App Success Stories: How To Build An Amazing App That Wins

As app entrepreneurs, we each have our own idea of what a “successful app” is. For some, the first 10,000 users is a milestone of app success, while for others, just getting one user to download the app would be considered a major accomplishment. There are so many amazing app success stories out there, and we all believe that if we could just get our idea developed, we’d find app success too.

Unfortunately, many app entrepreneurs won’t have a success story to share when all is said and done. App startups fail everyday, and some apps that once had thousands of users now struggle to survive. Developing an app, getting users to download and actually use it, and retaining that position for the long run has proven to be a rather difficult undertaking – too difficult for most. As it seems, what may look like a smooth journey on the pages of your mobile app business plan will probably be quite the bumpy road in actual execution.

Most app ideas will never become an actual app, and most apps will never even have a glimmer of hope in competing with more dominant apps within their industry. Ranging from bad app ideas to a lack of commitment, there are several factors that prevent 95% of app entrepreneurs from reaching their app success goals. We recently spoke to several app startup founders about their app success stories to give you some mobile app inspiration and find out what it takes to become an app store success.

Do You Have The Right Idea?

iphone app success stories - silhouette of man with bright idea

Ask any successful app startup founder (or any entrepreneur for that matter) and they will tell you that app ideas are truly a dime a dozen. However, you need to have a solid app idea in place before you can execute it and introduce it to consumers. Successful apps don’t just ‘exist’, and users don’t download them just because they are in the App Store. Successful apps solve problems and attract users who are facing that specific problem and seeking a solution. There are entrepreneurs making millions from apps, because the platforms that they have built solve millions of problems each and every day.

Steven Benson, founder of Badger Maps, found that a problem existed while working in his industry. Steven told us, “My career has been spent in field sales, and so I understood the challenges faced by field sales people first hand…

Some say that success is the result of what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Sometimes, when you prepare yourself enough, the opportunity will find you; instead of the other way around. In the case of Badger Maps, Steven said, “Looking back at it, it was a combination of my role in sales and my industry background with software and mapping that made me well positioned to launch a company and solve the problems of field sales. I was in the right place, at the right time, with the right background to come up with the idea and start the company.

SportMe founder, Andrew Greenstein, had a similar story of being prepared. With a background in AI and automation, he was able to identify how his expertise would be beneficial to the sporting industry. When we asked about his app idea, he said, “I’ve always believed that technology can play a strong role in helping everyone improve themselves, every day. We started SportMe to apply my technology, AI and automation experience to participatory sports; choosing marathon training because of it’s supportive and rapidly growing community.

There’s an insight here – sometimes the best ideas will come to you when you are most prepared to receive them. The more you know about something, the better prepared you will be able to identify challenges that need a solution and opportunities where your knowledge can be applied to solve niche issues.

What Will Stop You From Succeeding?

There is one common theme present in every app success story – overcoming obstacles. Building any business is tough, but app startups have unique challenges that founders must overcome to reach their goals and objectives. Sometimes, overcoming these challenges will require you to be extremely creative and to put yourself in positions that may make you uncomfortable. Just how far will you go to overcome your challenges and become an app success? The founders of Friendz App pushed the limits — and it worked! Here’s an awesome story that co-founder Alessandro Cadoni shared with us:

“At the beginning, everything was a challenge! That is why we spoke with every relevant person in the field. We took part in startup competitions, filled white papers with ideas and improvised ourselves as skilled graphic designers, developers and salesmen. We improvised and we tried, a lot. Initially, one of the biggest issues was getting the attention of big brands and marketing managers: we didn’t have a track record or a product yet, but we had the courage to dare and to try every route. Stalking? We tried that too (and it worked!). We stationed in front of the headquarters of big brands, close to the smoking areas, hoping that someone at some point would have left the door open for us to enter and meet all those people we emailed who never answered back. And finally, the lucky day arrived: we were able to sneak in unknown corridors and nobody never noticed us or called the security (fortunately). Directly knocking at the doors, we were able to tell managers what we wanted to do and ask them for feedback in order to develop a service that could perfectly answer the needs of their future clients. From that day on, nothing scared us anymore!”

You probably won’t have to stalk anyone during your journey, but you will likely have to shake many hands, deliver your pitch to a million people, convince customers, and complete many other tasks that you may not be used to doing. Will it stop you from reaching your goal and writing your own app success story?

