Have you ever been teased by the idea of giving birth to a mobile app? If your answer is yes, you can look forward to a series of four posts taking you through the journey from initial idea to launch in an app store. Starting here, we will follow a real “apptrepreneur” on his journey towards the app store.

An app adventure
Bringing an app to market is a multifaceted adventure. You might know the target device very well. You have surely been to the app store multiple times. But all the work behind the scenes is new territory. The apptrepreneur that we are following is a real-life telecom executive leaving a successful corporate career for a professional adventure – thrilled by the idea of testing new boundaries and seeing if his idea could fly. The idea is to exploit proven mobile platforms and eco-systems. A big part of the thrill is to see if you can make your idea stick in users’ minds while competing against the 1.6 million Android and 1.5 million iOS Apps already on the market.

Powerful producer
The lead role in creating an app is similar to that of the producer in the film industry. As an app producer, you are responsible for bringing an idea onto the screens of mobile devices and to tie together a good flow – like a scene in a movie. The crisper your ideas are for each screen, the better the final production will be. This part of app creation determines the appeal of your app.

The ideation phase of the app involve a number of steps:

  1. Sketching out the screens to appear in the app

  2. Stitching together the different screens into holistic flows

  3. Adding audio to enhance the app

  4. Adding revenue generation/monetization functionality – to make money on the app!

  5. Building in the structure of the game including menus and game play flow.

The app creator’s role is like that of a film producer, guiding the app from concept to design to refinement.

The app creator’s role is like that of a film producer, guiding the app from concept to design to refinement.

Core coding capabilities
As an apptrepreneur, you don’t have to code the app yourself but you need a general understanding of programming techniques. The available programming tools are well proven and have made app design manageable for a broad audience. You need to know enough to guide the programmers and to ensure that your abstract app designs are detailed enough to serve as a baseline for the programmers. Apptrepreneurs need to take their ideas to implementation quickly. The broad range of tools and widespread availability of programmers make your idea vulnerable to similar alternatives coming to market.

Invest intelligently 
The development of an app comes with a number of investment choices. How much can we invest to launch a prototype of the app? What is required to get to the first raving fans? Should you plan for earned or paid marketing? And last but not least, what will it take to maintain and evolve the app? Most aspects will be unknown when you start, so start lean, with the objective to stay lean with a very focused investment strategy. Part of the investment decision is based on where you think revenues will come from – either by making users pay for the app or from in-app advertising revenues.

Innovation insights 
Companies embracing digital have a lot to learn from apptrepreneurs about how to set up their business. Business leaders can learn the following from apptreprenuers about how to shape their digital initiatives:

  • Apptrepreneurs build with a lean and agile development model – a model adopted by the majority of companies going digital.

  • The development of an app requires a 360-degree view of the challenge. Other industries can copy the roles of producer (and financial controller), programmer, and project leader.

  • As a producer you are in charge of making all the trade-offs between functionality, time and cost for taking your app to market.

  • More and more business models will be advertising based – it is wise to plan for this from the start.

  • Digital adventures take longer than you think – affecting both time to market and financial issues.

  • The shorter the sprints you use in your projects, the faster they will deliver – if you don’t push too far in each step, you can’t be very much off track.