Did you know that there were 218 billion mobile app downloads in 2020? That’s an incredible 55% increase since 2016! If you’re looking to create a brand new mobile app, this could mean a lot of potential success for your startup. However, remember that for every TikTok, there’s a YikYak, Vine, Friendster, or Google Plus. Startups that scale efficiently grow twenty times faster than those that don’t. This means that if you want to increase the chances of your mobile app succeeding, utilizing lean startup development can be a great advantage. In this article, we will look at what learn startup development is, how you can apply it to your prospective mobile app and what you need to consider in order to improve your startup’s odds.
What is Lean Startup?
American entrepreneur Eric Ries devised the lean startup methodology in 2010, even though it had been in use several years before then.
Lean startup development is all about ensuring that a product is viable in the shortest amount of time possible. It’s all about identifying customers’ pain points, building up the product, getting feedback, and acting on it.
Lean startup developments and minimum viable products (MVP)
“The minimum viable product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.” – Eric Ries
One of the best ways that startups can quickly get feedback is through a minimum viable product or MVP for short. It can also sometimes be called a ‘minimal viable product’ or ‘minimally viable product’.
If you are developing a mobile app, an MVP would be a basic version of your app that you can quickly build and get to market. You can then get feedback from people that download the app, and use the information you receive to improve the next version of the app.
If you decide that the app is not a viable idea, then you can abandon the project without having wasted too much money or resources.
Another advantage of an MVP is that you can use it to show investors, to help get additional funding for your startup.
Examples of failed mobile apps that could have used an MVP
There are several examples of mobile apps that failed, that could have been successful if they had used an MVP (and lean startup methodology) to get customer feedback.
Here are three of these apps, and why they weren’t successful.
Polimobile was launched in 2011 with the aim of letting politicians reach potential supporters across the US. However, the product failed as nobody wanted to pay for a service like this when there were other successful campaigning methods that could be used.
The founder admitted that he hadn’t asked his target audience if they would pay for the service, and if so, how much they were willing to pay.
Another mobile app that could have benefited from the valuable feedback that an MVP can offer was Flowtab. This was an app where customers could order drinks in bars from their mobile phones, meaning that they didn’t have to queue at the bar or wait for someone to come and take their order.
As the app charged customers a charge of $1 for each drink they ordered, the app needed a large number of users to make a profit. However, as Flowtab’s target audience only used the app once or twice a month, they failed to make any money.
3. YikYak (and its potential revival)
The final app that needed extensive research in the form of an MVP was YikYak, a social media app that we mentioned at the start of the article. The app allowed people to anonymously text each other within a five-mile radius.
However, the anonymity of messages within the app was soon abused, with teenagers using it to cyberbully other teenagers, as well as to send bomb threats to their schools. If the founders had identified this as a potential risk at the start, they could have taken action to put safety measures in place sooner.
Interestingly, as of August this year, YikYak has made a return to the mobile app marketplace, albeit with more stringent security measures. Hopefully, they have adapted lean startup methodology and done thorough research this time around.
Why Lean Startup is so important when it comes to mobile app creation?
“Perfect is the enemy of good” – Voltaire
It may sound tempting to spend lots of time refining your mobile app and making it perfect before launching it on your app store of choice. After all, surely you want to make a good first impression on potential customers… right?
However, getting your mobile app out quickly and acting on the feedback you receive just as speedily has many more advantages. Here are three reasons why lean startup methodology is critical.
1. You can beat your competitors
First, you can get your idea out to people before your competitors do. Mobile app development is a highly competitive market. While you may be the only business in your specific niche initially, you may have several rivals when you finally get to market.
2. You can save money
Second, creating a fully comprehensive app takes time and money to do. If you launch and find out that people aren’t interested, you may have to spend additional resources to make changes. Even worse, you may have to abandon your app, meaning that you have wasted all the money and time spent in development.
An MVP makes it easier to pivot or make significant changes if you need to.
