A Startup’s Guide To Product Management & Understanding Customer Pain Points

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Product management and development lifecycles can be steep learning curves, especially for entrepreneurs turned product developers. But, they’re important things to understand if you want your product to be successful.

Essentially, the product management lifecycle is just the process of outlining and managing every required step and phase — and that goes all the way from inception to engineering, and can also include manufacturing and disposal if we’re talking about physical products.

The full scope usually looks something like this:

  • Innovation
  • Analysis
  • Development
  • Go-to market
  • In-life
  • End-of-life

Whether or not you’re designing an app or a new device, the core components of managing this lifecycle are going to be the same. There are, however, stages within this process that can really make or break the success potential, and that’s what we’re going to cover in this guide.

During the early stages of innovation and analysis, there are 3 areas you’ll need to explore deeply if you want to nail your product development. We’re going to dig into understanding and utilizing customer pain points, validating your idea and market, and obtaining customer feedback.

Pain Point Identification

Regardless of how insanely amazing and shiny your new product is, people will not be willing to part with their hard-earned money unless you can trigger something emotional within them. Uncovering the real pain points your customers are dealing with isn’t easy, but it’s something you need to do if you want to create a real connection with your audience.

It’s the human element that draws people in and makes them feel something, and this feeling is what will push them to buy. The best products come from businesses and individuals who see a problem and genuinely care about solving it. But, creating a product that people want simply isn’t good enough. You need to take it a step further and identify those pain points.

One of the biggest mistakes startups make is having too much confidence in their product. Don’t be that guy. Don’t assume that loving and using something yourself will translate into hundreds or millions of other individuals feeling the exact same way. Understanding your customer pain points is one of the primary steps of product development — because if you don’t understand what people want and need from you, it’s impossible to give it to them.

What is a pain point?

Although this term is fairly self-explanatory and well-understood, the important thing to get here is that the person you’re targeting must feel this pain. It’s got to be something personal that they’re dealing with in their everyday lives and something they’d like a solution for.

It can be big or small, it just needs to be stopping them from achieving the outcome they desire. Maybe they wish they had more time in their day to spend with their kids, or that they could get through their repetitive admin work faster and easier. On the surface, these problems may seem quite similar but the feelings driving that want are likely quite different, and that’s where we need to focus.

Addressing the real pain is always the hardest part but it’s where you need to direct your attention. Using the above example — let’s say you’re developing time management software. How many other companies out there are doing the exact same thing? What makes yours better or different? What would possibly compel someone to switch if they’re already using something similar? The differentiator will be that your business acknowledges their real desires and offers real solutions to those problems.

This is where you need to dig deep to figure out the answers to these questions. Where are the gaps in the current market? What can you provide that others don’t? And don’t just start throwing answers out. Do your research. This is where the importance of market research, customer research, and customer feedback will show itself. The people will tell you what they need if you ask and listen.

Talk to your customers

One of the easiest ways to do this is to simply talk to your customers. If you can get them to acknowledge their pain, you can then figure out how to create the solution they desire.

Types of questions you can ask during your research:

  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • Why do you think this is so hard?
  • How does that affect things?
  • How does this affect the rest of the team or your family?
  • What were you expecting out of this?
  • What do you think the main issue here is?
  • What’s the main thing getting in your way of being successful?
  • What would a change in this area mean for you?

This can be an extremely powerful exercise to go through during your prototype and MVP process as well. If you can give them something to try, and then learn from them how to make it better, you’ll be ahead of the pack.

While we’re talking about the early stages here, it’s important to note that you should include soliciting customer feedback into every stage of your product development and management lifecycle. Never stop talking to your customers — throughout every stage of your business, their feedback is what will help you to continue to develop products that meet their changing needs. We’re going to dig a bit deeper into this subject in the last section of this guide.

Making an emotional connection

Once you’ve taken the time to figure out what those deep and personal pain points really are, it’s time to position yourself as the genuine solution for their problem. Continuing with our example from above of time management software, let’s explore how a company could tailor their messaging to really hit on that pain point.

What do you think would be more impactful — A or B?

A. “We’ll give you more time back in your day to do what you love.” B. “Stop feeling guilty and take real action that will actually give you more time to spend with your kids.”

It’s an obvious choice what phrase will tug at the heartstrings and push someone to take action. But, you can’t get to that point without doing the legwork first. If you truly understand what their pain points are, and do the work to create that product for them, you will then be able to make that emotional connection that will push them to act and decide you’re the solution they’ve been looking for.

When it comes to product development, always start with the doing the work to truly understand what problems your customers are dealing with, and use that knowledge to create products they need that are easily positioned as the solution to their deepest problems.

Market Validation

Once you’ve managed to truly identify your target audience’s pain points, it’s time to ensure there is a market demand for what you’re making. Unfortunately, meeting a need doesn’t mean people will buy. It’s the first step, but there are a few more hoops you’re going to have to jump through.

Your market research should help you to either prove (or disprove) that there are enough people with this particular problem who are willing to pay for your solution. It should also help you understand what your competitors are doing and where any gaps exist, as well as help you to come up with a plan to differentiate yourself in the marketplace. It should confirm that you’re solving the right problem at the right time, in the right way.

If your market research doesn’t confirm all of the above, it’s time to take a step back and see where you’re missing the mark. It’s very important that you don’t ignore what you learn when going through this process. Invest the time and resources into doing proper market research early on to ensure you don’t start developing something no one is going to buy.

In this blog post, we’ve created a list of different ways you can test an idea or prototype before you have an actual product: How Many Different Ways Can You Test Your MVP?

Customer Feedback

Once you’ve nailed down your customer pain points, your market research, and your solution, it’s time to get as much feedback as possible from your users. Even if you don’t have a product yet for people to test, there are simple ways to solicit feedback from your potential customers.

Use the feedback you get from your users to help shape your product development and the final version — nothing is more valuable than direct feedback from your users, telling you what they want and need out of your product.

In this post, we’re exploring the tactics of conducting customer research in more detail: How To Do Customer Research For Your Product Development.

At the end of the day, your project management lifecycle is huge and there are no shortcuts. But understanding how to maximize these 3 foundational phases will give you the solid ground you need to embark on this journey.

The most important lesson in this entire guide is that it all comes back to customer pain points. You need to uncover what they are, and then do the work to create a product that is truly the exact solution these people need.

I hope this guide will help you to work through the stages of not only figuring out what your customer’s innermost needs are but also give you the tools to take that information and use it to fuel your customer and market research and empower you to stay connected with your audience.

Business Tips For Software Product Entrepreneurs

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Being an entrepreneur is one thing, and being a software developer is another. But what happens when you’re an entrepreneur with a software product idea? You may not necessarily know anything about developing software, but you’re well-versed in the world of business growth, marketing, and sales.

And because of your experience, you already get how hard this is going to be. Even if you’ve already decided which software development agency you’d like to partner with, you’re still going to need to play a major role in ensuring this product is successful.

If you’re ready to go down this road, here are some tips and lessons that come from years of experience, as both an entrepreneur and a software developer.

What are your top priorities?

You have an overwhelming amount of options when it comes to developing a product, and every single one of them is going to have its own set of pros and cons. What you need to do is establish what your priorities are, and then weigh those against your various options.

To get clear on your priorities, you’ll want to ask yourself questions like:

  • What is the scope of the product?
  • If we change or reduce the scope, will that negatively affect the end result or quality?
  • What is your budget?
  • What is your timeline?
  • Do you mostly value getting to market fast, saving money, or something else?

