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10 Apps on the Right Path of Disruption: Part One

‘Disruptive’ is a common word amongst app entrepreneurs and startups today. Everyone aims to have the next Uber or Airbnb in their respective industry. By what exactly is a ‘disruptive app’? And why are so many entrepreneurs and startups in pursuit of this title being bestowed upon their app?

A disruptive app is one that challenges the status quo within an industry – transportation, retail, lifestyle, etc. It does it so much that the traditional way of doing business becomes nearly obsolete.

In essence, these apps create a ‘new normal’ for both consumers and businesses alike. They make life easier, more fun, and often improve upon the traditional practices that came before it.

So what are the ‘game-changer’ apps that we can look forward to in the future?

During last week’s TechCrunch Disrupt conference, we got a glimpse of the next generation of innovative apps that aim to change the way we live.

Here are 10 apps that could soon change the way we travel, exercise, grab coffee, and much more.

 

10. Hopper

Hopper is an iOS and Android app that shows travellers where to go, when to fly and buy tickets. The app analyses data from billions of flights to determine the best time for purchasing a ticket and flying.

Hopper

Hopper has been building out its Price Prediction tool since 2007 to focus specifically on the challenge of helping users get the best flight deals. Source: TechCrunch

Changing the way we find flights

The aim of Hopper is to help consumers find the cheapest flights possible. It does so by using data sets comprising billions of flight prices to help app users find the best possible deal for the right destination.

As noted by Investopedia, Hopper doesn’t want to just be an app that provides available flights and price information. If it did, then it’d be no different to all the online travel companies readily available to consumers.

Instead, Hopper wants to give the data-driven results for the lowest possible flight prices. For all the consumers wanting to avoid the complexity of flight prices and just be confident in their purchases, travel apps don’t get more convenient than Hopper.

 

9. Foodful.ly

Automatic reminders and delicious recipes to help cook your food before it goes bad. That’s the mission a Foodful.ly – a mobile app that is designed to help users save money, time and food waste in their home. The app catalogues everything you have in your fridge – along with expiration dates – to send you timely reminders and recipes so you can cook your readily available food before it goes to waste.

Changing the way we waste food

According to lunchalot.com, Australians discard up to 20% of the food they purchase. Furthermore, up to 40% of the average household bin is food, which equates to an average of $1,036 worth of food being thrown out each year.

One reason for this is that food is mistakenly thrown out before the use-by/best before date. We are also prone to not planning our meals and menus like we could to avoid such waste.

So how does Foodful.ly help to avoid such a state of waste? Well, let’s see what the app knows when integrated with your food purchases: 1) What food you have on hand, 2) What you like to eat, and 3) How much you save. With such seamless integration into the consumers’ lifestyle, Foodful.ly can change the way we save money and be less wasteful with food around the home.

 

8. Pull

Alright, I should note at this stage that I’m presenting these 10 disruptive apps in no particular order. However, Pull has firmed as a personal favourite from this very impressive bunch of apps.

In my ‘3 Steps To Validating Your App Idea’ blog, I examined the need to build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to only include app features that address the problem you are trying to solve and demonstrate the core value of your product. Pull does exactly that.

Simply put, it is a location-sharing app without the map. The app lets you find your way to your Facebook friends that are within 1000 feet by using a compass instead of a map.

Pull

Pull allows you to navigate to any Facebook friend within 1,000 feet, using a glance-able compass.

Changing the way we find any friend

On most mapping and messaging apps, you can drop a pin to save and share your exact location. However, with the amount of data stored on such apps, users have become wary to their exact whereabouts being geo-tagged on a map. That’s where Pull gets it right.

Once logged in on Facebook, Pull only allows you to find friends when they are nearby. This is done so with a simple compass function to let you know how far they are and in which direction. Furthermore, you can select how long the location sharing last to ensure that your Pull session is readily available to your friends for only the applicable time required.

 

7. Café X

Australians are one of the world’s great lovers of coffee and that doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. According to industry Research Company IBISWorld, the cafe and coffee shop industry will continue to grow over the next five years by an annualised 2.6% to total AUS$4.96 billion.

Even though there seems to be a café wherever you turn in Melbourne, supply still hasn’t caught up with demand. The lines to get a coffee are getting longer, especially in the morning and early afternoon – right when you need coffee the most.

We could interpret this in two ways: 1) Us Melburnians need to scale back on the caffeine, and 2) the café culture is ripe for disruption!

That’s where an app concept like Café X comes in. The Café X app lets you pre-order and pay for any coffee right from your iPhone or Android Phone. After ordering, users head to the nearest Café X robotic café to pick up their premium coffee.

