130 iPS Validating an App Idea Before Building It with Fei Wang

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01:02 - Fei Wang Introduction

02:24 - Validating an App Idea

03:54 - Identifying Your Market and Your Market’s Pain Points

08:52 - Networking and Communication

14:24 - Dealing with “Low-Tech” Clients

16:24 - Tools and Approaches for Prototyping

24:51 - The Value Proposition

28:07 - When Things Fall Through…

29:35 - Validating Your Marketing Channels

33:10 - Pricing

36:20 - Building a List

39:23 - Recap

Sketch Toolbox (Alondo)Clever Coffee Dripper (Alondo)You Must Remember This Podcast (Jaim)FamilySearch (Chuck)Relative Finder (Chuck)The New Yorker Podcast (Fei)Adblock Fast (Fei)More Resources From Fei (Fei)


**[This episode is sponsored by Hired.com. Every week on Hired, they run an auction where over a thousand tech companies in San Francisco, New York and L.A. bid on iOS developers, providing them with salary and equity upfront. The average iOS developer gets an average of 5-15 introductory offers and an average salary offer of $130,000/year. Users can either accept an offer and go right into interviewing with a company or deny them without any continuing obligations. It’s totally free for users, and when you're hired they also give you a $2,000 signing bonus as a thank you for using them. But if you use the iPhreaks link, you’ll get a $4,000 bonus instead. Finally, if you're not looking for a job but know someone who is, you can refer them on Hired and get a $1,337 bonus as thanks after the job. Go sign up at Hired.com/iphreaks]****CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to episode 130 of the iPhreaks Show. This week on our panel we have Alondo Brewington. ALONDO: Hello, from North Carolina. CHUCK: Jaim Zuber. JAIM: Hello, from Minneapolis. CHUCK: I’m Charles Max Wood from Devchat.tv. This week we have a special guest and that’s Fei Wang. FEI: Hi guys. CHUCK: Do you want to introduce yourself? FEI: Yeah, sure. So my name is Fei. I’m a web and iOS developer; I currently work on an iPhone app called Core15, and I also write educational content for indie mobile developers at secretsaucehq.com. Thanks for having me on the show. CHUCK: Awesome. So we brought you on today to talk about validating an app idea before you build it. I’m trying to figure out how you would do that. It seems like most people, they find the apps by browsing through the App Store or by looking for something specific like a task list or something. Without actually putting an app out there for people to find, how do you validate that your app idea’s a good idea? FEI:**Yeah. In my previous lives, I’ve worked on a lot of projects where a big focus of the project besides the development is finding a business model or finding a market; finding a group of customers that would want to use your app and pay for it. On a high level, there are a few things that you can do and you could really choose to spend a lot of time on this if you wanted to which is really the tricky part. You could take anywhere between a week to a number of months, but I just have some bigger bullet points that we can go through throughout the show. You start out with identifying a customer segment that you want to have as the users of the app, and finding a painful or itchy problem that they may have; then you go ahead and validate that pain or itch as real by just talking to them face to face, doing things like manning page experiments, content experiments via blogs or podcasting. Next, you just want to figure out how they are currently relating to this pain or scratching that itch, do they like or dislike about best solution; then you can go and prototype out some solutions and get feedback. Even then, you can use tools like Sketch, InVision app, Marvel and things like that to be able to get most of the way there and get feedback still without writing code. As a last step, before you even build, you want to validate where your marketing channels are going to be. So you mentioned that a lot of people find apps purely from the app store but there are actually a number of other ways; things like [inaudible] page where through a Google search or social media, or even paid acquisition campaigns. You want to figure out what those channels are – something that’s going to be affordable, effective and scalable. As a last step, you can start building on [inaudible] access list. You can use that as a list of beta testers or even interview candidates down the road.**JAIM: Let’s talk about the first step that you should take. You’ve got an idea – is this something that should be a real app? What’s the first step that you would take? FEI: From my experience talking with indie mobile developers, what I see a lot is they feel some kind of pain in their personal lives, and then they go ahead and start building on a solution for it. While that’s a really valid approach, there are actually tons of different app ideas that you can do for segments of society that you may not know super well. A big part of it is understanding what your goals are, whether you want to build a business around it or it’s more just a scratch of personal itch; because if your goal is to build a business around it then it will actually be really valuable to say, “Well, what are some of the underserved segments of society that also have the ability to pay for an app?” You can think about accountants or financial professionals. There are really a number of people out there that you could start doing research with and start talking to them about what kind of problems that they have in their daily lives. ALONDO:**So in that regard, would you recommend trying to identify a smaller subset of a segment? A lot of times, I’ll hear ideas and they're really targeting too large of a group of people; not as bad as all iPhone users or all people who use Facebook or something like that. But even when you get a little bit more [inaudible] and say ‘maybe I wanted to target accountants’, there might be a subset there of accountants that your solution would really solve a problem for because they make – the majority may be happy with an existing software offering. How do you work through that to identify or do you have a significant enough differentiation of that respect?