Lessons from building products on mobile


Mobile is the hottest thing currently in India and the opportunity it presents has excited many entrepreneurs. Recognizing this trend, we launched MobileSparks last year (2nd edition on December 14th) where some of the upcoming mobile startups present. There are more than 900 million mobile phones in India with data active on about 100 million.

While building your product on mobile, it is very important to know your customer base. “One of the key learnings when we developed the mobile app was the knowledge about the customer base. Is your user tech savvy, or is it just layman user who doesn't like to spend too much time with smartphone, and so on. Know your target customers and then design your product or app accordingly,” says Satish Basavaraj, co-founder of Jiffstore. For Jiffstore, the initial target audience is young tech professionals with 26-40 age. Jiffstore is primarily a mobile application which gives the kirana stores and supermarkets to sell online and users can buy via the mobile app.

Agreeing to this, Sarang lakare, founder of IntouchApp adds, “The app stores are very crowded. Look for an unmet niche, no matter how small, and try to capture the audience there. Do not think of becoming Facebook on day one.” Intouch is a contacts management app that launched at Mobilesparks in 2012 and has grown to manage close to 200 million contacts as of now.Developing for your user base, then it is mighty imortant to talk to your early users. “We've focused on enriching the messaging experience and giving to our users a richer and more personal messaging platform. We've revamped the app completely a couple of times, co-worked with our users to build features that they want,” says Pathik Shah, head of growth at Hike which is a meassaging app. Hike was launched in December 2012 and hit 5M users in 4 months of launch. Adding to the topic of talking to users, Sarang adds, “Understand what your users are doing as early as possible. You may build app for functionality A, but the user might be finding functionality "B" more attractive. The earlier you learn this, the less effort you waste.”

And when you're young, you have the ability to change very fast. “For startups, its important to keep releasing new version with couple or fewer features, instead of holding onto big release. It doesn't matter if your first version is not as beautiful as wanted it to be, there will be next iterations, this was one of big learnings in Jiffstore we have released 6 versions so far in span of 2.5 months since our launch, constantly adding new features and rolling to market,” says Satish. While releasing quickly, one needs to figure out the distribution channels that work in various use cases. And this comes when there is a high focus on data and keeping a track of your metrics.

For the Indian market, Android is the biggest segment and it makes sense to go for Android first but if you're looking globally and also thinking from the monetization angle, pitching for the iOS makes sense. Sarang is in the favour of monetizing from Day 1, he says, “We made this mistake and started monetization pretty late. We were surprised by the results and on the hind-sight, we should have created the payment page along with the release of our apps back in January.” Here are the various app monetization models that can be looked at.

The goal should be to reach the product-market fit as soon as possible by applying lean methodologies.

For such and more discussions, don't miss out on Mobile Sparks.


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