Running A Mobile App Company

So you woke up in the middle of the night and had this great idea for an amazing app — you can picture it, you know it is useful, and you can imagine that many people would like it, too. So what do you do? You run down the hallway to tell your roommate all about this million dollar idea. “Mom, you’ll never believe it, I just came up with this great app idea.” Whoa there Tiger, maybe take a breather before you go buy that Lambo today.

Let me be straightforward here, having a successful app is more than just some incredible idea and getting the app created, then just sitting back and waiting for your bank account to skyrocket. A successful app is about building a successful company around your app or apps to help them surviving the intensely diluted app marketplace.

If this is your first-ever app development attempt, here is a brief guide rundown to make the project a success!

Before you start boasting to all your friends and begging them for some extra cash to invest in your cool new app idea, there are a few crucial things you’ll want to sort out on your own first. Step 1, get crystal clear on your reason for starting your business. Starting a business is a big decision with a lot of repercussions. It will take effort, time and money for it to blossom into something great. It will be pretty difficult to role out of bed in the morning feeling motivated to work on your business if you don’t have a strong vision. Having a vision means making some sacrifices too. You probably won’t be able to go to all those awesome BBQ’s you get invited to on the weekends or play in your 14 softball leagues or crush it at World of Warcraft after your day job. Those are all great things and probably a lot of fun, but if you seriously want to have a successful app company you need to get committed. That means working hard, setting aside time each week to get certain things accomplished. The best way to go about that would be to set attainable goals. Those can be broken down into daily, weekly, monthly, yearly goals. I’m not going to get into all those details, it’s a topic in it of itself. So do yourself a favor if you are serious about your app business and jot that down “I need a clear vision. I need to set attainable goals.” Honestly, if you can’t do that, then you aren’t serious. I know because I’ve been through that scenario more than a handful of times.

Here’s a good story on that. Back in college I was looking for a few ways to make some extra money and make some new friends in the process. So I decided to start this “business.” I’m purposefully not going to get into details about the business but the story still holds some water. I started out by doing some research on what sort of startup costs I would incur. Watched a bunch of Youtube videos and read a lot of articles on the subject. Not that I was a subject matter expert by any means but I figured I could make do with what I knew. So I purchased some raw materials and had them shipped to my apartment. I was bragging to my roommates all week about my amazing new business idea. I printed out fliers and posted them all over campus to gain some clientele. Of course I was criticized to the nth degree by my roommates both for actual idea and business savviness. Somewhere along the lines of these conversations “You have a business idea? You, J.P., have this amazing business idea?” Group erupts in laughter. “This idea will never work. Hey bro, pass me another beer would ya.” I’m sure you can easily imagine this scenario. I can’t sit here and say that I gave them any reason to believe in me based on my previous actions, associates, etc but it still would’ve been nice to receive some sort of support. Anyways, so when the raw materials showed up at my apartment I brought them into the living room. I’m jumping for joy like a little kid at Christmas that just opened his Nintendo 64.

So with my body just overflowing with excitement, what did I do? I raced downstairs to the apartments where a few of our girlfriends were living and invited them up to our apartment to check out my new stuff. We open the door to my apartment with them following closely behind me. I decide to show off my new stuff to them but due to my overexcitement and nervousness I broke my raw materials right then and there in front of my roommates and my friends. I’ve never been so embarrassed in all my life. I turned 14 colors of red in the face and could not think straight with the uproar of laughter coming from the loft where my roommates were hanging out. It was like a pack of hyena’s about to devour a zebra out in the Sahara. Needless to say, that business didn’t last very long…

Back to reality here, a few things you’ll want to look into when putting together your vision and goals include:

  • ◊ Choosing the right business model for you. There are plenty of ways to run a successful app business; you should pick the one that works best for you. Decide whether you’re providing a one time, high value experience that favors the pay-to-download model or if you plan to reach a large audience and continue to engage them over time, in which case an ad-supported model often makes more sense.
  • ◊ Build for the user. You need to understand the different ways users are going to engage with your app, and build around them. People use their smartphones while they are commuting, waiting for an appointment and sometimes just to kill time indoors on a rainy day. You should recognize how your app will be used so you can delight your users with a great experience.

In an article written by Business News Daily, Mikka Olsson makes an astounding statement. “While having the idea is paramount, Mikka Olsson, co-founder of the app development firm Ebbex, said a lot of other work, from design to marketing, is necessary for it to be a productive venture. “Having a great idea is just 5 percent of the process,” Olsson said. ” It’s a huge opportunity, but you have to gear up and really want it.”1

Before you go off into Lala land and drum up even more illusions of grandeur please realize that the app market is both crowded and incredibly competitive marketplace. Thus making it not  easy one to break into. You can’t just google your cheat codes or go buy a GameShark to help you get the hottest new app out there. While it’s true anyone can develop an app, and many get brought to market, very few mobile app businesses actually make any money.

