The question that most app startups can't answer

The question that most app startups can't answer

I am regularly involved in reviewing business plans presentations for classes at Cornell University and Ithaca College. There are always a number of teams that have concepts for new smartphone apps, and they are asked to pitch a panel of judges who are tasked with asking the tough questions to challenge entrepreneurs.  The goal of the judges is to determine if the entrepreneurs really know their business, and have they done the appropriate preparation work.  Most entrepreneurs are concerned only with what the app does, but we also want to know how they’re going to get people to download and use the app.

NBA 3000 Cornell December 2014

NBA 3000 Cornell December 2014

My friend Steve Gal is Cornell faculty and the CEO of Hangit.  Whenever someone pitches an app concept, I know what’s coming next from him:

“For an app to be successful, it needs to have a lot of people download and use it. There are over 1,200,000 apps in the app store. What’s your plan to get a lot of people to download and use your app?

The answer to this question is non-trivial.  It goes beyond lots of Facebook posts and Twittering.  It’s definitely not first mover advantage.  And know that “viral marketing” is quite intentional.  So what should your plan be?

I’ll not claim to be an expert on it, so I’ll point you to this excellent article by Perna Gupta entitled “When a Product Sells Itself: How I Got Millions of People to Download My App“.  She describes how to have customers who want to use your app, and how to get them to share it with others.

.You know the question is coming.  Be ready for it.