**FEI: Absolutely; the more niche you can get, the better. It’s a lot better to start out a super niche and build out a core group of users and grow out from that as supposed to a lot of other approaches that is see is super broad, of the top, and over time the business owner is forced to narrow down the business approach because they're not finding the users that they need. So with the accountants for example, one way to look at it is yes they're accountants but they're accountants that serve small business owners; they're personal accountants, there are accountants that serve larger enterprises. Being able to segment out a few of those sub-segments and actually talking to each one of them, and understanding what kind of problems do you have in your daily lives, it helps you focus on; because overtime would be connecting with these specific subgroup most likely and that can show you the way to your next steps. JAIM: So do you recommend just picking a handful off industries and start talking to people in each industry and seeing if they have problems? FEI: Yeah, there are already quite a few approaches and a lot of tools are online you can use for this. A big part of this is also understanding that the market that you pick is going to be big enough to sustain you financially. For example, if you set out a goal of ‘I want to make $70,000 a year out of the app’, maybe you charge a dollar for the app, so that’s approximately $70,000 that you need to be maintaining every single year. A way to figure out if the market’s big enough for that, you can use Google’s search trends – the specific problem that you're wanting to solve. Even with Google’s AdWords tool, there’s a key research tool that you can actually see how competitive certain keywords are, how many people are searching for it. On social media, you can go on Twitter and identify a specific group of hashtags. You can look into and see at any given moment how many people are actually talking about this, or is there a lot of simultaneous calls for a solution for this specific problem that you're solving for. The last one being Reddit; there are a lot of sub-reddits that focus on very specific problems that you can get in there, understanding what are these people talking about on day to day. Is the problem that you're wanting to solve – does that surface up to the conversations very frequently? All those things combine to give you a signal that, wow, this is something that I can build an app around versus maybe I should keep searching. JAIM:**So once you’ve identified this industry that has a problem with, say, accountants want to complain about their clients in a private thing – whatever – something that might be a little more useful. Something that saves accountants time plus [inaudible] in the accounting field help them keep track to do whatever. What’s the next step? If we have identified this market may – there’s a problem here, what’s the next step from that.**FEI: Yeah, once you’ve picked a very niche group of people, you can start talking to them. My typical approach is to start reaching out to people that I know and ask them, “Hey, do you know any accountants?” So let’s say that it’s accountants that serve small businesses; just figuring out – do you know any accountants that serve small businesses right now? And really, all you need is one person to start because after you build a relationship with that person, you can start asking, “Hey, do you have any colleagues that I can talk to, anybody that you went to school with? Where do you usually hang out?” And that’s a huge entry point into the whole community, because most likely that person already is part of those communities. So that’s purely off of face-to-face, but then there are actually a lot of other things you can do. You can start having a landing page up on the web and actually try to address your audience very specifically with your copy. You can even do landing page experiments in terms of AB testing using things like optimize to state different problems as your headline and use that thing, and drive traffic to your page and seeing how do people interact with your page; a lot of them just leaving right away or are they actually signing up for your early access list which is kind of a proxy for ‘oh yeah, this is something that people are interested in’. JAIM: Okay. So what they signed up for – the early access list – they’ve indicated that they're serious about this, learning more about this when the solution comes even though you haven’t written a lot of code yet; you're just trying to figure out what people are willing to sign their name up for. FEI:**Exactly, yeah. [Crosstalk] It’s very possible that you would have anywhere between one to five really painful problems that you’ve identified. You can either have a landing page for each one of these problems and see how people convert across the board.