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Got an idea? You need much more to convert it into an app


It wasn’t so long ago that I was just a guy with an idea. Everyone has the ability to come up with ideas but having one isn’t enough. It’s only a starting point. You need more than just an ‘Aha’ moment and a lightbulb above your head. Ideas need nourishment, teamwork and execution to come to life.

Here are 10 things I learnt from the creation of Stepsie, a collaborative project management app:

1. Put down an idea on paper…whatever. Once you have an idea, don’t sit around and merely ponder. Sketch it out, create it, realise it, do whatever you can to turn it to something tangible. You can then iterate and switch, and more ‘Aha’ moments will occur.

2. Share it with friends. Ideas starved of oxygen, daylight and feedback don’t get far. Engage your friends, family, connections and mentors and get feedback. You will be surprised how an idea evolves when shared and discussed.

3. Validate the app’s need. Does it solve a problem? Does it add real value to your potential customer? We tested and validated Stepsie extensively by using it to run our own projects. We also had an influential group of people who used it and helped refine it.

4. Find your niche. Remember that most things have ‘been done before’, but not everything still needs to be done ‘this way’. We aren’t the first project collaborative tools on the scene, but we are the first to solve the problem in a particular way. Find your own combination of ideas that makes your app unique.

5. Assemble a team. Building an app or founding a start-up is not for the lone wolf. You need a diverse team, and multiple skill sets to be successful. Form a team you trust and one that shares your aspirations. We at Stepsie found an amazing group of developers by initially using the search term “web developer Estonia.” Seek and you shall find.

6. Make it a thing of beauty. Aesthetics matter! Your app must look sharp and work damn well. Spend money and time on the best designers you can find. Be unique and have a design that solves the problem as efficiently as possible.

7. Test, test, test. There will be bugs. So test early and squash these little critters fast. Listen, observe and analyse how people use your app. You will be surprised how people find ways to use an app in ways you never imagined.

8. Just don’t overanalyse. Don’t overthink or worry about naysayers. Take constructive criticism where warranted and use the haters and naysayers as inspiration! Don’t be afraid to put your work out there.

9. Keep moving. There is a certain kind of sublime magic in movement. If you are stuck, get out there and meet new people, and expand your horizons. Make decisions based on all the information you have and keep moving.

10. Sell, sell, sell. Once your app is ready, spread the word quickly. Contact bloggers and influential people, potential customers, friends, family and anyone who might be interested. Use e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, Skype and good old-fashioned face-to-face conversation.

Jono Chatterton is the mind behind Stepsie. At the age of two, he began experimenting with screwdrivers and hammers, and has a love for building things!