How important do you think quality is?

No amount of money or marketing will save a crap product. Thay may sound harsh, but it’s true. Understand that quality needs to stand above all else if you want to be successful. The quality umbrella touches every aspect of your product, from the overall design, the user experience, the function, and more.

Have you created an MVP yet?

A minimum viable product may not sound like a cost-saving measure, but I assure you that in the long-run, it will be. In the software product world, MVP’s are not only expected but welcomed. Validate your idea before finalizing anything and give your user base the chance to use your product and tell you what they need from it.

Learn more about making the most of your MVP here.

Can you offer a free proof-of-concept version?

One great way to gain enterprise acceptance or investment is to create a beta or free version of your product that’s handed out direct-to-consumer. When investors and potential customers can use and gauge a product’s appeal, they are much more likely to fund or pay for the real deal.

Have you explored your options?

Before selecting a software development partner, make sure you know what your options are. In a nutshell, you should know about:

  • Local software development agencies
  • Remote software development agencies
  • Onshore or local freelancers
  • Offshore freelancers
  • Software developers who wish to become equity partners

We can’t really guide you on this one; obviously we feel that software development agencies provide the best results, but it’s important that you do your homework on this one.

Do you know what you’re looking for in a development partner?

As you work through exploring your options, you’re going to want to start outlining what exactly you’re looking for — this will be instrumental in helping you to make the best possible choice for your particular situation and needs.

If you’re selecting an agency, you want to consider things like business philosophy, communication styles, and team members. Are you on the same wavelength as these people, and do they have the mix of expertise that your project needs?

Another thing you want to consider is your partner’s experience specifically with software product development. All software is not created equal, and there is a massive difference between building an enterprise application and a product that going to be sold. Look for proven experience that match the scope of your project.

Software product development isn’t for the faint of heart but with the right plan and team behind you, you’ll have what it takes to turn your incredible idea into a tangible product.

15 Fast & Actionable Tips For Product & Project Management

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As we’re all winding down 2018 and looking ahead to 2019, we wanted to recap some of the biggest lessons and tips we’ve learned over the last year for entrepreneurs who are developing products or managing product development teams.

Here we go:

  1. Set daily goals and always begin with a blank slate. Beginning every day with an unrealistically-long to-do list is exhausting and unmotivating. Treat each day as a new opportunity with new goals that are both measurable and achievable.
  2. Hire product and project managers who are capable of leading without acting like “the boss”. Find people who have the ability to lead without authority and can operate under extreme pressure.
  3. Work continually to help your team achieve a state of flow. Find out how you can help people get more into their work rather than trying to get more work out of individuals.
  4. Prioritize relationship-building with every single team member. Always remember to show authentic appreciation, do more listening than talking, acknowledge your own imperfections and shortcomings, and be completely transparent with those around you.
  5. Make sure you’re evaluating each team member individually, rather than assuming everyone is on the same path. Develop a framework that works for your organization but also allows for a customized approach based on an individual’s trajectory.
  6. Ensure you’re scheduling 1:1 time with each team member. During these meetings, ask open-ended questions that are specific enough to help you figure out what they need to be successful. For example, “What’s harder than it should be?”
  7. Take the time to either create or update your company SOP’s and operating principles for the upcoming year. If you want everyone to follow the same decision-making framework, this is absolutely essential.
  8. If you don’t have a 5-year plan, it’s time to make one. Where are you right now, and where would you like to be in the future? Establishing this plan will help you to create short-term goals that will facilitate meeting the longer-term ones. Involve everyone in this process, so that individual employees can see how their work is directly impacting the company’s success.
  9. Your employees are vital to your success, so ensure you’re measuring and tracking the employee experience. Are you giving people what they need to be happy and successful in their roles? You can’t measure what you don’t track.
  10. Make mentoring an established practice that is organization-wide, and make sure you select the right people for mentoring. Assign mentors who emulate your own vision for personal growth and development. For example, don’t choose mentors that are risk-averse if you want your employees to be comfortable taking risks and pushing boundaries.
  11. Encourage your team members to proactively schedule alone time early each week, so they can have time to focus and get clear on the week’s work and objectives.
  12. Allow people outside your target audience to use your product, in the name of aiming to achieve cognitive simplicity. Are people of all ages and statuses able to figure out what your product does without being told? Intuitive design is a core factor that impacts the success of any product, so challenge yourself and your team to develop products that are as simple to use and understand as humanly possible.
  13. For each project, determine whether your product will require a go-to-market strategy that is focused on marketing or sales, as this will have an impact on your entire organization. When you consider things like your product’s price, the market size, it’s complexity, customer fit, etc., you will be able to determine whether you need a marketing play or a direct sales approach to converting.
  14. Do not alienate yourself from the field as your business scales. Stay in touch with your customers and their needs by being there and truly understanding what they need from you.
  15. Make EBITDA your bible. If you want to become profitable, take this approach seriously and incorporate visual EBITDA updates into your regular communications. It’s one of the best ways to reduce burn and become profitable at a faster pace. It’s also another way to keep your staff in the loop and show them how their work is impacting the company.

As you look ahead to 2019, remember these tips to help steer your team in the right direction!

Financial Tips: How To Survive Your Startup

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Startup is a sexy word in today’s explosive entrepreneurial landscape, but the reality behind the curtains is much different from what people perceive. Coming up with a great business or product idea is one thing, but turning that into a viable, sustainable, and profitable business is a whole other beast.

One of the biggest challenges of getting your business through those early stages of hustle and struggle is managing your finances. Resources are always limited, and making the wrong decisions with the funds you have access to can be enough to sink the boat.

Here are some solid financial tips to help you through the launching phase of your startup!

Create financial goals

Create milestones and reachable, achievable goals. Knowing that you want to break $1M in sales in your first year isn’t good enough. You need to break this into monthly, weekly, or daily revenue goals to create a financial action plan.

Keep your fixed expenses as low as humanly possible

Resist the urge to rent out the best office in town — that stuff will come in time. Right now, you need to focus on generating revenue and ensuring the money coming in is available for re-investment into growing the business, and not bleeding out to overhead expenses.

Track and audit where every penny goes

Use accounting software and ensure this responsibility is delegated to someone capable of handling it. You will have expenses and obligations galore so it’s essential you know where your money is going. Ensure money being spent is directly attributed towards growth and scaling measures, and cut out anything that isn’t directly impacting your financial goals. You can’t control what you don’t track.

Establish a plan for cash flow management

Along with the tip from above, you need to ensure you have enough money to cover your obligations. There will be tons of cash coming in, and sometimes even more going out. Running out of money crushes more startups than anything.

Pay yourself something

This can be a touchy subject, but the reality is that you probably have a mortgage to pay or maybe even kids to feed. If you’re going to be mentally and emotionally engaged in growing this business, you need to keep your personal life in order — and you can’t do that if you have no income. I’m not suggesting you pay yourself a big salary, but create your own personal financial plan and come up with a minimum amount you can survive on for now. Build that into the cash flow management plan to ensure it’s accounted for and available.

Remember how valuable your time is

Pay attention to where you’re spending your time. Time is money, and you need to ensure you optimize the time that’s available to you. If you have time to knock out a season of Game Of Thrones every weekend but can’t find the time to manage your accounting, it’s time to get real with yourself. Schedule out your own time to ensure it’s being optimized.

