It's one thing to be a regular Joe (or Jane) with a cool idea and quite another to be a regular Joe (or Jane) who turns that cool idea into a product that makes it to market.
We recently checked in with Rameet Chawla, founder of app developer Fueled, to get his advice on transforming an idea into a business.
He emphasizes that as a startup, you should focus most of your efforts on the core product - building it, testing it, editing it and doing all that again in order to create something your audience actually wants. But he acknowledges that a company can't grow on a great product alone.
Start marketing early, Rameet says.
"Think carefully through your marketing strategy, develop an early adopter community around your product, then when you launch, you'll be able to draw upon thousands of users who can advocate for your product."
Next, focus on sales. Even if a product is seamless, startups need to work on gaining exposure and sharing their product experience to attract new clients.
"An increase in sales means an increase in profit, and profit paves the way for growth."
Here, Rameet tells the story behind Fueled, shares more advice for startups and entrepreneurs on launching their businesses and offers his picks for the most innovative apps on the market right now. Read on:
Tell us about Fueled...what services do you offer?
Fueled is a mobile development and design incubator recognized for its work in creating technology products. With teams of designers, developers and strategists based in New York, Chicago and London, we don't just design visually pleasing products, we strive to create intuitive and innovative user interfaces. Our services help both startups and enterprise clients turn their ideas into functioning apps. Additionally, Fueled is dedicated to helping startups get off the ground, so in 2013, we founded the Fueled Collective, a shared working space for over 30 of New York's most innovative startups. We are working to contribute to every step of the creative development process.
What sets you apart from other app developers?
We emphasize creating simple products instead of complex ones; this means focusing our efforts on feature removal instead of feature addition. Moreover, we test as much as possible through short release cycles rather than spending too much time planning. It's essential to test every project, every last feature, and our team holds ourselves to the highest standard of usability, stability and design in every project that we touch. Finally, with the diversity within our strategy, design and development teams, Fueled really has the ability to excel in the whole lifecycle of a product.
Why are you passionate about helping startups and entrepreneurs develop and sell their ideas?
I derive joy in creation. I love the risk, and I love working on the unknown - the psychological aspect of filling a void and finding a creative way to solve a problem. I want to create technology that disrupts tradition, that is well done, transparent and elegant.
What's the first step someone with an idea for an app should take toward developing it?
The first thing we do with any project that comes through Fueled's doors is a series of stress tests. We want to know why the idea makes sense, why it's going to be successful and why anyone would care about it. It doesn't matter if someone has a fully fleshed-out business plan or a one-sentence pitch, we will challenge all assumptions. This is our essential first step so we can really make sure we can turn the initial concept into an outstanding product.
What do you think are the most common missteps startups make when turning their ideas into realities?
At Fueled, we really emphasize testing out a vision by developing a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). First-time entrepreneurs often get stuck on the idea of perfection. They'll spend months building and perfecting their vision. But as soon as a product is tested in the real world, that vision is almost guaranteed to change. People get very attached to their vision, and they often forget that they aren't building the product for themselves, they're building it for others. An MVP allows you to observe how people react to the product and to re-evaluate if anything needs to be tweaked. While the core idea can remain the same, testing a raw product provides the necessary data to improve it. Rather than building an entire company first around a product that may or may not succeed, putting out an MVP in the early stages buys time to gather data and gauge interest.
At what point should someone enlist the help of a developer like Fueled?
I am a huge advocate of testing everything; as such, I recommend building a cheaper initial version, testing it, learning from it and possibly one more iteration. Once you know what is or isn't working, you want to refine it and build it the right way. This is where someone would ideally come to Fueled. Version two is where the strategy and fine-tuning really comes into play. Our teams help you build an outstanding project and bring it to the market much faster.
What types of pitches catch the Fueled team's eyes?
As of late, we've been really intrigued by industries that don't have a large mobile presence. Take services as an example: There's a great opportunity for mobile products to really innovate this sector. Within services, there are opportunities for mobile, software and hardware combinations. A great example of this is the Nest Thermostat. It has great hardware that ties into WiFi, learns your habits and provides a great service in saving energy and money for consumers.
What have been some of the most innovative or interesting apps you've helped developed or you wish you'd developed?
Chopping Block was a really cool conception and design project we recently completed. Our clients came to us to build a cooking app. We came up with a creative way to build upon the principles of GitHub, an open source software that gives people the ability to share code and projects. In Chopping Block, people can share or edit recipes and see how the recipe has evolved over time. We took a very popular concept from the tech space, modified it, applied it to cooking and integrated it together in a beautiful design.
Afterlight was an app that was a unique challenge for us. It's a recognized brand with a loyal following, and we were asked to build upon Afterlight's success in the Apple app store and optimize the iOS interface for Android. This is a challenge that we're seeing more and more often - clients who have successful iOS apps that are looking to us to help optimize that experience and bring it to life on the Android platform.
One app I wish we had developed was Trello. Trello has a killer app. They've seamlessly brought their desktop experience to mobile with similar functionality and interface.
Secret is another great app. It's simple and fits into the Fueled product philosophy of iterating over time.
What types of applications do consumers seem to be the most hungry for right now?
One-button wonders, defined as the "Uber for x," are really ramping up now. With the success of Uber, the mobile on demand industry is a gold rush. Basically people want to press a button on their phone and get anything they want delivered.