Is Your App Really That Different?

app success stories 2017 - single yellow figure among many red figures

There are far too many ‘copies’ in the App Store today. For every Uber, there are 20 more ride-sharing apps that offers the exact same service but has failed to catch on. Successful app developers approach unmarked territory, they don’t just follow suit because they catch wind of a gold rush. Apps that win big are those that have clear competitive advantages and unique selling propositions that make them significantly different than their competitors – even if the core of their app idea is the similar.

No matter what your app solution is or what industry you serve, some type of competition exists. Even if there are no other apps providing the same solution, there’s always some other way that consumers are solving their problem; although it may be inefficient or ineffective. For Steven Benson, Badger Maps gave sales reps a more streamlined way of completing an inefficient process:

Since we’ve created a new category of software, meaning that it didn’t exist before we made it, our biggest competitor is our user doing what we do by hand. They’ve been solving the problem that we solve with our app by hand for years, and our biggest job is letting them know that we can solve it for them. Sales Reps have always had paper maps, lists of where their customers and prospects are, and a paper (and later a computer based) calendar. What we did was combine all of these things together and put them on a mobile device to create a mobile solution for Field Sales Reps to be more successful. Field Sales Reps have a very unique workflow because they’re always on the move, so they need mobile solutions more than anyone. As a result, Badger differentiates itself by prioritizing a great mobile experience via iPhone, Android, iPad and tablet – not just a desktop.”

Is Your App Scalable?

Successful apps are able to take their initial momentum and scale it rapidly across their industry. They don’t just work for a handful of people, but they provide a solution that can be adopted by a great proportion of a specific niche market. They may start small with a handful of testers or early adopters, but they are able to scale consistently to reach more and more users each and every month.

When Steve Carlton first founded Invitd, only a handful of people downloaded it, but he was able to scale drastically to increase his user base at an exponential rate. Invitd allows event hosts to create an invitation in under 60 seconds and send out invitations via text message. Steve told us, “The day the app launched in 2014 was a rush, we got a total of 34 downloads! Since day one our mission has been focused on making the process of sending invitations as easy as possible. We have focused on making a great experience for the host and the guest. Just over 3 years later, we surpassed over 250,000 registered users and 5 million invitations sent.

What Is App Success, Really?

Success in any capacity is never ‘one-size-fits-all’. An app in a niche market might be widely successful with 20,000 users, while a mass-market app may need a million users to be considered a successful app. Some apps may need to convert 50% of their users into subscribers to reach their definition of success, while others may need 100,000 active users per day to earn enough ad revenue to turn a profit.

Andrew Greenstein of SportMe met a major milestone when, “we reached a six figure revenue and our smart marathon run trainer started ranking as the #2 Marathon Trainer in the Apple App Store.

For Alessandro Cadoni, the Friends App team found success when, “in 2017, we consolidated the Italian market, creating a community of nearly 200k users with a Monthly Active Users (MAU) of 27%. Last summer, we organized the ‘Friendz Tour’ – offline meetings with our community in several Italian cities where we had picnics together and spent some afternoons talking about the app, pictures, their life, and their interests. In the last several months, we have been working with more than 120 clients, mostly multinational enterprises (FMCG). We made more than 200 brand campaigns and published more than 2 million photos; earning over a million Euro in revenue.

App Success Stories – Will You Be Next?

The first step to building a successful app is to define exactly what success means for you, your app, your team and your business. The second step is to get started. Over 95% of app ideas die within one of these two stages; either the founders never define success and therefore can never reach their unspecified goal, or they define success and realize that it’s a much bigger journey than they are committed to pursuing.

If you’re serious about building a successful app, but confused on where to start, ThinkLions can help. We have worked with dozens of app entrepreneurs to define their ideas, launch minimal viable products, secure app funding and bring their app ideas to reality. Contact us today for a free consultation!

10 of The Most Useful Secrets For Bringing An App Idea to Reality

For a new app startup entrepreneur, bringing an app idea to reality can seem like a monstrous undertaking. Let’s be fair, it is. Transforming an app idea into a great piece of mobile software is difficult; it’s three times as expensive as you thought it would be and takes twice as long to launch. It takes time, energy and effort; blood, sweat and tears.

The light at the end of the tunnel is, as difficult as it may seem, it’s doable. In fact, it’s so doable that hundreds of thousands of regular people (just like you) have launched their app ideas to the public. If they can do it, so can you. To give you some inspiration as you take the first step into building your app, we asked 10 app entrepreneurs how they brought their app ideas to reality. Here’s what they had to say.

