So far this year, the trend in starting new businesses by developing smartphone applications (a.k.a apps) continues its ascent. The proliferation of location based technology and the stratospheric rise in the use of smartphones, whether it’s the Blackberry, iphone, Android or one of the many other options continues unabated. As an avid iphone user, I’ve downloaded countless valuable apps, as many of us have. In light of this trend, I wanted to feature a newbie entrepreneur who’s developing an app. In using his example, we’ll be able to better understand the process of bringing an app to the market.
I talked to Oscar Pedroso, founder of Osnik, an iPhone app that acts like a tour guide in your pocket and connects you to businesses and events that you’re likely to enjoy. The “app” gets to know you by asking you quick questions over time and gradually captures your interests, tastes, and preferences. Based on this knowledge, the app is then able to suggest things to do depending on what you’re looking for.
There is a business component to Osnik too, which leverages all the ‘rich’ consumer driven data that’s been captured. They offer an analytics service that allows businesses to see who their customers are and what their customers interests are. For example, if you own your own coffee shop and use Osnik, you could eventually find out that 60% of your coffee-lover customers also happen to like ice-cream and board games, this sort of information might make you think about some changes you can introduce in your coffee shop such as selling ice cream and offering board games (if you haven’t already)!
Oscar and his best friend, Nick, launched Osnik a year ago. They initially created an iPhone app for Rochesterians on things to do, and after playing around with the app’s potential, they came up with Osnik. Nick oversees the web designers and programmers who they’ve sourced from their local appcommunity in Rochester (NY). Pulling in resources locally saved them precious startup dollars (For those of us who aren’t blessed with programming skills, check out Odesk to find an app developer). Prices can vary dramatically based on the complexity of your application. (My suggestion is to keep it Simple- refer to my 8-31-11 blog entry and you’ll save time & money.) There are also Do-It-Yourself applications, such as appmkr or mobiflex, which are very low cost ways to ‘dip your toe’ into the app market.
Osnik needed funds to startup so they created an online store that sold local products in the area. They hoped to engage local merchants and generate revenue by connecting customers to businesses with a limited selling presence online. Though they acquired a few customers in the first month, they learned quickly that the store ‘concept’ was distracting from the true end goal of developing an iPhone app that acted like a tour guide in your pocket. Realizing that they needed to refocus, they put all of their energy into the app development. Smart move!