Crappy success in the Silicon Valleys app world

Hva er den virkelige forskjellen – en bedre ide, bedre tilgang til kapital, flaks eller utførelse?  

Between 2008 when Apple launched the App Store and today’s milestone of 100 billion downloads (as announced by Tim Cook at the Apple Developers Conference in San Francisco), millions of developers have endeavored to build ‘the killer app’.

Jennifer Vessels er leder for konsulentselskapet Nextstep og har bred erfaring fra å jobbe med vekstselskaper både i Norge og i USA.
Jennifer Vessels er leder for konsulentselskapet Nextstep og har bred erfaring fra å jobbe med vekstselskaper både i Norge og i USA.

For every one that achieved successful acceptance in an app store, customer revenue and/or exit by acquisition, there are hundreds which failed. What are the real differences – is it a better idea, better access to funding, luck or market execution?

In Silicon Valley it is often a combination of those factors.


One little discussed but critical element that can increase success is the founders’ willingness and ability to be ‘scrappy’. Scrappiness entails:

• Being willing to ask friends and family for initial funding – prior to or instead of seeking out angels and venture investors.

• Providing broad and diverse audience access to the app with openness to their feedback.

• Seeking developers who may challenge the initial concept and cause you to rethink the approach which will lead to a stronger ultimate solution.

• Patience for income and willingness to live frugally on a ‘Silicon Valley beans and rice’ diet until the company achieves revenue milestones.

• Open communication of the company’s business model and willingness to charge fees to drive revenue

• Willingness to sacrifice features and perfection to achieve ‘time to market’ and customer adoption.

One example

One example of a scrappy app entrepreneur team is TapetheApp – a simple easy way to create, edit and share videos with friends. Building the app (which is now available on Apple AppStore and generating strong income growth started with a serendipitous idea.

The friends who became the founding team were on vacation and wanted to take and share videos of one another and easily merge them together, edit and share with their friends back home. After reviewing the various options that were currently available, they quickly decided – we can create something better.

From there, they validated the idea, involved their friends, family and coworkers, raised ‘seed capital’ from people they knew (who believed in them enough to invest), contacted a development company and then streamline the product for timely release and revenue generation within one year. Their journey is depicted here:

Success Drivers

As scrappy entrepreneurs, they achieved the goal of App Store distribution as well as customer adoption and revenue creation – all within one year.

Some of their keys to success:

• Solicitation of an openness to input from others who could and eventually would be customers.

• Initial funding of $1 million raised through Friends, Family, Fools as well as their potential customers – no VC investment needed.

• Willingness to give up features to speed product release / time to market.

• Ongoing review with and feedback from future customers.

• Gaining and maintaining momentum to drive adoption, revenue and short time to release.

There are many opportunities for success by great Nordic app developers and entrepreneurs; however the best way to achieve the ultimate goal of market adoption and company sustainability is often through a scrappy approach to gaining investment and customers traction.

Provided by Jennifer Vessels, CEO Next Step, Silicon Valley based consultancy with an Oslo branch. Next Step improves revenue results for Norwegian and global companies as they launch, expand, scale and succeed in international markets through their 40 person team across US and Nordic.

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