Chris KaneChris Kane,Founder of MunchMoney

Finding The App Idea

I’ve always been an entrepreneurial person in many ways. Growing up that was always clear to me. After I graduated from college, I began my career in the hedge fund industry without any clear direction of where I wanted to go long-term. Over time, I increasingly became unhappy and began looking for alternatives. It was at this point that my entrepreneurial spirit took hold.

I came up with several business ideas. One day, as I was getting money out of my wallet to go to Chipotle for lunch, I thought, “Man, I really miss my college meal plan.” With some inspiration from the Virginia Tech meal plan system, the initial idea for MunchMoney was born.

Funding a Minimal Viable Product

MunchMoney is currently bootstrapped by its founders; mainly using savings from full-time jobs while the idea was still in development.

Advice for Bringing an App Idea to Reality

Simply, you don’t know what you don’t know. There are so many intricacies around startups/apps that it can be overwhelming. Start by becoming familiar with launching apps by reading books such as How to Build a Billion Dollar App by George Berkowski), taking online courses, and attending industry/networking events. Furthermore:

  1. Just Ask. People are always willing to help if you are a kind and genuine person who is sincerely willing to ask for help.
  2. Self-awareness. Know what you are good at and what you are not, and then, surround yourself with people who can fill in the gaps.

Estee GoldschmidtEstee Goldschmidt, Co-founder of ShopDrop App

Finding the App Idea

ShopDrop is an app that aggregates information about every sample sale in one single location. The concept was simple: there are over 50 weekly events where designers put up their excess inventory for 60%-90% off, and yet finding out about those events is laborious and requires knowing people in the industry; following 20 different blogs and specific brands. The idea of the app was to simplify the process and democratize access to these fashion events.

Building the Team and Product

I had a marketing background, and Bill – my co-founder had a tech background. He had built 26 apps. Together, we joined forces to get the app idea off the ground. We only recently started generating revenue, but haven’t paid ourselves yet. We ran events and pilots to self-fund the project. We also won an entrepreneurial grant to keep us going.

Advice for Bringing an App Idea to Reality

My advice to someone starting out is three-pronged:

  1. Figure out whether your idea has potential. Ask people if they would use the product. Mock up images of what it would look like and show to friends and strangers.
  2. Assess the competition. Check to see if a similar product already exists or existed in the market. Did it fail? If yes, what does that mean to you?
  3. Build an MVP. Figure out the quickest way to get a basic product onto the market (whether it means using tools, outsourcing or partnering with a tech-genius). Work on it, get feedback, implement and repeat!

The secret to success is not giving up. As long as there is interest, your business has potential. Keep on pushing until you can’t anymore.

Steven Benson, Founder of Badger Maps

Finding the App Idea

I didn’t start out with the goal of building an app. My career has been spent in field sales with companies like IBM and Google, and so I understood the challenges faced by field sales people first hand. When I was working on the Google Maps team, I got to know how powerful mobile mapping could be, and had experience with the types of solutions and apps that mobile was capable of enabling. I knew I could improve my performance at my job as a field sales rep if I could combine my customer data with a mobile mapping system, and I could envision a solution that could schedule and plan my time selling in the field more efficiently. Looking back at it, it was a combination of my role in sales and the industry background with software and mapping that made me well positioned to launch a company to solve the problems of field sales. I was in the right place at the right time, with the right background, and was able to completely bootstrap the business.

Monetizing the App

When coming up with the idea for an app, it’s crucial to have a clear monetization strategy and make sure you build something that people are willing to pay for. There are a lot of businesses that don’t make it, although they were great ideas that seemed to have major potential. What they often lack is a clear way to make money.

One key thing is to find the balance between how much your customers are willing to pay for your app and how much you need to scale your company. However you plan to monetize, make sure it’s enough to keep the lights on as you grow. If your expenses require that each user pays $10 for your app, but they’re only willing to pay $1, you’ll need to focus on getting 10x more users. Pricing is a hard thing to get right the first time, so don’t be afraid to experiment and talk to your customers to find the sweet spot.

Key to Success

I think the key to my success is focus. The major players in tech today do so many things at once and solve so many problems at the same time – as a startup, you win by having a laser focus on a solution to a single problem that people would pay for

Really though, the true secret to a successful startup is creating an environment where your team can thrive, grow and be happy. Managing and motivating people is so much harder when you don’t have anything than when you are a large and well funded company.

