching their app idea receive this question, I often hear them say that they will just sell advertisements once they gain a little popularity. The problem with that logic is that there could be period of time where you have enough users to cause high server costs, but you won’t have enough users to interest any advertisers. The best ideas integrate the monetization strategy seamlessly into the creative idea itself.
5.) Why will people download your app?
People’s home screens on their phones are getting more and more crowded every day. Even if someone hears about a cool app, they might not download it because they “already have too many apps.” Not to mention, people are spending their time using fewer and fewer apps as the app giants like Facebook and Snapchat continue to offer more and more functionality. In order to get people to download a new app, you better have a truly unique app idea with a strong go-to-market strategy. You can’t just spark interest, you must incite intrigue. (I suppose you can bribe them with incentives, but you still need to keep them coming back.)
6.) Is your app too complicated?
Kevin Systrom was inspired by Foursquare to create an app called Burbn that allowed users to check-in, score points, and share photos from various locations. Unable to get any substantial traction, they soon realized that the app was just too complicated and most features weren’t being used. However, people really seemed to enjoy the location-based photo sharing. After a rebrand and newly designed app, Instagram was born. They mapped a new brand strategy.
People often start with a concept, and then they add all these different features to it. The better strategy is to launch with the bare bones, listen to your users, and introduce new features gradually. Users can be easily get overwhelmed. It is better to focus on the most unique and simple part of your big idea. This also helps you get to market quicker. Then once you start to build a user base, you will be able to introduce new functionality which will keep the users engaged. Keep it simple!
7.) How will your app evolve over time?
Technology is moving fast and timing is everything. The development process can be slow and arduous, especially in the beginning. By the time you are finished with development, you could have missed your window. Successful people plan years ahead, and set themselves up for success. Even with the initial launch of your app, it is important to stay out in front of the trend or disrupt it entirely by breaking off in a completely new direction. Again, timing is everything so anticipate where the market is heading and take a smart angle of pursuit.
8.) Is there anything patentable about the idea?
This is an important question to ask and not for the reason you might think. It is not because someone might steal your idea one day. If you are successful, that will likely happen in one form or another. You should consider if something about your application is patentable because a patent adds value to your company. Even if your app is not wildly successful, your company will own that patent and that could be a very valuable asset.
For example, if you feel someone is using your patent, you will be in a position to either sell it to them or license the rights to use it. If you sell it, you stand to make a lot of money. If you license it, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Getting a patent is not that simple though. Patents can be very expensive. The entire process can cost between $15,000 to $30,000, and can take up to 3-5 years. The criteria for approval is complex. In short, you must prove that the functionality you are trying to patent is unique and essential to the core operation of your app.
Basically, if you want to work toward a patent, you will need to incorporate it into your strategy in the very beginning because it will be something that you will need to build toward.
9.) Would your idea be a better website than an app?
Creating an app can be time-intensive and expensive. Building a website may be the smarter move in some cases. With responsive websites, you will be able to reach people on any computer, tablet, or smartphone right when you launch. With app development, you will likely need to build the Android and iOS apps separately. Instagram, for example, didn’t launch on the Google Play store for almost two years after their iOS app. Even if your goal is to pursue the mobile route, it may be smart to push your idea live as a web app. If your idea is simple enough, you may even be able to use a platform like WordPress. Your speed to market can be important, and if you have limited time and resources, a website could be a great alternative to an native app.
Still feeling strongly that you have a winning app idea? Great!
Intraspire is a team of designers, developers, and digital marketers with experience in taking an app from its concept phase to the mainstream market. If you are looking for a team to help you build it, submit your app idea here. Intraspire occasionally partners with people to turn their app idea into a reality.
We receive lots of app ideas, but we will do our best to get back to you.
If you already have some funding or you are a business looking for a development team, reach out to us for a free consultation.