What’s your Niche? The Trials and Tribulations of a Mobile App Startup
By Sally Nguyen
Being a startup entrepreneur involves endless battles, but when your product is also a mobile app, you’re faced with a whole lot more challenges that come with the fast changing and super crowded market.
From conception to crippling failures (and everything in between) — Laura Sagen, creator of the Behere app which allows you to create shared experiences with your next door stranger, tells us of her experiences on the mobile startup road and the importance of knowing your niche market.
No stranger to solo travelling, Laura had expected her trip to Japan and the meeting of locals to be a fun process but to her surprise, she had felt more of an outsider than a neighbour. Laura began her search for a resolution and the initial ideas of an app that would instantly connect you to strangers with similar interests were formed.
Coding without actually knowing code.
Armed with your idea for a mobile app, one of the greatest trials you will encounter as an app startup is the battle of coding. You’re swimming in ideas but how do you turn them into reality? Unless coding is your second language, you will need to either learn it, or scour for someone who knows it (preferably both).
Laura’s role as a managing consultant at Ernst and Young was a world away from app development and though finding herself completely consumed by her app, Laura lacked the background in coding that would bring her ideas into a tangible tech reality. Laura opted to search for developers at various tech meetups but again, this in itself was a challenge.
As it stands, the demand for skilled developers is incredibly high but reaching these developers seems to be a shared difficulty. WorkInStartups is a great place to find your future developer and vice versa, the site lists startups that are constantly in search of developers. Resident mentors at Launch22 like Joaquim Canet of Develapps are also code wizards with an abundance of knowledge to share. Even searching in your local tech universities can be rewarding.
Know Your Niche. What’s a business without a plan?
Even with a functioning product, a business will struggle without plans to get from A to B. An inevitable part of a business plan and (unfortunately) one of life’s biggest questions that you musn’t avoid asking yourself is ‘how would this product have monetary value? Is it profitable?’
April 2016, Behere faced harsh criticism for its weak business plan and Laura reached an all time low — the mobile app was at a standstill but Laura would come to find the app’s need for a niche as their answer.
Developing your mobile app in a niche market is especially important with the sheer number of mobile apps being created - making for a crowded market. Establishing a clear focus for your app and defining your perfect target group (keeping in mind that you don’t want to be so niche as to not have a large enough reach) is essential for reducing the number of competitors you will need to tackle later on. Key point: to begin building your app with your niche in mind rather than shoehorning an app into a niche.
Laura and the Behere team have decided to place a strong focus on selling B2B. For Laura, the very corporate world which she once belonged to and believed socially stifling would essentially become her niche market. Her app now currently aims to deconstruct the corporate concrete buildings into a thriving “social ecosystem” and allow companies to build a more successful sense of company community with the app.
Lastly, and in the words of Laura, “Done is better than perfect” — to imagine is great but to create is fantastic. Rather than mulling over a project, whether it will work and whether it will gain traction, do it.