Kyle MorrisKyle Morris of Sifdata

Launch and Iteration

I came up with our app idea while running business ops at a tech company in Silicon Valley. I came home one day wanting to learn to code and played around for a couple of months. On a trip to New Zealand I got the inspiration for what would become SifData. I immediately got to work on the project as soon as I got home. In passing, I mentioned to a friend what I was working on. A few days later, a well known tech company’s CEO reached out, mentioning that he was looking for this very product. He got me in touch with their head of operations and they decided to buy.

From there I kept iterating on the product and came out of beta in April. We’ve had some great wins along the way and, as you can imagine, a lot of challenges being a self-taught, solo entrepreneur.

Thomas-Ryan LawrenceThomas-Ryan Lawrence, COO of Gayborhood

Finding the App Idea

For nearly 18 years, my business partner had been producing The Gay Community Yellow Pages across the country.  GCYP was a niche market yellow pages focusing on businesses that promised to treat the LGBTQ community with the same dignity and respect as everyone else. The year was 2009 and the print industry, along with the rest of the economy, was struggling. At the same time, Apple had recently launched the iPhone, thereby kicking off the smartphone revolution and creating an entirely new industry.  Our idea: take the concept of The Gay Community Yellow Pages and make it available on smartphones. Bring the safety and comfort of The Gay Community Yellow Pages, that has served our community for nearly twenty years, to the fingertips of every smartphone user. Thus, Gayborhood was born! Today, Gayborhood serves LGBTQ communities in over twenty cities across the country and continues to grow.

Funding the App Idea

Did I mention this was 2009 and the print industry was struggling?  Okay, I did.  So, funding was interesting.  We had no money!  We went to friends and borrowed $30,000 at a higher than usual interest rate (flat rate of 50% regardless of how long it took us to pay them back.  Side note, it took 3 years) to get Gayborhood off the ground. We were lucky to find a developer that built an “out of the box” solution and allowed us to customize it with our own look and feel.  This saved us tons in the beginning, but also led to some functionality and reliability issues down the road. Regardless of the issues we faced with our legacy developer, it was enough to get us up and running and launched on both iOS and Android.

Advice for Bringing an App Idea to Reality

Simply, just do it!  Once you’ve completed some modest level of market research to ensure consumers want your product, find a developer, get a bid, and make it happen. You can’t be successful with a product that doesn’t exist. It may not be “the perfect version” on the first launch…Lord knows Gayborhood wasn’t!  But you’ve gotta start somewhere and then work on improvements.  If you’re strapped for cash, this may mean going after some non traditional financing – but if you really believe in your product and you stand behind it, then you just have to do it!  You may pay a little more in the beginning, but once you are successful, it will all be worth it.

Marketing the App

It’s not enough to simply develop an app and plop it on the app store hoping people will download it. Believe me, that will not happen! You have to know how to market it. Gayborhood employed a mixed marketing strategy in the beginning and continues to do so today. We started with a combination of CPI (cost per install), PR (get your name out there any way you can), event-based and guerilla marketing efforts and continue to incorporate each of those and more into our strategies today. We’ve done bar posters, cocktail napkins, promotional fliers, palm cards, koozies, chapstick…you name it and Gayborhood has probably done it!  Our goal is to have omnipresence; wherever our target market is, we want to be in their faces!

Kevin MurrayKevin Murray, Founder of SpyWarn 2.0

Finding the App Idea

I created an app for detecting spyware on Android smartphones. The idea for it evolved from my clients, and the general public, asking me, “Is my cell phone bugged?” My original protocol for determining the answer became the basis for my book, “Is My Cell Phone Bugged?” The directions in the book transformed into the basis for my app, SpyWarn 2.0. It was an enjoyable project, and the app is still available today on Google Play.

Advice for Bringing an App Idea to Reality

  1. Be persistent. The concept for the app was very unique. It took a lot of time and explaining to get the concept and technical details across to to the people who worked on it.
  2. Shop around for an app design company. Explain your idea. Pick the company based on their enthusiasm, experience and ease of communications. Their quote will likely not be the cheapest. Pay attention to their human interface design recommendations.
  3. Even after the first version of the app was launched, I kept trying to make it better. Also, I learned early on that very detailed instructions were necessary. Early feedback and ratings revealed many users were either using the app incorrectly, or didn’t understand that SpyWarn worked very differently from other security apps.

