May 9, 2015
We live in an age where those with entrepreneurial minds are enabled and empowered to put everything on the line to create a vision. This is no easy feat. Those of us with the knowledge, and first-hand experience, have the responsibility to share our learnings with the app startup pioneers of the future. With that in mind, I’ve come up with four business tips that I believe are essential for app startups.
Solve a Problem
While the market and industry may change, setting out to solve a problem with your app is a stable way to ensure that a startup will stand the test of time. It isn’t all free beer on tap and company swag; it is long hours, going back to the drawing board, numerous iterations and make-or-break deadlines. You want to be in it for the long-haul, not just a blip in the startup map that’s gone before it even begins.
Get Comfortable with the Unknown
You need to be humble enough to admit that you don’t have all the answers. No one person has them all; if you think you do, you’re lying to yourself. That is, of course, why you hire an excellent team, bringing together people better and different than you (you took my last article to heart already, didn’t you?). The app industry is constantly evolving, and your efforts could become the catalyst continuing to push the limits even further.
Patience, Patience, and More Patience
You’ve probably heard this before, but you need to hear it again as a reminder! The app industry is highly saturated and it can take some time to break through (to no one’s surprise). It isn’t 2007, when this was uncharted territory. It’s highly competitive, and now there are 1.2 million apps in Apple’s App Store alone – and likely many more going live as you are reading this. How will you stand out? It boils down to either having a cheaper offering or a better product than all direct and indirect competitors (and a good dose of patience) to overcome the saturation, and get in front of the appropriate potential users.
Your execution must be flawless. The UI has to be pleasing to the eye and easily operated in order to find success. It’s all about the user experience. Your designers and software developers will be your greatest partners to achieve this. Learn from beta versions, user surveys, and advice from contacts within the industry to ensure this implementation. Really though, who’s going to continue to use an app that’s making them question the navigation?
There’s my two cents. What’s your piece of advice for aspiring app startups? Or, what advice can you give to those of us who’ve been there already? Fresh feedback is what keeps a company innovative!
Thomas Holl is the co-founder and president of Babbel, a market-leading language learning app. Since December 2014 he leads the company’s North American expansion. Before that he was Babbel’s CTO, where he led the development and the operation of the platform.
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