Top 5 Mistakes Startups Make When Building for Mobile

Robby Gupta

Startups by definition are high energy places, where passion speaks loud and clear. It’s exactly this kind of thing, where your heart is speaking far louder than your mind that leads to mistakes. Great ideas and successes whether in the startup world or otherwise begin with passion, but they are carried to their succession by sheer discipline and clear thinking.

Here are the top 5 mistakes that most startups make while building for mobile that you can hopefully avoid.

1. Losing Focus and Doing too much too soon

Remember that first moment when you stumbled upon the idea and you decided that this was worth going after? Do your best not to lose sight of that. Always keep your eye on the ball. What was that problem you were initially trying to solve for the customer? How does the customer benefit? You might think it’s obvious, but the farther you get into development, you will be surprised how many times you have to stop, take a breath and ask yourself – is this what we set out to do? Keep things clear for yourself first, maybe create a vision statement and reiterate it over and over again in all your meetings.

Its sounds simple, but it can be really difficult and more easily said than done. You might be falling short of money, you could be having trouble keeping the company afloat, you may be changing the business model altogether, you might be facing really difficult decisions and these are all part of the ride. And you do have to steer your course occasionally and change direction, but while doing that, never ever lose focus of the goal you initially set out to solve. In essence, lead from the heart, but let the mind do its job and keep you in check.

2.Bad Platform Decision

The pressure on start-ups to get it right is higher than ever before. The competition is cutthroat and the customer is ruthless. They’re going to tell you, in no uncertain terms whether your app is any good pretty quickly. You will have to make decisions to save money, you will have to be smart about your decisions, but not at the cost of quality and your customer’s happiness. Too often, start-ups in an effort to save money and effort end up creating mobile applications on multiple platforms at once. Not just start-ups, even the biggies like Facebook, Linkedin and Southwest airlines have made the mistake of building a cross-platform app, only to re-develop them later.

It’s just not possible to be the jack-of all platforms. You have to be clear about who your target audience is and which platform they are likely to use (Android, iOS, windows etc) find out and make the right decision. And the only way to do that is to use data, take a good decision, check with the analytics in your app and see if your decision was right and if it’s not, iterate and do it quickly. Fail fast is the best way in the mobile app startup world. It is far better to do one thing and do it right rather than launch is multiple platforms at once. The story of Instagram and its 30 million strong user base on iOS before launching in other platforms is a great example of how focus helps.

3. “Hire the Right People, not the Best People” – Jack Ma

People make the company, and having the right people working with you is what will make you successful. You could have a great idea and it could tank simply because you didn’t have the right people by your side. Countless startup post mortems talk about how they couldn’t find the right co-founder. Imagine you’re going on a voyage in the open sea, now if your co-captain isn’t someone you can trust with your life, that journey isn’t worth taking. The right co-founder in a start-up may not save your life as your co-captain might have to at sea, but the involvement and the sense of success or failure together is the same. Make sure you have the right co-founder and a big part of the find-the-right people job is done. The next step is to make sure you have a team that works well together and has complimentary skill sets. You don’t need one superstar that doesn’t work well with others, its far better to have a team that works well together.

4. Skimping on User Experience

Most people don’t use an app after they download it. The statistics and research shows that more than 8 out of 10 people don’t usually come back to open an app again. And apps are uninstalled pretty quickly. A focus on UX design can help you in this area. Make sure your app is light and minimal, you don’t want it showing up first on the list of apps that the customer wants to delete because of lack of space on their phones. Another reason why many apps face the dirge music is because they are sending too much data across the network. In a country like India, an app that eats up data bandwidth isn’t going to be very popular. Those are just some of the back-end UX aspects.

Front end UX keeps your average user feeling great about using the app for the first time. It can be the one thing that makes you stand apart. Make sure your design is minimal, have a fantastic UI and make the on boarding process simple. Countless users don’t like signing up for services too soon and you could end up losing a customer. It makes far more sense to hold back asking for data until the user is really comfortable using your application and actually wants to make a booking or to take things to the next level. Be patient, let the customer come to you, don’t push too hard and wait. Make the process as easy, simple and intuitive as possible. And finally, if you are good don’t send out too many push notifications and spoil things for yourself. The number of users who reported uninstalling and app because of unwanted push notifications is alarmingly high in most surveys. Keep the user engaged, but don’t overwhelm them. It’s a thin line and a tightrope to walk on. Tread carefully.

5. Not Marketing it Right

You cannot survive in any business, or even in your own personal career without some bit of marketing. In the middle of creating the app, and all the hard work that goes into it, a lot of startups forget to market the app before the actual launch. Don’t wait for everything to be perfect before you actually do a bit of marketing. The pre-launch hype is important. Engage with your customers. For the app called the “Virtual Pet”, they encouraged users to adopt a pet for almost a year before the actual launch. The idea was so interesting, it was even picked up by Techcrunch, The Verge and even Forbes. Ideas like this could make you stand apart in the highly competitive app space.

In essence, keep the value you’re trying to bring to the customer at the core of what you’re doing and there will be no looking back. But even with the best intentions for the customer in your app, you still need to talk about it. We don’t live in a world where your work speaks for itself anymore. Talk about your app and do the marketing right, pre and post launch marketing is key for startups.

Download your free eBook: An Introduction to 360 Degree Videos

360 Video Ads

about the author

Robby Gupta

Robby Gupta is the head of US operations for TechJini, Inc. He has had varied experiences working in New York, Cupertino, and Bangalore with packaged & amp; custom web and mobile app development for an assortment of industries. His current focus is Immersive Technologies, IoT, AI bots and their applications in the digital enterprise.