Brendan CorriganBrendan Corrigan, Founder of Commit

Finding the App Idea

Commit is an iOS app that helps motivate people to achieve their goals through social and financial accountability. The idea for Commit came about over a year ago, when I was struggling (once again) to follow through on some goals I had set for myself.

One goal in particular that I was particularly feeling bad about was volunteering at my local soup kitchen. I had been going on a weekly basis for years, but that had recently become monthly, and more recently even less than that. I had never been in a position to give much in terms of money, so it was always important to give what I could of my time, and I wasn’t doing either! This is when the idea for Commit came about, and what I think was the key to progressing my idea – time and testing.

I thought if I could use money as a motivator, maybe it would be easier to get myself into the soup kitchen, or to feel less guilty when I couldn’t. I decided every time I didn’t go I would donate $10, an amount that would certainly motivate me on my laziest of Saturday mornings, but not dramatically affect my financial situation if I didn’t make it. At first it worked, except when I didn’t make it and realized no one was really holding me accountable to donating the money! I realized accountability was the important factor to this, and tested it by giving money up front to a family member who also volunteered there with me. He had no hesitation in giving the money to the soup kitchen if I couldn’t make it, and we decided he would eventually give me the balance back after 2 months, to see if it really worked. The result: it did! I made it 7 out of 8 weekends, and on that one missed weekend nothing would have made me get out of bed!

Launching the App

Once the concept was finalized, I did a lot of market researching and testing to see if others thought it would work for them, and then I decided to pursue it. I was in a fortunate position to self-fund the venture and considered it my best option at this stage, to build a minimum viable product.

Advice for Bringing an App Idea to Reality

My advice to someone else interested in pursuing their own ideas would be research, research and more research! It has helped me make the right decisions plenty of times and has gotten me this far – and a lack of research in certain cases has hurt me just as much! I have succeeded in many ways, such as successfully launching after 10 months of actual work, and being able to see the promise in the initial response, but I have a ways to go to achieve what I want. I’d say the secret that got me this far and will push me to my vision of success is persistence and never doubting my vision.

app idea to reality - Ron Spreeuwenberg of HiMamaRon Spreeuwenberg, CEO of HiMama Child Care App

Finding the App Idea

Our advice to forming an app idea is to confirm you are solving a real problem. Establishing product market fit means speaking directly to many potential customers. Sometimes, entrepreneurs assume that an interest in a product is equal to a commitment to pay for a product. It’s not. Ron met directly with hundreds of child care professionals with nothing more than a powerpoint presentation before he formally launched HiMama.

Funding the App Idea

HiMama has grown with no traditional VC funding. Funding and launching an app means you need to get out from behind your computer. Sometimes app marketers believe there are quick wins through digital marketing and social media. Real “growth hacking” requires hustle and grit. Phone calls, site visits and quiet soft launches are tried-and-true pathways to building a committed user base with sustainable growth. Important advice – monetize from the first sale.

Advice to Bringing an App Idea to Reality

Don’t overspend in your early days. Conserving cash through discovery and validation is key. Startups can waste a ton of money too quickly – do not spend a million dollars on advertising a product no one wants. Mr. Spreeuwenberg used two approaches for scaling HiMama – don’t overspend on marketing and avoid venture capital investment in the early days.

By operating on a shoestring budget, HiMama has been able to scale effectively and maintain consistent staff growth (doubling staff in the last year). Often startups feel they have to fail fast to scale, but consistent slow growth with affordable testing pays off substantially long-term.

Lori CheekLori Cheek, Founder of Cheekd

Finding the App Idea

In February of 2008, I was out to dinner with an architectural colleague. He’d spotted an attractive woman at a nearby table and scribbled, “Want to have dinner?” on the back of his business card and slipped it to her as we were leaving the restaurant. He left with a date. I left with an idea. After over two years of brainstorming how to remove the “business” out of the business card, I launched Cheekd– a deck of ice-breaking dating cards with a unique code that lead the recipient to the privacy protected online dating profile of the mysterious stranger who slipped them the card where the two could start communicating online. It was like online dating but backwards. We’ve since pivoted Cheekd into a hyper-speed mobile dating app that gives users the ability to never miss a real-life potential “love connection” thanks to a cross-platform low energy Bluetooth technology, which sends users an immediate notification when someone (within their criteria) comes within a 30-foot radius of them. It’s real-time and works on a subway or a plane without any cellular connection.

