Are You Ready to Marry Your App Idea?

Sometimes when considering whether an app idea is worth pursuing or not, it can be useful to consider both the best and worst-case scenarios to see if you really like your idea as much as you think you do, and to see just how serious you are about working on it and turning it into a real business.

Best Case: Great Traction, Quick User Adoption

Let’s assume for a moment that your app, upon launch, starts getting some real noticeable traction, and the majority of the user feedback is positive. Lots of new users are flocking to your app, and the feature requests and bug reports start pouring in.

Elaine wants integration with Dropbox so she can sync her files. Jimmy thinks the date selection process could be a lot smoother, and has some great suggestions for improvement. Jordan complains about your on-boarding process and wishes it was smoother, like your competitor’s app is.

Things are going really well for you, but your todo list quickly overflows. Do you have the time and the energy to sift through and reply to all the feedback? Do you have the money or the will to make the changes and improvements your users want?

Are you willing to commit the majority of your energy and focus to this app for at least the next 3-5 years (or more)? If you raise venture capital, the average exit time is 7 years. Do you really like the idea that much? Does serving your app’s customers and adding new features for them get you excited, or is it just the idea of being successful in general?

Remember: If successful, you are going to be known for this. To the majority of the general public, you will be the X App founder. You will be effectively married to your app, whether you want to be or not.

Are you in this for the long haul? Is this really a target market that you care about helping and want to be known in? Can you maintain your passion for this app idea for years to come? Do you have enough knowledge and experience in this market to keep going, even when it gets tough? Even if you lose your passion?

Worst Case: Slow (or no) Adoption

The best case scenario is the one most people think and dream of, but of course not the most likely. The most likely one is that you will build and launch your app to little or no initial traction.

Often, the difference between a successful launch with good initial traction and an unsuccessful one with no traction is marketing. Have people even heard of your app? If not, how are you going to get the word out? Hint: social media and “viral” marketing is not a marketing strategy.

The question is this: If you launch your app to crickets, are you still going to stick with it and keep pushing uphill, trying everything you can to gain traction, or are you going to give up and move on to something else? The question seems like a fair one, but it’s actually not, because it’s often not that simple. Worst case outcomes are always tricky, because it could actually mean a number of different things. The #1 reason is that founders simply fail to make something people want – an error in which there is little recourse except a major pivot or a complete re-thinking of the app and what problems it solves.

Let’s be optimistic here and assume that your app does solve a clear need, and has a good product/market fit, but no one knows about it – basically, you lack marketing. Do you have the money to launch a marketing campaign for your app? If not, do you have the time to learn how to do most of it yourself? Are you ready to reach out to countless bloggers, friends, and potential customers? Are you ready to spend  a significant amount of time doing things that don’t scale to help get your app off the ground?

The Long Haul

Chances are it’s going to take a lot longer than you think to reach some level of success with your app idea. If you really think through your idea – both the good and bad possible scenarios – and you find that it sounds a lot more daunting than it does exciting, you may not be ready to move forward with your app idea. That’s OK. Not every app idea you have is one you’re going to care about deeply enough to dedicate years of your life and effort to. The point is that you should think it through before you start, and before it costs you years of your life on something you’re not going to be passionate enough to maintain as the years drag on.

Losing 80% of App Users is Normal; First 3-7 Days Key

Users try out a lot of apps but decide which ones they want to ‘stop using’ within the first 3-7 days. For ‘decent’ apps, the majority of users retained for 7 days stick around much longer. The key to success is to get the users hooked during that critical first 3-7 day period.

Why Investors Don’t Fund Dating

One of the main challenges in asking if your idea is “good” or “bad” is that there are a lot of outside influences that go into determining feasibility, and a lot of them don’t have anything to do with the idea itself. One of those is the market category, and some market categories are much more attractive than others. Online dating is one of the hardest categories to compete in, and this article outlines exactly why.

Here’s a simple fact: It’s super hard to get a dating product funded by mainstream Silicon Valley investors, even though it’s a favorite startup category from 20-something entrepreneurs

The key here is churn – once a user successfully finds a date, they stop using your dating service! Continue reading Why Investors Don’t Fund Dating

Is My Idea Good or Bad?

When I talk to most people about their ideas, they often think in terms of “is my idea a good idea, or is it a bad idea?”. I can honestly say that most of the ideas I have heard are pretty decent ideas, or are at least ideas that seem helpful and useful in certain situations. Unfortunately, asking if your idea is good or bad is the wrong question, because it is ultimately just someone’s opinion until the idea is proven to work and be popular after it is built. You are also unlikely to get honest answers from people you ask, because they won’t want to offend you – especially if you are mainly asking friends and relatives. Continue reading Is My Idea Good or Bad?

Upcoming Book: Get Real With Your App Idea

Get Real With Your Idea: Evaluating App Ideas from a Technical Perspective

Have an app idea? How can you know if your idea is worth the effort? How do you know if it’s even possible with current technology? Where do you start and who do you talk to? This book will guide you though the steps to get the answers to all your questions, and help you put together a solid plan to help your app idea succeed.


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The New SoundingBoard

Welcome to the new! This is a blog to help you think critically through your app idea so that you can learn how to evaluate the technical viability of your idea, even if you are not a developer.

In the next few posts, I will help you answer questions like:

  • Is my idea even possible?
  • Does my idea require data or information that I don’t have?
  • Does my idea require a 3rd party integration?
  • Does my idea require a central database or web service to function?
  • … and many more

Stay tuned for some great content, and don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss any updates!