Avoiding Common Pitfalls Launches Successful Apps Quicker

You breathe, push pause on the forward-momentum, and learn from other successful app designers who’ve tried the above, failed and now know how to get the job done right.

Over our decades of entrepreneurial experience, we know exactly which common pitfalls stymie the success of a great app. When we present them to entrepreneurs – even experienced ones – the following 5 most common unexpected pitfalls garner the most, “Aaaaah! That’s what I did wrong last time…” reactions.

Pitfall #1: The idea hasn’t been validated enough by your defined audience

You say you have a “big idea” but prospective developers and investors want to know, “who else validates your idea?” Have you done enough market research to prove the app is marketable and profitable? You should have a ton of market research and data behind you to show that it’s an app worth investing time and energy into before it launches.

Case-in-Point: AIRBNB

Founder Brian Chesney started Airbnb (originally Air Bed & Breakfast) by renting an extra room in his San Francisco home for $80/night. It worked – over and over again. Then he started posting Craigslist ads to attract a wider audience of “users.” He took validation another step further by surveying “users” and modifying his approach based on responses – all this before ever starting an online business.
In other words, Chesney spent a solid amount of time collecting relevant data, continually tweaking his concept until he had enough data points to validate its official build-out.

Pitfall #2: Underestimating the time required (it’s more complex than you think)

Once an idea is validated, entrepreneurs are often euphoric. They think they can do a little more development and then launch it quick. Trust us – you can’t.
Picture an iceberg: what you see above the water is only 10% of its volume – the other 90% lies beneath the surface. That aptly sums up what it’s like to build an app.

While an exciting 10% includes user/vendor interface, marketing/branding and advertising, the other 90% of software development takes place unseen. It is incredibly complex – and takes a tremendous amount of time (not to mention cost!) to complete. This unseen, underestimated “back-end” of software development includes:

  • Enterprise management (end user, admin, super admin, etc.)
  • Lots of time spent on API calls
  • Database and data normalization
  • Infrastructure (hosting, server networks, security)
  • Framework (upgrades, support, maintenance security)

And that’s not even the tip of the bottom of the iceberg…

Case-in-Point: UBER.

Here’s a company who makes it look really easy to get a car to your door within minutes. What’s underneath the Uber iceberg, however, is a myriad of people required to build it – graphic designer(s), iOS/Android native app developer, backend/frontend developer, project management, quality assurance, and so on.

Uber or not, these components are required for just about any app you want to build – seemingly-simple or obviously grand.

Pitfall #3: It’s Not Niche Enough – Define the Audience and Define it Again

As Seth Godin says, “Everyone is not your audience,” as much as you’d like to believe they are. You need to define your audience in a very niche way. If you make it too broad, you won’t hook enough of the true, loyal customer base required to build it even further.

So, niche it up and – ironically – the app will appeal to a larger audience in the end. In other words – go small before you go big.

Case-in-Point: FACEBOOK

When Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook, he didn’t market to everyone – he started at Harvard. He marketed a very small MVP (minimally-viable product) to a highly-targeted audience – Harvard students that met certain market requirements. That original Facebook app had only a few core features. As its audience grew – so too did the originally manageable infrastructure so Facebook could meet the demands/challenges as they arose, maintaining a satisfying and increasingly successful social media channel that evolved and grew into a more broadly-appealing app.

Pitfall #4: Timing is Everything

Timing is everything in the technology market. When you review the stats of startup companies – both successes and failures – timing is almost always the most important factor in whether or not they succeeded. Good teams, good financing, validated ideas – all this may mean nothing if the timing isn’t right for your product/service.

We admit timing is an elusive beast, but the right development team will help you identify all the other components so they’re in place when you’re ready to launch. This TED Talk with Bill Gross goes into this idea in more detail.

Case-in-point: WebVan

Have you heard of WebVan? Exactly – hardly anyone has. This company was the first virtual grocery mart. Located in most major U.S. cities, WebVan offered same-day grocery delivery and had upwards of $600 million in financing. So why did they fail? The primary reason was timing.

You have to be realistic about the market you’re going into and whether or not they’re ready for you. For example, 16-years later, Amazon does the same thing WebVan – at the right time, and with the right infrastructure to support the vision, and has launched another goldmine.

Pitfall #5: You don’t have the right team in place

With this pitfall, your idea might be validated and adequate financing may be available, but you don’t have the right team in place to get the job done. In fact, this has been dubbed The Entrepreneurial Method; you have the great idea but no technicians, you’ve got technicians but you don’t have solid managers…etc

Building a successful app requires three components, listed here in from smallest-to-greatest-influence:

  1. Entrepreneur (the visionary, dreamer, ideas person, what-ifer, innovator)
  2. Manager (the planner, practicality first, obsesses about problems/solutions)
  3. Technician (the doer, the builder, the laborer, the marketer)

While the Technicians are typically the most-visible members of the team, they must be balanced by the Managers or they will exhaust the business. And, sorry entrepreneurs, but one of the best things you can do is pass your ideas on, release the reins to the managers and techs and stay on-board as a company visionary so your “trying to do it all” doesn’t sink the proverbial ship.


The E Myth Revisited, by Michael E. Gerber. This book backs-up Pitfall #5 in eloquent detail, so consider putting it on your read/listen list. You’ll learn how important your team is to making the app sustainable through the long-haul. We also recommend reading Top 10 Reads for Entrepreneurs for sound inspiration on how to make your app ideas happen.

Are you ready to meet a balanced team of managers and technicians who will balance your entrepreneurial ideas? Get in touch with Troon Technologies. We can’t wait to get excited by your idea(s) so we can help you bring them to life.