Jan 23, 2015 Will Your Software Idea Flop or Fly? 4 Simple Tests Can Help You Tell
Many dream of becoming the next Gates or Lerner or Zuckerberg—coming up with that winning idea that changes everything. Few succeed. Having heard countless new tech ideas, and successfully building scores of them, here are four simple questions to help suss whether a concept is hot … or not.
1. Am I Meeting a Real Need, or Projecting a Need to Match My Idea?
It can be hard to tell. That’s not necessarily because we like our ideas enough to kid ourselves. But because customers themselves often don’t know what they want until told, to paraphrase Steve Jobs. No one sat around wishing for Airbnb or Facebook or Uber before they arrived. On the other hand, there’s Google Glass. To grope for an answer, consider these questions:
- Would we use it ourselves, or do we know someone who would, honestly?
- Would we still use it if we had to pay for it?
Conversely, assuming some audience we are not a part of will eat our idea up is usually risky, especially if the market is not one we’re intimately familiar with.
It’s a smart idea to conduct market research, perhaps by tapping a relatively inexpensive online service to probe consumer interest.
2. Is there a Bigger, Better Known Player Already in my Space?
It’s crucial to thoroughly understand the other players. If there’s a better financed, more established solution out there, odds may be against the start-up, even if the new concept offers an improvement. (We’ll cover David whipping Goliath scenarios in a future post.)
3. Can I Monetize my Idea?
If the primary plan for making money is to display ads or sell user data, that’s often a tip-off that monetization opportunities are not strong since attracting a user base large and loyal enough to be lucrative is usually a steep challenge.
On the more positive side, profit does not need to come right away. It can wait for as long as there is a runway. Amazon was in the red for years. For a number of successful tech start-ups, the owners’ monetization plan was the same as their exit strategy: build up the system and user base—and sell it to a bigger firm.
4. Can the Software Be Well Crafted within my Budget?
Here are three truths:
- Almost any software can be built
- Building it well requires sufficient time and budget.
- Almost any software can be built badly, for cheap.
Crucial to success is producing apps or applications that are reliable, stable, fast, and that boast well-thought-through interfaces that please your users. Launching something half-baked or wonky because it was coded on the cheap is a fast way to lose an investment. At the same time, all start-ups have finite resources. Mostly very finite.
The solution: your developer should help determine a release strategy that is optimal for particular business needs. Sometimes, the best approach is to launch a complex, fully functional system. Other times, it’s more effective to provide features through in a series of strategic phases, thereby spreading out your budget.
Many other factors will be at play in your success, of course.
For a frank, yet always friendly, free assessment of your idea, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-447-1100.