Prioritize customer acquisition

Customer acquisition is the lifeblood of all startups so it needs to be a priority above all else. At first, you’ll probably be doing this yourself. Once you have enough customers, you’ll be able to start testing and trying more cost-effective customer acquisition channels. This will be a huge factor in your scale-ability, so ensure you’re focusing on the most lucrative opportunities first.

Always have back-up

Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. If possible, you always want to have emergency savings set aside for your personal and business needs. Many founders will moonlight for a while, to validate their idea before losing their main source of income. Whatever path you choose, just understand that in spite of our best intentions, bad things can happen and it’s better to be prepared than caught off guard.

These tips and strategies should help your startup get and stay on the right financial track!

Trying To Learn About Software Development? Here Are 17 Blogs To Follow

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Whether you’re a seasoned developer or just starting to learn, there are countless resources available online to help you. You might be looking for beginner tutorials or advanced lessons on JavaScript. Whatever it is that you’re looking for, it’s probably out there.

Here are 17 of the best software development blogs we’ve come across to get you started.

DZONE With over 1 million members and hundreds of publications, this is one of the best places to learn about agile software development. These guys have countless resources and tutorials and focus on things like big data, agile, security, mobile, cloud, and more.

GITHUB These guys can show you endless examples of clean code and will also teach you the best practices for software development.

GEEKSFORGEEKS A computer science portal for geeks, this blog has countless resources. On it you’ll find information about their internship, lessons on programming languages, and the ability to source content that matches your personal experience level.

DOCKER If you want to learn how to use and optimize this tool, their blog won’t let you down. You’ll find endless resources to help you.

JAVASCRIPT PLAYGROUND As the name would suggest, this is your home for all things JavaScript. You’ll find everything you need here to keep your latest JS project on track.

TWITTER ENGINEERING This is the behind-the-scenes scoop on what the engineers at Twitter are up to. They’re sharing real-life case studies and real projects that will show you what methodology and tools the best engineers in the world are using.

APIUMHUB TECH This tech blog is about all things related to software development and architecture. Here, you’ll find countless resources on iOs, Android, microservices, JavaScript, natural language processing, and much more.

SCRUM This blog is about Scrum’s best practices and tools, but they also share a lot of things to help you with team and project productivity, improvement, and efficiency.

CODING HORROR If you need a laugh, here is where you’ll find it. This blog is about the trials and tribulations of when humans and coding intersect, and they also like to chat about new tech advances.

OBJC This blog is dedicated to advanced techniques and practices for iOs and OS X development. You have to pay for a lot of their stuff, but they’re currently doing a weekly video on Swift programming.

SCALA TIMES If you’re into Scala, you definitely want to check out their weekly news flash publication that comes out every Thursday.

RISINGSTACK This is an agency blog that focuses on JavaScript, DevOps, and cloud technologies. They also talk about lots of other things including cleaning coding and callback hell.

DAVE SEXTON Dave Sexton’s blog is mostly about C# and Rx but he also touches on other topics like Microsoft’s .NET Framework.

CODECENTRIC This blog is all about developers sharing IT knowledge with other developers. They touch on architecture, Java, agile, performance, continuous delivery, and more.

SCIENCE SOFT SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT This is a massive library of valuable content that contains a software development blog within. An excellent blog for developers, they touch on subjects like high-quality custom software, microservices, web applications, and building teams.

JAVA CODE GEEKS One of the few places where you might actually be able to learn Java online, this is a massive resource for all things related to JavaScript. You can even get a pack of free eBooks when you sign-up for their newsletter.

TOPTAL ENGINEERING This blog is a hub for in-depth tutorials on software development, a place to learn about the latest announcements in the industry, and more.

Staying updated with your skills and technology is crucial if you want to develop the best products. Still can’t find what you’re looking for? Let us know, we might be able to help!

Tips To Manage Your Software Development Team

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Software developers are a different breed than the rest of it, and it’s no secret that managing a growing team of software developers can be a major challenge. If your team is growing, or you’ve just brought on your first few members, it’s important to manage with a strategy and plan in place.

Management is about helping people achieve their full potential, which in turns helps the company they work for to do the same. It’s about helping people to be successful and excel in their roles, and achieve their own personal goals through the course of their work.

Managing people well requires that you take much into consideration, but there is an increased complexity when we’re talking about managing a team of software developers.

Factors to consider will include:

  • Individual personalities
  • Personal and career goals
  • Expectations of the role and the company
  • Policies and procedures
  • Organizational culture

At the end of the day, you may find that each team member needs something different from you, in order to achieve their own personal version of success. Here are some tips to help you manage a team of software developers.


If you want your high-performing developers to excel, you’ve got to give them the freedom and autonomy to do so. If you expect people to create something out of nothing, you’ve got to give them the creative freedom to achieve your desired outcomes. If there is too much red tape or too many hoops to jump through, even the best developers can be completely derailed. Obviously, there will always be rules, guidelines, and designs to follow - but your developers need the confidence to know that as long as they stay within the lines, they’re free to do their work as they see fit.


All team members should be engaged with the company as a whole, and your software developers are no different. If you want to keep people engaged, you’ve got to involve them and keep them in the loop. Schedule regular communication updates, where you cover things that are job-related, technical, and even personal when it makes sense. If you want to create a cohesive team, it’s important that people understand the challenges each individual team and department are dealing with. Ideally, you’ll schedule a weekly 1:1 meeting with each team member and get a pulse on the overall topics that should be discussed in your general meeting. Keep these short and to the point, and only cover things that truly matter to the overall organization.


Software developers prefer to be given projects with clear objectives, clear scope, defined timelines, and clarity on how advancements will be evaluated and recognized. Whatever process or method you choose to follow - be it Agile, Scrum, Rational, or something else - the most important thing here is that your developers understand what the process is and comprehend what’s expected of them, and their team members. Giving your team a lighter methodology that rewards their efforts and recognizes their projects not only keeps them happy but allows them to do their best and most efficient work.


You might feel like you’re managing a team of people who are smarter than you, but the reality is that even the best software engineers require continued training and education if they’re going to continue to excel. You always want to take into account what each individual’s career goals are as well, to ensure you’re providing the support needed to help them advance and progress. In addition to technical training to keep current on the latest and greatest, your software development team requires knowledge about the company’s policies, procedures, goals, best practices, and standards. The deeper their understanding of the company, the better their products will be. Those are 4 major areas where you need to direct attention when managing a team of software developers. With the right strategy in place, you'll be able to form a cohesive team of developers who excel in their areas of expertise.

Common Characteristics Of The Best Software Development Engineers

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If you want to attract, retain, and build a phenomenal team of software developers, hiring people who are smart, educated, and technically inclined won’t be enough. That’s a great place to start, but you’re going to need to dig much deeper into the characteristics and personalities of these people.

Whether you’re hiring in-house or interviewing software development agencies to partner with on your next dev project, here are things you want to look for in the people you’re going to be working with.

They’re a team player

Your team is only as strong as your weakest link, so it’s essential that your developers are true team players. Whether it’s collaborating with the team on the current project or understanding the needs of the people using the product that’s being designed, this is a team-centric atmosphere.

You can see their inclination to teach and help

Each project will encompass multiple stages and phases, and there will be multiple people working diligently along the chain. Much like the importance of teamwork, things are changing rapidly and new tech is emerging all the time. In order for the team to be functioning at full efficiency, everyone needs to be helping one another and teaching others what they know at every opportunity.

They think and act independently

You can’t uncover new and innovative solutions and product ideas if you aren’t a forward thinker, so it’s important that the people on your team strike a balance between being team players and also having their own thoughts that drive their actions. Game-changing, disruptive technology doesn’t come from people who follow the pack.

