The App Startup Guide

August 19, 2015
App Development,Help Guide,Resources





Product Concept Validation

Let’s assume you’ve done the obvious and Googled whether or not someone has got there first…

Let’s also assume that you’ve read the books listed below. By the way, don’t take this like the first day of schools reading guide; I’m being serious, read! If you dislike reading like me, then download them on Audible – it took 3 days to cover an entire book by the listening method!

Books to Absorb

– ‘The Lean Startup’ by ‘Eric Ries’
– ‘Talk Like Ted’ by ‘Carmine Gallo’, this book will come in handy later, I promise!



1. Get mouthy! Talk about your idea

– Speak to friends and family about your idea
– Speak in confidence to government-run business organisations. See links below:

Business Scotland
Business Gateway
Scottish Enterprise
English Enterprise

– Attend networking groups. See links below:

Entrepreneurial Scotland
Meetup London

2. Creating a Landing Page

Creating a landing page is a method of determining if your concept has an audience and who that audience actually is.

You want a designer to create something that makes your advertisement appear as if it’s a fully fledged, up-and-running business.

Using a professional graphical designer, and inspiration from other successful industry players who have created these pages, a campaign can begin. Direct marketing can be achieved most easily through social media. We use either Facebook or Linkedin.

To get started – Facebook | Linkedin

Neill Fraser - Viper Apps

The direct marketing campaign in this case means using Facebook, for example, to pin point the exact type of customer you think will benefit from, and want, your app most. Facebook makes this easy by allowing you to select many attributes; age, gender, occupation etc. You must run these tests on numerous groups, however, not just the type of person you think will buy your product. There can be may surprises at this stage!

A/B testing is a method of running two marketing campaigns either simultaneously or back-to-back. An example would be using two different landing pages. One may have a dark background with orange buttons, the other a light background and dark buttons. We tend to use images of people as our landing page backgrounds, so we test with a mature individual smiling, a younger female and a younger male.

These campaigns are generally run all at the same time, and set between £1 – 5 per day on each to gather data on how many people clicked on your ad and, further, how many people clicked on the landing page to download your app.

Don’t worry about getting a bad name from a download which didn’t happen. Name your test app something completely different for the real thing and re-launch the real app with the correct name. Alternatively, you could creating a ‘coming soon’ landing page, and request people to input their emails to be updated when the app is launched.

Here are some great landing page examples:

The Ultralinx

3. Product Dissection

Finding similar products which have a large user base and breaking down the entire operation of the app to understand why people are using the system and how your idea will improve or add to a user need in that market.

Thin Slicing

From the information gathered within validation, what do we know about our potential user? Results from the social media test advertising campaign linked with the attractive landing page will have been able to show defined attributes about the type of users who were most likely to check out more.

We need to find out the most users with the same attributes; age, gender location, occupation, interest etc. and Facebook gathers and presents this information in an easy-to-understand format: hooray! Now what we have is a much more accurate idea of who will use your app.

Product dissection has highlighted what features are popular on similar apps and why, so what we can now create are USER PERSONAS.


User personas are fictional character models which you create based on information you’ve collected in the previous sections. To zone in closer and make them their personas more realistic, it is also worth interviewing your identified users and find out face-to-face what there attributes are.

Create your user:

A. Create your user

– What’s their name?
– What do they look like?

B. User details

– List their attributes – age, gender, ethnicity, occupation, marital status, dependants, income.
– List their characteristics and behaviours – charismatic, loud, quiet, extroverted, introverted.

C. Goal

– Why does your user use the app?
– What problem does the app solve? (list all)
– What benefits do they get from use? (list all)

D. Marketing

– How do they find you? i.e. tv, social media, face-to-face. It is worth researching into app marketing to understand the resources that are available. Pop-up ads are annoying!
– What is your ‘one-liner’ marketing messaging that pulls them in?

Mock Designing

Now that you have an idea of who your users are, and what they like, let’s start to think about how the app will look. Branding.


User Interface (UI) describes the graphical appearance of the app itself. In just a moment I will describe the best methods for creating your graphics, but as an initial step, you should create wireframes.

Wireframes are interface directions with no detail. Check out this example HERE. This allows you to start to envisage how the user will navigate around your app and give direction as to where particular features and imagery can go.

Do not try create graphics yourself! For some reason, so many people without design experience attempt downloading Photoshop and using the DIY approach. Unless you are highly creative and have good experience in this field do not attempt mocks yourself, they must be done professionally.

Provide all your research to the designer, especially the user personas. A good designer will respect you for completing this type of research and it will allow them to create something which matches your target audience closer.

The Specification Document

A Specification Document is a formal document used to describe how your app will function, what its intended capabilities are, how it will look, who its users will be and what budgets you have set for the project. This is a massively important section as you want investors and developers to design exactly what’s in your head (with added imagination of course), not what’s in theirs!

Press HERE for our App Specification Document Template.

Monetisation Model


Have you ever used an app before which throws pop-up ads on your screen constantly? You might be able to associate with accidentally clicking a pop-up and becoming totally frustrated. You want to use the app but the developer is preventing you from doing so. Why? Because they think this is an acceptable way of profiting from their users. This is most definitely the wrong approach.

As a startup, you want growth before anything else. Gain a user-base by giving people exactly what they want. The opening stage of your project is proving to users that what you are offering them is something of value. Think about all the most recent great tech billion dollar companies, did any of them show signs of profiting? Snapchat took years, all of them did.

The most successful apps available today are free to download and use a sales funnelling tunnel to attract users to upgrade/add-on to what they already see as valuable.

Here are some of the most popular methods of monetising your application:

1. Freemium + In-App-Purchasing (IAP)

Freemium is the concept of creating in-app money and is today’s most common method of monetising an app. For Instagram users, you may have seen advertisements for gaining followers. These apps all tend to use this technique. In their case, you spend x amount of real cash for y amount of points within their application. You are then able to use and spend your points how you like.

2. Pay-to-Unlock

Free to download with in-app paid-for features which add to the user experience.

Games are most often guilty of this type of monetisation structure. As a developer, you hope to bring an addictive attribute to your user experience to the point where the user wants more from the system i.e. a faster player, a different costume, a quicker refresh time to play again, and will pay for it.

3. Pay-per-download (PPD)

The most obvious out of our 5, PPD is buying before you try. Some of the bigger names in gaming and utilitybased applications use this method. They only are able to do so because they already have a user following and an established brand.

This form of monetisation is not recommended for a startup.

4. Ad revenue

Described earlier was the worst type of ad revenue – pop-up ads. There can be more acceptable forms of this type of monetisation, but it is very much dependent on the sector and structure of your concept.

6 best ad networks:

Millennial Media

5. Subscriptions

Subscription-based apps are when users pay an instalment for a monthly, quarterly or yearly usage of the system. Think dating apps like Tinder or music-based ones like Spotify.

Similar to ‘Pay-per-download’, this method is used by companies who have the power to leverage from a large user-base. To use this system, your application must offer a valuable product which users use frequently.

Some Final Words

As a startup in tech, understanding the fundamentals of the ‘lean’ methodology is paramount.

By conducting experiments which prove your concept’s use and value, you gain peace of mind by cheap, real market research. The chances of gaining investment are 10-fold to that of a ‘leap of faith’, ‘just do it’ strategy, and you’re presenting a valuable proof of concept, based on real data, not a guess.

Everyone here at Viper Apps wishes you the very best.

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