Your business can benefit from developing an App if the right steps are taken. Here’s how one entrepreneur learned the ropes the hard way -- and how you can avoid the same pitfalls.
SaTek Ananda spent his childhood summers traveling the U.S. with the Ringling Brothers Circus. While his father performed with The King Charles Troupe, a Harlem Globetrotter-style basketball team on unicycles, Ananda watched and occasionally jumped in the ring himself.
Years later, Ananda put that experience to use as an eclectic entrepreneur. He is a certified personal trainer at the renowned Cooper Institute, which teaches group exercise at Gold’s Gym and Equinox Fitness in Dallas, TX, and works as a freelance videographer and graphic designer.
When his son was given a large fitness ball as a gift, Ananda started to mess around with it, teaching himself tricks similar to those he saw at the circus as a child. Ananda quickly realized that his "tricks” were a great workout that combined yoga, Thai Chi and acrobatics. When people began to ask him about the workout, he created a DVD, BodyJuggling.
“A few years ago, the best way to promote what I do was through DVDs,” Ananda said. He realized that his promotions could be done through Apps and created the BodyJuggling Basic Training App.
However, what started out as a good marketing idea “turned into a nightmare,” he said.
Here is Ananda's advice to keep your business from running into the same problems:
Your App name is only searchable in iTunes the way it's spelled
Ananda's App is named “BodyJuggling,” without a space in the title. If someone searches for the title as two separate words, it doesn’t come up in the search terms. As a result, Ananda’s App was buried. “I think in the past month I’ve had 10-15 purchases, and those have been from some of my students,” he added.
Develop a marketing strategy
It’s just like any marketing other product. “Nobody cares about it unless you educate them,” he said.
Research your developer
Ananda went on elance.com to find a developer. Although he recommends the site, he encountered problems with his developer. “I picked webspiders.com out of India and it was nightmare,” he said. The job took seven months, though he was told it would only take two to three.
Consider every aspect of your design and plan ahead
“It’s very important to state everything you want to do upfront,” said Ananda about negotiating with a developer. Think about developing your App like you'd plan a dinner. You might plan the entrée, but you also need to think about the sides, appetizers, desserts and beverages that you want to serve. If you forget something in the preliminary stage, you will pay for it later.
Anticipate the functionalities that you'll want, like Facebook integration and calendar synchronization. Those will become overages if you forget to include them in the early on. Each feature that you add after the contract has been signed will cost more. Developers lenient in the beginning because they want your business, Ananda said. “Once they have your business they will quote you anything they want, because they don’t want the extra work.”
Find a professional with experience
You can get a much cheaper rate if you use a non-professional but it can make the process more difficult. Prior to using elance.com, Ananda planned to partner with a friend who was going to teach himself Apple's “API framework.” However, Apple has an "insane number and levels of certification,” Ananda said. A professional will already know this.
Dawn Reiss is a Chicago-based journalist who has written about everything from eating crickets in Cambodia to the trial of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. You can follow her on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.