Don’t build an App, Build a Community

I know the temptation of having a brilliant idea and wanting our vision to change the world one way or the other, I’m sure the idea you have right now perfectly solves the problem you see in your community but please, before you spend the next year working on that solution, hear me out for a couple of minutes. There are many problems all around us, most of which can find their solution in technological innovations which are now at the reach of everybody, now it takes just a couple of months to learn programming and to be able to build the next big thing out there. I’m sure that’s what you have in mind, you want to build the next big thing out there and the potential of your idea is blinding you to the realities of the world we live in right now. I’m not saying your idea is not good enough, what I’m trying to say is that even with the best idea in the world, you’ll still need for people to like and adopt it. That’s why I want to suggest an alternative way in which you can come up with that solution, one which has been proven time and time again to work.

My Backstory

I’ve been a developer for quite some time now, I’ve worked on my fair share of apps and software products. I’m not saying this to brag or anything and my experience may certainly differ from yours, but I just want you to take my experience and build up on yours. When I started my journey, I was fed the lies that“just try, it’s not because it didn’t work for others that it won’t work for you”.This was good advice in the sense that it pushed me to learn more and to really get efficient at everything I did, but this was bad advice in the sense that it made me waste so many months trying to make work some ideas which were doomed from the unset.I was too focused on the technical capabilities of my solution that I forgot to realize that the problem was coming from the marketing.The app didn’t have a problem, the design was on point and the UX/UI experience was wonderful, but since I had no experience in marketing, the app wasn’t able to generate enough traffic and thus was only siphoning money out of my pocket. So my question to you now is that, with your wonderful idea,do you also have a strong marketing team which will push your product? Or are you just counting on people to find it and like it out of chance.bad communication can ruin a good product

Development isn’t a problem anymore

You no longer have to deal with developing an entire solution all by yourself, you don’t have to spend long hours learning and coding everything from scratch all by yourself in a dark room, technology has evolved so much and most of the things you could imagine have already been developed, there are countless companies out there ready to develop your ideas for you, and they don’t have much work on their hands, so they might do it for very cheap even. Your focus shouldn’t be on how to create this solution all by yourself because you feel like you are a good programmer, instead focus on the business plan because that’s what everybody else really cares about.

I’ll tell you right now, if your solution doesn’t generate money some way then it’s pretty useless, there is nothing like a non-profit solution, it’s either it’s taking money from you or it’s putting money in your pocket, so you can’t say you are building a solution for the community, and It’s going to be free, no! You are going to be paying for it. Don’t waste precious months of your life developing a solution all by yourself, thinking you are going to become the next big thing! Sure it MIGHT work for you but do you really want to bet months of your life on an assumption?

I’m not saying you shouldn’t build your solution, what I’m saying is that don’t waste so much time on the development but rather on the business plan, if there is something you should focus on then it should be the business plan and it alone, the other things are just there to add more value to the business plan and not the other way around.

You need money to make money

The unfortunate truth is that you need money to make money, I know this isn’t what you want to hear, especially for those who don’t have enough revenue. Don’t let your impatience blind you to the reality of the modern society, it doesn’t matter what you do, you will need money at some point in time and the bigger your idea, the more money you’ll need to make it happen. What you need to do is to find a way to generate this money before investing this into your idea, but don’t just feel like because you’ve got the technical skills, you can just go ahead and start developing the whole solution all by yourself. There is much that goes into bringing an idea into life and maintaining it, a good idea might be stunning for the first few weeks it’s popularized, but you have to keep in mind that more than 50% of startups fail after the first 2 years, so are you prepared for this future?

I say this because I’ve known persons who felt like they had great ideas and decided to dedicate all of their time to working on those ideas, instead of getting a job, they focused on their ideas and spent months working on it, only to regret there after when their solution wasn’t well received by the public. I know we all have that Mark Zuckerberg story of building Facebook in a dorm room, but that’s far from reality, his dorm room was at Harvard, yours probably isn’t.

Create Interest

These days people align more around community values, ideas and personality than they align over just solutions, that’s why every company out there needs a slogan, needs a mission and a vision, that’s what people are after. In order to get your solution started, you have to start by building a community of people who are interested in your ideas, and that will bring you back to the marketing problem. You can literally raise all the funds you need just from the presentation of your project, just the vision and the ideas you have behind that product will be enough for people to want to invest. Don’t think that you need to build the full solution before people will be interested in buying, you can make use of what is already available to push your product.

Here are the steps I’ll take if I was starting another project;

  1. Create Social Profiles and Present the Ideas
  2. Build Mockups of how you envision the solution
  3. Carry out Surveys and Refine your solution
  4. Crowd Fund raising (to gauge interest, not even for the money)
  5. Build Prototype (if there are enough people interested)
  6. Deploy Beta Version (test feedback and move accordingly)
  7. Search for Investors
  8. Build Full Version
  9. Deploy Solution
  10. Scale Up

By going this way you get to be on the safe side, you get feedback on your solution even before you begin development, that will help test the public reception of your idea and gives you vital feedback on the changes you need to make before deploying the final version.

Create Content around product

These days you can find a YouTube channel literally for anything, it’s important you start talking about your product and building a community around it. Those are the same people who will eventually buy whatever you put out, and this will save you millions on marketing. Instead of spending the next year on your computer building a software solution you don’t even know if people will like, rather focus on building a community on all social media of people who might be interested in that product. You can create content around that product or anything else and really build your brand, with a strong brand you can sell anything, but without a brand, you’ll have to spend millions on marketing while using other people’s brands, and you still won’t have the results you want. In this modern era, it’s not about who is the most technically capable but rather who can market his product the best, so if you are alone and don’t have a huge budget to work with, focus on creating content and raising both funds and interest in your solution then in due time, you will have enough justifications to build the product.

I might be wrong …

This is not the only way of going about projects, and even this might be incomplete in a lot of ways. For all we know, I might be wrong, so take this advice with a grain of salt. The beauty of this strategy is that you get useful feedback from your users even before building the solution, this can already give you insights on whether it’s a solution people want, if It’s going to work and how profitable it’s going to be. Our original ideas are never the best ones, it’s after many iterations and feedback loops that we get to the final product. With this strategy you get to do that very expeditiously, and this helps you release the best product possible taking into account the feedback from users.


Every company must first go through a process of testing their products before putting them out, to really know if It’s going to work or not, don’t just assume whatever idea you have in your head is going to work and become profitable but rather take months and every year to test out the ideas in the real world to see if they are feasible. A good example is flying cars, everybody feels like they are a wonderful idea but if they were to come out now, they are likely very impractical. Do your due diligence research and make sure you invest your time in learning before engaging into anything or project.


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