Funding the Idea

After finishing off my savings from my 15 year career in architecture, I had to get extremely creative to continue funding my business and this is where the financial sacrifices began. I made nearly $75,000 by selling my designer clothes at consignment shops and on eBay, doing focus groups, secret shopping, app testing, dog walking, house sitting, watering plants and by selling my electronics and other odds and ends around my apartment on Craigslist that all went straight back into my business. The biggest chunk of cash came from renting out my West Village Studio in NYC on AirBnB, while I couch surfed for 14 months, nearly got evicted and ultimately lost my lease of 5 years in my gorgeous apartment.

And finally, after four tumultuous years of building my startup with the wrong partners, lots of bad decisions and some major rookie mistakes, I was determined to find a way to take my business to the next level … and what better way than to apply to ABC’s Shark Tank.

In September of 2013, I found myself walking down that scary shark infested hallway into a stare off with 5 of the harshest millionaire investors in the world. I’d never been more nervous in my entire life. When I proclaimed I was going to change the population with my reverse engineered online dating business, serial entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, rolled his eyes, called me delusional and immediately snapped, “I’m out.” Billionaire investor, Kevin O’Leary, demanded that I quit my “hobby” and shoot my business—my passion– like a rabid dog. After getting shot down by all five Sharks, I looked them in the eye and said, “Trust that you’ll all see me again.” Although those final bold words of mine ended up on the cutting room floor (adding insult to injury), in the 48 hours after the broadcast, received a record breaking 100K unique visitors and our inbox filled up with thousands of emails insisting that the Sharks were “out of their minds” for not investing. A little under 50 of those emails were from interested investors.

Since the Shark Tank aired in February of 2014, I found the missing links from years before. We’ve raised 5 times the amount I’d sought on the show and I’ve gotten a CTO on board who’s helped facilitate and finance the new face and technology behind the new Cheekd. The newly launched dating app allows users to solve missed connections with a new technology that was not available when the patented Cheekd idea was launched in 2010. It was only a matter of time and I’m thankful I didn’t take the Sharks advice to quit and move on.

Advice to Bringing an App Idea to Reality

Entrepreneurship is being on a mission where nothing can stop you. It will take twice as long as you’d hoped, cost exceedingly more than you’d ever budgeted and will be more challenging than anything you’ll ever try but if you give it your all and refuse to give up, you can trust it will be the ride of a lifetime. My strongest advice for others considering taking the leap is if you truly believe in your idea, give up excuses and doubt, surround yourself by a trusted and talented team, bulldoze forward and DON’T LOOK BACK.

Be focused. I’ve got a laser-focused vision to succeed and will do almost anything to keep this business flourishing.  I’m actually not surprised by my determination because as long as I can remember, I’ve been extremely stubborn. When most people would have quit, I only pushed harder. I think my personal approach, passion and dedication mixed, with my relentless conviction that failure is not an option, has been the recipe that has lead to my current success. I could be the poster child for the statement “what doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger.” No matter what… in the end, I’m going to have a magical and cheeky story to tell.

Darren GuccioneDarren Guccione and Craig Lurey, Co-founders of Keeper Security

Finding the App Idea

On a 40 hour flight to China and back to the United States Craig showed Darren a password manager application he was working on for his personal use. He called it his “Keeper” because the digital, encrypted vault kept all of his passwords organized and generated high strength, military-grade passwords for each of his logins. This was back in 2008 when the iPhone was about to launch; and when Darren did some research on apps that were launching in iTunes, he realized that none of them addressed this security and productivity solution on smartphones. He knew that it would be a success. By the time the two returned to the states from their plane trip the app was created and ready to launch. Keeper was bootstrapped by Darren and became profitable within 5 months.  

Advice for Bringing an App Idea to Reality

Don’t be afraid.. Most businesses fail or never even get off the ground because of fear. Develop discipline and focus. These are two habits – but they are interconnected as one in my mind. It takes discipline to stay focused and the premise of being focused is absolutely the most critical thing. I see people fail because they lack focus or give up too quickly on something.

