As app developers we see a lot of ideas, some of them brilliant, some of them OK, lots of them not so great.
One time I teed up a meeting with a potential customer who said they had an awesome idea. I agreed to meet them even though it was a 40 minute drive, and they hadn't told me their idea. Once I arrived, even before sitting down, I knew that their idea wasn't going to work.
Because they pitched me Google Translate. Quite literally.
I learnt something that day. I should qualify a potential client, no matter how enthusiastic they are. But thats not why you're reading this article. You're reading to make sure you don't fall into the same trap.
Not qualifying your idea can be very expensive. Developing an app costs on average between $10,000 - $15,000. So taking steps to verify that someone is going to buy your product will save you time, heartache and money.
Practical steps you can take to verify your idea
Because someone has already made something doesn't mean you can make it a success. The flipside might also be that because someone hasn't done something might also mean that there is no demand.
So what will you get from Googling then? You will see the landscape.
We started making a PetBNB website (Air BNB for pets) without too much research. We googled a few of the incumbents, checked out the size of their database and worked out how to access their private information (sssh!!).
Ultimately we decided to focus on a niche group of users, specific breed sitters for your pets. You needed to own a pet and go from there. Our idea improved after Googling, some sadness that we had missed the boat, and then "pivoting" to something new.
If you haven't tried to google your idea thoroughly, then stop reading and go and do that now.
Right now you are probably thinking, well, of course.
However, there is also a chance that you are thinking - who are they? Or even more terrifying - "How do I do that?"
If you can't find people that could use your product, you are going to need to come up with a way of reaching them. Which leads me to a very important point...
Your idea is actually two parts (probably more) but at least two - Your product, and how you are going to market it.
If you have a great product, and nobody knows about it, you don't have a product. A lesson I learned the hard way is just because you can make a product does not mean you are the right person to sell it.
This means you need to establish a marketing channel. The good news is you can do that before you even start developing an app.
How? Read on.
We had an awesome idea. There are lots of small instagram influencers out there (<10000 followers). They want to make some money from their fame. Big business wants a cost effective way to reach more people. Why not make a marketplace that allowed big business to run campaigns with small advertisers.
The first step to validating the idea was setting up a website that communicated our vision. It looked great, we got a landing page up, contact forms. Pondered the pricing model, even investigated the technical aspect without going too crazy.
So we tried to see if we could sell it. Even though instagram influencers are on instagram, they would be searching for "How to make money with instagram" on Google. So we decided to run an adwords campaign.
Guess what? Google said that it was a scam and that they would not support it.
Sure, we argued, even tried to escalate, but we were blocked at every turn.
Ultimately we decided to put the idea on the backburner. Lucky we hadn't spent too much time on it.
Final Thoughts or advice.
If you can find people who will buy your app, you need to keep investigating, but if you cant find anyone, it might be time to go back to the drawing board.
The other thing to look out for is agency apps. If you are connecting people, you need to make sure you can find both sides of the coin. Using the instagram example above, we would need to get both influencers and businesses to sign up. It is no good only getting one half of a marketplace if you fail to get the other.
If you have an idea and want to have a chat about it, we are very happy to give a no obligation quote and some advice. We will qualify you first before a meeting of course, but don't let that scare you off, its a good first step.
Author - Ryan Knell, Managing Director of Snappy Apps. Snappy Apps is an app developer servicing Brisbane and the Gold Coast.