Working with a really interesting new startup in the social media management category, we came up with a number of materials that the startup should be developing over the next weeks and months. This may or may not be complete and it may or may not be relevant for all companies. But take a look and see if you have all bases covered.
1. A pitch deck, containing
All year long you could hear them shouting from the rooftops: “Mobile first!”.
I’m starting to think a unifying vision for all apps should start with the mobile app, not the web app. And so it may also be mobile first web second in
designing web apps these days.
I know that “Mobile First” has become engrained in developers minds. And that’s a good thing.
In the last weeks, on the other hand, we have heard a different tune from some people:
Building an audience on mobile is a bitch.
And, in a really insightful and must-read contribution from Vibhu Norby:
The Android and iOS platform set us up to fail by attracting us with the veneer of users, but in reality you are going to fight harder for them than is worthwhile to your business. You certainly need a mobile app to serve your customers and compete, but it should only be part of your strategy and not the whole thing.
This is a critical discussion for anybody starting to design their roadmap and trying to get their priorities in order. Make sure you understand Vibhu’s arguments and explain how they apply to your product, business models, and target market.
My gut feeling would be to go web-first for on-boarding, administration, monetization. But design your client experience for a seamless mobile experience and don’t be afraid to deliver a simple, but elegant experience for the desktop as well. I think that we’ll see more and more simple, fast, and elegant desktop applications with seamless UI transitions to their mobile counterparts. These days I am impressed by applications such as Tweetdeck or Sparrow.
On the purely mobile side I am impressed by e.g. letterpress because of the sparse and beautiful tiled design that works amazingly well on the iPhone and feels like a breath of fresh air, especially when you see it side by side with the more traditional design of Apple Game Center. Which looks shockingly baroque in comparison.
An amazing number of teams that come up and ask for recommendations, help, or hands-on support in finding external funding. No real surprise given the sheer number of incubators, university entrepreneurship institutes, pre-seed funding programs from the various sources and programs.
The bad news: 9 out of 10 are not per se fundable. And either need to go home or work hard to fill the gaps.
Here are some simple filters that should help you look in the mirror and assess what you see:
Are we a team? One person is not a team. Two people who have met at a founders’ speed-dating event are not a team. Two MBAs and one engineer are not a team (if software is at all critical to your idea). Three or four people who have worked together for at least six months and are now more enthusiastic about their idea and each other than when they started out – that could be a team!
Do we have a product or can we build one? Can it be built? Can we build it? Is it a product, not a feature? All the usual caveats apply. If we don’t have a product, then how do we get people to take the leap of faith required that they will let us build one?
Do we have a market? How do we know that there are dogs that will eat our dogfood? Do we understand, and I mean really understand, our customer and what their pain is and how we help them and why they will buy from us and why they will buy now? How many customers have we actually talked to?
Passing these filters is necessary, but by no means sufficient.
Next apply these two sanity-checks. Ask yourself:
If you have good answers to all of these you may proceed. Otherwise it’s back to the drawing board.