**CHUCK: One thing that I can see here though is – so you're talking about, let say, you said small business accounting, and let’s say they have a collections problem. So their clients don’t always pay them or don’t always pay them on time and you’ve got this app that is going to help them out somewhere whether it sets up a routine or it sets up some way of managing that, or even connects to a backend that sends out emails. Who knows, right? You have people signing up like, “Yeah, this is pro; if you could solve this for me, oh my gosh.” We’re talking money here so there’s – if it’s a problem form, it’s a high numbered dollar problem for them so they're totally willing to pay for the solutions. So at that point then, how do you actually formulate a solution that you know will work for them in a way that they want it to. For example you’ve got a problem, you don’t actually have a solution for it yet. So how do you put something in front of them to say, “Yes, this is the solution we want,” because I’ve seen people; they’re like, “Oh yeah, I’ve talked to 20 million plumbers and it turns out that connecting up this one thing is a real pain for them,” and so if I have an app that showed them how to do it and got them around all the gotchas even if it was just a checklist, it would solve all these problems, but they don’t want a checklist; they just want something where they can take a picture of it and it solves the insurance claims against their work or something. You may be solving around their problem but they're never going to use your solution. Or you may be someone to write their problem but they're never going to use your solution because it doesn’t actually solve it in a way that makes sense to them or that they're going to want to use. FEI: Absolutely. Yeah, that’s a really good point. I think the best way to avoid those kind of pitfalls is to just figure out how they're currently solving those problems because if it’s a painful problem, they have to be solving it already in some way, somehow. And the ideal landscape that you want to be looking at is they hack together four different tools or maybe they're using email or calendar and Google Docs and Trello and Skype, like four different things to solve this problem. They may be using a product-ready which is actually completely fine and that’s probably going to be the more common scenario that you can arrive into. But really talking to them, a huge part of being successful is gaining empathy for the people that are going to be paying you. So what are you talking to them about; what do you like or dislike about the product; how would you improve it. That should generate enough ideas for you to start brainstorming at least anywhere between three to five variations of “a solution” which you can then take to the lab and use things like Balsamiq or Sketch to have some ideas out and then you can start showing them ‘what do you think about this solution’ and getting feedback from them. ALONDO: So at that stage when you started to get that type of data – I’ve run into this before; I actually tried to do a product for attorneys and what I found was that their existing solutions were low-tech or no-tech. So the difficulty I had was it was getting them to think in a different way about even solving that pain point because it got the customer solving it, it was painful and it require paper work and phone calls by getting them to use an app was going to be something drastically different and it was a huge hurdle. Is that a time when I should just bail or are there things that I can do to educate the consumer and get them comfortable with a more technical solution? FEI: Yeah; fantastic question, Alondo. I think as developers, we kind of want to look at the world through the lens of everything can be an app, and a lot of problems can be solved with an app. But the reality of the fact is that not all problems should be solved with an app; coming to that realization can be difficult sometimes especially if you're a maker. A lot of people are just not – they're just not technologically savvy or they're not interested in using their iPhones to solve this problem which is completely fine but you want to be understanding that really well, and just understand the challenges. If you did want to solve those problems still with that, a big hurdle is going to be educating your users and helping them with understanding the effectiveness of using a phone for it which is a lot of work as well. So if you’ve encountered that and you don’t have the resources to educate your users and things like HR – yeah, it might be a good idea to move on to another group of people who are already using their phones to solve some of their problems. ALONDO:**So getting into the stage of having some people who are maybe [inaudible] with technology and moving towards the prototype solutions, you mentioned a couple of tools; I just wanted it if you could go through some of those easier to prototypes to save time and get feedback because that feedback will do something and I think will really be helpful to resist the urge to jump into Xcode and put together something and save a little bit of time that way.**FEI: Yeah, for sure. It really depends on what you're comfortable with. My tool of choice is Sketch which is basically like a Photoshop competitor. It’s a pretty competitive tool for anyone between beginner designers to experienced designers, and there are tons of components out there. You can pack together a number of screens really fast but I understand that not everybody are going to be familiar with this tool; the thing is pen and per is going to be the easiest and everybody has access to it. So in terms of prototyping, if you have a pen and paper that’s really all you need to start, at least drawing out some solutions and seeing what people think. Also, I know that a number of designers actually use Xcode directly to prototype solutions as well. I think it really depends on what you're comfortable with. JAIM: So we have a number of different approaches for creating a prototype and by prototype, we’re not talking about MVP or anything that’s really useful; it’s just either a mock up or an actual app built with Xcode. That’s basically smoking mirrors but what do you do with these? Are you getting in front of people, talking with them, looking into the problem? FEI: Yeah, for sure. Hopefully, through your prior efforts, you would already have a group of people that you’ve talked to and you tried to build a relationship with, and even better have an early access list so you have a hundred emails. So all of these people are going to be people that you should be tapping into and talking into to show what your prototype is, and a lot of what you want to be asking in this stage is ‘what