They have the desire to produce quality work

Whether you want to call it work ethic or striving for perfection, you need software developers on your team who truly take pride in their work. They have this inner desire and drive to produce good quality work, as they see it as a direct reflection of themselves.

They’ve got a genuine passion for programming

Just because someone is good at something doesn’t mean they love doing it. Try to uncover whether or not programming is what gets this person out of bed in the morning, as passion is what’s required for long-term success.

They understand the importance of time management and deadlines

Deadlines are crucial for any development project, and you need people who not only respect that but will do what it takes to meet the timeframes given to them. When one step begets the next, one missed deadline has the potential to completely blow the budget and cause major issues to the overall project timeline.

They enjoy learning and being challenged

Trends, technologies, and even fields are constantly evolving in the software development space. You need software developers who are agile, adaptable, and eager to learn new skills. Without this desire to improve and attack new challenges, the team won’t be able to keep up as new technologies continue to evolve.

They are naturally curious

Last, but certainly not least, is the characteristic of curiosity. The mother of invention, this trait is what will lead individuals down the path of exploration and innovation.

These characteristics aren’t things you’ll find on a resume, so ensure you’re asking the right questions during the interviewing and hiring process. You really need to get to know your candidates if you’re going to find the people and teams who possess the soft skills that are proven to be behind those high-performing software development teams.

Software Development Project Management: How To Stay On Track

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Ideas are easy; it’s the execution that’s hard. Whether you plan on building your latest app in-house or hiring an agency to help, it’s essential that someone is thinking about project management right out of the gate. Development projects derail on a regular basis, so here are some tips to make sure it doesn’t happen to yours.

Create a functionalities and requirements documentation

This is something that often gets overlooked, but it’s an essential step if you want to ensure your developers have a clear understanding of how this project aligns with your business needs, and what your expected functionalities and outcomes are. Have a writer or other business professional create a clear, concise functionality and business requirements document that will remove any ambiguities and explain how the end product is expected to function. If you’re using someone outside of your company, ensure they sign an NDA.

Put someone in charge

Whether you hire a project manager or assign a tech or team lead, someone needs to be in charge of this project. All your team members will have their own specialized tasks and projects, but someone needs to be standing back to organize the circus. Workflows, deadlines, changes, design, technology, the list goes on.

Find people who specialize rather than generalize

In some areas, a generalist will do you very well - unfortunately, software development isn’t typically one of those cases. Front-end and back-end development are very different skills, not to mention user experience and design. For the best results, you want a small team of experts who know their niches inside and out.

Select what project development processes will be utilized

Decide beforehand what your processes will be to ensure the method you select aligns with your team and makes sense for your project. Do your research in this area, as there are very distinct processes to model. For example, you’ve likely already heard of the popular Agile and Waterfall methods. The process you follow will drastically affect your overall plan, so make sure you fully understand the advantages and disadvantages of the model you choose.

Get clear on the project scope and commit to it

Scope creep is real and it has successfully derailed and delayed countless development projects. Decide upfront what your overall scope is, and don’t allow your team to deviate. To avoid problems, confusion, and misaligned expectations, ensure everyone is on board with the overall plan.

Schedule and execute periodic reviews

This is going to be a process, and there needs to be checks and balances along the way. If problems are appearing in one area, they will affect others - you need someone (whoever you put in charge) to schedule regular updates to stay on track and catch problems early.

Keep your project management communications in one place

Don’t rely on email strings and sticky notes to keep everyone on the same page. There are countless project management software tools out there, like Slack and Trello, that will have a major positive impact when used properly. When your team isn’t physically located in the same building, these tools become even more crucial and help to create an online workspace. Communication is key for any software development project, so make sure there’s an action plan to facilitate it.

Start any project with those 7 aspects covered, and you should have what you need to stay on track and have a successful project.

10 Creative Ways To Monetize Your Mobile App In 2018

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Having a great app idea is one thing, but finding a way to monetize it can be a major challenge. But, if your business is going to be successful, you’ve got to get paid. That’s reality.

When embarking on any new business venture, it’s crucial that you take the time to create a comprehensive business plan, and you’ll want to include your monetization strategy within that overall plan. But, you’ve got to start somewhere and make a decision on how you’d like to get some revenue coming in.

Feeling stuck? Here are some great ways apps are earning revenue in 2018.

Alright, the first one might not be overly creative, but it’s one of the most common ways to monetize your app because it works. The key here is to have a large user-base that will interact with your advertisements.

IHS estimates that by 2020, in-app native advertising revenue will generate around 63% of all mobile display advertising revenue, totaling $53.4B. Enough said.

Charge for App Installs

This model won’t work for everyone, put paid apps continue to do well in certain industries, like health, fitness, and productivity. People are willing to pay for proven products, so it’ll be up to your website and social media presence to demonstrate you’re worth a paid install. With this method, social proof is everything.

Freemium Opportunities

This can work for almost any business who creates a product that is addictive - take Spotify for example. You let everyone download your product for free, but if people want certain features they’ve got to upgrade. If your service is good enough, people will happily pay to be able to enjoy the service without disruption or hurdles of any kind.

One study found that 64% of freemium game players make a purchase every single month.

Monetize In-App Purchases

Free apps can easily offer two types of in-app purchases to get some revenue flowing.

  • Consumable purchases are single-use only (think game credits)
  • Non-consumable purchases are permanent solutions (such as to unlock a level to advance in a game) Set Up a Subscription Model

This type of plan starts like a freemium but gives users access to all the bells and whistles at no cost for a limited time. Eventually, you have to start paying a small monthly fee if you want the fun to continue. This worked wonderfully for Netflix - not many people are willing to let go once that free-trial ends.

Employ SMS Marketing

If you require users to provide their mobile number upon registration, you’ve got the option to use SMS (text message) marketing. Statistically, it performs much better than other things like email marketing and gives you a direct line to your customers.

82% of people say they open every single text message they receive, so this is a phenomenal tool for marketing, update notifications, customer success, re-engagement, and more. Monetize Your Mobile App with Sponsorships Similar to influencer marketing, if you’re popular enough, you can find sponsorship opportunities to align yourself with other brands.

A really great example of this is The RunKeeper app, who was acquired by Asics back in 2016.

Grow Your Email List

Email marketing works for most business models, and free apps are no different. Just like the SMS approach, you’re going to need to collect email addresses upon registration and have a solid email marketing strategy in place to take advantage of your list.

You can use the emails or newsletters you send to provide valuable content, get customer feedback, offer exclusive promotions, and keep your brand top of mind.

In-App Currency

This won’t work for everyone, but in some niches, it makes sense to create your own in-app currency that people will buy with real money. For example, gaming or casino apps.


While this isn’t as conventional as the other options, crowdfunding can be a great way to insert funds into your app in those early stages. You can use crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter to raise money, but also to validate your idea and get valuable customer feedback you can use to help finalize your product. This is a great place to test out your MVP.

So there you have it! Whether you want to offer a free or paid service, you’ve got plenty of options to help you monetize your app. It’s not an easy or arbitrary decision, so take your time here to develop a monetization plan that fits into your overall business plan.

Want To Increase Your In-App Ad Spend? Try Programmatic Marketing

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If your app’s monetization strategy includes in-app ad spending, you’re going to want to take the time to learn about programmatic marketing. It’s a growing trend, and the results make it clear why that is. It’s been a game changer in the digital marketing world, and marketers everywhere are continuing to direct their budget in this direction.

