As mobile devices continue to gain adoption and outpace computer sales, entrepreneurs are eagerly seeking developers to bring their iPhone and Android app ideas to life. Mobile apps represent a massive opportunity for building a mobile-based company, but success takes far more than just a great idea and a talented development team.
At Sourcebits, we’ve worked on more than 500 projects since 2006. We’ve built more than 30 chart-topping apps, and we’ve spoken with hundreds of entrepreneurs about their product ideas. Some have been huge hits, others have struggled, and some ideas don’t get produced at all.
Here are the eight important questions every entrepreneur should ask themselves (these are the same questions we ask our clients) before diving head-first into the exciting world of creating iOS and Android applications. A SlideShare of these questions is also available here.
- What are your motivations for building this app? What is motivating you or driving the development of this app? Money and fame are great, but they won’t be enough. You need to have a passion and a clear vision as to what your app will accomplish and the problem it will solve for the target customer. And that passion needs to be strong enough to endure the ups and downs of product development and the challenges of building a company.
- When you share your idea with others, does anyone want a piece of the action? As you begin sharing and explaining your awesome new app idea, does anyone want to join you as a co-founder? Will they invest their money, their time, their talent and/or their connections to help you? If people are willing to work for a low wage in exchange for equity in your company, it’s a sign that they really believe in the quality of your idea.
- Does talking about your app create buzz, curiosity, or generate feedback? Can your idea fit on a post-it? What’s your 15-second elevator pitch? You have to be able to tell people your idea in one simple line, explaining what you hope to achieve. You’re on to something if it stimulates lots of buzz and curiosity. If you can’t sell your idea and get people excited in person, it will be even harder to do so online. And avoid being defensive when you get feedback — listening to and evaluating the positives and negatives you hear could save you hundreds of thousands of dollars by helping you refine ideas and product features.
- Do you have the money to build the app? (Don’t forget iterations and marketing.) You might think you can develop the next best app for under $10,000. And there are developers who will take your low budget — but you will get what you pay for. To build a great product, you could spend more like $250,000. Getting to a minimum viable product might cost you $100,000, and then you’ll probably also need a marketing budget to help people discover your app and a budget for iterations. If you don’t have that kind of money lying around, you’ll need to find investors. Hone your presentation skills and showcase your ideas to potential investors (friends and family, angels, VCs) in ways that make them excited.
- What’s so special about your app? Between Apple’s App Store, Google Play, Windows and the web, there are millions of apps. In a flooded market, what’s going to make your app stand out? You need to have a clear idea of your differentiators, how the user experience will feel, and geographically what your target market will be. These will act as your compass when development offers various product directions.
- How will you make it all happen? Do you have a team to develop and engineer the app for you? What will your design look like? What is your monetization strategy? How will you conduct user testing? How will you market your app at launch and beyond? How will you handle customer support? What analytics will you use to determine the second version? If all of this seems like a lot of work, you’re right — it is. Luckily for entrepreneurs like yourself, many resources are available to help you with every aspect of building a business around a mobile app. But skimping on any of these areas is a quick way for your app to become ignored and irrelevant.
- How will you deal with inevitable adversity? Even if you’ve answered all these questions, plan perfectly and do everything right, success is never guaranteed. When the going gets tough, will you persevere or perish? The first version of your product isn’t likely to be perfect. So it is important to have iteration strategies and new ideas in place. How you handle adversity will determine your longevity in this competitive field.
- Are you willing to leave everything to pursue this project? You need to decide if this will be a side project to pursue while maintaining a full time job, or if you are going to go all-in and focus full time on your app and new business. Although the financial risks are higher, leaving your job and fully pursuing your vision improves greatly your chance of success. Fortune favors the bold, if the bold have something great to offer.
Keeping a record of your answers will help you clarify your vision and keep you on track during the development process. It’s a great springboard for creating the mission, product road map and brand messaging for your company.
This post originally appeared on the author’s blog.
Rohit Singal, 38, founded Sourcebits in 2006. A trained radiologist, he quit medicine to found a startup in India. Sourcebits developed the first iPhone app from India – an alarm clock called Nightstand that was a major hit. The company has since built more than 500 products, including 30+ chart-topping mobile apps. Sourcebits employs more than 300 people, and secured Series A funding from Sequoia Capital and IDG.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.