It is believed that 8 out of 10 startups fail. Unfortunately, the number is not too far from the truth. According to Statistic Brain, the number of startups that fail within the first 4 years varies from 42% to 63%, depending on the industry.
Will your startup reach a valuation of millions or even a billion and become the next unicorn? Or, will it go unnoticed and join thousands of other startups that fell through the cracks? It’s impossible to predict these outcomes until you actually build your product. Nevertheless, there are many things you can do (shouldn’t do, or fail to do) to make your mobile startup successful. Instead of learning the hard way, we recommend avoiding these 5 mistakes entrepreneurs make when building their startups.
1. Wrong MVP planning
Lean methodology is one of the most widely used approaches to building mobile startups. With a heavy focus on eliminating waste, the approach advocates the development of a minimum viable product (MVP) as a way to deliver value fast.
Consequently, your CTO or technology partner should plan for the development of the MVP first, prioritizing features and setting clear (and realistic) deliverables for each iteration. If you fail to identify the core set of features for the first release, your product might turn out to be overly complicated or overcrowded with unnecessary functionality. This might prevent users from seeing the fundamental value in your product. Moreover, you will quickly go over budget.
Another possible pitfall is rushing the development and looking for shortcuts to speed up the process. In this case you will most likely save a couple thousand dollars. Yet, the product you will release might not be viable enough or might have significant quality issues.
Read also: 7 Mistakes to Avoid When Developing an MVP
2. Struggling to identify your audience
When building a mobile app startup, it is of paramount importance to understand who you are building the product for. Every successful mobile app solves a problem (or several problems) and serves a particular group of people. This might be a small niche audience (people of a certain profession or having a specific hobby) or wider demographics (a whole generation, citizens of a city or a country).
Obviously, apps for millennials won’t have the same features as those targeting seniors. An app for the Chinese market will differ from that built for the U.S. audience.
Another issue to consider in this regard is the choice of the target platform for your mobile app. While it seems tempting to launch your app on all possible platforms, a much better decision will be to aim for quality instead of quantity. This will help you test the waters first, saving you time and budget.
Accordingly, your app monetization strategy might differ based on the type of app, its audience and the target mobile OS. For example, this study finds that iOS shoppers will spend 2.5 times more on in-app purchases than Android users. The same research states that Asian users typically spend 40% more on in-app purchases than the rest of the world.
3. Neglecting user experience
Mobile user experience is considered to be simultaneously an art and a science. Apple and Google have set the bar high for developers and designers with their guidelines, and there is a good reason for that: Their UX is so intuitive, even children can use their products.
A popular approach to UX suggests that you should always design it as if your had one too many drinks. From onboarding to the core features of your app, you need to guide your users, give them clear and intuitive messages, and hold their attention. Otherwise you risk losing your audience due to a poor and unfriendly mobile app experience.
But a good UX is more than just intuitive navigation and a proper UI layout. Application performance and speed contribute to the overall user experience as well. If your app is slow, crashes or freezes, the chances are your users will choose your competitor or simply uninstall it.
4. Forgetting about app marketing strategy
Launching your app without a proper marketing strategy is similar to buying a yacht and leaving to the open sea right away. It is a road to nowhere. Just like sailors need a course and navigation systems, you will need a predefined target and a strategy to achieve it.
The goals might vary, from receiving 1,000 downloads to earning your first million in revenue, it’s up to your ambitions. Yet, the “if you build it they will come” approach does not work here. To make people recognize your app by its logo or use its name as a generic term (just like Google or AirBnB) you need to put a significant amount of effort and resources into PR and marketing.
From press coverage to social media and advertizing, there are many ways to promote your product. A great tool to get some publicity (and also some early adopters) is ProductHunt. Most of the communities for tech startups are also free to join, yet they might be the most valuable source of user feedback.
5. Leaving your app unattended: Bug fixing and updates
It is a common mistake to think that the job is done as soon as you publish your app to the store. In fact, about 80% of all apps in the App Store are “dead,” i.e. no longer updated or supported. This makes over 1.6 million “dead” apps.
If you don’t want your app to be just another lifeless icon in the App Store listing, you should establish a long-term plan for supporting and updating your product to keep it relevant. New technologies, new features, new design trends – there is always something to improve or change.
Moreover, Apple has recently announced that it will start removing old and unmaintained apps from the store. If you don’t want to plan for some significant changes, simply providing support for the latest OS updates or fixing bugs once in a while might help your app stay afloat. Otherwise, all your efforts might be in vain.
Learn from other people’s mistakes
The above listed miscalculations are only several of the most common mistakes startups make. There are many more smaller pitfalls to prepare for. However, it is practically impossible to avoid mistakes, especially if building your first mobile app startup.
The choice is yours. You can either do some research and start with thorough planning and a solid development strategy, learning from other people’s mistakes, or you can dive in headfirst and learn the hard way.