The Q2, 2018 Programmatic Mobile Video Advertising Insights for Marketers found that programmatic marketing ad spend had increased by 62% during that time period. Furthermore, they found that in-app video ad spends increased by a whopping 38% when programmatic was used. In a world where 90% of programmatic auctions are being dominated by apps, it makes sense that in-app video now accounts for 86% of the total programmatic ad spend. Consumers love videos, and they love their mobile devices even more.

What exactly is programmatic marketing?

To keep it simple, programmatic marketing is essentially just a way to better target the types of customers you want to get in front of. Like more traditional paid search, you can target certain demographics and areas, as well as set limits on frequencies and times. The difference, however, is that you get to decide which publishers you want to be present on which in turn allows you to ensure your ads are presented to the right people, at the right time. Gone are the days when you had no choice but to sign a contract and run a specified number of ads with a publisher.

If you want to dig into it a bit deeper, this type of marketing is the algorithmic purchase and sale of ads in real time. Software is used to automate the purchasing, placement, and optimization of advertising through an auction-based system. There is no requirement for the human element, which means the entire process is completely automated.

The methodology here is that this type of media buying allows the company to tailor ultra-specific messages to the ideal person, at the ideal time, in the ideal context. The software will use audience insight from the brand, which results in ads that are personalized, precise, and effective. The results will improve over time, as the software has more data to analyze. You’re not focusing on the volume of impressions but on the quality of interactions.

Explain it to me like I’m 5

Okay, so you’re online all the time, meaning you see ads all the time. When a website you hop onto is loading, and that website happens to have space for advertising to display at this very second, data is shooting back and forth faster than the speed of light between the ad exchange and the data your own behavior is providing. In real time, this space is given to the highest pre-qualified bidding company. It’s really that simple. Decisions are made using the available information, and then those who fit the bill are entered into the auction. Someone wins, and their ad is shown to you. This all happens in milliseconds, and as consumers, we are none the wiser. But, we’re more likely to buy because we’re seeing ads that are somehow filled with items we love.

Move this example into an app, and it’s working the exact same way. If your app has space for advertising, programmatic marketing is where it’s at. As we continue to make advancements with AI and machine learning, the capabilities of this type of marketing will continue to evolve and help us to do an even better job at providing consumers with the exact information and messaging they want. When we give them what they want, they spend. It’s a win, win!

What To Look For When Hiring A Software Developer

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Earlier this week we were talking about the very first steps you want to follow to ensure that you’re attracting the right developers for your projects. If you want to have an honest chance at hiring the right individual or team, it starts with you. You need to get crystal clear on what your project entails before anyone can claim to be the right fit.

So what happens next? You’ve built out your plan. You know exactly what you need this person to do in order to meet your goals. You’re starting to conduct interviews or collect estimates from free consultations.

Whether you’re reviewing resumes or assessing the team lead, here are the most important things you want to look for.

Experience with specific technologies

Because you’ve clearly outlined all the specific requirements of this role, you know exactly what technology is going to be used. Does this individual or team have experience with these specific types of technology?

For example, if you’re looking for an individual who is a database programmer, you want to see proof he’s done this before. If you’re looking for an agency because you need back-end and front-end development, along with system administration, you want to ensure there are members on the team who can demonstrate their specific experience.

Experience with specific challenges

If this is a rescue project, or you typically run into the same challenges with each project, look for individuals or teams who can show they have dealt with this type of thing before and can demonstrate how they’d tackle it.

Source code samples

This one is a bit of a stretch, but it never hurts to ask. Many employees won’t be able to deliver on this, due to contractual agreement, but some agencies or freelancers may be able to show you a source code example. Being able to evaluate a source code example before making a hire is a major bonus.

Current employment status or availability

The best software developers are already employed elsewhere. The best software development agencies have a laundry list of happy customers and can’t fit you in this afternoon. Be cautious of developers who seem to have absolutely nothing else going on, as this can be a red flag.

Project passion

This can be a hard one to gauge, but is there any passion behind what this person is doing in their work? Does the candidate you’re interviewing have a passion project they can show you, or does the agency have some mission they’re chasing? When people typically love something, such as coding, they often have a side project that is pure passion they’d love to tell you about. This can be a great lead into asking the candidate to show you a sample of course code they’ve done.

References and reviews

What other people have to say about the individual or team you’re going to hire matters. For an individual, how often does this person change jobs? And what do their past employers have to say about them? If you’re interviewing agencies, what do their online reviews say? What kind of testimonials can they produce? Ensure you can collect adequate proof of this person or team’s past to validate their experience and work ethic.

Lastly, let’s look at some things that don’t matter:

  • What university the individual or team members attended
  • GPA or academic standings
  • Interests and hobbies

The above items are things that people often mention for prestigious reasons or to offer some insight into their personal lives, but those things are completely irrelevant when it comes to problem-solving, skillset, and work ethic.

Don’t waste your time assessing things that don’t matter - focus on demonstrated experience, passion, and proof, and you will be well on your way to finding the right person or team for your next software development project.

How To Attract The Right Software Developers For Your Project

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If you’re trying to find the right software developer for your next project, you've come to the right place. You’re probably reading this article, at this very moment, because just like every other business owner, you’ve learned the hard way that the biggest challenge of any development project is finding the right people to make it happen.

The State of Software Development in 2017 report from Coding Sans found that over 35% of startups stated that hiring talent was their biggest hurdle for development projects. Prioritizing development came in as the second biggest issue, with 25% voting in that direction.

The study also found that when it comes to hiring criteria, here is how things are typically prioritized:

  1. Work experience (68.5%)
  2. Cultural fit (59.8%)
  3. Test project (31.5%)
  4. Side projects (30.7%)

The stats make a few things pretty clear. Most startups are saying that their biggest issues with software development are based on hiring good talent and making development a top priority. Startup founders seem to have a pretty good idea of what they’re looking for, and it’s clear that previous work experience and assessing a good cultural fit are the top two things they want when hiring.

The truth is, hiring a software developer who is both the right fit and who possesses the right experience is no small task. And, it doesn’t stop there. What about work ethic? What about interpersonal skills? And are you looking to hire a software developer in-house, or would you like to partner with an entire team?

There are plenty of questions you need to ask yourself before you have the foundation in place to ensure you’re going to attract the right candidates.

Here are some tips that will help you to attract the right software developers for your next project.

Start with defining your goals.

This can be tough to do, but you need to clearly define and articulate what your goals are.

Answer questions like:

  • What is the specific project?
  • What problem will this project solve for users?
  • What is your project timeline?
  • Do you want an in-house employee, freelancer, or agency to partner with?
  • What is your budget for the interviewing and/or test project process?
  • How long do you plan on keeping this person or team around for?

One of the most difficult decisions here will be whether you want an employee, a freelancer, or a team to partner with. Remember that a single person is only capable of doing so much, so if you’re looking for multiple skills like machine learning, front-end development, back-end development, and system administration, you are going to need more than one individual.

Create a job posting or scope of work plan

Now that you’ve figured out your goals, it’s time to put everything down on paper in a way that makes sense to the developer.

Whether you’re going to create a job posting online, or book some free consultations with software development agencies, you want to make decisions on:

  • What is the specific role going to entail?
  • What will the key responsibilities be?
  • Is this a permanent hire, or a project relationship?
  • What are the technical requirements of this role or project?
  • What core skill set is most important?
  • What is the salary or project budget? Are there any additional perks?
  • What is the company’s purpose? What does it mean to work with/for you?