do you think about this product’, ‘do you think this actually solves your problem’. I would probably shy away from asking them about the specific UI design of the app. Let’s not worry about if you like the color scheme or not, or the way that the buttons work; it’s more about, let’s just say, if all of that can be changed later, does this actually solve your problem? And a lot of the times, if it does you would see their eyes light up and they will get excited about it, and they would be excited to beta test it already on and things of that nature. There are actually a lot of tools out there that can help you facilitate this process; for example, for Core15 we used Marvel which is basically a way you can have a clickable prototype sent to people’s phones, then that connects to another product called, things called Lookback or something like that where it actually records the user’s face and what they're saying, how they're reacting to the app as they're going through the prototype. So if you're interacting with somebody who is on the other side of the country or what not, you can still actually get a lot of this feedback with technology, essentially. The other thing about prototyping is that if you're a web developer, there are actually – it’s really easy to throw out a Rails app that’s a mobile-optimized as well. For example, if you’re just really well-versed in Rails, you can throw out the same solution with Rails 10% of the time then it actually wouldn’t hurt. Then it might take you shorter to do that than to hack together a Sketch/ Marvel prototype and you can use things like Ionic and what-not. It has actually get pretty close to what the end product would look like. CHUCK: Yeah, in fact Ionic has an interface builder-like thing called Ionic Creator. If you're familiar with the way that HTML and CSS work and the way that Ionic deals with these interfaces, or even if you're not but you're in some way familiar with Angular and with web technologies, this is a really quick way to get something together that looks good. FEI: Yup. CHUCK: The other this is that tweaking CSS in a lot of cases, for me at least, is a lot easier than trying to figure out how to tweak around some iOS interface that is almost what it wants. FEI: Yeah, absolutely. CHUCK: Because I’m more familiar with the web tech. the other thing for me is I found that building out a prototype – a functional prototype or even a working prototype with the web technologies because I’m so much more familiar with them, in a lot of cases, I can get there much more quickly than I can with the iOS – native stuff that comes in Xcode. Then once I have something that I can put out there, people can fiddle with, that I can have them put up on their phone – ionic also has a distribution method so you can actually create an ionic app and send people invites to it and then they just install the Ionic. I forgot what it’s called but they have their own Sandbox app on the phone and it’ll download your app and then they can play with it there. So there are all kinds of ways that once you're pass the stage of I am going to draw a picture, or I am going to have something that you can tap that takes you from screen to screen but doesn’t do anything else, you can put all of that together and then just have somebody download an app and then they can get the updates to your thing without actually having to go through approval on the App Store. FEI:**Yeah, absolutely. And will you mind [inaudible] at the stage what might just be like people are ready to pay you. So that will be really, really ideal and you might actually come to the conclusion that it doesn’t need to even be an iOS app after all. It could be purely web-based, which in terms of distribution and delivery speed is a lot faster.**CHUCK: The other thing is you can also get a feedback if it’s not any of those things. So you can get a feedback on – yeah, it feels a little bit off when you can go, “Okay, well maybe I do need to build it in Swift,” or you may find, “This is terrific, but where do I do this? Or where do I do this other thing?” “I like the way it does this but it doesn’t really help me with this,” and then you start getting the real feedback. I found that people are really good at feedback once they see something that they don’t want. ALONDO:**Okay. [Chuckles]**CHUCK: Does that make sense? FEI: Yeah. JAIM: That should be easy to provide. CHUCK: So my clients for example, they’ll be like ‘I really want this online social network that does all these things’, so I build them to spec what they ask for and then they get in and they say, “Oh no, this isn’t what we wanted. We wanted this other thing,” which also kind of meets the spec but it turns out that they couldn’t articulate the difference between what you understood and what they were saying until you put something in front of them and they could say, “Oh no. actually, this is really critical that we have this other thing.” FEI: Yeah, that’s actually a really good point because I used to do consulting as well; I still kind of do part-time consulting from time to time. When you're dealing with clients, a lot of the times especially with clients that are not super technologically savvy, they may start making feedback comments like that like, “Oh, I don’t know about this” or “I don’t know about this value prop but if it’s something that you can break to them and be like, “Well, I talked to your – 20 of your potential customer, I showed them the solution with the prototype. I was able to build an early launch list of 150.” All these people are ready to beta test, then they all understand this problem really, really well and they're ready to pay you, then the clients wouldn’t – a lot of the times the clients would just – they would understand that this is implications what you’ve created for them. For a lot of indie mobile developers who are doing contracting or consulting, it’s actually a service that they can offer to their clients. JAIM: I want