Evaluating your Mobile Apps Ideas

How to Make an App

In this free-flowing conversation, David and Chris discuss mobile app ideas, where they come from, how to evaluate, and why taking action and executing is more powerful than even the best mobile app ideas.

Stay tuned to the end to hear an invitation from the guys to bravely share your app ideas for evaluation and constructive criticism – in the public comments section of this episode (be brave)

In this Episode – David and Chris discuss:

  • How to Pronounce David’s last name
  • Where do I start with my app ideas?
  • Ideas are almost worthless – execution is (almost) everything
  • How to get creative juices flowing
  • Incremental Improvements on your favorite apps
  • They are all pivots
  • Repurposed Apps for Niches
  • Cheesy Line about Niches
  • The value of reverse engineering monetization techniques from Top Grossing chart
  • Share your ideas – invitation to post your app ideas so we can steal evaluate and encourage your forward progress
  • Its all about the execution & Closing

Resources and Linked Mentioned in this Episode


Chris: Hi and welcome to the App Business Podcast! I’m here with David Pfahler.


David: Hey guys.


Chris: Here we go. And how do I pronounce the name, David?


David: Well, okay this is a hard one. You know its German, I’m German and if you correctly pronounce it in a German way its actually “Fa ler”.


Chris: Yeah, I thought I did pretty well.


David: It was pretty good. Yeah, its slight American accent.


Chris: I’ve been practicing. All right, so today were going to do something a little different, we’re going to, just kind of have a free flowing conversation. As if the others have been so structured. But and just kind of go in how we come up with mobile app ideas and what we used to help us you know get the creative juices flowing and how we evaluate those ideas before we spend too much time and money on an idea. Things like that. Without providing too much structure, lets just dig in. And David, this was your idea and I think it is a good idea is mobile app ideas. Why do I come up with mobile app to ideas? I do, and how do others come up with theirs and what are they doing? Is that kind of the jest of the question? Topic?


David: Yeah, and its a totally wide open question and topic and I’ll try to not make the apps as tool bomb because it could act obviously right noble to the whole thing but the idea is basically you have this generalized feeling or this..You just want to create apps. This is what you want to do, maybe you already have some? And you just want to create another one, or your fascinated by the whole app space and you have maybe some skills, maybe you are even a developer so you could do it yourself. And the first question of course, is “What do you want to do?” Like, okay I could do anything and “How do I narrow down, so its not a giant overwhelming question and I can actually get into action which is what we always try to focus on, and always try to hammer this point home. That action is what were after and execution is what is important. Now there’s been sometimes where I said ideas are worthless and execution is the most important thing. And I still kind of like, stand behind this statement. So this episode is not going to be so much about, at least from my input. Its not going to be so much about how we can get the next idea, the idea for the next Facebook. Or the idea for the next Snapchat. But its going to be more like how can you get to a good enough idea quickly, so you can start executing. Does that make sense?


Chris: Yeah, and you know how I am. Its like, I also agree with ideas are worthless. In fact so just a little plug for Steve, I was on interviewed for Steve P Young’s “Podcast: Mobile App Chat” and kind of a cool experience for me coz its the first time I’ve been interviewed on podcast specifically around mobile. Like I’ve gotten interviewed for startup type stuff so its fun to have this mobile conversation. And one of this questions, he ends the..he kind of has a set of questions and ends..he ends it with some questions that he asked everyone. And one of them was “Okay, if you could do any app idea right now, what’s your craziest app idea?” Something like that, right, like what do you wanna do, whats an app that you don’t care if someone copied. And I think that’s a good way of looking at how mobile and ideas are. Mobile apps and how they relate ideas are is that it they matter so little that people on a podcast will tell what their ideas are. You know it just, it doesn’t matter. In fact, I always have friends, and David I’m sure you get this too whether like “Oh, I have this great app idea and you know they wanted to wait and get in the dark room with the lights off and tell you in whispers because someone might steal their great idea.  And then you go home and look at night and start this third exactly the same. And its like, well how about taking that first step of looking and seeing what else is out there and I know a lot of people don’t even do that. So if your one of those people that wants everyone to sign an NDA and before you tell them their app idea and then you haven’t even look and seeing whats out there in the App Store. Then stop being that guy and don’t worry about the NDA, don’t worry about your idea. Its not that precious I can guarantee you. Am but yes, the question really is how to.. once you have an idea or seven, how you get pass that idea phase. Lets say your not so worried about someone stealing it or you know scared to share it with anyone but, still you don’t know how to take action to get to that next step which is spending some time developing it. Right? I mean that’s the next step after you come up with the idea, yeah?