Attacking the hiring process with a plan will ensure you’re crystal clear about what your company needs are. Following this process to ensure you know what you need to get out of this hire and you will get a much better quality group of applications and estimates.

This week, we’re going to dig a bit deeper into the methodology of hiring software developers, so stay tuned for more on how to vet and qualify the applications and estimates you receive.

How To Find A Good Tech Lead For Your Startup

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As your startup continues to grow and scale, you may be acquiring a team of developers in-house or even partnering with an agency from time to time.

What becomes apparent as your software development needs grow is that someone needs to be put in charge. Whether or not you have someone suitable on your existing team to take on this role, it’s eventually going to become necessary to name someone as your Tech Lead.

When you’re trying to decide if you need to hire someone, or if you could entrust this to a software development partner, here are the things you want to look for to ensure you get the right fit for the job.

They’re really great at delegating

Developers and coders are naturally great problem-solvers. They have this inner desire to kick technical problems in the butt and come up with solid solutions. Rinse and repeat. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean someone is going to be the ideal Tech Lead for your team.

Delegating is going to be absolutely essential if your Tech Lead is going to be successful. Sometimes, this means passing the coolest projects on to someone else. The Tech Lead can’t continue doing everything themselves - they’ve got to be good at prioritizing their time and finding time for the management tasks amongst their other work.

They’re able to balance active duty and management

Often, shifting to a management role means less “doing” - but in the coding world, this just doesn’t work. Your Tech Lead needs to have the desire to be creative and find ways to manage both, and here’s why. If you have someone making technical decisions without understanding the actual implications they have on the project and the team, it can cause major problems. Removing yourself from the code-i-verse isn’t going to allow you to stay current and updated on best practices and truly understand the shape of the world you’re working in. The best Tech Leads understand this and prioritize blocking off time to code, no matter what.

They can see and appreciate the overall architecture

In some cases, developers, designers, and engineers are working away on their own projects with absolutely no understanding of how their piece of the puzzle fits into the grand scheme of things. The Tech Lead, conversely, needs to have the complete picture available to them at all times. A visual representation of the system architecture, along with any different views, should be taken into account by the Tech Lead at all times. Each diagram will show developers how their project fits into the overall architectural system and its the Tech Lead’s job to understand how all the pieces not only fit together but impact and affect one another as well.

They understand they’re being graded on the effectiveness of their team and not their own personal work

Last, but certainly not least, is the tech lead’s understanding of how their performance is being measured. As a software developer, you’re going to be assessed on your own personal work. But after moving into a Tech Lead role, that changes - it becomes about the entire team and not your individual progress.

A team is only as strong as its weakest link, and it’s the job of the Tech Lead to spend 1:1 time with each team member to ensure they’re getting what they need to be successful. As each person improves individually, the entire team will become better. The Tech Lead must be able to make this mental shift and understand that their performance is now based on the entire team’s performance.

Whether you’re going to promote an existing employee to this role or seek out a software development team to partner with, you really want to take your time and dig into these issues with any potential candidates. Becoming a Tech Lead isn’t for everyone, and you want to make sure you can find the right individual for this challenging role.

How To Pitch Your Startup To Investors

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There is a massive gap between coming up with an incredible business idea and having it reach its full potential. Often, that gap represents money. Sure, you can easily have plenty of cash and still not succeed - but more often than not, businesses are limping along in those early stages without the proper funding.

If you’re prepared to give up some of your equity and take on partners, seeking investment is one of the best ways to get your business from startup to established and scaling. If you’re going to seek funding and investment from outside sources, your pitch will be what makes or breaks the deal.

Here are some tips to help you nail that pitch and position your business as an investment-worthy opportunity.

Choose the right audience

If you’ve spent any amount of time watching Shark Tank, you get how crucial it is that you’re speaking to investors who would be interested and able to invest in your type of venture. You want to take the time to understand the background of your investors so that you understand what types of businesses they typically invest in, what their skill set is, and what requirements they have before they consider investing. You don’t want to waste your efforts pitching to the wrong people, so do the work ahead of time to ensure you’re getting in front of the right audience.

Tell your pitch like it’s a story

If you want to stand out, be memorable, and have an impact on your audience, turn your pitch into a story. Emotional storytelling has become the pillar of most marketing efforts today, and there’s a reason for that - it’s scientifically proven to work. Making an emotional connection with your audience through storytelling is the easiest and most impactful way to create a relationship with your audience, and that’s exactly what you need to accomplish if you want people to believe in your business, but most importantly, in you. Data and valuations are always beneficial of course, but they aren’t enough to captivate potential investors. Weave the crucial bits of information they need to know into your story and you’ll be able to get their attention, and hopefully, their money.

Keep your pitch simple, clear, and analytical

Don’t go overboard with fancy terminology or decades worth of research. Be clear, decisive, and strategic with the way you present your business case. Always remember that the point of what you’re doing is to simply demonstrate the business objectives, and show how funding will help you to execute. Anything that doesn’t support the main goal of your pitch will simply distract from it. Tell your story in a way that even a child could understand, and keep it straight to the point. Don’t let it drag on for too long, either - decide what the most important speaking points are and stick to them.

Don’t leave it open-ended

Pitching investors is theoretically along the same lines as a business promoting a sale. The opportunity can’t last forever - at some point, the offer has to be off the table. When pitching, it’s crucial that you include strict deadlines and timelines. It demonstrates that you’re serious about making things happen, and shows you’re confident you’ll be able to secure funding - whether it’s from the current audience or not. Lay out your time-sensitive plan in a way that includes your investors and shows them how you want this to work.

Don’t be shy about your accomplishments

If you’ve already got some sales under your belt, make sure that’s included early-on in your presentation. Include a sales graph that shows your sales over a specified period of time, and be prepared to explain how you drove those sales and what your plan is to continue that traction. Demonstrate specifically how the funding will be used to impact sales and scale the business.

Asking for money isn’t easy, but it’s often a necessary step if you want to get your startup off the ground. When you’ve got the ear of potential investors, ensure you make the most of it and go in with a plan.

10 Places To Look For Investors To Fund Your Business Idea


You’ve been burning the candle at both ends all year. You’ve done your research, created your MVP, and validated your idea. You are 100% certain you’ve got the next best thing under your fingertips. What now? More often than not, it’s the time when startups need to pound the pavement until they find someone willing to fund their idea. If you don’t have deep pockets, you’re going to need to find someone who does.

You’ve exhausted family and friends, pitched to a few local investors, and have been rejected by all the local banks. The truth is, finding funding isn’t going to be fun, simple, or quick. You may need to hear hundreds of “no’s” before you finally find someone who believes in your idea as much as you do.

Don’t get frustrated - this is just part of the process. If you truly have conviction, you will find someone eventually - but it sure helps if you know where to look.

Here are 10 places you can look to find startups investors, mentorship, and entrepreneurial communities.

Angel Capital Association provides access to trending ideas and professional knowledge to help improve returns and promote effective public policies for both angels and startups.

Angel Investment Network is available around the globe with regional opportunities and connects entrepreneurs and angel investors directly.

The International Business Innovation Association is a global network of incubators, accelerators, and other entrepreneurial support organizations. You can search for programs in your area or industry.

Startup Nation is an online community that’s jam-packed with resources for starting a business, funding, scaling, and more.

Angel List helps people find jobs (and equity) in startups, invest in startups, and post vacancies for their own startup ventures.

