Building a mobile-app startup is akin to building any tech startup. As an entrepreneur, you have to perform the role of a generalist rather than a specialist.
You will have to look into product development, design, marketing, company incorporation, finances, human resources, etc., and your day doesn’t become any easier as your startup progresses.
Mistakes are bound to happen, which is just part of running a startup. Some, though, can be avoided. As a founder, you can get so consumed with the product that you tend to get carried away in making certain decisions that can have a significant impact on the way your startup will shape up or grow.
My goal here is to point out three of the most common factors that can limit the growth of your app.
1. Validating a mobile app through mobile web.
The two technologies are poles apart from each other and have completely different use cases. Mobile web lends itself to being functional, whereas a mobile app delivers a great user experience.
The unique functionality and speed of access of a mobile app cannot be matched with that of mobile web. The discovery of each is also different. A mobile website will typically be discovered while searching on Google or other search engines, while a mobile app lives in the ecosystem of the operating system (iOS, Android, Windows Mobile).
The natural behavior of users surfing the web is not to bookmark the webpage or mobile website on their home screen. People surf the web for instant information. But when a user downloads an app, they are more likely to use it more than once.
If your idea is for a mobile app, do not validate it by building a mobile website as that will give you misleading usage data.
2. Not focusing on the core features in version one.
I am still surprised by the number of entrepreneurs who still haven’t heard of building a lean startup. So, what does it mean?
Building a mobile-app startup the lean way requires you to develop just the core features, which are your app’s core value offering. Build only the features that are a must have on day one, without which, your app wouldn’t work. Leave out all those features that are nice to have and those that a user can do without.
Be aware of the features that define your mobile app. More features don’t mean a successful app. The user is concerned with just that feature or a set that helps solve his or her problem. If your core feature does that, build all the peripheral features after you’ve launched and tested the market.
3. Using cross-platform technology.
I’ve known many entrepreneurs who want to take the shortcut in building an app using cross-platform tools. While there is nothing wrong in using these, putting things in perspective, there’s not a single successful application in the market that uses these technologies.
While it may help you to build for multiple platforms at the same time, what you will compromise on is user experience. There is a significant difference in building for a particular platform from the ground up using the tools offered by the platform owners vs. using third-party tools as a shortcut. And you’d also be dependent on the developers to update their tools to keep up with operating-system upgrades.