Darren says, “Trends are concerning to me because they trap companies into thinking that production is more important than innovation. The truth is that one cannot exist without the other. I never want to be in a business that is mostly dependent on making it faster and cheaper than the others in a market. Commoditized markets are for well-established companies with massive balance sheets and money to burn if they wind up being wrong. The thing that excites me are problems or voids inside large markets.”

App Idea to Reality – Taking The First Step

If there is one piece of advice that is consistent across every app entrepreneur, it is that taking the first step is the most important. May app dreams die before they ever even start. Launching an app startup, or any business for that matter, is a learning experience. While you can learn many things by reading books and watching YouTube videos, the real information you need to grow your business comes from getting your product to your market as soon as possible – by any means necessary. Need more information before you take that first step? Contact us or set up a consultation with one of our app startup experts, and get started on bringing your awesome app idea to reality!

Do You Have What It Takes To Be a Successful App Entrepreneur?

If you’re looking for an easy path in life, give up on your dreams of being an app entrepreneur right now. The potential for app entrepreneurs is endless, but the roadway to get there is certainly full of obstacles and roadblocks. Even with a great app business plan and pitch deck in tow, sometimes it’s difficult to navigate the world of app startups. While the successes like Uber and Tinder make us believe that anyone can achieve the “Great App Success Story” dream, the truth is, the vast majority of apps that begin development – never reach the App Store.

Let’s face it, not everyone has what it takes. Bringing an app idea to reality, and then to success, is much different than working a normal job or being a non-tech business owner. It takes a special type of innovativeness and dedication that, frankly, most people don’t possess. The good news is, for those who do possess certain qualities, the potential for success as an app entrepreneur may be very high. So, what does it take? In the following post, we will explore 10 questions to ask yourself and identify whether or not you have what it takes to win at being an app entrepreneur!

1) Can You See Problems That Other People Don’t See?

The key to successful app entrepreneurship is simple innovation. Sometimes, an app like Uber will change an entire industry, while an app like Toggl simply streamlines time-logging. However, the one similar factor among every successful app entrepreneur is that they introduced innovation to their niche market, in some particular way.

Successful entrepreneurs are able to identify problems and develop the solutions that eliminate these problems. The only difference with app entrepreneurs is that they figure out how to approach these challenges using smartphone/tablet/computer devices that are accessible to everyone. There are a million apps on the market; an entrepreneur’s app will only survive if it is unique, different, and able to solve a problem better than existing competitors – and competitors who will launch in the future.

Solution: If you’re not someone who can identify problems and solutions easily, it’s not the end of the world. Expand your mind by reading books by successful entrepreneurs to start developing a problem-solving mindset. The better that you are able to identify the problems that other successful app entrepreneurs are solving, the easier it will be to start identifying real problems on your own.

2) Are You Developing An App or An App Business?

While the opposite seems true, apps don’t just become successful on their own. Just because you know how to launch an app into the App Store doesn’t mean you know how to launch a successful app business. Successful apps have teams behind them that understand startups, know how to build interest in their product, and know how to manage the growth of their business as new users begin downloading their app.

Developing an app is only one small portion of building a successful app startup. Once it’s built and launched, now what? It’s a mistake to believe that people will use your app just because it exists – true app entrepreneurs know that once their app is launched, the battle only just begins.

Solution: If you know nothing about building, running and growing a business, you will find it extremely difficult to succeed in app entrepreneurship. In this case, find mentorship – someone who has launched an app before; a group of other new entrepreneurs who can share new things they learn; or a startup accelerator that can introduce you to people that can help you progress your app dreams.

3) Do You Have An Actionable Plan?

Many people are excited about having a great app idea, but really, an app idea on its own means very little. Ideas come a dime a dozen. The element that separates successful apps from those that slowly fade away is great execution of an actionable plan. Successful app entrepreneurs have researched their markets well and understand exactly how they will launch their app, how they will get it out there, and ultimately, how they will profit from their idea.

When an app entrepreneur approaches an investor, they have a plan in place. The plan is so solid, that it is easy to understand how the investor’s money will immediately allow the business to meet its objectives – as detailed in the plan that they are presenting.  

Solution: There are a lot of angles to cover when planning out the execution of the launch, establishment and growth of your app idea. Consider working with a team of business plan developers to create a professionally written business plan for your mobile app concept. By hiring the right team, you can learn about your market, your industry and your competitors; and can uncover new opportunities that you may not have initially realized.

4) Do You Have Perseverance?

