To create or not create - that is the question

You've got a great idea. Now what?

That's when Wolverine would tell you, "Now you do some f***ing market research, bub".

Ok, maybe Logan didn't actually say that but it doesn't make it not true.

You need to validate your idea before you spend a small fortune developing a product or service nobody wants to buy. And as Paul Graham, former co-founder of Y-Combinator says, your mission is to "build something people want".

One of the most important things we should be striving for is to build something that either solves a problem or makes people happy. I.E., scratch an itch.

Step 1: Check out the market - how crowded is it? What can you do to differentiate yourself from your competitors?

Step 2: Check out the competitors - who are they? Are they well organized with a good product or is there an opportunity for you to beat them in some way?

Step 3: Check out the competitor's product(s) - what do they sell/market/offer and how do they do it? Is your differentiator enough to move the market? Are you targeting a specific market segment or vertical that they aren't addressing?

Step 4: Market potential - now you should really try to evaluate and understand - what is your target market and what is the opportunity you could expect if your concept is successful? Clearly, the bigger the market, the more potential buyers. I would imagine if wanted to build a deep-sea wreck sight-seeing company, that might be possible but it might also have very limited commercial viability. I'd clearly have to find the right audience and buyers.

Step 5: Lots of entrepreneurs today test ideas using landing pages or go forward with an MVP. If you decide to build an MVP, consider using Lean Startup principles, meaning - do not build the most awesome app (or product) that you can to reach every channel you possibly could. Instead, build enough to validate the idea and start building traction using whatever measure you value (demos, evals/trials, newsletter signups, signups, downloads, pre-sales, sales, webinar attendees, etc).

Just because you love the idea does NOT mean people will buy your product or service. In my own case, our initial service and value proposition sounded good to me. Friends and family told me what I wanted to hear - great idea. However, I had targeted an extremely competitive market (credit monitoring) with LifeLock as a dominant player and other powerful players that all have deep marketing pockets. A year later and practically no sales and I'd learned otherwise and decided to hedge my bets with another project.

The next year, I did everything differently from the previous year. The result, an Android app that has (so far) been downloaded over 100,000 times in the last 4 months. We'll start trying to monetize the app this week, so I'll report on how it's going later. I'll also be officially shutting down the credit monitoring/credit restoration business to focus on our app.

How do you validate an idea?

  1. 1

    Hi Steve.

    Thanks for sharing.

    I am also betting for a mobile app.
    Now we are just 1,000 installs but will share the experience about our growth.

    What strategy did you use to reach the nothing bad number of 100,000 installs in 4 months ?
    I guess you have organic downloads right?
    We are now trying to decide how to spend our budget in that growth so any tip about it will help.


    1. 1

      We started by researching keywords and what "good" listings were valued by Google. Then we looked at how most successful apps did their images. I had already done a lot of research on the most commonly spoken languages so once we had a listing we liked, we translated the listing into about 12 different local languages.

      Our marketing efforts started with an organic listing. That really got no traction so I started experimenting with a regular Google Ad that directed visitors to our website. I then tried a Google App Ad which started getting us a good number of downloads per day (about 1k) and users. The Google Play Console says that our app is installed on 22514 active devices. We have had about 4k users register and unlock the app (we're getting rid of the registration concept because it causes too much friction).

      Originally we were "pay to download" and even when paying for an ad, our downloads slowed down to a trickle. Only when I have kept the app free to download have we gotten good numbers. We're in the process of switching over to a model where we have a 14 day trial followed by giving the user the choice of a limited free version or of an in-app upgrade to the premium unlocked version. This model should give us the ability to continue to build traction using free to download and also generate some revenue from people that love our app.

      1. 1

        Thanks for the detailed explanation.

        We are going to pay for Google App ads too but it is an unknown for us the cost will have it.
        We are targeting USA users, do you remember how much cost 1K users per day campaign?

        Another possibility we are thinking is to contact influences, but also, it is new for us..

        Our app is free also and will use voice ads as monetization.


        1. 1

          We were paying $50 per day for our ad spread out across most of the world (not just the US). The number of downloads (not users) fluctuated between 1k-2k per day. I changed the budget for the ad to $5 per day until we get this next release out. Then I'll wait and see what kind of revenue it generates before I spend on an app ad again.

          Our free version will have both banner and interstitial ads but I'm not ready to push that code yet. I want to make sure they don't significantly upset or impede the user experience before we put them out there.

          1. 1

            You are doing well. Ads inside the app if they are banners do not pay enough and can reduce your traction.

            We have other app that has organic installs 200 per day and there We have ads. We are making very little many with this app but major traffic is from countries that do not pay so much.
            We have also a remove-ads IAP but almost nobody pays for it.

            1. 1

              Do you have any other premium features that users can unlock or is it just to remove ads? Our premium version is designed to unlock multiple app functionalities. I think we have 4 or 5 restrictions in the free version in comparison to the paid version and I've been looking at other value we can provide or add to make the premium version more enticing.

              1. 1

                In our case only remove ads. But perhaps in the future we must add some more value. Yes, in your case you will get more premium downloads for sure

                1. 1

                  I would think the way to help monetize your app would be to use rewarded ads instead of normal ads. For example, you might give them access to 5 jokes at a time. If they want to earn 5 more jokes, they have to watch a rewarded ad.

                  You could also give them more jokes if they share a joke with their friends via text, email, or social media (naturally it would have a link to your app).

                  Can your users "favorite" jokes?

                  1. 1

                    Steve: I just downloaded it. Where do you source your material?

                    Ricardo: I write here because the thread reach a limit here and can not reply.

                    In "The Joker" we have a local DB and it is updated with daily jokes fed from some Twitter accounts. Daily jokes are the way we get recurrence in the usage of the app

                  2. 1

                    Yes, your idea is not bad.
                    We need to explore it and see if it works.

                    The app allows to favorite and share.

                    Here is the link if you want to look at how it is:



                    1. 1

                      I just downloaded it. Where do you source your material?

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