Honing in on an app idea

We’ve been brainstorming in the past couple of days about what we’re going to make.

So far we’ve determined that:

  • we want to build a web app, because we need the friction to sign up to be as low as possible
  • we want to make something we can personally get excited about
  • we’ve also decided that we want to make something small in scope (only 80 days!), that is cheap to operate (no budget)
  • we’ll make at least one version of the product free (100% free, no ads) in order to get as much word of mouth advertising as possible
  • we ideally want some kind of subscription service (SaaS) for small business. We’ll write about the economics of SaaS businesses later
  • and we want to make something that’s unique enough that people can get genuinely excited about it
  • our app has to find a niche in an established market with plenty of competitors
  • we want to tackle some fun technical challenges. This will be harder for us in the short term (because it might turn out that people don’t care about our app at all), but it should work in our advantage in the long term (it will set us apart from the competition)
  • this means the core functionality has to be unique. If you only have 80 days you don’t want to waste it replicating common functionality, except for the bare minimum like account sign-up, login, and subscription logic.
  • we want to make something that can rapidly grow to millions of active users
  • we want to make something that has broad appeal among regular people (“horizontal” in business speak, as opposed to “vertical” apps that target a specific industry or profession).

This narrows down the universe of app ideas tremendously. Right now, we can only think of a few potential products that meet all these criteria. And that’s okay, because we only need one!

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