Overnight success is a thing of app entrepreneurs’ dreams, but in real life, reaching app success is a day by day fight — not one giant win, but a ton of small achievements that eventually compound to reach massive success. In this business, only the unstoppable have a chance. No matter your situation, you WILL run into obstacles while building, launching and growing your app. How you handle and respond to those obstacles will be a major determining factor in your success as an app entrepreneur.

Solution: There’s no solution for perseverance, dedication and commitment. Either you have it, or you don’t. The key to perseverance is confidence, and one way to build confidence is to research your market thoroughly and ensure that your app is really what the market needs. It is a lot easier to stay the course when you know without a doubt that your solution is exactly what your market is looking for. If you know that your app idea has what it takes, and that YOU have what it takes, make it up in your mind that nothing will stop you from moving forward – no matter what. App success isn’t one big jump, it’s many small steps, sometimes taking a step backwards to take two steps forward.

5) Can You Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is?

There’s a widespread myth amongst new app startup entrepreneurs that all they need to bring to the table is a great idea. From there, an investor will take all the risk by giving them $1 million so that they can launch their app next week and be rich next month. None of it is true.

The only way you will get out of paying to launch at least a minimal viable product (MVP), is if you are a developer, or you have a committed developer on your team. If you watch just 3 episodes of Shark Tank, you’ll realize that no seasoned investor is going to risk their money on an unproven idea. Only after (at least) a MVP has been launched into the market, and tested with successful results, will investors begin to see the potential in the solution you are proposing.

That being said, the first few steps are most likely going to be financed by you, or by your team. If you aren’t willing to risk your money on your own dreams, why would you expect someone else to risk their money on your dream? 

Solution: Some people have funds saved that they can allocate towards launching their app, or have enough disposable income that it isn’t difficult to find the money needed to launch their idea. However, this isn’t the case for everyone, and some new app startup entrepreneurs may have to get a bit creative. Let’s be real, this is the type of industry where only the strong survive. How can you afford to launch a bare-bones app if you don’t have any funds? Sell stuff that you don’t need anymore, pick up extra shifts or get a second job, start a small service business on the side, rent your house out on AirBnB, drive Uber and Lyft — the point is, do WHATEVER it takes!   

6) Do You Believe?

As mentioned, app entrepreneurs are visionaries – they see things that other people can’t see. In the real world, someone who sees something that no one else sees, is considered a crazy person. In your journey for app startup success, people around you will doubt you. Your closest friends and family will tell you that your idea won’t work. Individuals that you look up to, who you are excited to tell about your ideas, will poke holes in everything you say. Even when no one sees what you see, in the app business, your belief in yourself must stand stronger than ever. Some people will only believe it when it’s tangible, and even then, some people will have doubts.

Solution: As an entrepreneur, it is important to network with other entrepreneurs. Involve yourself in groups and events where you can meet other people who are launching businesses and apps. In other words, balance the doubt by having a strong network of likeminded individuals who are also visionaries; who can pour positivity into you and dilute the doubt that may arise from the comments of naysayers.

7) Will You Take The First Step?

There’s a huge difference between the number of people who have app ideas, and the number of people who bring an app to the market. In my opinion, probably 99% of people who have app ideas never even take the first step to building their app. You would be surprised at how many times I’ve mentioned a hugely successful new app, just to hear someone say, “I thought about that same idea 2 years ago!” Thinking about an app idea, talking about an app idea, dreaming about an app idea… these mean nothing if you never take the first step to actually bring that idea to life.

Building an app is like working out. The first few workouts hurt, and most people can’t stand the pain and quit before they ever see a result. For the dedicated however, they understand that the discomfort means growth, and as long as they are growing, they will likely be “uncomfortable”. Every day, they move closer to their goal – one step and one workout at a time.

Solution: Take a step. Register your business name, draft a business plan, draw up a wireframe, or have a logo created. There are a million first steps you can take, but the important part is that you take one… and then another… and then another… until you have reached your goal!

It’s All About You

As you can see, there are many obstacles that an app entrepreneur will face as they journey through the app startup and app development process. However, the biggest obstacle any entrepreneur will ever face? Themselves. The wall of doubt, the panic of fear, and the anxious uncertainty – these can be dream killers. Do you have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur? Sure you do. As long as you can prevent yourself from getting in your own way!

Ready to take the first step towards bringing your app idea to reality, but don’t know where to start? Contact us to speak with one of our app startup experts for a FREE app startup consultation!