Gust is a community and tool that connects startups with a massive collection of investors from around the globe.

Meetup is a social site that connects people who have the same interests. They have a wide variety of options and you can search for meetups in your area, or even create one yourself.

PartnerUp is a Google community focused on the needs of small business owners and entrepreneurs.

AngelsDen connects investors with businesses and their site is full of resources for both startups and investors.

Republic is a crowdfunding platform with access to leading venture capitalists, top angel investors, and more.

Before you head down this road though, just make sure you know what you want out of it. No one is going to give you money for free, so you need to ensure you go after the right partners, and only give away a percentage of your company you can feel good about.

Getting a startup off the ground isn’t easy, but you don’t have to do it alone. There are plenty of investors and online communities out there who want to support great ideas.

5 Reasons Why Your Development Project Is Going Up In Flames

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Unfortunately, failed development projects seem to be more frequent than successful ones.

The stats don’t lie:

  • 75% of business and IT executives anticipate their software projects will fail
  • Annually, fewer than 1/3 of all projects are successfully completed on time and on budget
  • 33% of projects fail due to a lack of involvement from senior management
  • There are more than 21 million professional software developers around the world

When you compile the monsoon of failed projects, there are some pretty compelling results - it seems like there are a standard set of red flags that indicate your development project is doomed from the start.

Here are 5 signs that your project is going to fail:


Poor communication practices can completely derail any project. There need to be standards, expectations, and requirements for genuine, transparent, timely, and honest communication between clients and staff, but it’s equally as important that colleagues and team members do the same.


It’s difficult to expect people to embrace change, but it’s a reality if your organization is going to be successful. If there is a cultural resistance to change, it’s going to become extremely difficult for the team as a whole to improve, adopt new technologies and programs, and forge ahead into the future. If you want to be successful in today’s business landscape, and this extends far beyond project management, your people have simply got to resist the urge to resist change.


If you want people to follow a plan, you’ve got to create one for them to follow. Diving into a project without taking the appropriate steps to create an action plan makes it impossible to measure success, track progress, and identify potential problem areas. There should be regular project status meetings worked into the plan, to ensure everyone is held accountable and on the same page.


This one is huge, and it basically guarantees project failure. If you want to deliver the ideal outcome for your client, there is a process you need to follow before the project can begin. In order to give the client a realistic timeline and budget, you need to deeply understand what their project expectations are. You need to understand every detail and every step required to get from A to Z. The best way to accomplish this is to take your time during the first phases of the project and resist the urge to start before every single detail and step is ironed out and agreed upon.


Every development project is going to be slightly different, so it’s essential that you understand what each team member is capable of and you want to get clear on where each person is best utilized. Not knowing each person’s strengths and weaknesses can result in the wrong people being assigned to a specific project, which can become a total disaster. You want to empower your team members by allowing them to play to their strengths and help them to develop new skills through ongoing training and education. Sometimes, you may find that your existing team isn’t suited for a particular project, in which case you may want to consider outsourcing to a specialized software development agency. The most important aspect here is that you know your team, and ensure you’re aligning projects with the right people.

Next time you’re diving into a new project, remember this list so you can avoid the oh-so-common pitfalls and have a much better chance at a successful project!

The Entrepreneur’s Guide: How To Build An App On A Budget (Part 3)

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This is part 3 of this week’s series, The Entrepreneur’s Guide: How To Build An App On A Budget. We’re digging deep into ways you can control your app-building costs, save money, and develop a solid understanding of the financial constraints you’re going to be facing.

If you want to see the rest of this epic list, hop over to Part 1 above.

Let’s continue.

Here are some proven ways to keep your app project on budget, and tips to help you cut costs where it makes sense:

Don’t let your features get out of control

The features of your app will be extremely important but they’re something that will need to evolve over time. You probably have plenty of great ideas, but incorporating all of them into the very first version of your app isn’t a good idea, for several reasons.

The obvious one here is cost, but you also want to consider the future needs and wants of your customers. You can’t decide all the features before people get to try it out and show you what they want - so you need to approach this with a strategy.

The best policy is to break your desired features into 3 categories:

  • Critical features
  • Important features
  • Additional features

Everything can seem critical at first, but you need to get real and break it down. What are the core components that will allow your app to function and provide the desired outcome to your users? Everything else will have to wait.

Get an idea of what each feature is going to run you, so you can understand what your total vision looks like financially. Build out the critical features only, and then work on adding those important and additional features once they’ve been validated by your users.

Don’t forget to account for your maintenance costs

Don’t forget that there’s going to be a constant stream of recurring maintenance costs, so you need to account for those in your budget. You may have to pay regular fees to 3rd party service providers to support some of your features, plus you’ll need to roll out regular updates of your own.

Maintaining a great product won’t happen for free, so make sure you understand what your ongoing costs will be as you’re making your development choices. Ensure you understand beforehand what any potential functional, administrative, infrastructure, IT support, and other costs may be.

Some of the most common recurring costs that catch people by surprise are:

  • Data storage
  • iOs and Android updates
  • Development tools and support
  • App update submissions
  • Servers
  • APIs
  • Push notifications

Select the right development partner

Typically, entrepreneurs and founders will go down a few different paths when they have a business idea they’re ready to turn into an app.

Sometimes, the creators are developers themselves and know exactly how to handle the build. Those people typically don’t require much outside assistance.

More often than not, the founder will need outside help for the build. The most common options are:

  • Hire a freelancer or remote developer
  • Hire a software development team or agency
  • Build an in-house development team

This is a big decision and not one we can guide you on, so it’s important you take the time to do your homework in this area. We are obviously a software development agency, so our belief is that we provide the best possible solution for our clients. If you want the right balance of technology, experience, skill, accountability, and cost, hiring an agency is your best bet.

Either way, the most important thing here is that you do your homework and make the choice that best aligns with your budget, risk tolerance, and comfort level.

Well, that about wraps this guide up! This wasn’t meant to be such a monster, but once we got started, there were just too many important elements to leave anything out on this subject.

When you’re diving into building your first app, a major part of your success will rely on you figuring out the financials and ensuring you can meet your goals without blowing all your funds.

Let us know if you think there’s anything we missed on this list!

And again, you can get to the first part of this series here.

The Entrepreneur’s Guide: How To Build An App On A Budget (Part 2)

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This is part 2 of this week’s series, The Entrepreneur’s Guide: How To Build An App On A Budget. We’re digging deep into ways you can control your app building costs, save money where it makes sense, and develop a solid understanding of the financial constraints you’re going to be dealing with.

If you want to see the first 2 items on the list, hop on over to the first part above.

Let’s continue, shall we?

Here are some proven ways to keep your app project on budget, and tips to help you cut costs where it makes sense:

Be honest with yourself about your financial reality

Don’t dive into a major project with the anticipation that you’ll somehow be able to come up with money you need along the way. If you’re building an app on a budget, be honest about your financials and come up with a plan that works within your budgetary constraints.

Some developers will have pricing models that tailor to low-budget mobile app builds, so seek those out if that’s the position you’re in. The point here is to understand what you’re dealing with and plan accordingly.

Worst case scenario? You blow through your budget and your project is only 25% done. Don’t be that guy - plan and be honest with yourself about what you can (and can not) afford.

Understand what factors will influence the price of your app

If you want to maintain control of potentially soaring costs, it’s important to comprehend what specific features and choices can push you over the edge.

