One of the first questions that an angel or VC will ask you when you come pitching your startup is “is there anyone else out there doing this, and if not, why, and if so, how are you different or doing it better?” Frankly it’s one of the first things a company should ask itself before it’s even a company.
In the time since working with an app development company, I’ve been appalled at how unresearched some of the ideas people are coming to us with are. There are people who haven’t even done the most preliminary of leg work to search the app store to see if their idea already exists and find what the competition is. It puts the burden on us to be the harbingers of bad news when we have to list off to a customer the ten popular apps just like theirs that have existed for over a year.
Then secondly, they haven’t taken the time to research if a phone can actually do what they are wanting. If you have a great idea, and someone else hasn’t done it yet, it might not be because you are a genius, it might just be because there’s a hidden stumbling block. Oh what? You want to make your phone like Meraki and let other people buy your internet? Go get an ATT licensing agreement and call us back, and good luck getting an app that challenges any of ATT or Apple’s approved capabilities accepted. Also, if you have an idea, and there are others like it, it doesn’t necessarily mean it shouldn’t be done..after all there’s a market for Coke, Pepsi, Fanta and Tab. But you need to download all those app and find the way you can build upon the idea and sell it in a niche way.
And finally, beyond researching the app itself, you need to take it upon yourself to know a little about how this investment works..you need to realize that that Apple takes 30% so if you’ve don’t all your equations saying “If I sell 15,000 $2 apps I’ve made it” then you’re dead wrong. To be frank, beyond these three questions there are several other you should ask such as “is there a possibility of other technologies or market forces making my app obsolete”..but we’re starting from square one.
A fool and his money are soon parted, and fortunately we’re not in the business of taking money from fools.We are not an app developer who sell product we know can’t sell and if the market is too saturated we’ll flat tell you no. But we shouldn’t be having to do this as much as we do…it confuses me that people would so casually enter their investment. Entering the app store does not guarantee you millions, and there are going to be winners and losers in this gold rush, but you can make a smart, informed decision that will do the most it can to ensure your success. Before you sign that check, or even pick up the phone to a developer, take five hours and download every similar app, read every review, find out what apps sell and what don’t, read some articles on iPhone ability, draw out what your app might look like and list the five abilities you really want it to have. You’ll do both us, and more importantly yourself, a favor.
Was just making a quick trip to the Walgreens to buy haircolor and couldn’t help but notice these baby shirts.
In the past year the refrain “No I’m sorry, we don’t sign NDAs” was like a mantra at my company, and not just for my company but all of the angel investment industry. And for good reason too. There are a lot of ideas that come to an angel investor, and the thing with good ideas is that a lot of people have the same ones. An idea is one thing, but it’s the plan and execution that really make the business.
So it was surprising to me that in my first week of working at a mobile app development office I heard the refrain “Let me send over an NDA” like it was playing on a broken record. If I thought I heard the same idea a lot in the startup industry, it was nothing compared to this. It’s bizarre, you can almost go through the TV Guide and predict what the next influx of calls will be. Did Oprah talk about texting and driving? Expect to see a bunch of car phone safety apps. None of the people seem to realize that they weren’t the only one watching Oprah that day and are genuinely surprised to hear their genius idea was just called in by three other people.
I’m not insulting our customers, there are a lot of people out there looking to exploit ignorant people with good ideas, but they get overly-high on their idea and begin insisting on an NDA before disclosing even the smallest scrap of their concept. The idea for a car safety app isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just a question of how you will differentiate. You don’t use an NDA to protect “car safety app”, you use it to protect the particular way you play to technically achieve it or spin it.
The only reason I can see that one industry would be so adamantly against NDAs and the other so adamantly for it is strictly that one is buying and the other is selling, but the fact of the matter is, both have the same liability legally. Our company can’t begin to compete to gain new clients without being willing to sign the same NDA everyone else will, however we turn out so many apps that we may have three car phone safety apps all in progress at once that we have assured are different. When a new client comes along with an NDA in hand, and we reject his idea, it’s very easy for him upon the release of our three other apps to say we stole his idea.
I’m not against the NDA, I just wince a bit every time I hear our sales staff sending off one and every time I sit through a meeting hearing a deja vu presentation. I’m curious to investigate as I move forward a safe way we can protect both parties and make it a win/win situation.
It just takes so much energy to have to take my phone all the way out of its case and open the Hipstamatic app in order to convey just what a fauxhemian I am. Thankfully with these iPhone cases you need to do nothing more than show a flash of case out of the back pocket of your $300 skinny jeans to say “yeah, that’s right, I drink $5 wheatgrass shots and $2 PBRs”:
The Mustache - Question: What’s longer..your mustache or the number of contacts in your iPhone that you did coke with in the nightclub bathroom over the past year?
The Fixie - Yeah, I hope the lack of brakes causes you to fall off and crack the screen of that fancy phone your mom bought you.
The Mixtape - I just love to cover my cutting edge phone with that awesome obsolete technology. Do you make one that looks like vinyl too?
The Owl - Official mascot of the unwashed.