to step back a little bit and talk about the value proposition. You mentioned that you would give the prototype to the users say to solve their problem, they say yes then give you the green light, but there’s two other things that I would be concerned about even if they don’t – you talk to someone and say, “Hey, is this – does this solve your problem,” and they’ll be like ‘yeah’ because they're being polite. It doesn’t really get to the point of would they actually use this app and will they actually pay for it. How do you get that information? FEI:**Yeah, for sure. Great question. So in terms of testing the value prop, there are a couple of ways. So the main one, as I mentioned before, is going to be having a really solid landing page that’s going to be really well-edited, and you know that it’s going straight for the problem, it’s speaking straight to the audience that you're shooting for. And the way that should show you is looking at Google and [inaudible] that it’s like – you should see at least a percentage of all people that go to the page bounce right away, because they understand that they're not that user. For the other 10%, 20% or what have you, they should be reading through a lot of these stuff, and then you want to be shooting for some signal. A lot of times, it really depends on how ballsy you are. I tend to just have a sign up box in the end and I use that as a proxy for do people actually – are they actually interested, but it’s very common as well that people just ask for a financial commitment up front. So let’s say, if you pay for six months now, you would have access to the beta of the app for up to three months like really supreme support from the team and have six months of this at a discounted price. Even though you may be losing money on that, you know that this is going to be somebody who’s ready to pay you right here, right now even you don’t have a product whatsoever. So that’s one approach and the other one that sort of compliments this is using a paid advertising campaign. So typically, I use Facebook for it, and with Facebook, you can have different ad groups; the way that we validate at Core15 was that we actually try to shoot for different subgroups of people. So we love that new mothers and teenagers who re ready to go on spring break, veterans who just returned from the war; we actually spoke out to those subgroups specifically in ad copy and also the assets – image assets. Then the way that we measure against how effective it is is we actually look at customer conversion. A conversion in our case was sign up for the access or sign up to be part of our beta. And just understanding what that dollar amount is, that should give you a proxy for how much you might have to spend to acquire a download down the road when you're actually trying to make money with your app.**JAIM:**So you mentioned actually setting up a credit card payment and actually taking money for something that you haven’t actually written a line of code for yet. So if this turns out not to be something viable so that you don’t build, you just take off and find South America? [Laughter] What do you do then?**FEI: Yeah, there are a couple of things. You could either take off to South America or you can refund it; you can refund the money and maybe just restart the whole process. But I actually think probably what I would do is to reach out to those people and working with them to find an alternative solution where they would actually feel comfortable with not getting the money back but getting a modified version of whatever your product is because maybe whatever the reason your initial offering didn’t work for them, you can actually work very closely with them. Because they are already your paying customers; they already paid you, they are your customers. So obviously, if they want their money back, there’s nothing you can do, but I think more often than not, you would actually find people who are like, “Well, actually don’t worry about the money; listen to me talk about this other problem that I’ve been having.” ALONDO:**I just want to issue a disclaimer – I will be in South America for much of next year. I am not leaving with people’s money. [Laughter]**JAIM: Alondo, I’m coming to visit you. CHUCK: No kidding. FEI: That’s good to know. ALONDO: There’s a marketing aspect to this, even an on-going path than an initial group of users, they talked about Facebook ads. Are there some additional channels that we should be aware of that we can use to get the press out? I know that depending on the App Store is a huge, huge mistake but not really sure what the other ad news are just to let people know that a solution exists for a problem that they're having. FEI:**Yeah, absolutely. So that actually goes into my next point which is validating your marketing channels. The book that I would recommend everybody to read is called Traction, and you can find that on tractionbook.com. Basically, the overall idea is that you want to be able to have pre-validated marketing channels ready to go right when you launch. So many – there are actually quite a bit of channels out there and a lot of times it’s not super obvious. So aside from things like Facebook, there are other paid acquisition channels like Youtube. Youtube is actually great because it’s the second largest search network on the internet, but the clicks and the views of your videos are actually quite a bit cheaper compared to AdWords. There’s Twitter, Instagram – you can even advertise now, and Pinterest is about to allow everybody to advertise on their platform, but that’s purity just like paid campaigns. There’s also social media, especially building a community around a specific social media network. So for a Core15 we tried to build it out of Instagram and Pinterest because that’s where we saw a lot of potential users are hanging out at, then just continually engage with them with valuable content. Once you’re ready to sell, you can sell to them. There’s also