A lot of people come to me and tell me about their amazing web or mobile app ideas.

They might be a passionate startup founder, or, someone working in a larger organisation wanting to drive internal innovation.

I love all these ideas and I am honoured that people will share them with me.

For the majority of people who approach SEED wanting us to design and develop their app idea, they have the money to action their concept, but don't necessarily have the business or technical know how – yet.

So, I talk them through the process of web and mobile app development by using the the three phases we use at SEED – Discovery, Development and Delivery.

‍A lot of people have the money to action their concept but don't always have the business or technical know how.

What is Discovery?

But, some of the people we deal with get stuck on what the Discovery phase is.

It’s actually 'Validation' and making sure they have the right foundations to set them up for success.

Validation of an app idea starts with a few questions you first need to answer, before you venture down the web and mobile development path.

Answering these questions is about setting you up for success and mitigating risk when investing in web or mobile development.

Ultimately, finding the answer to these questions can potentially save you hundreds of thousands of dollars in software development costs.

Three questions you need to ask yourself are:

  • What is the problem my idea solves?
  • Is it actually a problem?
  • Will people or my company pay for this problem to be solved?

If you can honestly answer these questions with empirical, unbiased data you may be positioned to start web and mobile app development.

If not, don't stress, it just means that you need to do some work on the foundations of your project to position yourself for success.

All of these questions are asking the one big question – will my idea work?

Great question! I don't actually know, however, I can give you the tools to find the answer for yourself.

What is the problem my idea solves?

Okay, so this is about focus and your understanding of developing your web or mobile app idea as a business, not just a piece of software.

Software is just a tool to facilitate a business model, a business model solves a problem for people. Start with people first, because without people there are no business or apps.

Tools to use

  • Business Model Canvas
  • Persona Profiling
  • Stakeholder Map
  • User Journey Mapping

You can download SEED's Road to MVP Guide here.

Our guide uses these and a number of tools to help define your idea in the context of it being a business.

Is it actually a problem?

This is actually a far more interesting question because it will move your idea from theory to reality.

How do I know that it is actually a problem?

This is validation at its core and to answer this question is going to take a bit of work, however, the answer will be well worth the time it takes as it will make or break your investment in a web or mobile app.

‍‍Will your idea work? SEED's Road to MVP Guide can help you.

Micro vs macro & what is pretotyping?

Web and mobile apps are largely about solving problems at scale (macro) and automating the solution.

If there is a market for you app idea then you could probably find it on a small scale (micro) and solve the problem manually (pretotype) without a web or mobile application.

What!? Yep, manually. We call this a pretotype as in ‘pre-prototype’.

If you can validate your problem on a small scale and you know the market size then you have both validation and market potential.

So, how do I validate my idea?

Well, you should go through the functions manually, or use simple tools to create a makeshift version of your application which you can test on a smaller scale.

Tools to use

Here is a whitepaper we produced at SEED that will help  – How To: Idea Validation | Introduction to Pretotyping.

Will people or my company pay for this problem to be solved?

Okay, so we know what the problem is we’re solving and who we are solving it for – but will people pay for it?

There are actually two answers for respective founders and innovators. But, both answers swing around the same theme 'return on investment'.

What will the customer (business or person) who is paying for the solution get in return?

Will people...

For founder’s looking to solve a problem for customers out there in the market the answer is about pain.

What? Yes. Pain. The customer who has the problem you are solving has pain/frustration or a disconnect from them achieving what they want.

The problem = pain. How painful is the problem you are solving for the customer?

Second to that, let me frame another thought for you.

Paying for things is also painful.

‍‍How painful is the problem you are solving for the customer?

Yep, for a customer to part with their hard earned cash is a painful thing. Every dollar equates to their time and money and are they willing to transfer their resource to you to relive their pain.

The more you charge the more painful the transaction is.

So, to answer the question of would people pay for this problem to be solved and how much, comes down to balancing the scales between the problem pain and the pain of purchase.

The good news is you can also pretotype this with customers on a small scale. If you can manually solve this problem for a customer on a small scale then they can also pay for the pain to be removed.

In this you can actually test the payment pain threshold for your idea and answer the question: ‘Will people or my company pay for this problem to be solved?’.

You can measure the return on investment your solution has for the customer.

Will my company...

This is a really interesting question but works around the same premise of return on investment, but instead of purchase pain we are looking for purchase justification.

A company looking to purchase a solution is looking for a business model that aligns to their short-term/long-term wants and needs, while also minimising costs.

Yep, it's business 101 – increase profit/minimise costs.

Ideally, if you are looking at a business app or solution you want to look at these main things for minimising costs:

  1. Lowering cost = saving resource (Operationally).
  2. Do something that saves staff time. This ultimately equates to saving money long term and can add up on a large scale.
  3. Make it more efficient/effective.
  4. Increasing profit = increase reach/distribution (product/service).
  5. Provide better insight (opportunity generation).
  6. This is the big data analytics play.

Build your solution around a business model and pitch it as such.

‍It's business 101 – increase profit/minimise costs.

It's just a formula

For example, by using (my app idea) your company Y will decrease costs by A and increase profits by B for the price of Z (solution costs).

If the solution cost is 10 per cent of the money the company will save from using it, it makes strong business sense.

How do I know…

Can you sell an internal trial and perform it manually?

If so, you have just become a provider.

Easier said than done though. Unfortunately, it is much harder to pretotype an enterprise solution.

A few thoughts

Other ideas to validate your idea with a company could be:

  • Can you get an intention to purchase your solution?
  • Can you get the company to invest in your solution?
  • Can you get the company to greenlight a trial based on your idea?

Create a firm foundation first

Entering the digital world is an exciting and rewarding adventure. 

But before you invest in web and mobile development, you need to start from a firm foundation, removing assumptions you may have around your idea and learning through trialling your solution manually.

Not only will it answer the three questions you need to ask before you start app development, it will make you a domain expert on solving the problem, mitigate your risk, lay the right foundation for success and possibly save you hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Want to find out more about web or mobile app development? Get in touch with the great team at SEED to make an enquiry.

Sheda uses Design, Artificial Intelligence and technology to solve complex problems with an emphasis on delivering solutions that make and accelerate impact and bring about social change.
By

Christopher Bartlett

@ Sheda

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