Top 10 Things to Do When Creating an “Uber for X” App

Given the state of the economy and job market, it’s no wonder that many people are turning to new, innovative ways to make some extra cash — or perhaps replace their traditional jobs altogether. Because of this, it comes as no surprise that an ever-increasing number of our clients are looking to make apps heralded as being “like Uber for X”.

But what does that mean, exactly? And more importantly, what should you know before diving into creating an app that’s like Uber? We’ve leveraged our experience to present a list of what we think are the top 10 things to know when creating an “Uber for X” app:

  1. Sharing economy or on-demand?

When people refer to something being “like Uber”, there are two things they generally mean: it’s a marketplace for people to share assets they own with other people (also known as a sharing economy; Airbnb is the quintessential example here) or it’s a marketplace for people to get a peer-to-peer service on-demand, in which all transactions are instantaneous (rather than scheduled for a future date/time). An app can incorporate aspects of each type of economy, but it’s important to understand the strengths and weaknesses that each component brings and how it will perform in your chosen market.

2. Know your market

The success of any product depends on its ability to solve a problem for its users. Perhaps the most important thing to consider when deciding to make an app is what problem you’re going to solve. Is someone already offering a similar service? If so, how will yours be different? Is this an untapped market? If so, is there an unmet need that you can fill? Why should someone choose to use your service? Remember, you need to create something that users want.

3. Trade on your own domain knowledge

Is your idea based on a domain in which you have actual experience? If you’re not familiar with all of the nitty-gritty details of a domain, you’re more likely to run into roadblocks that will catch you off-guard. Regardless of your level of personal experience, make sure that you’re doing market research; your experience may not be the norm and you’ll want to eliminate as much bias from your design as possible.

4. Consider both sides of the user base

It’s almost always easier to get customers onboard than it is to get providers. You need to know what will appeal to both user types so that you can get off the ground and keep pace with future growth. You never want to be in the position of having to turn away business because you can’t keep up with the demand; make sure that your business plan is scalable and accounts for disparities in onboarding by user type.

5. Have a solid marketing and business development strategy

While this may seem obvious, it’s amazing how many people miss this step. Your business plan needs to include things like what your initial market will be, how you will scale as you grow, how you’ll acquire users, how you’ll promote your brand, how you’ll make money, and what partnerships might be helpful. If you need start-up capital, this plan will be required by your investors, but you’ll need one even if you happen to have the necessary cash on-hand. Ultimately, this is a business and it needs to run like one.

6. Making money: Figure out your unit economics

Business 101: whatever product or service you’re offering needs to produce a profit. In an on-demand/sharing economy app, this usually comes down to unit economics –each user transaction needs to have both a cost value and a revenue value associated with it. There are many different options available; you’ll have to determine what is right for your app. This will require a lot of research ahead of time and a little trial-and-error once your app is actually operational. As a rule, the more research you do, the fewer issues you’ll have once your app gets up and running.

7. Assume that everything will cost more and take longer than you think

If you’ve never made an app before, the process can be an eye-opening experience. It’s fun and exciting, but there will always be things you didn’t expect, features that go beyond the original scope, and issues that need to be resolved. All these things take time and money; you’ll need to make sure that you have enough capital to get through your initial development, as well as the inevitable support and updates that will be required. You’ll also need to set reasonable timelines — a good development team can provide a solid estimate, but there are no guarantees. If you need your app for a specific deadline, start early.

8. Figure out what’s most important — and what can wait for Version 2.0

When you’re outlining how to turn your awesome idea into an app, start dividing the features and components into two categories: necessary and nice-to-have. Everything that will make your app function the way it needs to will go into the first category; everything else goes into the second. If you run out of money or time before you finish everything, you’ll want to be sure that the most important stuff is done, rather than spending all of your effort on nice, but ultimately unnecessary features.

9. Pick your (launch) platform

Before you start on development, you need to consider the best platform for your launch. The three biggest players right now are web, iOS, and Android, but others are always being added. This brings us back to your market research: what platforms are your target demographics using? Sometimes it’s best to jump in with all three from the get-go while other times it makes more sense to start out with only one or two — you can always add more platforms later.

10. Trust your development team

Whether you have your own in-house development team or you hire one, you’re going to need to trust them; they’re experts in their respective fields and you chose them for a reason. It’s your project, so you’ll be coming to the table with a lot of ideas, but you may not be familiar with best practices in all areas. Your development team is there to guide you and help you turn your idea into an amazing app that people will want to use.