email marketing; we talked about building an early reach list, but just because they're all on your mail [inaudible] or whatever, you should do something with that. I think a lot of who leave it alone and be like, “Okay, I’ll wait until I have a beta solution and I’ll blast everybody with the invite or whatever, but you can actually start engaging with them, you start creating content that are relevant to what they do, what they care about and have the email marketing strategy to build trust with them so once you're ready to sell – then there’s other things like SEO. So when people type into Google like personal accounting calendar app; if your SEO game is really strong, you could be one of the top results and tons of people would find you that way. The whole point of validating a marketing channel is you really just want to be hypothesizing what would work for your app, maybe come up with three to five channels and start trying them out and be like, “Well, I’m trying to [inaudible] but I just don’t get it and I’m not getting a lot of success from it“– that’s okay. You can back out of it sooner rather than later and be like, “Well, with Facebook ads, even though I have to spend money but I’m able to get 50 cents every sign up and my app is going to cost $5. This is going to be a really scalable and sustainable marketing channel for me.” So you keep that in your back pocket and when you launch, you know that you can spend 50 cents to get a download and make $4.50 on it; you can just keep doing that until the end of time.**ALONDO: So that brings up your question in trying to determine with what value you're getting for the marketing dollar and that’s said in the price. Which of these stages have we determined what people are willing to pay and how do you get them to answer that question honestly? FEI: Yeah, pricing is a huge issue for sure and there are tons of different approaches, and honestly something that I’m still trying to figure out. So primarily, what I kind of go after is look at what my competitors are charging at the moment, because if you're product – and then look at what your product is offering and how significant of a benefit you're offering in addition to what your competitors are offering. But if it’s a similar product, you could basically copy the pricing. You could also be talking to your customers and be like, “Hey, I’m thinking about charging” – and you can go high off the top because this is just one person you're talking to to be like, “Hey, I’m thinking about charging” – I don’t know. If all your competitors are charging five dollars, you’re like – you want to charge $20? That’s a goal that you can shoot for and be like, “Hey, this app is $20 dollars; what value do I need to provide for you in order for you to want to pay me $20 for this app?” And $20 is not that much money for somebody who can afford an iPhone and can afford to buy apps. A lot of times, it’s about figuring out what that $20 solution would be, and what that also allows you to do is you can focus on even more niche segment who as the money to solve this problem. Then that means less support for you, there’s less number of customers that you need to reach out to. It’s much easier for you to actually find out where to hang out because they're probably all hang out in the same places. ALONDO: Okay, yeah. I was curious about that because it’s like this race to the bottom. A lot of times, I book in certain segments that I have ideas for, and all of the offerings are free. CHUCK: Uh-hm. ALONDO:**So the challenge is I don’t want to release a free app. [Chuckles] What are my options there?**FEI: Yeah. CHUCK:**I hate making money. [Laughter]**FEI: Yeah, it’s definitely a very tricky topic but there are a number of ways to figure this out. The other way for example is if on your landing page, you're asking people to make upfront commitment, you can actually say – well, it never hurts to start off in a high number because you can always go down. But if you start off low, it’s going to be really, really difficult to go up later on. So a lot of it is about – for your landing page experiment, if you're making somebody to make a six months commitment financially, you can tell them how much you're planning on selling this for; just make sure that they know, “This is going to be a discounted rate because you're here early. But after the six months, this maybe a different number that’s higher than what it is now.” So the next point that I had on my note was – we kind of touched on this a lot already which is building an early access list so use it as the beta list that interview candidates. CHUCK: Yeah. ALONDO: Some of those candidates are coming from the initial group of people that you’ve been getting feedback from. Are they considered beta testers or just people who are interested who may be gone through the prototypes? FEI:**Yeah. I would say it should be both; anybody that you ever engage with who would find the solution useful because unless your beta product is out, at this point you may have already did quite a bit of programming; you want to make sure that people are going to be using this app and they're actually retained as an active user. So a big way that I make sure the app is going to be worth building is basically implementing analytics tools to the beta product early by instrumenting them well. So using things like Mixpanel, [inaudible], Ansers and things like that, you can actually see how many people are using the app and you have a defined number on your list. So let’s say you were able to collect 200 beta testers, and you can see how many active unique users there are on a week to week basis. A lot of these tools also provide things like retention graphs so you can see when people sign up for your app on day one, how often do they come back to the app after the first week, second week, third week, or even the first months, second months. A lot of times, the number may not be good off the top and that’s