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There's no such thing as app ideas

bitario profile image Mo Bitar Originally published at listed.standardnotes.org Updated on ・2 min read

I realize that most people are distracted by cryptocurrencies to be bothered to think about app ideas anymore, but I still get the occasional “hey, I have an app idea!” from the casual layman, be it at a family dinner or reunion of friends. Of course, out of sheer dumb curiosity, I’ll say, “what is it?”, but I’m finding it might be time to start telling these people the truth:

There is no such thing as app ideas.

It’s a fable. A fantasy. A story passed down from generation to generation. That all you need is an app idea. And fate handles the rest.

*Leans into mic* Wrong.

App ideas are not a thing anymore. When you think “app idea” you hear $$$$$, but try rephrasing it as such and see if you’re still interested: “I’ve identified a gap in the market, and believe I am uniquely suited to build a solution. I am willing to spend the next 5-10 years of my life slaving completely in the dark to build this product, and no matter how difficult it gets (it will get difficult), I will not give up. I realize that the product I build at first will probably suck, and will not be what customers want, so I will spend the next several years painstakingly refining it, talking to customers, poring through books, consulting with experts, all while confessing that I had no idea how difficult this was going to be. I’ve also accounted for the financial costs associated with building an app business, and am ready to quit my full-time job when needed to focus full time on this endeavor. Here is my product, here is the problem it solves, here is the market, and here is how I plan to acquire customers.”

Not so sexy now, is it?

How 'bout that Ripple? Been goin up like crazy.

P.S. I wrote a follow up here that expands on this a little more: Pricing cannot be an afterthought.

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pencillr profile image
Richard Lenkovits

Wow, that was rough. :D Anyhow, an app idea can actually be an innocent little thing. Depends on what the goal is behind it. If the goal is to create the new Amazon, you are right.

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bitario profile image
Mo Bitar Author

Totally. But the "app idea" audience I'm referring to is the one that usually has no interest in building something themselves or hacking away at something. They just want to strike it rich on some idea. If your goal is to make enough money to quit your job, an "app idea" mindset won't do it, or if it does, will require lots of luck. The "innocent little thing" mindset is great for building and gaining experience, but does little for optimizing for financial success, which is not to be ignored, because it's the fuel behind your hacking engine.

All that to say, if you don't optimize for financial success, you'll soon be constrained and run out of creative room to hack away at nice little side projects. Or, if you're already full-time employed, will not help you get out of employment any time soon. (This is mostly a broad generalization based on my experience and interpretations of observations I've made on other's successes and failures.)

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rkfg profile image
rkfg

Why does the stock market grow? Expectations. Why does the bitcoin price rise? Expectations. Why do investors pour tons of money into that shady startup? Yeah, you bet. Today, expectations are much more important than a tangible product. So if you want to get rich having only an idea, sell it to the right people, no need to do the actual work.

It's also known as scam but whatever floats your boat.

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pencillr profile image
Richard Lenkovits

Personal experience? :D

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rkfg profile image
rkfg

No, it's just how the world works these days.

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kayis profile image
K

Sounds too harsh for me.

I think there are still "app ideas" and I also think no one is uniquely suited to do anything.