Once you’ve decided to take the first steps, doing some research on the marketplace, your competition, etc may be a novel idea. Here’s how research can help:

  1. 1. Find out whether there are other apps doing the same thing
  2. 2. Find design inspiration for your app
  3. 3. Find information on the technical requirements for your app
  4. 4. Find out how you can market and monetize your app

Once you have the design and functions picked out, just keep it that way. Don’t go perusing other app’s and say “we should have this feature because Facebook, Twitter, etc have it.” Just cool your jets and relax. If you get into that habit it will be a vicious cycle of never finishing the app and you’ll probably run out of funding before the app is completely due to paying for the additional development time. Remember, you agreed on a scope set forth by the team so do your part and abide by your part of the bargain.

If you decide that going with a reputable mobile app development firm is the right route for you, here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. 1. Good. Fast. Cheap. Pick any two, but you can’t have all three when it comes to mobile app development.
  2. 2. There is usually nothing a reputable mobile app design and development firm can do for less than $50,000 when it comes to a full app development and deployment. They’ll be able to work with that type of budget for strategic engagements focused on defining your MVP and its business model or prototyping, but not for an entire dev and deployment project.
  3. 3. Most quality mobile apps will cost more than $100,000.
  4. 4. Mobile development is only 35% of the long-term costs of creating an app and there will always be unexpected costs that come along the way.

Last thought before we wrap up. The convo including “I have an app idea” and “I can’t tell you about it” is completely bogus. If you think that sharing your idea with someone at the bar is jeopardizing your chances of being a millionaire then you may really be having some intense illusions of grandeur. Let’s face it, if you gave someone the idea, do you really think they’ll have the same passion, drive, and motivation to go out and make that app a success? Or is it more plausible they’ll just say they have an idea for 24- 48 hours and then totally forget about it because they have no emotional connection to the idea / concept? Absolutely the latter. Here’s a good reference point from a Huffington Post article, “as the CEO of Applico, I hear hundreds of startup ideas every week and about 10 variations of each idea. If you don’t want to tell someone your idea without having an executed NDA in place first, you are handicapping yourself. Hearing other people’s perspective and openly discussing your thought process in the early stages of your business is crucial to appropriately positioning yourself. If you tell someone your idea and they think it’s so great that they would want to do it themselves, you may have an opportunity to bring on a valuable team member, advisor, or investor. Even if you had an NDA, it would be so costly and distracting to enforce that the value of an NDA in your incubation stage is severely limited.”2

Lack of experience, skill, and money is not a formula for software success. But if you do have a desire to build an app business and are willing to put your money where your mouth is then I can probably hook you up. My friends over at Vault Innovation can do just that. With their expertise in both mobile and business strategies, they will help you fill in the gaps to help transform your hot new app into a viable, sustainable business.


If you are serious about creating an app I can point you in the right direction with 2 possible options:

  1. ◊ We Are Polygon: If you are looking into creating an app, want to reduce costs and increase employee productivity for your company, create new revenue opportunities for your business, brand yourself or just want to attach a cool app idea to your name, We Are Polygon is worth checking out. Let me assure you, that they will take a more hands on detailed approach for determining your costs compared to those calculators. This takes into consideration, your budget, your needs, and feedback on what functions will actually make sense to be implemented into your app. Your app success is what drives their team, not a paycheck at the end of the day.
  2. ◊ Vault Innovation: If you are willing to put your money where your mouth is, have a huge vision on where you want to take your app company, and are willing to put in the work to take yourself to the top, Vault Innovation is your vehicle to get you there. Where you want to be the next Zuckerberg, disrupt the marketplace, or just have an itch to be an app entrepreneur Vault Innovation has the experience and creativity to lead startup projects and the expertise and resources to execute enterprise solutions.


If you already have an app developed, or already have an all-star stacked team building one out, all you have to do is ask yourself one question:

If you aren’t tracking your analytics on your app, you’re just going to Vegas and putting down $10 G’s on black 27 in a game of roulette in hopes of becoming a millionaire instantaneously. What you need is a useful and customized KPIs that connect to the source, making mobile campaign optimization possible. Here is where Adjust comes into play. Adjust is a business intelligence platform for mobile app marketers, combining attribution for advertising sources with advanced analytics and store statistics. If you want the most bang for your buck and to ensure the highest probability of your app succeeding, do yourself a favor and check out Adjust.

Please remember, if you took nothing else away from this work of art, have a strategy in place for getting your app idea together, developed, and post market. Get customers before building the product. Create design before code. Still, a product is nothing without scalability. “You can’t just build a product today, you need to build a venture. And that involves processes, structures, feedback loops, analytics and a community.”

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