David: Right, so just to get actionable, what you do is you take a pen and a paper, an iPad, an iPhone, your laptop or whatever. You just take a pen and paper and start writing down. Take start with the worst stuff you can think of. If your locked, if you don’t come up with ideas then, turn the question around and don’t ask where any good ideas, ask what are the worst ideas for apps and start writing them down even if it feels very silly. At least you get in the habit of coming up with ideas even if its like stupid ideas so nobody wants. Then still come up with them and then you can know once your creative juices are flowing you can change the question around again and say okay now toss away the list and start where, or maybe just gradually make the ideas factor and then you come up with some ideas that you actually required proud of coming up so that’s how I would stop with an actionable thing that you can do right now. And then stop this podcast for us and grab a piece of paper and start writing it down. So why don’t you just get..


Chris: So your saying you had a really good idea on a previous podcast for this which was, I think it was the podcast episode where how you get started on mobile. And one of the ways of coming up with ideas that you suggest was go find your favorite apps and find how you might improve them. What wrong with them? And then there’s another way to instead of just going from a blank piece of paper trying to come up with that ideas, go find where you can improve some apps you care about. So you already are interested in the app subject or type whatever and then you can figure out okay, well gosh if only it had this kind of sharing mechanism or if only had a built in calendar that can do this. Who knows what it is. But that’s another great way to come up with mobile app ideas is finding apps that you think are close and in a rating from there.


David: Yeah, I can already hear at the listeners or part of them thinking like that’s not a good idea. Just one more feature doesn’t sell anything or whatever. But remember, like yeah, were not creating the next Snapchat. Its not about being the most innovative guy on the world, its about getting into action mode and starting to do something. Because when you start working on something that you maybe just improving a little bit, and you keep working on it and you keep pivoting. Then you’ll arrive at something that might be substantially different and sure pay another part of the market and its actually very successful. But if you never arrived there, if you never start…


Chris: It shows how we view things in retrospect because you stand a chance as an example of something it doesn’t need to be as unique as Snapchat. That thing is a picture sharing thing, the only thing they add was hey they erase it in 10 seconds or whatever they are, 15 seconds, right?


David: Yeah, but I don’t think its a bad example because it is just pivoting.


Chris: Yeah. They all are. I mean they all are. Angry Birds is a tower defense game its got crazy birds being flung. I mean they’re all, you know, its not like a something is just so universally uniquely different. It just doesn’t work like that. So yeah whoever says that little features don’t sell, just those totally uniquely differences are not enough to sell? It does, they exactly are. That’s exactly what stuff with those little unique differences.


David: You can make the exact same app and just use different branding and marketing and tap to totally different market and sell the app like crazy. It doesn’t have to be any different because if like for example, my mom is a teacher and if you took like a, I don’t know lets say a calendar app. But you just solve it towards whats all good features a calendar has that are great for teachers. That’s something she would be interested in. But if you just have a generalized idea of..”I’m selling a calendar, it has this features.” Then she’d be like a cat and not really see how this benefits me. So even if you were doing the exact same thing as someone else which you know you don’t have to, you can still pivot and innovate and stuff like that. But even then there was a business case for improving even if its just the marketing.


Chris: Yeah, you tend to represent developers that are idealistic and are very vain on innovation and maybe just nitching something out, makes it seem too marketing related and not innovative enough but.. I don’t know. That kind of stuff is what I like, I like that innovative, you know like finding another use or another application for something that exists or something that could be modified a little bit to serve that niche better. And that’s what interests me a lot, I like that stuff.


