I get a lot of people asking if I think their app idea is a good one. Although I always have an opinion, in most cases my opinion doesn’t matter. Startups should have a very specific target customer, and odds are that I’m not it yet. Even if I am a target customer, I may not be an early adopter, or I might be that cranky old guy who doesn’t want to change my behavior for something new. In any case, my opinion might not be a very good indicator of idea quality. However, I do have a “good idea” litmus test that I use in these cases to remove my bias.
Here it is…
First off, it’s important to mention that a good idea, as I’m defining it, means that the idea is worth pursuing. This test does not necessarily indicate that the product will make a bunch of money, or that everyone will want to use it. And trust me, many ideas are not even worth time pursuing.
This test, and everything else I advocate, involves using Lean methods to validate assumptions. Lean App Development is by far the best way to develop an app when you’ve got an evolutionary idea. Lean methods don’t work very well for revolutionary ideas, though (that’s a different article). So this litmus test works well for evolutionary ideas bound for Lean App Development.
OK, here it is for real…
For an app idea to be a good one, the founder must have industry experience or at least domain expertise. That means the founder should have worked in an industry long enough to understand the problems faced by other people who work in the same industry.
Alternatively, they need domain expertise. So a founder may not need to work in the sports / fitness industry to build an app for runners, but at the very least they need to be an avid runner and know other runners.
When a founder has industry experience which shows them a problem, it naturally follows that they have access to other people which experience the problem. This is not always the case, though. A founder may be a scientist with all kinds of knowledge about current drugs on the market, but has no access to the people who use those drugs (if that happens to be their target market).
If you don’t have one or both of these things, you’ll have a tough time getting the validation ball rolling. But what if your idea doesn’t really need industry/domain expertise or specific target customers? For example, the next great social app will be used by everyone and have no particular constraining industry. That’s a great example of an idea not worth pursuing… unless of course you’re just looking for a hobby with no plans to create a real business.
So what do you do with a good idea? Get your Lean App Toolkit to find out!
Over 50 pages of step-by-step instructions on how to develop your idea and validate your business plan before you spend time and money building your app.
At BOUNDLESS, my co-founder and I have over 35 years of collective experience building software. We’ve helped many startups clarify their ideas, find workable solutions, and build their apps. You can check out our company website and read about some of our happy clients below!
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