okay; that’s the whole point of beta testing. So you kind of want to go back to these people and be like, “Well, I saw that you used the app for 20 minutes right after you downloader it but you never used it again. Why?” And that’s going to help you uncover a ton of usability issues, or maybe they don’t know how to use it. Maybe it’s lacking certain integrations with the services that they already –. A lot of these things, you're going to be able to uncover by having really good analytics in your app and having a direct channel of communication to your users with the app. For example, one tool – one type of tools that are getting really popular now are these direct communication tools which basically would pop up a chat box inside of your app where people can just start messaging you directly. So use tools like that to talk to people directly and figuring out why they're not using the app, or why they are; what do they love about it and you can amplify those features.**CHUCK: So I just want to do a quick review before we go to picks or anything else and that is what are the steps that people should follow then to validate their idea for an app? FEI: Yeah, so on a high level, the big steps are you first want to identify a customer segment that you want to build an app for, and that segment ideally should be small; it should be niche, it should be a segment that has money to spend on an app. Then, you want to be finding a painful or itchy problem for those people, and painful would be something that they're ready to spend money for right away; itchy might be something that has to be more habitual to the users. So to learn more about that, you can read this book called Hooked where they talk a lot about that. Then you want to be valuating that pain or itch the fact that it’s actually real. You want to be doing that through face-to-face interviews, lading page experiments and paid ads experiment and things of that nature. You want to be figuring out how they're currently solving this problem with the existing solutions and products, and what they like or dislike about those solutions. Hopefully at that point, you're ready to start prototyping some solutions, whether that’s Pen and Paper or Sketch or Xcode and have a few variations of your idea that you can show to your users and get feedback on that. At this point, before you start coding, you want to be validating your marketing channels – how will you get people through the door? How are they going to find your app? These channels should be effective, affordable and scalable so that when you launch, you can use them right away to get downloads. You also want to be building an early access list which you can use as beta list, as interview candidates and even for launching so they can be your early adopters and supporters. That’ the major steps that one should be taking before they build the app. CHUCK: Alright. Then how do you validate that you’re on the right track once you have your app or once you start building your app? FEI:**To figure out that you're on the right track, at this point whoever you’ve been talking to, whoever is on your early access list, they should get pretty excited for this. They should be telling their colleagues or people in their professional network about it and they should be getting excited to give you feedback when you solicit the feedback. A lot of times, they would be giving you [inaudible] of their feedback as well. In your beta testing stage, using your analytics tools you should be seeing the app as the key so they should be coming back on a [inaudible]. For Instagram, that might be multiple times a day. For a podcasting app, that might be once a day. For email client, that might be once or multiple times a day but then for other apps, it may be once a week or even once a month, but that’s okay. As long as it’s fitting the use case and they're actually coming back, then you have something going on. I think the biggest fear is people download it and they use it for ten minutes and then they never ever touch it again. So if you see that kind of stuff, you should really be going back to these users and figuring out why that is.**CHUCK: Alright, let’s go ahead and get to the picks. Alondo, do you want to go first? ALONDO:**Sure. So I actually have just started playing around with Sketch myself, and I came across in those a tool bit plugin manager for Sketch called Sketch Toolbox and I was able to use it and get started this past weekend. It’s pretty handy in locating plugins that I can add to solve some problems, [inaudible] of which was actually duplicating the work that I was doing on to the different sized for icons and what-not for icons. So that’s really, really handy. And the second pick that I have is I’ve been told that I’ve been doing coffee wrong, so I picked up a Clever Coffee Dripper which is I’ve been told that this is a better technique for making my coffee. It makes 18 ounces, and I should be able to get a better tasting coffee on a daily basis and it will be here tomorrow so I’m excited about it. So those are my picks.**CHUCK: Awesome. Jaim, what about you? JAIM:**So I’ve got one pick today. With the iPhreaks, Ruby Rogues, Adventures in Angular – if you only to Chuck eight to nine hours a week [inaudible] with no problem.**CHUCK: I know, right? JAIM:**It’s fine; you want more but you can always listen to some if you want, eight to ten hours in a week and that’s one day. So what do you do to the other six days? If you're into podcasts and if you're listening to me talk right now, I think you are in the podcast. I was introduced to one called You Must Remember This. It talks about first century of Hollywood and one pic of the series they did on Charles Manson and the Manson Murderers was really interesting. Not the most light-hearted subject but you can actually skip most of the brutal stuff even though they can actually give you a little warning. You can turn up the episode and actually go over the main killings, but Charles Manson was hanging around at LA and trying to be famous and hopped [inaudible] whoever the tastemakers are – movie producers, record producers. So he interacted with a lot of people. The story’s pretty interesting; very engrossing. It’s 12 episodes which is probably ten hours of listing but that will take you to day two of the podcast without –. So You Must Remember This Podcast and they’ve got 45 or 40 or so episodes. Pretty interesting stuff. Well done.