Typically, your app’s build cost will be primarily influenced by:

  • The platform you’re building on (mobile, wearable, web, etc.)
  • Product type (is this an MVP or finished product?)
  • Mobile platform types
  • Required technologies
  • Key product features
  • The developer or software team you partner with

Take stock of your different price-points for each option, to ensure you’re selecting what aligns with both your goals and budget.

Start with one platform only

This can be a difficult choice, but it’s one that can save you tons of money in your early stages. No one wants to alienate a group of users - that goes without saying. But, the reality is that the more platforms you build for, the more it’s going to cost.

If you’re trying to keep costs down, start with selecting the platform you believe the majority of your users are on. You’ll need to select either Android or iOs, and even take it a step further to decide which device ranges you’ll support. Do the research and price comparisons early, so you can approach this aspect with a solid plan in place.

Do not skip the MVP process

It can be enticing to jump right into creating your final product, but the saying “The cheap comes out expensive” really does apply in the app building world. Your app isn’t going to be built overnight, and you can’t build something based on old news and feedback. Consumer wants and demands will change often, not to mention that your competitors could easily be planning their next big move.

We’ve written quite a lot about the importance of the MVP process, and even created a comprehensive guide to walk you through Creating Your First App.

In that guide and several other posts, we dig into the importance of taking the time to create an MVP before finalizing your end product. If you truly desire to build something that people are going to love, your best bet is to get their feedback and suggestions once they’ve been able to hold your minimum viable product in their hands and test it out for themselves.

This is one of those areas where you do not want to try and save through skimping. It’s an error that can cost you big bucks in the long-run if you wind up creating a product that nobody wants. This can literally be the difference between success and failure.

The great part about this process is that even when you’re on an insanely tight budget, there is always a way to get creative and build out some version of MVP for your target customers to test.

Types of MVP’s include:

  • Product wireframe or mock-up
  • Interactive product prototype
  • Mobile or web version with 1-3 key features
  • Landing page with either mock-up or prototype that collects email addresses

If you really need to bootstrap your MVP, slap up a simple landing page that will validate your idea through collecting contact information and introducing your idea. It doesn’t need to be fancy, it just needs to happen. That's exactly what Dropbox did and just look at them now.

We’ll finish up this guide with one more post in a few days!

The Entrepreneur’s Guide: How To Build An App On A Budget (Part 1)

The Entrepreneurs Guide How To Build An App On A Budget Part 1.jpg

When you’re ready to pull the trigger and make a move on finally bringing your app idea to life, you’re going to hear a lot of mixed messages. Some people will tell you not to bother unless you have an endless supply of cash. Others will say you should bootstrap it, and spend as little as humanly possible.

The reality, though, falls somewhere in the middle. While it’s true you’re going to need some cash to make this thing happen, there are some areas where you need to spend, and some that you don’t.

The advice below is assuming you’ve done the work to validate your idea through customer and market research, and have come up with a product that meets a current market gap. Once you’ve got all your ducks in a row, it’s time to take action on turning your idea into a reality.

But, the reality of building an app is often quite different from the expectation. Things change, and costs can soar. The most important thing is to have a plan and to have a strategy to stick to that plan.

This blog post started out as a simple list but has turned into a comprehensive guide. We’ve split into 3 blog posts!

Here are some proven ways to keep your app project on budget, and tips to help you cut costs where it makes sense:

Start with clear product goals

Clearly defined product goals are essential for the success of any project, especially if you’re attempting to stay on budget. When you’re working with a limited budget, this becomes even more important.

You want to clarify important things like:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What does the customer journey map look like?
  • Why do consumers need your product, and what specific problems will it address?
  • Who are your main competitors? What makes you different?
  • What specific results do you expect to achieve after your launch?

In this early stage, you also want to complete your preliminary market research and conduct customer surveys. You should build out a list of your app’s desired features, and rank them in terms of importance (more on this point later).

Additionally, you should decide on your app’s monetization strategy. Will it be a paid download or a freemium model? There are plenty to choose from, so take your time on this one.

Choose the right pricing model for your business and your project

When you’re building an app, there are different ways you can hire help. The most common ways to compensate your builder or software development team will be hourly, or by a fixed project fee. There are pros and cons to each approach, so it’s important you fully understand the scope of your project before making this decision.

For example, a fixed project price can seem like a good idea, especially when you’re on a tight budget. But what happens when you receive customer feedback and want to make a change? No dice if the contract’s been signed.

We’ll continue this guide in a few days, so stay tuned!

What You Can Learn About Marketing Your SaaS Business From Intercom


If you’re in the SaaS industry, you probably already know all about Intercom. But, you might not know everything. The software company that makes a customer messaging platform was founded in 2011, and now has over 300 employees that serve their 17,000 plus customers. Based in San Francisco, they continue to be a privately held company with more than $50 million in annual recurring revenue.

The company helps other software businesses chat with potential and current customers within their app, on their website, through social media, or via email. Their goal was to create an intimate experience online, and they have been wildly successful. After struggling early on to get funding, they caught a break in 2012 when Twitter co-founder Biz Stone took a leap of faith and invested an undisclosed amount of money into their business. Since then, they have continued to raise capital, with the latest being a Series D earlier this year that yielded an investment of $125 million.

Here are just 3 of the growth hacking strategies that Intercom founders Eoghan McCabe, Des Traynor, Ciaran Lee, and David Barrett have used to scale, without spending everything they had in advertising and marketing.

Take full advantage of the “Powered By” feature

One thing Intercom is known to have done is to maximize their “Powered By” feature. For example, when any user is on any given website that happens to use Intercom for their messaging, there’s a handy little button at the bottom of the messaging box that says “Powered by Intercom”. You see these with many of the online services you use today.

What’s special here though is that Intercom didn’t just send people who clicked that button to their website. They took the time to execute a tailored landing page that was tweaked for whatever site the user was coming from. Using dynamic keyword insertion, they are able to personalize the headline in the landing page based on the referring company. This personalization is a conversion unicorn.

Use Alternative Landing Pages To Attract (Or Steal) Traffic From Your Competitors

Do the research to truly understand who your biggest competitors are, and then take it a step further to understand their customers and what their unique needs are. You can then target their brand searches through paid clicks on the major search engines, and tailor your copy, messaging, and landing pages to speak specifically to the issues you know they’re dealing with.

For example, Intercom uses landing pages to demonstrate why some users have already made the switch (from the brand they targeted through their keywords) and uses content that directly addresses problems they are certain these people are dealing with. Bidding on your competitor’s keywords isn’t cheap, but with the right strategy, there’s a major conversion opportunity.

Create Your Own Rich, Unique, Branded Content Using Proven Popular Topics

People often wonder what to write about, but the truth is, you just need to start. Obviously, you want to do your research, but as with any type of marketing, you need to start testing. You need to put stuff out there and have data that shows whether it’s what people want or not.

Intercom has done a really great job at leveraging the proven topic framework in their content marketing. Their founders started blogging less than 2 months after launching the company, and have been paying close attention to their results for the past 6 years.

Take advantage of other articles you see going viral and gaining popularity, and use them as inspiration to include your own thoughts on the topic or create further conversation. Don’t copy what other people are doing, but use proven topics to leverage your own authority as a thought leader around subjects that are clearly popular. This is a core component of Intercom’s content strategy and their data has proven it extremely effective. These are just 3 of the many strategies that fall under the SaaS growth hacking window, but they have been proven time and time again by some major winners. One common theme you’ll notice in all of them? They are customer-centric. If you want to win, it’s always going to come back to giving consumers what they want and need.