So you have an app idea.. Now what?

About Me

I.T. Consultant

First ever app release



2nd app

Quit job

5000 downloads in 1 year

  • 40k alpha testers
  • 100k downloads in the first week

Founded & launched an app agency in 1 hour

Featured on Lifehacker

6 months to make £500 per month


May 2012

Sep 2012

Jan 2013

May 2013

Jan 2017

The Stats:

50,000 active users across all personal apps today

Majority of those split between 2 apps (22k, 23k)

600,000 total personal installs of apps all time

Types of app I’ve built

  • Social network apps
  • Food ordering apps
  • Magazine subscription apps
  • Casino gambling apps
  • Voucher code apps
  • Booking apps (theatre/restaurants etc)
  • Loyalty scheme apps
  • Geolocation apps
  • Utility apps
  • Content focused apps
  • Meal planning apps

Thing’s I’ve Learnt from working with big companies

Launching & praying is not a marketing strategy

The numbers often lie

Your gut feeling isn’t the same as proof

Don’t bring in developers until you’re ready

Communication is everything

Why this talk? Save you time & money.

  • How to validate your idea.
  • Get clear vision of exactly what you want to build.
  • Not to waste time on the unimportant things like the name/features/design/aesthetics/logo.
  • How to find/hire/work with developers & not get ripped off.
  • How to get to launch quickly.

Via the following things:

Step #1:


Find out if people want what you’re offering before you build it.

What problem are you solving?


App to change to color green to red

People hate the color green.

This app solves that problem by changing every green color you see to red.

Problem solved.

Feedback loop of asking people what do they think of green as opposed to do they hate it? What would they like to do with green as opposed to would you like to reply it with red?

What assumptions are you making?

Is it a problem?

Assumption #1 - People hate the color green.

Is it a big enough problem that people would install & use another app to have it solved?

Assumption #2 - People hate it enough to want it changed to something else.

Would people be willing to pay for the solution?

Assumption #3 - People prefer the color red.

(These need to be true in order for this idea to have a good chance at success)

Proving your assumptions: Lean Startup

  • Lean Startup by Eric Ries
  • The Epic Guide To Bootstrapping A SAAS Startup From Scratch By Yourself by Clifford Oravec
  • Lean Canvas -
  • Twitter DM
  • Email -> Then Tweet
  • Google Forms / TypeForm

Lean startup is a methodology for developing businesses and products. The methodology aims to shorten product development cycles by adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and validated learning.


your assumption example


Benefits of this approach

Find blockers/issues early before you start building

Find out what people really want, where there’s a better opportunity to give value

Spent no money

Took no time

Step #2:

More validation

Do people want your solution?

Now you know there’s a problem.. The question is is the solution that you’re proposing what people want to solve their problem?

Step #2 - Do people want your solution?

Tell people. No one will steal your idea.

Start marketing/selling the app today.

How do you do that without the app you ask.. :D

Took 2 hours to make: cost no money, hosted for free, no web developers, no designers, no app development.. The app doesn’t even exist.

Tools of the illusion

Domain/social media name availability:


Twitter bot - Great for making an account look active & not a work in progress

IFTTT - Also great for making an account look active

Find websites who post relevant content, aggregate their rss feeds with - put into IFTTT - Tweet it out/Facebook etc..

Tools of the illusion (cont)

Website hosting: Github Pages

Website design: etc..

App screenshots: Rough photoshop

App mockups: PSD’s?? Or

If you already know how to do Facebook Ads or Google Adwords etc.. You now have promo art, a landing page & a method to email capture

If you don’t have photoshop skills..

Step #3:



Step #3 - MVP (Minimal Viable Product)


Hint: It doesn’t have to “work”. I.e. Fake what you can to save time & money.

It could even be a video.

You can even build an interactive demo with Marvel App.

If you don’t have photoshop skills -

Step #4:

Pre development

Know exactly what you want

Step #4 - Almost ready for development..

Define the MVP features exactly

Know every screen you want & how they transition

Know every feature you want & exactly how you want it to work

Know the technologies you want to use

Know if you need a Backend, Facebook Developer account etc..

