Startup Success: 5 Tips to Help You Narrow Down Your List of Mobile App Ideas

Jenna Rodrigues
August 9, 2021

If you’re an entrepreneur considering creating a new mobile application, you’re in the right place! This article is specifically geared towards helping you navigate the process required to go from a long list of potential ideas to a handful of ideas you’d like to move forward with. Let’s dive in!

After brainstorming for weeks or maybe even months, your list of ideas has grown large enough that you find yourself running out of paper! Just kidding. But it’s time to start narrowing down to a shorter list of mobile app ideas so you can start designing and implementing them. No matter how many diamonds in the rough you have, you’ll need to figure out where to start and which app is the most important to prioritize building first.

Once you find yourself staring at a long list of ideas, the next step will be to narrow down to a handful of ideas (maybe 1 to 3) worth pursuing further. While this sounds easy, it can be tough to figure out which of the ideas on your list are worth investing additional time and money into. Throughout this article, we’ll walk through five tips to guide you through the process of narrowing down your laundry list of mobile app ideas. Following this stage of the ideation process, your next step will be to validate these 1–3 ideas, which we’ll tackle in the next article of this series. Validating an app idea can require a substantial investment, which is why the process of strategically narrowing down to a prioritized short list is so critical to shaping long-term business outcomes.

How to Narrow Down to a Short List of App Ideas

Let Your Passion be the Guide

When you start flipping through your list of ideas, begin by circling all of the ideas that are aligned with your personal interests. What are the things you think about and spend your free time doing on a daily basis? What do you read about for fun and find yourself talking about when you’re having brunch with your friends on the weekend?

In order to narrow down your list, choose a few things you feel you’d genuinely like to work on. Think about what ideas sound the most fun for you to tackle and what problems make you feel the most excited to get out of bed in the morning. Working on startup ideas aligned with your passions and personal interests help you connect more with the end user. And you will understand the type of consumer you’ll be designing the app for — because, guess what? That person is you! If you tackle an idea you are simply interested in working on because you think it will be a big money maker, think again. Pursuing ideas that you feel personally connected to and passionate about will help to ensure you’ll remain mentally engaged and motivated throughout the extensive design and development process and will set you up for long term success.

Think About What You Do Best

Before you dive into an assessment of your list of mobile app ideas, start with conducting an assessment of yourself. Jot down a few areas where you really feel you shine and be transparent with yourself about your areas of expertise. Sometimes it can be tough to actually articulate what we’re individually good at and where we really shine, so if you’re having trouble doing so, try turning to your family or friends to ask them about a time when they’ve seen you at your best. Use this as a starting point to fully understand your own skill set.

Once you have a good grasp on your comfort zone and your personal areas of expertise, go through your long list of ideas and circle the ones that are aligned with the areas of expertise that you highlighted. In alignment with this concept, you may circle ideas because they fall within the landscape of industries you’ve worked in previously, and you may circle other ideas because they would allow you to leverage some of your best tactical skills. If you have the choice to work on a topic or within an industry that you’re knowledgeable about versus one that you have no experience working in and would be navigating for the first time, it’s in your best interest to move forward with the subset of ideas that allow you to leverage the skills and expertise you’ve already developed in your career to date.

Consider the Importance of the Problem

After you ultimately narrow down your list, you’ll engage in an extensive validation, design, and development process for the mobile app ideas you decide to move forward with. This will require an extensive amount of your own time and effort in conjunction with your development team. If you’re going to invest resources into solving a problem, it’s critical you ensure you’re investing in solving a problem you, and those around you, feel is important to solve in the first place.

If people think that the problem you’re tackling either a) isn’t even a problem in the first place, or b) isn’t an important problem, then it’s going to be all the more difficult to get stakeholder buy-in throughout your entrepreneurial journey. Given this conundrum, one great way to narrow down your list of app ideas is to circle a few app ideas that are tied to the most dire problems that need to be solved. If you were to ask the respective target audiences what challenges they’re faced with on a daily basis, are they going to bring up the one that your app-based solution is setting out to solve?

Assess the Costs and Potential Return

Not all of the ideas on your list will require the same lift to implement. Nor will they generate the same potential profit or return on your investment. With different levels of effort required to validate and implement the different ideas, comes different financial costs required to bring the ideas to life. While it is too early at this point to formally price out the exact development cost required to validate, design, and develop every single idea on your long list of potential mobile app ideas, it’s not too early to start thinking about what it might take to bring these ideas to life at a high level. It’s also the right time to start thinking about whether you’re going to be able to make a profit and what pricing and monetization strategy you might be able to implement to generate revenue.

When trying to narrow down your list, consider the associated startup costs required to take the ideas to the next level. Start brainstorming how complex the MVP versions of the different apps may be and what additional external costs will be required beyond the cost of the design and development efforts for the creation of the app itself. For example, some businesses are fully centered around the app itself, but others have significant offline components as well that are required to round out the business. All of this needs to be taken into consideration when thinking comprehensively about what will be necessary in order to succeed in bringing app ideas to life. After thinking about the associated costs, you also need to think about the potential return on your investment to figure out whether the profit you’ll be able to generate is worth the effort required to build the MVP and subsequent features.

Here at Camber Creative, we frequently work with new clients at this stage to help them understand the anticipated costs associated with building a new app and the anticipated return on investment. We first start with a design sprint, where we help clients develop detailed user stories, align on the core feature set associated with the MVP version, and begin mapping out the development estimate and associated budget.

Imagine Succeeding!

Depending on what ideas you choose to move forward with, your life has the potential to go in so many different directions. This is particularly true in the case that your app is wildly successful! If you choose to start an app in the fashion industry, you might spend your days watching runway shows in New York City. If this is something you think you’d find exciting, keep this app idea on your short list. If not, you might consider leaning towards other ideas where the day-to-day life that comes with massive app success is aligned with your long-term career goals.

When you’re going down your long list of potential ideas trying to narrow down to a handful of ideas to move forward with, think deeply about what your lifestyle might look like if you succeed and your app becomes incredibly popular. Consider what types of people you will be interacting with, what space you will become a thought leader in, and how much money you might expect to make. Would you be comfortable talking about this topic very frequently to different groups of people? Is the problem you’re trying to solve through the creation of the app aligned with your life goals and your personal brand? If you have a portfolio of apps, does this app fit well within the context of your broader portfolio? If it succeeds, how will that affect other apps or products that you own?

Need Help Narrowing Down Your List?

Coming up with a set of initial mobile app ideas can be tough, but narrowing down your laundry list to a short list of ideas can be even harder. When you’re narrowing down your list, follow your passion and choose the ideas that will allow you to leverage your individual strengths. However, also keep the potential costs in mind that are required to bring the idea to life and weigh these against the anticipated benefits in the case of success.

Once you decide on your short list of ideas, you’re going to need to invest a substantial amount of time and resources into the ideas to first validate them and then design and develop each idea to bring it to life. Given the resource investment involved, it’s critical to make sure you’re investing in the right ideas to move forward with. In case you need help narrowing down your list and transitioning to the validation stage, we’re always here to support you and provide you with our expertise. Reach out to our experts today for a free consultation.

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