David: Yeah.


Chris: As you say, the riches are in the niches? Have you heard that before?


David: Yeah, its kind of cheesy! Yeah, I know its true man, and I think its a really, maybe this is a really short episode but its a really concise you know precise answer. Which is you know you just take something you already use because you know then you understand it. You know how it work, you know what the flaws are. And you think, well how could I make this better? Changed it and maybe sell it to someone else. And that’s where you stop, that’s where you start taking action from.


Chris: Let me talk to my people quite for a second here though. Let me talk to… well they don’t have to be intermediate or advanced level type of guys but maybe more of the business minded type guys. And what I do, from my mobile app ideas these days is I..You know I’m a student of the app store. I’m always monitoring what the top app is and what the top monetization models are for the top grossing and I’ve a good sense for how Candy Crush are always in the top 25 make money. And what I like to do is look at this various models and reverse engineer it into something else. So if I can use some of the things that they’re using in Candy Crash or Clash of Clans those are big bigger examples that I need to use. But you know, whatever. Anything that’s a top grossing app you can look at and see what if I use some of these game mechanics in a trivia app and then it becomes a, you know its almost like the Rip, Pivot & Jam or finding something and finding another use for it. Except it doesn’t look at all the same to the user because the only thing that is the same is the gamification or the game elements, or you know the kind of the monetization framework for the app. The rest is completely different, so I’ve kind of gotten more into that where I’m looking for how apps monetize and trying to build apps based on that. And that’s why its kind of gets me excited these days.


David: Yeah, for reference, Rip, Pivot & Jam is the concept by Dan & Ian from the former Lifestyle Business Podcast which is now the Tropical MBA and you can re purpose in the show notes but it’s basically the TMBA-100 is the episode number and you can go there and listen to that episode. It’s really interesting especially in terms of how you come up with to your new product line, so very related to this topic. But I think what you said is just an extension of the general idea that we already add. So you’re looking at something that already exists and you’re changing it. The only difference what you just added is that you look in something that already exists and is very successful and try to extract the principles from that and apply it to something else.


Chris: exactly.


David: Or pivot it in a certain way


Chris: Yes.


David: Yeah, I think that’s the best strategy and it’s not the easy turnkey solution but that’s what you have to do and its very effective. I mean we can see it with what you’re doing


Chris: I want to invite the listeners (we might have to edit this out), invite our listeners to share their ideas with us but then maybe they don’t trust us coz we make apps. I don’t know. Maybe we just edit that out. But I’m trying to think of a way that they could engage with us.


David: No, I really like to keep that in. So if you are brave enough to share your ideas with crazy idea pirate Chris and me, then go to the appbusinespodcast.com/ideas, I just made that up and you can comment there and leave your ideas there and maybe someone or maybe us we can look at the comments and turn them apart or actually encouraged you to go through with it, grab most likely its something in the middle. So most likely you continue to pivot a little bit, so. Yeah, go. Go ahead man, have at it, that’s the best way to start working is you keep sharing sharing, sharing and I can only encourage that because I know I’ve personally had given my best ideas away for years. All of that stuff that I am working on and I’m not working on. Often I have ideas that I know, probably good ideas but they are out of my current focus. Out of the area that I currently focus on. And I just try to share; I just try to give the good ideas away. And even the things I’m working on, I’m sharing them on Twitter; I’m sharing them anywhere. But let me tell you something, nobody cares. Everybody is very busy with his or her own stuff, they don’t have the time and they don’t have the execution power to steal on your ideas because it’s all about the execution. So yeah, I think we’ll keep that in and if you’re brave enough just share your ideas


Chris: Cool, lets do it.


David: Lets wrap it up here man. That was a cool episode I really like it. Again check out the show notes at appbusinesspodcast.com/ideas we’ll have all the links and stuff that we mentioned there and leave a brave comment. Bye bye.