We had an interesting chat with Mr. “Scott Falbo”, Co-Founder of the Buffalo – USA based start-up “716Labs”
Below is the interview we conducted with him:
1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?
StartupApp.info is a platform that is being developed by 716 Labs to help app developers in the market validation stage. We’re a team of developers ourselves and we often struggle with the idea validation stage and we’ve got ideas on improving this for other app developers.
2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?
The idea for StartupApp.info was created during December 2014 and we’re currently developing the platform. We’ve been bringing on beta testers and interested customers since we formulated the idea and we’re excited to launch our first version to the public by summer 2015.
3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?
We’re still in the development phase of StartupApp.info and we’re evaluating a few different pricing models. We do plan to charge users for access to the platform and we’re weighing our options with a subscription model, a pay-per-idea model, or a model in which we offer basic functionality for free and unlock other features for a fee. Whichever option we choose we will ensure that StartupApp.info will provide more value to our customers than the cost of using the service.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
Karl Newell and Scott Falbo are friends and college classmates that founded 716 Labs in 2014. Karl and Scott have individually developed apps for years and joined together to create an app for the AT&T WNY Civic App Challenge during 2014. Once our Family Connection app won the grand prize we formed 716 Labs to take our other ideas to market.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
There are various tools and services available for app developers to help with the creation of landing pages and other marketing services and there are plenty of tools available for monitoring your app once it has been launched. However, there are not many services that provide market validation services for app developers and our experience as app developers ourselves gives us a unique perspective in developing tools that others like us would use.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?
We are still in stealth mode and are not yet ready to accept users into our initial beta release. So, as of now our customer growth is flat but we are actively growing a list of email addresses of interested potential customers that we can contact as soon as our beta release is ready for testing and early access.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?
StartupApp.info is new in this space although there are similar sites and services that have been created to help app developers be more successful. Sites like AppBlast.io or LaunchRock help app developers create landing pages to start marketing their app before it has been launched and others like AppAnnie.com help developers monitor their apps’ sales and rankings.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
So far our biggest obstacle has been creating awareness of StartupApp.info since the service hasn’t been created yet. To overcome this we created a blog that helps describe the concept and we’ve been posting great posts related to app development and marketing. This has helped us build a following of interested customers that are waiting for us to finish the beta release of StartupApp.info.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
Many people think that having an idea for an app is the golden ticket to success and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Creating the app is one of the easier part of the app business – marketing the app and creating awareness is the most difficult aspect. There are many new apps created each day and you need a solid marketing approach to stand out from the crowd.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
We’re going to succeed with StartupApp.info because we are the target users of the service and we’re building something that we’re going to use. We’ll develop the service so that it provides extraordinary value to developers like ourselves and continue to refine the product to make it the best that it can be.
11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
If StartupApp.info is successful we plan to expand into creating other tools for app developers. Basic app development can be straight forward but there are many opportunities for efficiencies that we encounter every day as app developers ourselves.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?
We chose to make StartupApp.info because at 716 Labs we have so many ideas for apps that it can be difficult to focus our efforts on the apps that can be the most successful. We often take the same steps when validating app ideas that we thought that automating this process can provide tremendous value to independent app developers like ourselves.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
While in the prelaunch stage we’ve learned that there is high demand for a service like this and that independent app developers are quick to provide feedback and ideas for a product that they are interested in. We’ve been blown away by the positive response and feedback we’ve received from the startup community.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
In six months we plan to be in our beta testing phase and working on improving StartupApp.info based on our customers’ feedback. We anticipate that it will be difficult to launch with a specific feature set on day 1 and continue to add features after the beta phase. We have so many ideas for features to add that we don’t ever want to get into a mode where we don’t launch because we keep adding new features.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
Our customers will be able to save time and money by easily validating their app ideas before even writing one line of code. The amount of money and effort saved by using StartupApp.info once will justify the price of using our service. It will put app developers in position to succeed with the apps they do make and ignore the ideas that may not have much market appeal and lead to a dead end months or years later.
16. How did customers / users find out about you?
We’re active in the independent developer community being app developers ourselves. We’ve been creating apps for over 5 years so we’re contributors to our local startup community and online communities like Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, Github, and Stackoverflow. These channels help spread the word about StartupApp.info.
17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?
Since we’re still prelaunch we don’t have current customers although we’re rapidly building an email list and Twitter following of app developers and entrepreneurs that are our target customers. When we’re ready to launch we’ll work with our early adopters to help shape StartupApp.info into the product indie developers want and need.
18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
Our biggest source of potential customers has been Reddit and the early launch website Betalist.com. We’re active in these communities and potential customers here have readily provided feedback on the idea. Our blog also helps spread the word about StartupApp.info.
19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?
When we launch we want our customers to say that they can’t imagine developing another app without using StartupApp.info first. We believe that the value provided by StartupApp.info will be clear to any app developer that uses the service.
20. How are you going to scale?
We’re planning to scale by achieving an early base of customers and updating the product based on the feedback and ideas of the early adopters and then after establishing a sustainable business plan continue to add new users through a developer referral program.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
The biggest feature we’re missing is 100% integration with Apple’s iTunes App Store. Although this would provide new levels of market research and integration into the analytics of the App Store market trends Apple does not offer an easy method of fully integrating with the App Store.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
Initially we plan to offer our services to English speaking countries since that is our native language but as we continue to grow StartupApp.info we will offer internationalization and localization options for non-English speaking countries. The Chinese market is one of the largest growing segments and this is not an area we’d want to neglect in the future.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
We believe that we can grow to tens of thousands of users over the next few years. There are nearly 400,000 registered iOS app developers currently creating apps in the App Store generating over $8 billion of revenue. Providing tools to these developers represents a market that continues to grow and is looking for opportunities to earn more revenue through efficiencies.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
At this time we are not looking to hire a workforce as we are app developers that are developing the initial version of StartupApp.info ourselves. However, as we grow we will need to bring on a sales team, developer evangelists, and more developers and engineers.
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
At this point our business is bootstrapped and we plan to be revenue positive very shortly after launch. Our business plan is focused on being self-sustainable but we may explore partnership or funding opportunities to help accelerate our growth as we gain traction in the market.
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
Pursue ideas and businesses that you are passionate about. You want to enjoy what you do everyday and that will help you be successful in the long run. There will always be detractors and you need to listen to what they say but take their feedback with a grain of salt. You do not need to believe each negative comment but being aware of them will make you stronger so you can shore up your business to account for any potential weaknesses.
27. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
Thanks for taking the time to learn more more about StartupApp.info. If you’re interested in staying up to date on the latest news visit www.716-labs.com to join our email list or read our latest blog posts.