5 tips if you want to start an App business


With the few years of experience working for App businesses, building up our own app businesses and helping our clients to build up their app businesses, I thought of sharing some of the tips I would like to share for those who are thinking of starting an app business in Sri Lanka.

While it’s very exciting to think and dream of a next Facebook, here is how I sum up my experience which can help make that dream a reality, at least to get a decent return out of your investment.

Is there an actual need? Do you really need an app to solve it?

This is a common problem most of the founders (including me) have faced. We build a cool, novel, innovative product. But if you have not talked to a few end users who are going to use the app, there is a high chance for you to fail.

Even though you assume that there is a problem like that, users might have solved it differently without much effort.

If you need to develop an app for a bakery, go out for a few sandwiches and talk to bakers with an open mind.

Try to find the actual problem, how disappointed they are with the existing problem, And of course, how much they are willing to pay if that problem is solved. The more you talk, the more you understand about the problem and more chances of being successful.

Start with the smallest MVP and keep listening to users

You like to dream big and you will get thousands of features you can incorporate into your next app idea. But if you want to wait till all the backlog is completed, you will fail due to a few reasons.

  • The initial cost is too high and you will run out of money to do further development or user acquisition

  • Users might say no. Now it’s too costly to pivot. You will feel bad to pivot.

  • Your competitor might have done a great job while you are working on all cool features.

What is Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

A minimum viable product is the fastest way of solving the problem. Reaching the market fast will make it easier for you to understand the customer responses and adapt accordingly.

For example, if you are building a platform to connect hotels to guests, connect saloons to brides, or connect swimming pools to swimmers, just try with opening up a Facebook page and an Instagram profile and start getting orders there. There you already have a platform with all of these possible users already signed up. You can automate and grow the things later once you identify the key elements of the business.

Actually, I am keeping this article short but there is a lot more to share. I’m thinking of writing more about this point in a later article.

The idea is NOT important, but the execution is.

There is no clear path for you. You and your team make the road and walk towards success

Yes, there is a value in the initial idea. But do you think you got that idea first? Just Google and see how many similar ideas are there. But you can be the first to execute it. If the idea is not patentable or restrictable in any form, the best way to protect your idea is to execute it perfectly. Do remember, Facebook is not the first Social Media.

There is no clear path for you. You and your team make the road and walk towards success.

Developing the software is not the key. But talking to customers, reaching potential clients, developing business models will be hard. Getting your first set of paid customers/clients will be really hard and you need to focus on those aspects. You can have an in-house development team or an outsourced team, but my point is that the non-dev tasks will be highly important and you should not miss too many opportunities.

User Experience vs Number of features.

There is this famous 80:20 rule which is highly applicable to your app business.

It’s 20% of your app features which are providing 80% of the app experience to the user. Try to find this 20% and focus on improving the user experience.

Nice user interfaces can attract the users, but if they need someone else to teach how to use the app, it’s not going to work. The design should be intuitive and self-explanatory. Facebook conducts thousands of different tests on different features in different regions to improve its user experience. Lean UI approach, where you can prototype the User interfaces and test with users before the development can speed up the process and improve the user experience in the live app significantly.

Don’t get carried away with AI

AI and Machine learning are trending. Yes, they can do magical stuff. But the problem you are trying to solve may not require ML or AI.

If I want to try a hotdog, I don’t care whether it’s custom made using an AI as long as it’s tasty.

For AI to work well, there should be a good amount of data collected for a certain time period. It’s always best to create the solution for the problem with the best suitable technologies, but not with the most trending one. The solution can be simple. Once you have collected enough data, you can create wonders in the future using AI

It’s time to conclude for today. Hope you enjoyed the content. If you think of anything to add or if you don’t agree to anything, please drop a comment below, we can work on a fruitful discussion. Thank you.