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Do You Have What it Takes to Create an App?

Denver-based Raika Technologies seeks to reduce the number of apps that fail


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In today’s evolving, and increasingly digital, business world it can be extremely difficult to stand out. One way that some are attempting to stand out and reach more consumers is through developing an app. However, coming up with an app idea, let alone one that consumers will ultimately find useful and pay for, comes with its own set of difficulties.

Recent data shows that in the first quarter of 2019, Android users had access to 2.1 million apps and Apple users had access to 1.8 million.

“From the smallest businesses to the largest businesses, companies can use apps for things like efficiency and creating workflows that minimize the amount of touch points with data or people,” says Cynthia Delaria, CEO and co-founder of the Denver-based app incubator Raika Technologies.

Raika Technologies was founded by Delaria, Darrell Brogdon and Grant Parks to reduce the number of app ideas, or startups based on apps, that fail.

“We work with people, entrepreneurs, even companies that have ideas that are brand new,” Delaria says. “Very few of the people that come to us have done any previous market research they probably don't have a product yet it's really an idea in their mind and they wanna figure out how would I take this idea and turn it into a business.”

What Raika does through its startup program is work with a company over three to four months and “flush out all of the different potential options with their idea,” she says. This includes conducting market research, market cap, researching potential audiences, creating user personas, building a prototype and conducting between 300 and 500 market validation interviews. Raika then combines all of this data into a business plan with the expected ROI, monetization options, market cap and the cost of building.

“That gives an entrepreneur, for very little time and money relative to building an actual business, the information they need to know whether there's anything there for them or not,” Delaria says. “So I'm trying to move more people to doing that level of research and that level of digging in about what they're trying to do, before spending a lot of money on software.”

While anyone can join this startup program, a select few get inducted to Raika’s incubator. In the incubator, Raika helps develop the technology pieces required for the idea in exchange for a small amount of cash and equity in a company. Through this process, and her own entrepreneurial past, Delaria has developed a knack for determining not only what makes a good app idea, but what will help make an app successful.

Should You Create an App?

For both startups and existing companies, creating an app can be an innovative way to find success in your industry.

To start, Delaria suggests asking the following: “Where are there things that are slowing you down, causing inefficiencies or costing you money where there could be a process put in place, or a piece of software that could connect people in a way that's better than what you do now?”

Building from there, existing companies can find great success in the industry they're established in with an app. “You already have a direct relationship with a bunch of people who will become the initial customers,” Delaria says. “That's how you kind of start to create that momentum that gets you outside of your existing customer base.”

That doesn’t mean that new startups or entrepreneurs can’t find success, however. “It's much easier to build a business around an app or software idea,” Delaria says. Still, entrepreneurs should draw from expertise in a certain industry or with a certain pain point to find an idea that will be successful.

For example, one of the companies in Raika's incubator program is PuppTech and its app PupComm. The app idea came from Denver-based founder William Loopesko's own experience with his dog. Loopesko wanted a way to monitor his dog if he had to leave him the car for a short period of time when running errands. So, with the help of Raika, he developed a device and app that monitors temperature and humidity inside a car and sends the information back to a smartphone, similar to Nest. Loopesko looked for a pain point in his life and found a way that software could help solve it. 

What Makes an App Successful?

The majority of apps fail for one of two reasons, according to Delaria. The first, she says, is that the entrepreneur or company behind the idea doesn’t do enough to get the word out with “boots on the ground.”

“The more you do that, especially when you're in development, the more successful you're going to be,” Delaria says. “A lot of times apps we see that have the best ideas, but that don't turn into revenue or that ultimately sort of fizzle out, are the ones that aren’t skin in the game, fully invested, fully committed and doing the work to get the word out there.”

Beyond this, she says, while you can spend money on marketing and PR once a company is past development, if you weren’t out in the market at the beginning, you might not find ultimate success.

The second factor, is that the solution the app provides doesn’t resonate with the audience. “Either the problem isn’t big enough of a pain point or the solution that the ideator has come up with just doesn't solve the problem in a compelling way,” Delaria says.

In general, “coming up with an app idea is a very emotional thing: it's exciting and there’s energy around it and you want the entrepreneur to live in the excitement, in the energy, for as long as they possibly can, because that is as much a factor of success as anything else that will happen that's logistical, “ she says. “What we try and do is back up that excitement with the hard data, hard facts, real knowledge about how what they're excited about has an impact in the community and how they can build that into a business that makes real money.”

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Ali Longwell

Ali Longwell is the digital editor at ColoradoBiz. She has also written for SDxCentral, a B2B online technology publication, as well as Denver-area lifestyle magazines 5280, Denver Life Magazine, Avid Lifestyle and more. She can be reached at alongwell@cobizmag.com

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