Welcome to the Tech for Non-Techies podcast

107. Top questions to ask about an app to become smart money

To become SMART MONEY as an investor, founder or corporate innovator, you have to know what questions to ask about a product. This helps you spot signs of early success or early warning. 

Listen to this episode to learn what questions to ask and how to link product innovation to business strategy. 

Learning notes from this episode:

  • The questions fall into three buckets:
    1. How do my best customers behave?
    2. What are the characteristics of my best customers?
    3. What has to happen for them to abandon the product?
  • For bucket 1, you could ask:
    • What features do my most active users use?
    • What screens do they visit?
    • How often do they open the app?
    • What time of day do they open it and on which days?
  • For bucket 2, you could ask:
    • Where did these customers come from?
    • What are their demographics? Are there any patterns?
  • For bucket 3, you could ask:
    • What screens tend to be the last screen that people get to before they shut down the app?
    • What prices of other apps they use have?...
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98. Feature creep – why apps get too complicated

When an app has too many features and pop ups, most users get confused and frustrated. This is feature creep: when the product’s core functionality becomes hidden in too many options and things to do.

Feature creep happens when a team is determined to stay productive, but loses sight of its strategy. Sometimes stopping is better for the product than doing more.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • Feature creep is problematic for two main reasons: it confuses users and it costs money. This is because product teams have to be paid to design and code, and you also have to pay cloud costs to store your pointless features.
  • Feature creep happens when there is a pressure to produce, which is contrary to the ability to focus. It can be easier to present new features as productivity to investors and corporate bosses, rather than saying that the product team took time to review results and reflect.
  • To prevent feature creep, go back to the fundamental product development questions...
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89. How to burn $2 billion

Does having $2 billion in the bank account and celebrity backing guarantee success for a consumer app? Not necessarily.

Listen to how one company burned through almost $2 billion and had to shut down their app after just 6 months. Learn what Quibi did wrong, so you can avoid their mistakes.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • Success in one field does not necessarily translate into another, especially without training. Quibi's founders used lessons from launching Hollywood blockbusters to launching consumer apps. This did not work.
  • Follow the product development process, no matter how much money you have. Focus on the user. Do your research. Build in stages. Track user reactions at each stage and pivot if necessary.
  • Only invest in large budget marketing after you've proven user need at small scale. Focus on retention metrics first, then on growth. 

 

 

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88. You can't be half pregnant

Developers don't work in the same ways as non-technical professionals. If you don't know how to work with developers, you can waste thousands of dollars and get very frustrated, as you'll see from the story Sophia shares on this week's episode.

Learning notes from this episode:

    • A feature cannot be released when it is not ready. It is either ready to release, or it is not. There is no half way line. A feature can't be half ready, just like you can't be half pregnant. 
    • Developers usually work in two-week cycles, when they are focussed on a specific set of tasks. For example, in a two week period, developers may be working on a specific feature for an app. Then they release it, and start on another feature.
    • Since what developers do affects the rest of what the product team does, this lesson is relevant if you want to work with other people in the product team, like designers, community managers and data scientists.
    • Corporate accelerators for technology start-ups, which...
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83. How tech companies bring new ideas to life

If you have an idea for a new product in a traditional business, you will probably have to work on an extensive plan before you do anything else.

This is not how it works in tech companies. When the likes of Airbnb and Slack bring new apps or features to market, they use the Sprint Method. It is a methodology developed by Google Ventures to bring new ideas to life and test them quickly and cheaply.

Learn how this works in this podcast.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • The aim of a sprint is to test an idea for a new product to find out whether it is worth investing more money in. For example, you can use a sprint to test an idea for an app by creating a prototype. If users like what you’ve made, only then should you hire developers.
  • Each sprint should focus on one idea to test. Do not try to test multiple ideas in one sprint.
  • To figure out where the biggest risks in a new idea lie, ask yourself: if this time in a year, this project failed, why would it have done so?
  • A sprint...
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79. Why human insight will drive success in tech in 2022

No code apps and outsourced product studios mean that there is more opportunity than ever for non-technical founders and traditional businesses to get into tech and succeed.

But, as more companies enter the market, they’ll be competing for a finite resource: our attention.

Listen to this episode how to make the most of this opportunity and avoid costly mistakes.

Learning notes:

  • The prevalence of No Code apps and outsourced product studios is driving down the cost of building apps, sites and algorithms.
  • As more tech products enter the market, marketing costs will increase. This means a boon for Facebook and Google, and also for professionals who know how to attract and engage new users.
  • Jobs that will benefit from this boom include User Experience designers, who know how to make habit forming products, Community Managers and Strategic Partnerships experts. None of these roles require coding, but they all require an understanding of how tech products get built and who does what...
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63. There are no lone wolves in tech: all products are interconnected

Every app and site is made up of lots of different tech tools and languages. Like a house, one part is built on top of another and they need each other to function. If one part of the structure breaks, the rest can fall down too. 

These are called dependencies. To keep a product working, all the dependencies need to work together. This is part of the invisible work that software engineers do.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • A tech stack describes all the tools and programming languages used to build an app or a site. Some of those tools are custom made, some are rented as licences and others plug you into a bigger ecosystem.
  • Examples of bigger eco-systems that many products depend on are the Apple App Store, Google Play and Amazon Web Services. If one of these ecosystems has a problem, the apps and sites they support will have issues too. An app on the Apple App Store depends on Apple, hence the term dependency.
  • Product teams have to update...
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59. What on Earth is growth hacking?

Why do some products go viral and others die a quiet death? The answer lies in growth hacking. 

Growth hacking is a type of marketing that combines working on the product, which is an inside job, and working on promotion, which is an outside job. It is a new discipline born with the tech sector, and growing in popularity today.

Learning notes from this episode:

    • The Dropbox growth hacking case study is still seen as the Holy Grail in the sector. The team created a double referral program to grow 3900% in just 15 months.
    • A growth hacking effort is always done by a multi-disciplinary team, and will often involve a product manager, a designer, a community manager, engineers, someone with a marketing or PR background, and maybe a data scientist.

    • Traditional marketing is outside facing: billboards, TV ads and articles in the press.  Growth hacking is different because it looks at the inside of the product, and adjusts it to grow users and revenue.

    • PR...
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35. Apple vs Android: An Introduction To The App Econom‪y‬

Worldwide spending on Google Play and the Apple App store is projected to reach $171 billion in 2024.

The opportunity in making apps and investing in them is huge, but what exactly is the app economy? Before you get started, you need to know the key differences between the Apple and Android ecosystems.

They cater to different audiences and make money in different ways. Listen to this episode to learn why.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • While there are more apps on the Google Play store, Apple apps account for 70% of all revenue generated on Apple and Google combined.
  • Apple users are wealthier than Android users. The median iPhone app user earns $85,000 per year, which is 40% more than the median Android phone user.
  • Most apps on Apple monetize via subscriptions and in-app purchases, while Android apps make money via advertising.

 

To join Sophia's FREE masterclass on mid March 2021 on Break Into Tech: Masterclass for Non-Technical Foundersregister here.

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