Let Inspiration Strike

What if you want to create an app but have no ideas? Is it possible to prompt a mobile app idea? It’s time to get inspired. The best ideas come from facing obstacles, rather than relying on them to emerge forth from freedom.

Here are some ways to spark your imagination:

  • What annoys you on a daily basis. How can it be fixed?

  • What are your favourite apps? Why do they annoy you?

  • Give yourself 5 minutes to list as many ideas as possible. It doesn’t matter if they sound ridiculous. When the timer rings, stop everything and see whether there is anything of merit.

One of the best approaches that I’ve used is to keep pen + paper, or a handy note taking app on your phone to write down the inevitable situation where I am looking for some information and cannot easily find it during a search.  If you are serious about this, you will have to discipline yourself to stay alert to new ideas. It won’t be long before you have more than you can use.

Once you’ve come up with a list of possible ideas, write down each of the corresponding problems you would be solving by having your app built. If you are not clear on what problem your idea would solve, then get rid of it — if you cannot explain it to yourself, no one else will understand it either.

Initial considerations might include:

  1. Is this a business to business or business to consumer application?
  2. Can you define the initial target market(s)? Can you identify with their needs for this app?
  3. Do you have a sense of the competition?

If you have a kernel of an idea and want to discuss it confidentially, contact me.  I do this a lot with new clients, and we generally come up with improvements that will work in the market.

Being a Nerd

I was at a networking event tonight and was asked what I did for a living. Without thought, I said that I was an Adventure Nerd. What was that?

“Adventure Nerd” came from a conversation that I had a few days ago with a friend. Not so long ago, I would have bristled about being called a nerd. When I grew up, it was NOT a complimentary term. I still have mental images from old TV shows and movies where the nerds are chased down the street, with unpleasant things happening to them when they are caught.

But now, I realize that I am one of the original nerds. And I know more Nerds – exactly one Yoga Nerd, several Sports Nerds, and city’s full of Technology Nerds, so why not an Adventure Nerd? I AM NERD!

Why you need a technical co-founder

In a city with so many startups with good ideas, I question why so few software startups don’t have a technical co-founder? Over the past few weeks, I have seen several good ideas where the business will likely flounder because the founder either has not been able to find a technical person to work with them on a regular basis, or is unwilling to part with equity or the details of the ‘good’ idea. If this is you, WAKE UP!

If you don’t have someone else who can make your vision a reality, it’s time to consider whether you have a business to start with. If you are not willing to explain it to another person because you fear that they will take it and build it themself, then you are underestimating your role and the work that you have already put into the idea. And the amount of work required to get it to market.

Experience tells me that if you are thinking about the idea now, then others are already doing the same with a competitive concept. A good business idea requires solid execution and marketing, and if you cannot get another person to work with you, tick this off now as another good idea that didn’t make it.

Where do you find an enlightened and experienced technical co-founder? The good news is that software and application development industry is like the goldrush that swept California and the Yukon territory over 100 years ago. There are a lot of people participating, or wanting to participate.

The bad news is that there are a lot of people who want to participate and don’t have the skills or experience to know what is needed, or how to structure a working relationship.

To locate a technical co-founder, you can visit one fo the forums dedicated to this task (i.e. Angel List), speak to recruiters (if you have the money available), and vist a meetup in your area. If you’re not technically knowledge to ask the deep questions, find a consultant who can help you through the process.

Post a comment with your questions or comments about the above. I’d love to hear from you.

Developing a Technology Application is not a Product Strategy

After developing close to 100 websites, platforms and applications, I have learned that the majaority of my prospective clients did not have a product strategy. They have a good idea of the functionality they wanted to build … and much less knowledge of how to charge for it, manage and sustain the technology platform, or how to provide the post-implementation services that would allow them to grow the business.

“Product Strategy is the intangible creation and management of a strategy that brings a product to market and creates revenue from satisfied users”

The ability to idea and create online products and applications has never been easier. One contemporary philosophy says that going full speed to create a MVP (minimum viable product) will let you know whether your solution can garner sufficient clients, and create interest amongst investors. (If you more information on developing an App, read this. )

The Interface is not the Solution.

So what does product strategy really mean? Product strategy covers what can be separated into entire roles or careers, or tactical roles that we move into and out of as required.

For early stage applications, there can be a difference between what product strategy covers, and the roles that we get caught up in.

Product Strategy is …

  • Discover Market Problems
  • Win/Loss Analysis
  • Competitive Landscape
  • Internal Assets
  • Define the market(s)
  • Channel Strategy
  • Product Design & Build Strategy
  • Portfolio Positioning
  • Product Roadmap
  • Business Planning
  • Pricing Models
  • Determine & Manage KPI’s
  • Positioning
  • Buying Personas/Use Cases
  • Team Development
  • Stakeholder Communication
  • Product Marketing Plan
  • Customer Acquisition
  • Customer Loyalty
  • Launch Planning
  • Thought Leadership
  • Lead Generation / Sales Funnel
  • Testimonials
  • Sales Tools and Capability
  • Channel Sales Tools and Capability
  • Event Tools and Collateral
  • Customer Support Tools & Capability
How most founders see Product Strategy …

  • Discover Market Problems
  • Win/Loss Analysis
  • Competitive Landscape
  • Internal Assets
  • Define the market(s)
  • Channel Strategy
  • Product Design & Build Strategy
  • Portfolio Positioning
  • Product Roadmap
  • Business Planning
  • Pricing Models
  • Determine & Manage KPI’s
  • Positioning
  • Buying Personas/Use Cases
  • Team Development
  • Stakeholder Communication
  • Product Marketing Plan
  • Customer Acquisition
  • Customer Loyalty
  • Launch Planning
  • Thought Leadership
  • Lead Generation / Sales Funnel
  • Testimonials
  • Sales Tools and Capability
  • Channel Sales Tools and Capability
  • Event Tools and Collateral
  • Customer Support Tools & Capability

Product strategy requires the integration of all these roles by a small, high functioning team. It is the integration – the connection of the various roles – that is the secret sauce that creates a sound product strategy.

One note about your team. Since there are many moving parts of designing, developing and the operational management of an App or platform, the team grows and shrinks depending on the stage. In the full scope of an App build, you can expect to have the following skillsets on your team:

  • Marketing
  • Sales Technical Writing
  • User Experience (UX)
  • IT infrastructure
  • Developers/Programmers
  • QA/Tester
  • System Administrator
  • Customer Service

If you are thinking of developing an APP, take the time to define a robust product strategy. You’ll be happy that you did.