With all of the app ideas floating around in our heads, it’s difficult to even pick which ones we should put time into developing. Once we decide to actually build an app, getting users for it seems like an even greater feat. Trying to predetermine if an app (or any business idea) will succeed is called validation. It seems like an abstract concept, but there are easy, concrete steps you can take to validate an app successfully.
Some people think it’s a bad thing when other people have the same app idea as they do. Really, the opposite is true. Rarely will any of us come up with an app idea that’s truly proprietary. Even if we do, if it’s a good idea, we can expect competition to pop up quickly once word gets out. If you’ve got an idea and see others making a valid business model out of it, you’re on the right track.
It’s never the right time to rebuild the thousandth to-do list out there, but a few competitors doing something similar to your app means there’s a valid market out there. If they’re generating revenue, you know paid users are out there. The chances that they’re 100% happy with the app they’re using are slim to none.
If you can, take a deeper look into products that are similar to your app. What are the main features? Can you find complaints about their product on social media or app review sites? Let these be a guiding light for you and your app’s roadmap.
A caveat: if a direct competitor has VC or PE money backing, it will massively increase the difficulty of launching and monetizing your app successfully. Still not impossible.
Get the MVP Out
The most effective thing you can do to validate an app is to get it out there. Build the MVP and launch on Product Hunt or BetaList to get early adopters in on your app. Things don’t have to be perfect to launch, so determine the most important features and start spreading the word.
Early adopters will be able to provide feedback on whether your app is actually useful and doing what it says it does. They can even point you in the right direction for your next feature additions.
Actual users will provide unique insights on how people will use your app. Until you get that, all the features you add to your app are just educated guesses. Ask your users directly. Send an email asking for feedback, put a survey in the app, or even ask for a quick phone call in return for a $10 gift card.
If you know the niche or industry problem your app has the solution for, it should be easy enough to find people to discuss it with. It can be intimidating if you aren’t a very social person, but just ask. Send messages to people in the industry or niche and ask how they’re approaching the problem.
A simple message should do the trick:
“Hi! I’m [name], I work in [industry]. I’ve been having trouble with [problem], do you experience this as well? How have you approached solving it? Thanks for your time.”
Most importantly, don’t focus on your app. Focus on the problem at hand and the solutions people have tried so far. If you focus on the app idea, you risk people feeling sold to or just telling you what they think you want to hear. Be prepared to hear that some people are already using a similar app to solve the problem. Follow up and ask if it’s helping them successfully or if they’re having any additional problems with it.
Taking these steps to validate an app before you dive too deeply into building it can save you a lot of time and money down the line. If you follow these steps, you should get a good idea of how successful your app can be.