With celebrity apps launching almost daily and brands like the Kardashians cashing out millions, the mobile market is an enticing space for aspiring entrepreneurs. The only problem most people hit is that they have no idea how to actually build an app, launch on the app store, or do anything related to the app industry. While this may be a daunting realization, you probably guessed right that the Kardashians didn’t do any of this for their apps. So how do you actually get from idea to launched in the App Store?
Ben Lee founded Neon Roots in 2011, and the company has since gone on to work with clients including Spotify, Snoop Dogg, and Epson. Neon Roots charges some clients upwards of $1 million for total app development and launch. After being constantly asked by clients about whether or not this hefty investment would be worth it, he launched Rootstrap.
Rootstrap is a pre-product development workshop by Neon Roots. Lee developed the program to work with clients to flesh out the potential of an app before diving into the more expensive steps. Clients who have gone through Rootstrap have seen a 2,600% (seriously, that’s the number) increase in chances for funding, and their alumni pool includes the likes of Tony Robbins and Snoop. Lee’s profound success led to him being named one of Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 CEO’s Under 30.
After having a chance to sit down with Lee and talk through some of the best tips for starting a company, launching an app, and overall killing it in life, he summed up many of the core aspects of Rootstrap into these top 10 things you need for mapping out a venture.
1. Lots of whiteboards and markers.
Most people are visual learners and so when you are working out ideas, concepts, and functionality potential the critical first step is writing everything on whiteboards. Keeping track of all of your thought processes will save you loads in the future, as well as adding to the creative environment. Furthermore, anything dealing with design needs to be tangible, so earlier mock-ups ought to be done on your whiteboards. In order to maintain this creative environment of literally throwing ideas at the wall, you need to keep an abundance of resources. Never leave the room. Never get distracted. Having lots of writing space and markers leaves you without an excuse to leave and prevents anyone from not being able to add in notes.
2. Sticky notes to keep track of ideas.
As you begin your brainstorming journey, you will have lots of scribbles on the walls and ton of random thoughts. In order to consolidate everything being thrown out, when an idea has value write it down on a Sticky Note. When the conversation is done you can eventually collect all of the Sticky Notes and have a decent outline of the major takeaways. Adding in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes will allow you to add even more structure to the chaotic process of ideation.
3. Timer to keep track of time and tell you when to move on to the next thing.
One of the best tips I realized from endless conversations about design and functionality is that there is always a point at which no more productive work gets done. This applies for both meetings and discussions on particular topics. Whether you get distracted, go off topic, or simply arrive at an impasse, you need to be vigilant of your time and never let any one issue take up too much of a meeting. Furthermore, on a professional level, keeping a strict daily calendar and never showing up late or running over on phone call times will be a huge help to keep your life and creative thoughts in order.
4. Snacks to keep your energy up.
Most people have a hard time thinking on an empty stomach and usually, some dope snacks are the perfect thing to get the creative juices flowing. Google pushed forward the concept of companies providing high-quality food with their implementation of imported sashimi chefs and kombucha. This has really turned into a major trend and most employees are expecting similar perks. This means that a good selection of grub is not just pivotal for the quality of your work but also for the quality of your workers.
5. Arbor to document your business model canvas and user story ideas.
It’s 2016. Why are you still using Google Docs, Excel, or sticky notes to document your user stories? Arbor is a full-function feature management tool that streamlines the process of collecting, prioritizing, and executing on user stories and business model ideas. It’s a great tool to have in the ideation phase that takes the hassle out of keeping track of feature ideas.
6. Get support from related websites and platforms.
There are many websites that can help you during the process of management and hosting right from the beginning (like how to start a blog or make a web publication) to the last step of your root. Take some ideas, learn from other webmasters’ experiences and start new projects.
7. Customer Interviews to have insight on your target audience.
The first rule of decision making when building an app? Don’t make the decisions. You should be getting as much info as possible from your customers, and when it comes to decisions on core functions and design elements, let the customers do the talking. Before (or during) your session, perform some customer interviews to get a sense of what users would want from your app.
8. Competitive Overview for role modeling.
A business that doesn’t understand its competition is a business doomed to failure. Come in with some background research on potential competitors and do a top-level competitive analysis to understand where your app could find its niche in the market.
9. Pick a Decider and a Facilitator.
Having a democratically-run business sounds great, but true democracies are hard to come by in the real world. Aim for consensus agreements where possible, but have an appointed decider if you get stuck on an issue. You can always go back and change your mind later – the important thing right now is to keep the ideas flowing.
10. A box to throw all your phones in since you won’t be needing those.
Nothing kills creativity like a distraction. Have everyone in the room – seriously, everyone in the room – toss their phones in a bin for the session. This ensures that everyone is focused, dedicated, and giving their all to the road mapping session. That’s the way to get people truly collaborating so you can get the best work out of your team.