Cafe X

Café X designs and manufactures its Robotic Café to serve pre-ordered, premium coffee. Source: IT World

Changing the way we grab a coffee

Café X’s mission is ‘to accerlerate the adoption of robotics in the service industry to increase human productivity’. This is quite the mission statement for the HAL 9000 of Baristas, but it’s the type of advanced thinking required to create a ‘new normal’ for coffee consumers and the café industry alike.

Right now, the robotic café start-up is only established in Hong Kong, but the company is looking to expand globally into airports, shopping centres and university campuses. If it can make a decent Latte with one sugar in half the time and a fraction of the price, the Australian cafe culture could be disrupted a lot sooner than anticipated.

 

6. Supercharged

Based on 12 years of research in quantum biology, Supercharged was a featured participant at TechCrunch Disrupt. When you consider how the groundbreaking mobile app is aiming to change the way we look at health, it’s featured billing at the San Francisco event was more than justified.

When it comes out, the Supercharged app will be able to analyse your health based on the sound of your voice, combining voice resonance technology with machine learning to create a personalised health profile. The app then becomes your personal health and wellness coach with recommendations on how to optimise performance through innovations in quantum biology.

Changing the way we monitor health

“The way Uber changed transportation, this app changes healthcare. Like a personal health coach, it offers specific solutions to help relieve your problems and SuperCharge your health.” – Harry Massey, CEO and Founder of Supercharged.

It takes a bold App Entrepreneur to attempt a disruption of the healthcare industry. But Massey has streamlined the physics of biology and created a health performance product that is effective and affordable for consumers.

SuperCharged claims it can help users detect and correct their own health without going to the doctor or hospital

Now I don’t see myself replacing my local doctor with an app any time soon, but healthcare is the world’s largest industry today. When you consider its lag in innovation for almost five decades, the disruptive startups that are striving to revitalise and transform the healthcare system need to be given the attention they deserve.

The healthcare industry can be improved by enhancing the experience of care, bettering the health of populations and reducing per capita costs of healthcare. SuperCharged may have just launched, but it’s on the right path to revolutionising such aspects of the industry.

 

To be continued…

Later this week I’ll show you five more apps that aim to disrupt the status quo.

Until then, do you know of any disruptive apps out there that we should be checking out? Please share your suggestions in the comments below.

3 Steps To Validating Your App Idea

All successful apps begin in the same way – as innovative ideas. To help you validate your app idea, we examine what you need to know, do and expect to determine the market demand and long-term viability of your app.

So you’ve got a great idea for the next app that is going to change the world. Most likely, you’ve browsed the App Store and seen there’s nothing else like your idea, so now you’re seriously considering joining the new wave of App Startups taking the shortest route to financial freedom.

But will your idea stand out from the crowd in the app market? How do you know whether there is a target market large enough that are looking for an app like yours?

Based on a small sample size of you and those you’ve mentioned your idea to, these are difficult questions to answer.

Before you start investing time, money, and effort into developing an app that others may or may not use, you need to spend the time upfront to validate your idea. Idea validation will help you focus your efforts on creating an app that people want to use and increase your chances of building a success app startup.

To help validate your idea, let’s examine the three steps to making sure that your app can attract users and generate revenue.

 

Research

Researching the size and shape of your market is a critical step in influencing the direction of your app idea. Is your target market broad enough to support an app funded by advertising? Or is it perhaps niche enough to generate word-of-mouth recommendations and community loyalty?

Seeking out similar apps is an easy way to start, but we
 don’t necessarily need to identify existing competitors to prove that we’re building something that people want. If we can’t find competitors, we can alternatively look for people blogging about problems that the app idea solves, or discover if people search for topics related to the app. Luckily for us, there are more research tools and data sources freely available to do such research than ever before.

In a previous blog about naming your app, I discussed how more apps are discovered through the App Store’s keyword based search engine than any other discovery method. When it comes to validating your app idea, use the Google Keyword Planner tool to find the audience who is seeking a product like your app idea.

Type in words associated with your app idea, like the problem you are trying to solve, the benefits your app will provide or other terms associated with your concept. You can also use App Store Optimisation tools like Search Man or Sensor Tower to help find the right keywords for your app. The keywords can then be optimised based on search locations to see the average number of local and global monthly Google searches. This is a good indicator of market demand and, in turn, the validity of your app idea.

