Mobile Apps · Startups

Seeking advice in determining mentorship needs

Kimberly Hickey Regional Sales Manager at FIJI Water/Justin Wine/Landmark Wine

March 31st, 2016

I am on the process of developing a mobile app.  At this point, I've spoken with a developer and have quotes for the full app build and the prototype, but I don't have a good grasp on what my best next steps should be.  I do not have a programming/startup background, and I'm trying to determine what kind of a mentor/partner I should be seeking to help determine next steps and what I can expect from them in terms of time and compensation.
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Ken Vermeille Founder

March 31st, 2016

Hey Kimberly as most of the responses above or below have stated, you definitely need someone to navigate the technical challenges of managing a mobile application. Whereas most people would tell you to hire a product manager you should actually learn everything that you need to know about managing a digital product. As the founder you'll have a variety of responsibilities and you need a clear focus on what you're going to accomplish in the next three months. 

Here are some things to consider:
  1. Have you validated your idea with real customers who are willing to pay for your product
  2. Have you designed a product around the absolute minimal features needed to provide value for your target market
  3. Do you have a visual prototype / mockup of the idea (this actually will help you keep costs down and limit the amount of revisions needed during the development process)
  4. Do you have a launch strategy and a financial strategy to ensure that you can make this product sustainable
I recommend that you take a look at the Value Proposition Canvas  and the Business Model Canvas or Lean Canvas to organize your ideas. Then make a plan of attack. 

There are plenty of influencers here that will help you through the process of figuring out the best plan of attack from a technology standpoint. I'm actually more than willing to point you to the right direction as well as the members here on Founder Dating

Michael Brill Technology startup exec focused on AI-driven products

March 31st, 2016

Hey Kimberly.

Have you built a mockup yet? Validated with users/customers? There are only a few apps that have any traction in wine and hundreds that have failed to get traction. I'd validate, validate, validate before you hire a developer to build anything.

What you probably need is one or more advisors who have built something serving your same market. They're going to have the vertical domain expertise and high probability they'll have or have access to the technical skill set you need to help manage the development process. Do not, under any circumstances, just hand a few pages of scribbles to a developer and expect that they're going to build what you want. It almost always ends in tears if you don't understand as much about development as they do. 

 

Christian Johnson CoFounder & CEO at Good TRKR & Fotition

March 31st, 2016

Hi Kimberly - I would first recommend finding someone with experience in UI/UX design. Also, before you have anyone write a single line of code, you should first find a way to test your idea with your target demographic - basically a Pre-MVP. I would recommend starting with a simple prototyping platform like InVision or Flinto. This would allow you to create a simple demo that you can use to get feedback from prospective users, partners, investors, etc.

Michael Brill Technology startup exec focused on AI-driven products

April 1st, 2016

before you hire a developer...
before you hire a designer...
before you validate with a consumer...
before you mockup anything...

find the top 10-20 failed wine apps (you have hundreds to choose from) you think overlap with parts of your idea, contact their founders and find out about their experience. Listen hard about challenges with user acquisition, engagement, monetization. Really challenge yourself to figure why you'll have a different outcome - a lot of very smart and well-funded people have failed in this world.

If you get through the other side of this with confidence, then awesome... go build a world-changing product. But don't ignore the lessons from hundreds of millions of dollars poured into wine tech.

Hira Saeed Digital Marketing Strategist | Blogging | Event Management | Communication Specialist | PR | Public Speaking

March 31st, 2016

Hello Kimberly,
Not making you afraid or scared but having low and little knowledge in this particular scenario can cost you in long run. Whenever we come to this phase with our clients, we ask them to set-up a meeting where we give them milestones of what and how we will be doing. Take those milestones of your project and show it to someone having sound background in development field.

I am just a message away if you need any help.

Ken Lloyd Strategic Visionary | Mobile Security SME | Executive

March 31st, 2016

It sounds like you need to find a technical partner with product management experience. They will be able to run interference between you and the developers, they will manage the process and when the product is built they will help you bring it to market. 

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March 31st, 2016

Why do so many startups not make it and shut down?

Although money, marketing, Time and appropriate technical/product development are whats often said to be the essentials for a startup success, actually, they are not at all what makes a startup succeed.

There's something way more important to be done first before those three things:

Why do so many startups not make it and shut down?

A)  Unfortunately, The startup forgets from the day of their idea that there is quite a difference between what you see as a great idea and a "needed something or other" that folks or businesses would actually spend money for. This unfounded "belief" in a market for their products is why a startup cannot sell and frankly why they do not succeed in the first place.

B)  Many startups don't have the inbuilt team sales person who love to and can actually find real markets and, for the reasons of the target audiences, not the startups pitch, know how to acquire paying customers. Instead, the startup goes around pitching to everyone as a "we have this, it does this, isn't that great,buy it" and usually the answer is No. Its not a product Pitch that sells nor can it connect with what may actually be someone who, for their reason's not yours actually need the product or solution but many think that’s what works.

C)  Nothing in their pre business launce exploratory other than checking with friends and colleagues most of whom have no buying power is present or was done that actually deeply and honestly analyzed 
--who were the natural target markets
--what really are the markets issues that if solved were truly natural prospects for their "product"
--revealed an understanding of the issues each natural target audience faced and its resulting adverse "cost"
--understood if their idea had a real market and one that was on a large enough scale and if properly approached would say "Hey that’s me! I need that product, service, software, solution to solve my x issues so I can gain a better roi, faster production, competitive edge, leaner operating, etc. I need to call these guys now"

D)  They said in justifying their reason for starting up that 
--"there are x gazillion global prospects who because of their industry they were in and or the way they do business  could use the solution."
--"If we get just 3%, we are golden" and the dove right in with development, maybe even production for that "giant" market opportunity to get their 3% share

E)  They forgot to dig deeper, reveal what actual portion of that giant number they actually might logically fit into and then how exactly to ID the people to contact, how to approach them, what to say that could get powerful receptivity and how to define/implement a great acquiring paying customers approach to get those real opportunities as customers.

Thats why they cannot gain traction and why so many startups fail.

Kimberly Hickey Regional Sales Manager at FIJI Water/Justin Wine/Landmark Wine

March 31st, 2016

Thank you all, sincerely, for your candid and helpful advice.  After working in the industry for 5+ years, I do feel very strongly that I have a unique way to engage in the wine/beer space, but I hear loud and clear that I need to validate with potential consumers.  
From the comments, I feel my next step would be to create a mockup design for the app and then test and validate.  I'll probably start another thread regarding testing options and strategies.  

Greg Miller CEO and Founder at Greg Miller and Associates

April 1st, 2016

Kimberly,  Follow Mr. Licht's advice.  Who is going to actually pay you money and why?  Make sure you have a strong, well supported hypothesis on this before you spend money on developing something.   The technical part is easier than the paying customer part.

Kimberly Hickey Regional Sales Manager at FIJI Water/Justin Wine/Landmark Wine

April 1st, 2016

Hi Johann, Thank you for your feedback. I would love to include you in the validation process and will reach out when that happens. Best, Kim Sent from my iPhone