You don’t have to be a genius to come up with a million-dollar idea. At some point, someone took a neoprene pad and called it a yoga mat, and now we have a yoga mat market valued at over a billion dollars. So what separates all those billion-dollar ideas from the millions of others that never see the light of day? The answer is manifold, but the ones that make it all share a few common elements.
If you’re the type of person who has a lot of “Why hasn’t anyone made an app for that?” moments, then you’re in the right place. These are the steps to launch your startup and fully realize your app.
You Have an Idea, Figure Out If It’s Good
There’s a reason Apple trademarked the slogan “There’s an App for That.” It’s not just a pithy aphorism. We live in a profoundly technology-driven world and there are apps for everything from dry cleaning to using a phone as a “mirror.” Before you jump into creating an MVP, research potential competitors.
The first step in the broader process of validation is finding out if there’s room for your idea among the millions of apps out there. Take to the app stores and look for similar apps. Don’t limit yourself to apps that do what yours does. Your brilliant idea could be a minor feature in a more extensive app.
Think of the keywords associated with your app and do as thorough of a search as you can. This is just a preliminary first step but it’s the first thing you should cross off the list. If you find similar apps, it doesn’t mean yours is doomed. It means that you need to focus on what is different about yours.
Flesh Out What You’re Offering
Now you’re certain that you’ve got something different. Great! Focus on what makes your app different and commit to it. Chances are another app does at least some portion of what yours does, so nail down your value proposition and why it’s different.
At this point, start putting pen to paper, figuratively. Start to conceive of the basic functionality of your app and how it all fits together. You’re creating an outline for the app that helps you understand what you have so far and what you’re missing.
Once you have some basic features figured out, you can move on to creating a wireframe. Here, you sketch out the essential elements to start grasping the flow of the app. Then, you can start showing it to others.
At this point, you can do much better than basic sketches and instead jump right into an MVP — with the right tools.
You — yes you — can create an MVP right now on a codeless development platform, such as Bubble.io. In a nutshell, codeless platforms are graphic interfaces that allow even complete laypeople to create and configure applications. They’re a terrific tool for startups to build a working MVP without a lick of programming. With some persistence, even a finalized, market-ready app can be created with this sort of platform.
The important part is that you get your app to the stage where you can showcase your idea rather than talk about it.
Build a Team
If you want to create an app that notifies you to take a particular medication on time, you can do that in a few hours on a no-code platform with zero investment. But if you have more serious goals for your startup, it’s not going to be so straightforward. It will take time, effort, funds, and most importantly the right kind of help.
The time it would take to do it alone could very well mean that your app becomes dated or someone else takes it to market before you. That’s why it’s important to have a team of people that are excited to make the idea come true quickly.
If you’ve done a good job of putting your idea into a digestible form in the previous step, it should be easy to convince others to see its value. There are three skill sets that your startup needs to succeed. Traditionally, it was four but you’ll see why the fourth one is not crucial.
First, you need yourself or a reliable proxy. In short, you need someone who will carry the vision through and make sure that it isn’t compromised along the way. Next, you need someone that’s going to bring it all together, a project manager of sorts that can handle day-to-day activities. The third skillset you need is figuring out what the end-user wants. Interviewing users, uncovering patterns, and helping the app evolve in the right ways is this person’s responsibility.
The fourth skill set is that of a developer. It’s good to have someone well-versed in the development process, but as mentioned before it isn’t crucial. Real development can happen through codeless platforms. Having access to the resource is a huge advantage, but developers aren’t required to make the startup function.
Find Money and Get to Work
Unless you think you can self-fund, you’ll need some seed money. If your idea is good and you’ve got a decent MVP, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find it.
There are many avenues for startups to get funding, most of which you’re probably aware of. Kickstarter has helped launch a slew of apps. Other options include Crunchbase and Gust.
You could also pitch your app to people in your network that would be interested. Remember that at this point you’re not just a dreamer with a hare-brained scheme — you’ve got a real product that you believe in. Make sure you are realistic about your financial needs, as bringing even a basic app to market can easily cost up to $20K.
Also, consider that you don’t need to fund the whole project at once. Focus on getting started, then continue to look for cash injections along the way.
The Best Is Yet to Come
It’s outside the scope of this article to get into the details of building and marketing an app, but at this point, you should be ready to take off the training wheels. Lead your team, but also listen to them. If you’re passionate and believe in the project, it’s now time to execute. And if you’re ready to get started today, reach out to us!