All too often people bootstrap their brilliant idea, invest life force and soul, not to mention money, only to see that idea vanish like a rock to the bottom of the ocean. Why? Because even the greatest ideas need to find their audience in order to thrive.
I recently discussed Start Up Culture with Arin Sarkissian of Well, an app that allows you to merge your social media life with your to do list and even your aspirational to-do list. Arin is veteran of Digg and knows how to put the start in Start Up. Here's what I learned from our conversation.
Allow Interaction. If you allow people who interact with your app to post their experience on Twitter and Facebook, you will create a self-propelled promotion. Arin cited the example of Instagram. He remembered that each time he saw 'posted via Instagram' on Twitter, it made him curious about the app and it helped convince him, and so many others, to adopt it. Well has benefitted from this same synergy on social media.
First Impressions. Early adoption comes from strong first impressions. In the podcast Arin and I talk about how Well had the good fortune to be featured on the iTunes store. One of the reasons? It's a good-looking app. First impressions matter a lot on an app store, be it Google Play or iTunes, so your logo and icon mean a lot, as do your users' very first seconds of use. It has to be 'love at first click' or fuggaboutit. It's tough to help people find something to like in a second or to, but you can make it happen if you focus on your user interface to make it smooth and fun. If it's thorny, people move on quickly.
Death of the Snippet. In the days of SEO-dominance (seems like yesterday) people found things by search terms, and they were drawn in by the 'snippet' of text that appeared below your URL. People still find things that way, but far more powerful is the recommendation engine of user reviews on the various app stores. If you app has five stars, you're going to get more adoption. If it has one, better reboot.
The New Word of Mouth. Much has been written about how the digital/social universe supports virtual 'word of mouth.' In the land of Start Ups, you need word of mouth more than ever. This has proven true for Andrew Wicklander's startup, Tula, software that helps with the business of running a yoga studio, with Andrew Yu's development of Modo Labs, which is developing mobile portals for universities and large organizations, and Max Teitelbaum's deployment of Whatrunswhere.com.
Interviews with all of them are coming soon on TechSmart, along with Start Up experts like Praham Ben, Founder & CEO of The Garage and Shahab Kaviani, Co-Founder at CoFounders Lab. Interested in coffee? Listen to an interview with Kris Hewitt of eightpointnine.com, a coffee subscription service startup.