Responding to change is a key tenant of Agile Software Development. Predicting change is difficult, but software can be developed in a manner that...
Entrepreneurs and the App Development Process
We have the privilege of working with clients big and small, and partnering with them to see their dreams through is a wholly rewarding experience. Over the years, we’ve fine-tuned our understanding and approach to consulting for startup entrepreneurs. If you’re looking to start a business with a technology hook like a mobile app or a website, here are some fundamentals to help you in partnering with us.
One: Know Your Market
It’s truly impossible to understand your market without putting your product through the paces (more on that later), but you can certainly cut down on the time it takes to figure out if and when your product will be successful. Start by doing some market research:
Know your enemies. Maybe calling your competitors “enemies” is too much, but Sun Tzu’s underlying wisdom is timeless. It’s important to be intimately familiar with why your competition is successful—and why they sometimes aren’t.
Understand how their business model works, recognize their strengths and take advantage of their weaknesses. Does your competition meet the same market’s needs but have a subpar mobile experience? Does high product cost keep users from easily getting what they want? Look at all the angles in your competitors’ products before diving head first into yours.
Discover real need. In order to be successful, you must offer a solution that meets an explicit or subconscious need. Providing a solution before a problem exists rarely leads to success.
In order to meet that goal, you need clarity in what the market needs and wants. Start in your own backyard by surveying friends and family, then find ways to survey strangers to see if they’d respond positively to your business idea.
If this initial set of feedback is overwhelmingly negative, consider yourself prudent for not having spent thousands of dollars building something folks don’t want. (You can take that data and pivot!) If the feedback is positive, however, then you have more reason to move forward.
Two: Develop a Business Model
Once you have a great idea and pertinent data about your market, you’re off to a good start. But without an initial roadmap around how you’ll grow and sustain the company, you may find yourself spending way too much money with no clear path to making a profit.
Determining how you will generate revenue is of the utmost importance when deciding to work with Big Nerd Ranch. A clear business model allows us to understand what parts of the product need to work first and best. This cannot be understated: a well-crafted business model enables us to build with precision and efficiency. Without clear definition of the business model, features can’t be prioritized properly, decisions aren’t made with purpose, and money is wasted.
Three: Have Capital to Build
Big Nerd Ranch is in the business of maximizing your investment with us. You won’t just get beautiful, friendly design and elegant, sustainable code. You will also get our knowledge of best practices, processes and methodologies that will benefit your company long after we build your app.
That said, it is critical to have a source of capital, whether it’s an initial “friends and family fund” or venture capital. You should expect that building a technology-oriented business is a costly endeavor. Save up or provide your potential funders with all the information you’ve amassed from tips 1 and 2 to better your chances of getting the most seed funding possible. (If this is a stressful matter, take heart! The next point shows you how we can build your digital product as responsibly as possible.)
Four: Build to Learn
It’s uncommon for the first version of a product to be a runaway success, so launching with all the bells and whistles you dream of is risky. What if you spend two years building an app and the market responds with a shrug and a sigh?
You may have done your research and developed what you think is a great model, but the market is the best teacher. So we encourage the Lean Startup approach. Start with a minimum viable product (MVP), which serves to validate the viability of your business model. That is, the MVP’s goal is to prove whether your business model can sustainably generate revenue. Big Nerd Ranch joins you here to help you build your first MVP, or your second or third!
MVPs are usually rough around the edges; however, this is a great way to minimize risk and maximize learning. Build an MVP, let the market respond, incorporate the feedback and release again.
Think of it like the scientific method:
- Have a business idea (ask a question)
- Research whether there’s a need (observe and gather information)
- Build an MVP with metrics to validate your business model (form a hypothesis)
- Release the MVP to the market (test the hypothesis)
- Gather feedback and determine whether those metrics were met (analyze and interpret)
- Improve the app based on what you’ve learned (test again)
Engaging in this cycle will help you learn what the market really needs, so that you can quickly improve your product.
It goes without saying, but starting a company is no easy task. It may, however, be one of the most rewarding experiences you can experience. We love helping entrepreneurs get their business started with a well-crafted app.
And in the event you start building your own development team, we offer world-class development and design training to level up your team’s skills.