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This story is a combination of branding and product train wreck

This story is a combination of branding and product train wreck

personal because it looks a bit like a face – with the ‘O’ serving as the mouth and the ‘TM’ being a beauty spot on the bottom right.


(I talk a lot more about Color later in the book). It’s a doozy. You might recall that, in 2011, an iPhone social photo-sharing app called Color launched with much fanfare. Before it even launched it had raised $35 million in funding – which is, frankly, ludicrous. The company paid more than $1 million to acquire both color and colour. Definitely a wise investment for a nascent, pre-launch company! In any case, I am sure it would have been OK should the app have been successful. It turned out that the app’s proposition was somewhat complex: it was about social photo sharing but with random people in your vicinity. First, the app just confused users, because its interface was bizarrely unintuitive; on top of that the technology just didn’t work. The result was expensive confusion. In the end the company folded after a well-publicised public argument between the founder, employees and investors. Just remember that a great domain and URL doesn’t make an app successful! Nor does $35 million!

Launchrock offers a very handy service here: it hosts a basic website for you; you can customise it with your logo and colour scheme with zero coding skills; you can add details about what your app does, when it’s launching and how to get in touch with you

Taking It All Online So now it feels as if it’s coming together – name, logo, a bit of a colour scheme and a pretty e. Now it’s time to announce to the world that you’ve arrived! And that means getting your website up and running. Once again, you want to be efficient and not invest too much time and effort. The very first thing to do is to get a holding page up. Most importantly, and its main feature, it prompts everyone who visits your site to register their email address and get early access to your app. It then encourages those visitors to share the site with friends. Why is this great? Well, over the course of the next few weeks and months as you build your app – reaching out to designers, contractors, developers and investors – people will invariably visit your website. With launchrock in place you’re now capturing hundreds of the email addresses of people interested in your app. That means you’re building a list of potential users. For a small amount of effort you’ve started to build your user base.

It’s also a good idea to register all of your social-media accounts – claim your Twitter and Instagram handle, your Facebook page (along with a custom URL), your Google+ and Pinterest pages. Start building a consistent online identity. With these core elements in place, you’re now ready to get down to the process of designing and building your actual app. There are a few things to consider upfront, to ensure that you’re going about the process as efficiently as possible and leveraging the techniques used by the very top startups.

Getting Lean and Mean ‘In 2012 there were about 4,000 unique devices running Android; in 2013 it was around 12,000. About 600 different companies manufactured those devices’ #BILLIONDOLLARAPP

Too many startups begin with an idea for an app that they think people want. They launch into the process of designing and then building their app, often working on it for months, developing feature after feature. When the product is complete, they launch with a big fanfare and realise that users are just not continuing to download it and few people are continuing to use it. What went wrong? Most people often don’t spend anywhere near enough time talking to their prospective customers. Understanding your target users is critical – especially understanding their problems and how your app is going to solve those problems. I recommend a great book by Eric Ries called The Lean Startup. ‘Lean’ is a great adjective. It is about building your app wisely, frugally, without wasting time, without excessive costs, and maintaining a vigour and energy. In the book Ries summarises an approach to eliminate uncertainty, and inject process and rigour around developing and testing your product to make sure it resonates with your target users. Throughout this book, I’ll echo a lot of best practice Ries writes about – my goal is not to apply rules dogmatically, but rather to help you invoke your best judgement in any situation. I’ll show you how to work smarter, not harder. We’ll explore how to create a prototype app faster, so that you can get it into the hands of users quickly – and get the allimportant feedback about whether your product is heading in the right direction. We’ll incorporate Ries’s ideas of validated learning when we look at the way to measure, with analytics, how and why people use your app. And, most


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