Is Your App Idea a Million-Dollar Uber or a Zero-Dollar Dud?

We are a global, digital society, fueled by innovative ideas. Just make sure yours is a good one before mortgaging the family jewels.

If you’re planning to launch a business application, you have a lot of questions to answer. Why you should really isn’t one of them. At this point, it’s a no-brainer. Within the next few years, 5.3 billion users will own smartphones. Google conducts more than 100 billion searches every month, and more than one-half of those searches are mobile.

If you’re still wondering whether you should build an app, it’s time to throw out those eight-track tapes and download Pandora.

What about the expense?

For some businesses, the answer is pretty simple. If you want to build an app for an existing business or even launch a career as an app builder, you may be able to build mobile apps from template designs simple and cheap–or even free if you’re still in school; how cool is that?

The real challenge comes when you get ambitious. When you have a big idea with the potential to disrupt an industry. When you want to build Uber, or Hulu, or Tinder. An idea no one has ever seen before. That’s going to cost you. Angel investor Jason Calacanis advises raising $750,000 in first-round seed money.

The harsh truth is, a lot of apps fail, no matter how much time and money you spend building them.

Why apps fail

Every day, about 1,000 apps are launched, and up to 70 percent of them will fail miserably. The competition is stiff, but it’s not your problem. Forget about the competition. A lot of apps fail because they weren’t based on workable ideas. They didn’t meet the needs and expectations of their audience, the messaging was all wrong, or the bedrock idea had a built-in, fatal flaw. Here’s a cautionary tale worth reading—$500,000 in funding, right down the drain.


If you’re looking to spend big money on an idea, you want to know whether it will be successful, right?

Testing the waters

Creating an earth-shaking app requires a team. One way to gauge success is by hiring an app development agency to take your idea from concept to creation. When renowned life and business strategist Tony Robbins wanted to take his coaching program mobile, he turned to Neon Roots for help.

Its workshop, Rootstrap, takes ideas brought to it by clients, analyzes the market, assesses the viability and helps hone the concept to a workable app, all before diving into costly production. For $15,000 to $40,000, clients find out whether their idea will work and, just as important, whether there is a market. It may sound like a lot, but finding out your app won’t work before you invest a fortune on an idea that was never viable is a bargain.

Founder Ben Lee says customers who decide not to follow through with the project are often relieved. They know all about the exorbitant cost of failure.

If you’re trying to bootstrap a company with a few investors and a shoestring budget, it’s even more important to know whether success is in your future. Rootstrap doesn’t stop at determining whether your concept is solid–if the idea is sound, the team will build you a minimal viable product (MVP) to show investors.

With a focused concept, a means-tested MVP app and optimized mobile messaging, your mobile app has a much better chance of success from funding to sales. Neon Roots reports that Rootstrap alumni see a 2,600 percent increase in their chances of getting funded when compared to the average startup. In the mobile app world, those are some pretty good odds.

The next big idea is out there. At this very moment, some programming team is working on an innovation everyone will want. It may not come from Silicon Valley, either. French ride-sharing app BlaBlaCar was valued at $1.6 billion last year. Hey, remember when Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 billion? How’d you like to be that guy? Unicorns are waiting to break through in every industry.

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