3. You can grow a solid customer base
Third, you can build a better rapport with your customers by utilizing lean startup development. If you give your customers the opportunity to offer feedback on your app from the very beginning, they are more likely to be loyal to your startup moving forward.
According to American Express, a happy customer will refer 11 potential customers to you, meaning that loyal customers will advocate on your behalf.
What you need to consider when it comes to lean startup development: a checklist
“If you are not embarrassed by your first product, you launched too late.” – Reid Hoffman
So after reading through this article, you’ve decided that you want to use lean startup methodology to help create your brand new mobile app. That’s great news!
Not sure where to begin when it comes to utilizing lean startup techniques to create an MVP? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered.
Here are the four key points that you need to take into consideration.
1. Do your research
Before you start building your MVP, you need to do your due diligence. Researching the current market means you will create an app that is more in sync with the needs of your prospective customers.
Some of the things you need to consider include:
- Who your target audience is, and how your app will solve their pain points. It can be really beneficial here to reach out to prospective customers and ask them their thoughts;
- Which features you want to include in your app. You can then ask your target audience which ones they like the best;
- Who your competitors are, and what features their app contains. If they have an update log, this can show you how they have adapted their MVP over time;
- How much money your MVP will cost to develop, and who in the business needs to be involved;
- If there are any potential risks in the market – a SWOT analysis can be useful;
- What goals you will measure to determine the success of your app
2. Build and launch your MVP
Once you have collected your research, you will have more of an idea of whether your app is a viable one. If it is, it’s time to start building your MVP!
The research from your customers will let you know which features they like the sound of. These are the ones you should prioritize in your app. Your app needs to focus on the features that your customers want to see, not the ones you think your customers want to see.
Remember, your MVP is a basic version of your app. It won’t have all the features available at this stage.
Although it is basic, it still needs to be tested thoroughly. If you launch and it is full of bugs, then your customers will respond negatively.
3. Look at your feedback
- Reviews of your app in the app store
- Quantitative stats. This can include the number of times customers downloaded the app, clicks on a particular button, the overall amount of time spent in the app and app churn rate (more details about Churn Rate)
- Direct feedback from customers. You may ask them to fill in a feedback form on the app, send them an email asking for their thoughts or hold a focus group online
4. Action your feedback
This is the most critical stage – taking the feedback that customers have taken the time to give you and doing something with it.
First of all, sort your feedback by priority. Which issues do you need to fix immediately, and which ones are more of a ‘nice to have’? This will help you allocate resources accordingly.
For example, let’s say that customers have come back and said that they love the app. However, they get frustrated with how long it takes for the individual pages to load, especially over mobile bandwidth.
You can pass this feedback on to your app developers, and they can investigate why this is happening. For example, it may be that compressing your data or adding a new server may fix the problem.
When you have actioned the feedback, it’s time to update your app in the app store. You can then go back to step three, look at the new feedback you receive and see if the changes have resolved the original issue.
It may take several rounds of feedback before you are ready to transition your MVP into a fully-fledged app, with all the features that you want to include. It’s best to take your time and scale gradually.
Even when you have launched your complete product, you still need to analyze customer feedback continuously. Customers who know you are listening to them are more likely to remain loyal, as well as invest in your app.
In conclusion: using MVP and Lean Startup development increases the odds of success
Sticking to the lean startup model of development can take a lot of planning and work behind the scenes, but it is well worth doing.
Businesses like Dropbox, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Airbnb all use the lean startup methodology … and they have done pretty well for themselves over the years!
When a recent study asked business leaders why startups fail, the top two pieces of advice given were to a) listen to customers and b) learn from mistakes.
These are the two key elements of lean startup development.
Need some extra support when it comes to lean startup development?
If you want to know more about how you can apply lean startup techniques to your mobile app, You Are Launched is here to help.
We’ve been working alongside lean startups since 2014, helping them launch successful mobile apps that people want to download.
Contact us today to see how we can work together.