7 Questions Startups Need to Answer Before Building an App

Savvy Editor

Last updated Jul 23, 2019

In the seven years Savvy Apps has been crafting award-winning apps, we’ve worked extensively with startups and early-stage ventures. Whether it was an entrepreneur who bootstrapped or a venture that raised a Series A investment, these kinds of customers typically have the same questions. We’ve taken the time to answer many of those questions, including how much an app costs, how long it takes to build an app, and being aware of the common reasons startups fail. Learn key insights into app creation as well as mistakes to avoid with this definitive guide to the top considerations for startups looking to build an app.

How Do I Protect My App Idea?

Now that you have a great app idea, how do you make sure someone else doesn't take it and launch it before you? Most entrepreneurs believe that is what a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) does. Thus, one of the most common requests we hear from startups when they first reach out to us is whether Savvy Apps will sign a non-disclosure agreement. While we understand the motivation behind this request, any top agency or developer needs to get some basic information before signing an NDA.

Instead of barring yourself from meaningful discussions with those that can help you with your app, postpone requesting an NDA and first share the non-proprietary information about your app idea or business. This information includes the general focus of your app, pointing out comparable apps, the platforms you're interested in launching on, your budget range, and timeline. We go into more detail about this in our article, NDAs: A Manifestor for App Developers (and Other Creative Professionals).

Which App Platform Should I Target First?

For many consumer-facing startups, you will want to go with iOS first. iOS users tend to match key demographics needed for early-stage ventures. Data shows that iOS users engage more and spend more per app. Not only that, but iOS apps tend to earn more revenue than Android apps.

Android makes a good first choice for apps with audiences who predominantly use Android devices. It’s also the way to go if you need a feature that is not supported by iOS. In our article on Android vs iOS: Which Platform to Build for First, we link to a number of sources on platform demographics and cover various scenarios for launching on iOS, Android, or both platforms at once.

How Much is My App Going to Cost?

You app's features and the platforms you target will influence your app's cost the most. An app can easily cost six figures for startups with bigger ideas. We identify the considerations that go into determining budget and show comparable app costs in our detailed analysis of how much apps cost.

App cost is also influenced by who you enlist to build your app. The largest app companies charge anywhere from $500,000 to $1,000,000, while freelancers or smaller shops charge significantly less. Agencies like Savvy Apps usually will be in-between those two groups. Offshore app development is often much cheaper on paper, but it comes with its own risks and challenges. Here's a look at why the cheapest app developers sometimes cost more.

How Long Will My App Take to Make?

As we outlined in a past article, quality apps usually take 4-6 months to create, though there are ways to build apps faster. Keep in mind that this range doesn't just include development time. For those who build apps right, it will also include strategic planning, UX, design, quality assurance, and app store submission. These stages of app creation are all equally important to making sure your app meets all the elements of a great app.

The expertise and process of your app team will also determine how long it takes to build your app. This is where spending more money on a proven app team rather than an inexperienced smaller team or an offshore shop can save you money in the long run. Trying to make an app with the cheapest team puts your app at risk of experiencing costly delays or worse, a throw-away final product.

How Do I Raise Money for My App?

Because many early-stage ventures are capital intensive, you may need to rely on investors to get your v1.0 app out the door. Before approaching investors though, make sure you've honed your elevator pitch. An elevator pitch conveys the purpose of your app in 2-3 sentences. Be sure to also have some basic marketing materials in place, like your logo, a real email address (i.e., not Gmail or Yahoo!), and even an app landing page.

You can also help convince investors you’re serious in your venture by putting some of your own funds into your app. Doing that shows that you're making a significant contribution to its success beyond investing just thought, effort, and time. Some entrepreneurs expand their own funding by also doing an initial raise among family and friends. That may allow you to gather the necessary funds to hire someone to help you build a prototype of your app. We cover that approach and 10 tips to raising money for your app startup from what we’ve seen work for our early-stage customers.

How Can I Keep My App from Failing?

Creating an app is a complicated process. Even after all of the outside factors like fundraising and hiring an app team, it's simple to stand in the way of your own app. One major mistake that startup founders make is forgetting that an app is more than just an app. An app is actually a business. It requires a much more holistic approach that addresses all the factors that any business has to contend with like marketing, customer experience, and analytics.

Another way to set your app up for failure is to become too removed from your users. Founders can become obsessive and possessive over features that aren’t relevant to normal users. That can result in founder blindness and ultimately app scope creep. We talk about this problem and other issues in our article, How to Ensure Your App will be a Huge Failure.

How Often Should I Update My App?

Your work doesn't end once your app launches. In order to keep growing your business, you need to continue to attract and retain users. A fundamental way to generate excitement around your app is by releasing bug fixes and feature release updates. These updates address user concerns and feedback, as well as provide additional features not scoped in your initial v1.0 launch. You should plan to release 1-4 updates a month with the frequency depending on user feedback, your budget, and app roadmap. It’s also smart to time your updates along with major OS releases.

Providing frequent updates generates more excitement in your app and encourages active users to keep using your app long after the initial launch hype dies down. You should plan out your first 2-4 updates via your app's roadmap before your app even launches. To learn more about the strategy around regular app updates check out our article on how often you should update your app.

Concluding Note

The attention given to answering these questions can determine your app's success in app stores. While you will encounter many more considerations during the creation of your app, these initial concerns will set the foundation for your experience to come. If you're still unsure of how to proceed, check out the rest of our blog for more app-related advice or drop us a line for some help.

This article was last updated in August 2016 to indicate the latest market trends.

Written By:

Savvy Editor

Savvy believes in sharing knowledge with the marketplace and our industry about apps, digital products, and more. Our team members regularly write articles under their own names. The Savvy Editor authorship represents articles and resources that are a collective effort across all of Savvy.