Last week I attended an event about developing your own app hosted by the Stylist Network at the fabulously innovative location of the WAYRA UK Academy. I’ve been thinking about developing an app to bring to life the goal setting method that I have been using successfully for several years. I was sold by the event header that said ‘The future’s bright, the future’s definitely a world bursting with brilliant, life-changing apps. There is no better time to become part of the digital revolution’. Most of the event was delivered as a Q&A with a really great panel of experts and entrepreneurs. Here are the key 6 things I learnt from the wealth of experience on the panel…
Your idea needs to be easy to understand so that customers and investors ‘get it’. Your interface needs to be seamless and intuitive otherwise it won’t get used. Consider building a simple version of your app to start with so that you can test and iterate. Try and focus on the most appealing aspect of your original idea. Things will change as you go along and doing it this way will help you adapt to customer feedback.
2. Develop a prototype quickly
You have two choices here, learning to code yourself or finding a great programmer to do it for you. You have to weigh up the pros and cons of each. If you can’t already to code you need to learn, this will take time but it will give you more control through the process. Having an experienced programmer obviously has its benefits but it may cost more. Stylist has written a great article on app development that offers more detail on the options.
Developing an app is hard work and is not for the faint hearted. Your passion must shine through to keep you motivated. If you give up after the first or second failure you will never see your goals realised. When things go wrong harness your inner strength and focus on what you can learn to move forward. Tenacity is an absolute must.
4. Build a Network
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, you will be surprised at how many people are willing to share their time. If you have an idea that you really believe in your drive will come across and help gain buy-in. Perfect and practice an ‘elevator’ pitch you can use to quickly express your idea. The start-up community can be extremely supportive and your friends and family can also help expand your network. Identifying a list of individuals you think have a good fit with your idea and working out a suitable approach will also be useful. Always think about how you can help the other person in return and don’t forget the basics like saying thank you.
5. It’s not just about the tech
Once you have built your app you need to consider other factors like marketing, PR and operations. If you are building a team, think about the skills that you bring and how others can complement these. There is no point having three CEOs when what you really need is someone to answer customer queries. Building a team with the same values as you, who believe in your idea will help ensure you all remain focused.
Stop talking, start doing! Thinking, research and planning all have their place but none of them beat actually just getting stuck in and getting your app created. Don’t be paralysed by fear, all of the women on the panel had experienced their fair share of ups and downs but were in no doubt that pursuing their dreams had been absolutely worth it.
I was lucky enough to get the chance to pitch my app idea at the event and the feedback has helped hone my idea and given me the confidence to go ahead and get my app developed – watch this space!
….and thank you again to Stylist Network and the wonderful speakers:
Dale Murray (@DaleJMurray) tech founder and angel investor; Kathryn Parsons (@KathrynParsons), co-founder of Decoded, which specialises in coding for the web; and Annie Parker (@annie_ parker), head of operations at Wayra Europe, Telefónica’s global start-up accelerator; Giulia Piu (@giulipi) and Emma Obanye (@eobanye), co-founders of Buddy Bounce a musical artist appreciation app.