Launching a successful app: what you need to think about, but most people don’t

We’ve helped many new ideas find funding and grow into profitable businesses through our Incubator sessions (www.appsinthesky.com/incubator). These are the areas we find most often need our guidance; the most common things people need to think about, but don’t.

Selecting launch features

Almost every startup gets this wrong. If you’re seeking investment for an idea, your minimum viable product (MVP) is one that has only those features necessary to test the market. Include only what you need to show a user how it could one day work. Once you receive positive affirmation, you can expand it to a fully working product.

If you’re already funded, or self-funding, then you need to carefully consider what one single key value the user will get and provide no more than this. Superfluity here will cost time and money, and can also distract the user from what you actually want them to do.

What is your product?

The “product” is what you earn money on. In practice this can become obfuscated – but commercial success is dependent on a clear understanding of it.

Say your app is a game which is free to play but supported by adverts. Your “product” is not then the game, but rather the adverts, because you get paid whenever someone clicks on one. And the game must therefore be designed to maximise the number of clicks you’ll get – eg by making the ads relevant and very visible, but not annoying (because that will lose users, causing fewer clicks).

What does the app do?

You get 20 seconds or less to explain what your app does, or it gets removed. Don’t assume people will have studied your store listing, either.

Avoid anything that’s a barrier to getting started. No menu screens – get them started by making the decision for them. If setup is needed, work out what is the absolute minimum information you need and guide the user through entering it. Apps which start with a “nothing to see here” screen and expect users to work it out themselves won’t be successful. Games which don’t explain the rules, or require users to read the rules in one go, also won’t work.

How will people find it?

The app stores are well frequented but their search functionality is terrible. Unless people search for almost exactly your app’s title, you won’t be found. There are tricks to optimise your listing (similar to SEO), but as a strategy for finding users it will seem naive to an investor.

What kind of person would be most likely to use your app? Really try to get into the head of your user. What websites do they read, who do they follow on Twitter, what will they Google to find you? Carefully targeted content marketing can be really effective. PR is another effective means, though often expensive.

 

These are the most common conversations we have with customers during our incubator sessions, and therefore in our experience the areas that people most need to consider when creating an app business. A knowledgeable investor (ie, the type you want to attract) will expect you to get these things completely right.

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