**CHUCK:**Alright. I’ve got a couple of picks. Now, if you do listen to all of the other shows, you're going to hear this on the other shows, but it’s so cool and I’m so excited about it so I have to share it everywhere. There is a free online genealogical database you can hit; it’s called FamilySearch. You can go to familysearch.org. It is run by the Mormon Church but the tool is great for tracking down your ancestors and it has bunches of stories and other things in there, too. So it’s more focused around family history than actual genealogy though it does that, too. But there is a group at [inaudible] university that built an app around this and what it does is it actually tells you how you related to people. It’s called Relative Finder. You can get to it at relativefinder.org. So I’m just going to go ahead and look at some of these stuff and just read some of the names. These are people that I’m related to. Incidentally, I have two direct ancestors that are listed in here. One of them is Elizabeth Jackson who was actually tried for witchcraft and executed as a witch during the Salem witch trials. She’s my tenth great grandmother. My twelfth great grandfather, Richard Warren, came over on the Mayflower. Then I’, related to a whole bunch of other people like Thomas Jefferson, Myles Standish who was the – he was the military commander on the Mayflower and Plymouth colony. A whole bunch of declaration of independence signers if you're in the US; Calvin Coolidge, president of the United States – I’m related to a whole bunch of presidents of the United States as well. A few other people that I’m related to that you can draw some connections to – Elvis Presley. Elvis and I are eighth cousins, one time removed. Barack Obama and I are thirteenth cousins, one time removed, so we’re a little less closely related. George Washington, fourth cousin, ten times removed that’s because he died a long time ago. It’s just really, really fun. Henry David Thoreau, sixth cousin, six times removed. Anyway, it’s really fun. Louie L’amour; Philo Farnsworth who invented the TV. Samuel Clemence, Mark Twain, John Adams – all kinds of people – John Hancock. It’s really fun to go and look through this. So if you're curious and you want to see who famous or historical figures you're related to, definitely go and check out Relative Finder. You do have to have an account on familysearch.org and you have to have your generations linked in to the rest of the genealogical information, but it’s way fun. I also created a group called Devchat and the password is devchat, all lower case. What it does is if you're in a group with somebody, it will show you how you're related to them. So if you want to find out how you're related to me and to other listeners of the shows, then go ahead and go to relativefinder.org and join the Devchat group, and that will show you how you’re related to all the rest of us. Anyway, it’s just been really fun to play with.**JAIM:**Charles, I am your father. [Laughter]**CHUCK: Wow, I’m going to have to talk to my mother. But yeah, those are my picks. One other thing that I want to throw out there though is that I got my wife into this and we’re actually thirteenth cousins, once removed, too. So I’m as closely related to her as I am to Barack Obama. Alright. Fei, what are your picks? FEI:Wow, that was amazing. You may be the most presidential person I’ve ever talked to. [Laughter]CHUCK: I think you’d be surprised. FEI: Yeah. CHUCK: Unless your family has recently immigrated. And on my mom’s side they did, but on my dad’s side they didn’t. They’ve been here since the Mayflower. I think you’ll be surprised at how many of them you're related to. FEI: Nice. Cool. So for my picks, I’m also a big podcasting fan and a fan of the New Yorker magazine. So the New Yorker magazine actually started putting on a podcast; it’s only on episode three right now but it’s the same quality of content, a storytelling, opinion pieces. They even found a way to put the cartoons section in there which is really cool. The other thing is I just got an iPhone 6s and I’ve been searching into Adblock apps, and I found Adblock Fast which is a free app and it’s also open source. It’s been working really well so far. Then if you're interested in any of the stuff that I talked about, I actually have a lot of content around this and I actually have a six-part email course. So you can find everything that we talked about today on secretsaucehq.com/iPhreaks. CHUCK: Alright. Very cool. Well, I don’t think there’s anything else we should do before we wrap up other than ask you Fei. You kind of gave us an idea but on Twitter and stuff, how do people follow you? FEI: Yeah, so on Twitter I’m @feifanw – that’s f-e-i-f-a-n-w. If you want to send me an email directly, you can email me at fei@secretsaucehq.com. So that’s f-e-I – that’s secretsaucehq.com. CHUCK: Very cool. We’ll go ahead and wrap up the show. Thanks for coming Fei and we’ll catch everyone next week. [Hosting and bandwidth provided by the Blue Box Group. Check them out at BlueBox.net.]**[Bandwidth for this segment is provided by CacheFly, the world’s fastest CDN. Deliver your content fast with CacheFly. Visit cachefly.com to learn more]**[Would you like to join a conversation with the iPhreaks and their guests? Want to support the show? We have a forum that allows you to join the conversation and support the show at the same time. You can sign up at iphreaksshow.com/forum]**

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