How to Turn an App Idea Into Reality

According to Flurry Analytics and comScore, smartphone and tablet owners use the browser only 14% of the total time they use the device. And they spend 86% of their time on different applications. Not surprisingly, the development of the latter ones is experiencing a real boom today. If you, too, want to be on the wave of success, let’s take a look at the main components of a viable application.

What happened?

You have an idea for an app or service. You are absolutely sure that it will shoot and win the hearts of millions of people around the world. The matter is small – it remains to formulate the concept of the product and translate it into reality. You are able to do this on your own or in a team of like-minded people.

Where to start?

You need to systematize all your ideas. What is this app, what problem could it solve, how do you see its design? Try to combine it all into a mindmap – a mind map that will replace lists and tables. The logic is simple: everything is built around one main theme or idea, from which different semantic blocks-categories “grow” – each of them contains the ideas that have appeared. The output is something like a tree – from the outside it looks chaotic, but in this way you can perceive a large amount of disordered information. Choose your convenient way to create masterminds – draw from your hand on paper or in special applications that will help to structure this process. For example, there are free services like SimpleMind or XMind.

Picture is done. What’s next?

Analyzing the idea. A business cannot exist without a client, so it is important for you to know who your audience is and how they will use the product. Collect all available information in open sources, see what competitors are doing. If you have a b2b product, study the business of potential customers.

The second important preparatory step is interviewing your audience or conducting a survey. This research must help you to understand problems and find solutions. To prepare for an interview, you need to formulate a hypothesis (for example, “We believe that people have a need for Uber with children’s electric strollers”), make a list of questions and select a relevant audience (at least twenty people). Look for them in specialized communities or by choosing among those who, in your opinion, should be interested in the product. To collect more information, create an online survey form and post it on social media.

Who are your helpers? It is clearly not possible to cope here alone!

To develop a good app, you need to assemble a team of professionals. It could be more convenient to manage a project if you divide areas of responsibility (for example, one team member is responsible for development and business, another – for development and technology). The search for employees usually begins with the inner circle (friends, classmates, groupmates, former colleagues, etc.), gradually expanding the search area. Who knows, maybe an excellent student from a parallel class has become a successful custom app developer and is just waiting for the opportunity to take on an interesting project?

Try posting ads in startup communities, seek help from special services and recruiting agencies, or hire an outsourced studio that will take over all the work. Another good option is to look for specialists at specialized sites and events – meetups, IT conferences, accelerators, business incubators and hackathons.

Be prepared for a lot of staff turnover: you don’t make a lot of money yet, so the team will have to work on the idea. But only those who are really interested in the product could stay with you.

Oh yes, that’s a good question. How are we going to make money?

We need to develop a monetization model. It can be arranged in different ways. For example, you can charge for a one-time purchase or for a subscription, or you can earn ad revenue. There is also a freemium model, when there is a free subscription, cut in functionality, and its paid premium part.

Okay, now it’s definitely time to start product development!

Wait. First, you should make the most simplified prototype – MVP (Minimum Viable Product). This is the name of a prototype with one main function and without additional features and complex design. It is needed to test the product on a small group of users and collect feedback (as an option, you can show the app on a crowdfunding platform). This will allow you to understand whether your service is needed by those to whom you are going to sell it or not. Also, the design can be donated to beta testers. For example, such services are provided by Apple and Google: specialists will check applications such as microbit iot before they appear in the store.

Everything seems to be tested! Is it time now?

Not yet. First, you need to show the product to a business expert. He must be able to assess the potential audience, profit and profitability. Experts can be found at large IT forums, conferences, or startup meetings. In addition, you can go with your startup to an accelerator or business incubator, where they also help to check and refine ideas.

And where to get the budget for a full launch?

You can find investors, get a grant or use crowdfunding. It is worth starting your search for money with the so-called 3F: friends, family and fools (madmen who will believe in you). It is in the interests of a startup to find not just money, but smart money, that is, an investor who will help to understand the market, provide expertise and contacts to the right people. Usually, such people are met at pitch sessions – events where startups present their projects. You can also contact venture capital funds – those that invest in the most start-up projects (the so-called pre-seed and seed stages). To get the investment, it’s best to go with a ready-made MVP and a detailed budget that will include a statement of expenses, including salaries, taxes, advertising, software, office, and so on. You can also meet some of the investors and the fund’s team at hackathons.

What are the hackathons?

Hackathons are such contests for the creators of IT goods, where programmers, designers, managers jointly solve some problem for a while. It takes 36 or 48 hours to go a long way from an idea to a finished app at a hackathon. For large companies, such competitions are a chance to find effective IT solutions and attract specialists, and for participants – an opportunity to show themselves, implement ideas and communicate with experts.

The process of developing a mobile application seems complicated only at first glance. Yes, you will indeed have to make many big and life-changing decisions. But try to treat the process as an exciting journey that will lead you to a well-deserved reward.