Continuing from Monday, non-developers can have great ideas for apps, too. The first phase of evaluating your idea for an app focused mostly on evaluating initial viability – whether it can be done, whether anyone else is doing something similar, protecting your idea while also looking at whether a mobile app is your best option. The main hurdle to cross is that very frequently, those with an idea do not have the financial resources to bring it to fruition. This is what we will focus on today.
If you don’t have the money to finance your idea, you are not entirely dead in the water. You have options, but you will have to work for them. It’s not easy or simple work, either. Also, odds are that you will have to invest some of your own money up front to get any kind of investor to look at your idea. There are different sources for raising capital – and you will need to research what is best for you. You might try to get a venture capitalist on board, you might seek a small business loan through a bank or other business development group (like the US Small Business Administration). You might simply try to find a developer willing to partner on your project. You could go the crowdfunding route or try to develop the app through crowdsourcing. In some cases, you might be able to find a business incubation program that will invest directly in your effort provided you run it through their program. There are lots of options, but they ALL require research and evaluation of pros/cons – which is well beyond my ability to do here.
Everyone who invests in your effort will want to see some tangible and realistic information - a presentation and a prototype. The formats of these can vary somewhat depending upon who you are pitching, too. This presentation makes use of all or most of the information you detailed about your app, features and functions, and how it is different from the competition. The prototype need not be a working example of what you intend – but should involve a high quality graphical mark-up of it.
For some of this, you will want to reference other posts as delineated in our OMS Developer Guide. One item you will want to focus upon is quantifying (and qualifying) your market – particularly how many users you intend to reach, how you will reach them.
All of this borders in the direction of preparing a business plan. Fortunately you only really need to focus on the product and the market. Traditional investors will want to see that you are invested in your idea. Some may provide you the finances, others may insist on varying levels of involvement in your app’s development – to the point that you are sidelined. The most important aspect of getting an investor involved is getting the right investor involved. That’s not easy, suffice that you have the choice to accept their offers, or not.
The most important point in all of this is that it is up to you (or your team) to research. Enormous amounts of information is available across the web to help you. It is just a matter of taking the time to do it.
There are two specific points that deserve further discussion.
1. How much funding you should you aim at? For this, you will need to talk with a friendly developer to assess the technical and developmental portion of creating your app. You will also want a proposed budget for operations, marketing/advertising, unexpected expenses, etc. These costs should be validated to the extent possible – they must be realistic as any veteran investor is going to have a pretty good idea of what you will need already. Seeking $2 million when $100k will be more than sufficient won’t work. Likewise, seeking $20k when you will really need $100k is an indication (unless spelt out elsewhere) that you haven’t really done your research. It’s not easy research.
2. In to win or not at all. Convincing someone to invest a significant amount of money is hard work. People do it all of the time, but they work hard at it. If they go the crowdfunding route, they spend weeks preparing for it and they approach everyone they know and actively network to meet others. If they go the conventional route, they might meet with 5, 10 or more prospective investors before getting so much as a second meeting. Hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of ‘free work’ goes into finding a good investor.
If you really have a good idea, it is worth first looking at finding someone who can help make it happen as a first step — a mobile developer or development company. You may be able to skip a lot of this kind of effort. Also, avail yourself of any small business programs offered in your country or city – for the US, that means the Small Business Administration and the Service Corps of Retired Executives.