 

Minimum Viable Product

It’s tempting to include every feature that your potential users could possibly want as part of your app idea. This would appear to maximise the app/market fit and, in turn, the chance of market success. But there are three main problems with this ‘all-in’ approach:

  1. It’s possible to include ‘too many’ As the number of features increases it becomes more difficult to build a usable product, and the result is often a confusing interface through which the user cannot navigate even simplest functions.
  1. The market potential of your current list of features is anybody’s guess. You have yet to test all these features with real users, so would you really want to risk excessive development time for features that may be unwanted?
  1. It’s not practical and doesn’t make good business sense. Even if you can afford to do so, there’s no point delaying the launch of your app by months and investing thousands more dollars if you can launch earlier and still achieve success.

The challenge is to determine which features are required for launch and which can wait for later updates. At this idea stage, you need to build the minimum viable product (MVP). The idea here is create an app prototype that has just the required features that address the problem you are trying to solve or demonstrates the core value of your product.

The MVP can then be shared with early adopters to see their response. Are people excited to use it? Are their needs or problems resolved by using the app? Is it easy to use? Note this feedback and revise the app.

I should reiterate: Building an MVP is not the same as creating the best app product. Your app idea is not yet at the ‘sweet spot’ where the minimum features satisfy the maximum number of users.

MVP

The minimum viable product has fewer features than an app at the sweet spot.

The MVP is a much earlier product than this ‘sweet spot’. It’s the minimum product that can be presented to the market in order to attract some paying app users and to validate the research about what they want. Market research gives us a good idea of how to achieve the MVP, while the MVP enhances our findings and takes us to the next stage.

So how do you go about building the MVP?

Use your existing research

Your research into similar existing apps and target market trends provides the best foundation for feature prioritisation. You should have a good understanding of what really matters
 to your potential users: their principal needs and motivations, and their relative importance. If you researched the App Store and Google Keywords, the features that appear most frequently should come higher on the list.

Prototyping

A prototype MVP is something you can often build in a few days as an actual functioning stripped-down app with the core features offered. As part of Launchpad’s Idea Validation process, my go-to prototyping tool when creating the MVP for App Entrepreneurs is InVision. Not only does InVision allow you to transform your App Idea into a clickable, interactive Mobile prototype; it’s also free to use! Creating variations of the basic app interface on a prototyping tool like InVision will greatly assist you in identifying and prioritising the features that will maximise you app idea’s potential success.

VALIDATE-MY-IDEA!

Landing Page

Once you have researched your target market and conceptualised the MVP, you need to micro-test your app idea to validate it’s potential. You may not have an app yet, but you can still have potential users sign up for it by creating a landing page that describes the main benefits of your app, the key selling points and the core problem it solves.

A promotional landing page doesn’t take weeks to plan and develop. A simple teaser page can be created in less than a day and will deliver a number of tangible benefits:

  1. It allows you to market your brand and benefits, even if passively to begin with. If you decide to talk publicly about your future app concept, for example in social media post, you can refer the people to the teaser URL.
  1. Search engines will be able to index your domain. It can take weeks for a new domain name/website to appear in some search engines, so an early teaser page can start this process while the app is developed. Furthermore, if the page looks beautiful and the app sounds appealing, people will link to you from their websites, which is great news for the app’s future search engine rankings.
  1. The teaser site can help you build a database of interested potential users. These people can be notified when the app is launched, which guarantees you some initial interest and early feedback. If they have granted you permission, you can also survey them during the application development, perhaps to ask whether a particular feature would be valuable to them.

To create your landing page, use platforms like Launchrock or KickoffLabs. Both platforms allow you to easily make a free website and email collector. Furthermore, they provide built-in analytics to include as part of your landing page. So pick a template, add content about your app idea and start sharing the URL.

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.49.24 pm

The landing page for Cleaver & Co. Hair’s Web App. Source: Cleaver & Co. Hair

Once your landing page is ready, you need to start sending traffic to it. There are a number of free options to gain visibility for your landing page, like posting your app to applicable subreddits, sharing on social media, and contacting blogs and websites related to your idea.

There are also paid options that you can use to get exposure for your idea early in the process. A small ad campaign through Facebook Marketing or Google Adwords provides an affordable option to present your app to a wide audience of early adopters that may be in your target market.

Across all the promotional options for your landing page, be sure to focus on collecting the email address of visitors. This will allow you to engage with potential users throughout the full app development process and let them know when the app launches.

 

Before validating your app idea…

By applying these three steps, you will have a much more successful app upon release than you would have if you hadn’t validated your idea.

You will know the market demand for your app. You will know the features to include in your app. And most importantly, you will know that there is an audience waiting to download your app.

What other tips do you have for app validation? Let us know in the comments below.

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