Know how complex the idea is you want to build & why

Things you don’t know you can find out. Ask people you know, ask on upworks as part of your application process, ask on forums ie reddit /r/entrepeneurs or /r/startups or /r/androiddev etc..

You need to know so you don’t get ripped off by over pricing & so you don’t get ripped off by poor development.

Step #4

Know what you’re willing to pay.

Use UpWorks to get rough quotes of “lower quality” work

Have all the image assets, text, data for the app ready to go..

NinjaMock the UI

Marvel App your NinjaMocks to build a working demo

Step #5:

Hiring Developers

Have it all in writing.

Step #5 - Where to find them

Meetups/Networking events


Avoid Xamarin or other cross development platforms if you can afford to.

Ask for working examples of things they’ve built, read reviews, try them yourself.

Don’t be impressed by big numbers.

Xamarin etc are one code base that is converted into 2 apps. Issues with this are a - you can’t change developers to iOS or Android developers, complex features are difficult to implement, the reliability on libraries means trivial things natively are difficult or even impossible on cross platform tools.

Step #5 - Vetting Developers

Developers hate tests.


Step #5 - How best to work

Have a spec.

Have a “completed” state.

NEVER pay the full amount upfront.

Have milestones when the next payment is “unlocked”.

Have daily or weekly stand up meetings to track progress, keep on top of things.

Negotiate bug fixing past the “completed” state.

Put it all in writing.

Bonus: Developer pro tips

Development is NOT a black box

See progress at regular intervals.

Expect delays, factor these into your timeline.

Regular builds for testing.

All code should be pushed at predetermined intervals to a git you setup - ALWAYS be in control of the code.

ALWAYS be in control of the signing keys & ALWAYS do the releases yourself.

Bonus: Pro developer tips (cont)

NEVER give them your developer account credentials. Invite them to your project where possible or change your credentials after deployment.

Do not take "I can't show you yet" as an answer - they have something, even if it’s code.

If your developer falls off the face of the earth it's a problem.

Bonus: Useful app dev tips

People will not use your app how you think - get it in front of users as quickly as possible.

Alpha/Beta testing groups are invaluable.

People want to know what they’re buying. Make paid apps either free with paid features OR a complete trial for 2 weeks & then require payment to continue using.

Make it incredibly easy for people to contact you for support to avoid bad reviews.

Analytics from day 1

Push notifications from day 1 to be able to contact users

You app gets the benefits of being shown as free on the app store, you get more downloads (to bump your social proof), the duration they use the free features the higher chance they'll convert - even if just as a thanks.

(Downside to that is obviously people who haven't bought can leave bad reviews.)

Step #8:


They won’t come if you don’t tell them.

Step #8 - Making your launch worthwhile

Tell people. Get your alpha/beta testers to tell people. Reach out to every relevant site you can think of. DM every relevant person you can think of. Reach out to Youtube reviewers.

Launch offers.

Reviews are everything.

Be on top of your support emails.

Ask for reviews

Reviews are everything, your app should be asking strategically for reviews, you should be asking for a review when you resolve a support email, respond to negative reviews.

People love getting a real reply from a real human in a timely manner - even an autoresponder saying thanks for the email, leaving helpful tips & saying you will respond will be grateful for.

Collect your support emails to reach out later with new features, ask them to join your beta programmes etc..

Random useful tips

Android update often hack.

Use push notifications in your app for promotions - I send Merry Xmas, Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Hannukah, Happy Friday - you name it.. Be strategic.

Cross app promotion

Be where your users are (Google alerts for forums, comments etc..)

Random podcasts:

How I built this : Startup : Ebay one??

Use some clever logic so that people don’t keep getting spammed with offers, show specific offers to specific users ie still on a trial, trial expired, have used the app 100 times etc..

People love it when the creators of their app randomly appear somewhere to answer their questions.

The end…

Questions? :D

Good Luck!

Web links:

Slides @

Resource list @


Email @

@lowcarbrob on social media

App Agency:

Pitch - Google Slides