The term appreneur applies to an entrepreneur who sets up a business that develops mobile applications to exploit market opportunities.
Most appreneurs are ‘garage developers’ with great technical know-how. In general, they focus very little on business savvy to develop client-centric solutions. However, the truth is that most app businesses start small, stay small, and die small.
The essence of a mobile app business is to create customers by creating an innovative product, and making sure that you reach enough of them through marketing. While download rates do not imply that your app is useful, without downloads your app is certainly not being used and therefore worthless.
Today’s tech entrepreneurs tend to be generalists, with skills sets spanning from design, programming, selling and writing, to leadership. Accordingly, if you have your eyes set on venturing into appreneurship, here are areas in which you need to have some degree of competency in order to design, build, market and monetise your apps:
1. Validate the customer’s needs
Most developers believe in their ideas so much that they assume it is what the potential customers want. While it may be tempting for a developer to dive straight into development tools to start coding, it will aid to research the target market for the app.
Validate the idea and get feedback from the customers who will be using the app. Find out if your app actually solves customers’ problem and refine the value proposition you want to offer based on the feedback. Build features and functionalities that are relevant to the target customers.
2. Invest in UI design
Design your app for a great user experience and usability. Draw wireframes that map out the user interface design and plan the aesthetic aspects (colours and graphics). Build your app for simplicity of use. This is what draws users to connect with your app, making it ‘sticky’ for them to keep using it.
3. Market the app
The end of your app is not when it’s published in the store, but when customers buy it or download it. Technology is not the only prerequisite for business success, marketing is also important. Start marketing your mobile app from the day you put it into production.
Marketing strategies may not necessarily require budgets. Create hype about the app using various channels such as tech blogs, word of mouth, press coverage, Facebook, and Twitter. Perform analytics on these marketing channels to better understand the effectiveness of your marketing strategies.
In order to prevent the app economy from suffering the same fate as the dotcom entrepreneurs, a key consideration is how to monetise your apps.
To thrive in this increasingly competitive mobile ecosystem, appreneurs need to think of innovative ways to make money or turn their mobile apps and services into sustainable businesses. Determine how much users are willing to pay for your app and charge!