It seems that every day I am asked to answer a question on Quora. For those who are not familiar with the platform, Quora is vibrant question-and-answer website where a community of users can pose questions and answer those they have the knowledge and expertise to answer.
What makes Quora so useful is that you can ask a question (an “A2A”) on any topic imaginable and someone will surely have an answer for you. The community is stellar—you’ll find pretty much every CEO and VIP on Quora, all helping the community get the answers it needs.
Quora has become my primary source of professional opinions (rather than Wikipedia, which I use when I need factual data). Quora holds answers to questions of all sorts of topics – relationships, astronomy, physics, real estate, babysitting – you name it, you’ll find it.
But besides the entertaining ones, which range from “incredibly weird” like
to “unbelievably insightful” like
there is a wealth of wisdom to be found on Quora. You’ll be surprised how many people have valuable insight and expertise in a field you are trying to explore—and this information is accessible free of charge.
I am going to make the claim that Quora is probably the best source of free expert opinions out there.
Using Quora to Research Startup Questions
When you are trying to build a mobile app, many questions arise along the way. Based on my experience, I have compiled the most commonly asked questions here, in hope that they’ll help guide you in your app development venture:
“How hard is it to build a mobile app?”
Short answer: Tougher than you think.
All answers: http://www.quora.com/How-hard-is-it-to-build-a-mobile-app
“How can I validate my startup idea?”
Short answer: Don’t talk about the idea, talk about the problem.
All answers: http://www.quora.com/How-can-I-validate-my-startup-idea
“At what point do you consider your startup idea successfully validated?”
Short answer: When you reach the critical mass you’ve previously determined.
All answers: http://www.quora.com/At-what-point-do-you-consider-a-startup-idea-successfully-validated
“How do you make sure that someone doesn’t steal your startup idea?”
Short answer: Worry about your followers, not your imitators.
All answers: http://www.quora.com/How-do-you-make-sure-that-someone-doesnt-steal-a-startup-idea-that-you-are-in-the-initial-stages-of-working-on/answer/Jay-Winder
“What popular startup advice is plain wrong?”
Short answer: Never quit.
All answers: http://www.quora.com/What-popular-startup-advice-is-plain-wrong
“How do I optimize SEO by myself?”
Short answers: Use the Moz beginner’s guide.
All answers: http://www.quora.com/Pre-Startup-Advice/How-do-I-optimize-SEO-by-myself
“What are the different stages in startup funding?”
Short answer: Idea > co-founder > friends & family > seed > series
All answers: http://www.quora.com/What-are-the-different-stages-in-startup-funding
“What are the top 5 reasons why startups fail?”
Short answer: They are all related to team or market penetration.
All answers: http://www.quora.com/What-are-the-top-five-reasons-why-startups-fail/answer/Hampus-Jakobsson
“What is the best advice for a young, first-time startup CEO?”
Short answer: Surround yourself with people who know more than you do.
All answers: http://www.quora.com/What-is-the-best-advice-for-a-young-first-time-startup-CEO
(Also read 90 Things I Learned From Founding 4 Tech Companies. I promise you it is all 100 percent true.)
As you can see, there are many important considerations covered in questions – and even more in the answers. Dipping your toe in and testing the waters before you jump is a very good strategy; some of this advice will help you.
More concrete (yet very enlightening!) questions are:
“What is the typical acquisition cost for an SaaS customer?”
Short answer: 6-12x monthly subscription fee.
All answers: http://www.quora.com/What-is-the-typical-acquisition-cost-of-a-SaaS-customer-by-monthly-multiple
“Is it hard to build, market, and maintain a web app that makes $1,000 a month?”
Short answer: It’s harder to stay there than to get there.
All answers: http://www.quora.com/Is-it-hard-to-build-market-and-maintain-a-web-app-that-makes-at-least-1-000-a-month
“How much would it cost to develop a Tinder iOS clone?”
Short answer: More than $200,000.
All answers: http://www.quora.com/How-much-would-it-cost-to-develop-a-Tinder-IOS-clone
If I had just one shot at advising someone on their startup path, I would repeat one of my most recent answers to the following question:
“If you have an idea for an app, but no programming knowledge, what would you do to bring the app to the market?”
Before I tell you what to do, I’ll tell you what not to do:
- Do not even think to get into technology without a tech-savvy co-founder. At least one person of the founding team MUST understand the core (which in your case, is technology) of the startup. NEVER outsource your code to a freelancer or some web/app development agency. Your code is your core, you can’t give it to someone who’s doing it just for the money as just another project on their client list!
- Do not overthink the term “intellectual property.” I promise you, throughout the course of your startup path you’ll find other people and companies who’ve thought of a similar/same solution. There are a lot less people trying to steal your ideas than your paranoid (no offense, I was just like you!) startup founder mind can think of.
- Do not get lost in the long-term picture. Think of what needs to be done right now, not how you’ll manage your employees, run your office, coordinate your meetings.
Now that we’ve cleared the basics, let’s get to it:
1. Find that technical co-founder and together, evaluate if you need any others to join the founding team in order to get this baby off the ground. You have to find someone who’s just as excited about your idea as you are—and you have to share the same vision and be able to work side by side. Start attending networking events and meetups.
2.Find out if the market really needs your idea. Survey. Ask. Research. Talk to people. Identify if your idea is really worth pursuing. Clarify the monetization question. Who isable to pay? Who is willing to pay for your service/product? In short—validate your idea.
3.Build a prototype or first version of your solution. (I am a firm believer in the lean startup methodology. Often, startups get caught up in a jungle of features, they invest lots of time and money to build the perfect full-fledged service. Build it and they’ll come.Most of the time, they never come. Try a different approach. Reduce your feature list to the most important core feature. Make it solid. Use that to gain first traction.)
4. Once you can prove that you have hit a weak spot, that you are solving an important problem, that you can gain traction (and possibly have paid subscribers), THEN go look for funding. In my opinion, if you go sooner, you won’t get a favorable equity deal—if you get any at all with just an idea. If you go later, you have some leverage to negotiate with.
Remember, ideas are great. But ideas don’t change the world. Execution does.
It’s a bit of an abbreviated and condensed version of the path, but I think you get the idea. Focus on Team < > Product < > Market, and you can make amazing things happen!
Good luck with it!