How to Build a Mobile App Startup that Actually Makes Money

How to Build a Mobile App Startup that Actually Makes Money

Some people might think that once you make an app, upload it to some Store and here you go—millions of bucks will suddenly rain down from above. Well, don't want to upset you, but that's not how it goes.

While there are just a few lucky ones, like Uber, Pokemon Go or such, that generate billions of dollars, there are hundreds of thousands of other apps that stay below the "app poverty line" of $500 per month. And most of them don't even get to this point.

Moreover, most of the apps are free to download and use. Only 10% of mobile apps are paid. So why do people continue creating apps and how do some of them get as much revenue?

Mobile apps help businesses to improve certain aspects of their company, such as providing more popularity, attract new users, solve a specific problem, test some idea, etc.

For individuals, it is a perfect platform to check whether their idea is really the next big hit, like famous Instagram or Snapchat.

Undoubtedly all of them aim at making money. For that, there are more and more creative strategies for apps monetization arise. You can use just one or a combination of a bunch of them!

Very often monetization strategies depend on the app sphere. For example, gaming apps can sell inner coins for real money in order users could progress within the game. Or simply place advertising of sponsors in the app. Social media apps include in-app purchases or ads. Food delivery apps help users to pay for food and its delivery in a convenient and fast way. The list can be continued endlessly.

Summing up the above, it's unlikely that you'll become a millionaire once your app is shown to the mobile app audience. At the same time, it involves excellent opportunities as users love mobile apps and tend to spend more and more time using them.

So you need to think it all through and make sure that your app will peak user interest and potentially generate profits.

Let's check a few things that will help your startup to stand out.

Tips on how to build a mobile app startup that actually makes money

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#1. Find your market

The most famous companies focus primarily on one sphere, two the most. There is always a place for great ideas in any niche, so find the one you’re passionate about and focus on it. It gives you benefits in case you improve your idea as you can use the same framework or template to create another app.

They say, three “right”s should be combined to get a sustainable product: the right timing, place, and market. In order to validate your idea, it is best to make a thorough research and a comprehensive analysis. For that use the following steps:

  • Identify your idea

For those who aren’t sure about the idea or just started searching for the one, the first step would be brainstorming the idea. The methods used for brainstorming are also applied to check the already defined direction. You know, it can’t hurt!

  • Define people’s choice

Understanding user’s preferences give you a bigger picture of how many people are looking for the app you want to build. As a tool, you can use the Google keyword planner.

  • Test demand for your idea

Another way to test your idea for the user’s demand is to create a landing page or place a simple online add. You will see how many people will be interested in your product.

  • Analyze competitors

Check similar apps and their robust features. There is always the user’s feedback that can help you determine the user’s needs and expectations. Users appreciate the apps that anticipate their minds in a way.

So the central message here is to develop a product that can satisfy a good market’s demand. For example, Airbnb served a unified goal to meet the needs of travelers searching for comfortable and affordable housing and homeowners looking to sell free space in the most efficient way. Thus, Airbnb hit two markets at a time.

But sometimes it happens that some famous brands are looking for their best market, just as Twitter did. It evolutioned through 7 markets starting from a platform for users who wanted to publicly communicate with other users quickly and efficiently to offering other businesses their APIs as a way to learn from user’s behavior.

#2. Focus on implementation

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Let’s be honest, an idea is just the first step. Behind every successful idea, there is a massive stack of hard work. No investor will give you funds for just an idea. You need to show your vision of implementation and readiness to put lots of effort to make it till the end.

There are lots of ideas that were invented decades ago but implemented just in recent years.

By the way, have you noticed how many similar apps are there? Some of them gain enormous success, but the others - just a few likes. How come is that happening if most of them have the same idea behind the app? The implementation makes all the difference!

You never know what factors will bring your app to success. Although there’s something that you can surely do. The typical ingredients of a successful startup are:

  • a well-thought-out business plan
  • the right market opportunity
  • a dream team
  • paying customers

Remember, a great product will always find investors, so you better focus on building it.

Here’s more to it, any application gets success while being in the top 20 or so app store lists. To get there the most important things, all users appreciate in applications are:

  • Attractive design

With the best UX/UI solution, your app will stand out from the crowd of competitors, make user interactions smooth, and encourage users to download the app from the app store. So the expert app designer will come in handy to comprehend the design concept and translate it into reality.

  • Fast app loading

The first several seconds after app downloading mean a lot. Nowadays with so many choices users tend to give up when the app loading is too long.

  • Efficient performance

The previous point concerns the overall performance as well. Users don’t want to waste time if the app uses too much of their device’s memory slowing it down or has too big battery usage.

  • Reliable back-end web services

To protect your app from sudden failures like server one that happens due to heavy traffic, it is better to use reliable back-end web services. In general, the more robust your app is, the more users will trust it and use it.

  • Compatibility with mobile platform

If you advertise some additional features and then they are not supported on some user’s devices that make a wrong impression and lowers your app popularity. So make sure to provide compatibility before emphasizing the advanced features.

Apple hasn’t invented anything new—there were mobile phones, tablets, mp3 players long before the iPhone, iPad or iPod were created. What made the company great is the ability to develop a product that meets the unmet market demands That make a brilliant example when implementation matters more than just an idea.

Just like Google wasn’t the first Internet search platform, but they happened to the first ones to actually monetize the search. So you see, that even with lots of competitors you can still stand out.

#3. Test idea by creating an MVP

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Creating an MVP is crucial for a successful application. It gives you a picture of users reaction to your product. It is actually the best moment to test the demand for your idea, and whether it brings value to this world.

This approach has many benefits. Possibly the most important one is saving time and money by spending as little as possible for creating a minimum viable product until you know how successful it will be.

Many well-known companies started with an MVP: Facebook, Groupon, Airbnb, Zappos, Amazon, Etsy, Dropbox, Buffer and so many others. Just check their stories!

Here it is enough to mention the story of the popular app around the world—Uber. Its MVP is amazingly simple. The app did just one thing: it connected drivers with the iPhone's users in just one city—San-Francisco. Moreover, only those who weren’t scared to have credit card payments enabled in this wholly new and unknown app could use the service. And it did work out, and the primary goal was reached—users received taxi services at the most affordable price.

#4. Iterate development

Iteration helps you to receive feedback, check the previous step’s results, improve your approach and move forward. You shouldn’t think about gaining money first. The step-by-step approach gives you more ground for future success. Learn from the giants. For example, Facebook started from a growing user base, collecting more significant user data, expanding platform tools and after all beginning the ads campaigns.

So the most important is to concentrate on user needs and give them the product they want now. In return, you will get the desired user base that will help you monetize your app from built-in in-app purchases, affiliates and other tools you might want to use.

All the mentioned above companies started in the most straightforward steps where they first received their user base, identified the most demanding features and started moving forward. Some of them monetized their ideas over time, just like an example with Twitter shows. So you better move step-by-step!

#5. Keep growing

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If your product is already on the hype, it is not a reason to stop. Although it might be a rare case, as to gain success you should continue growing in many ways. What do we mean by growing? It actually depends on your goals. The more goals you have, the better. It can be developing your user base to new heights or enhancing technical side, scaling loyalty program or making more substantial profits, etc.

How to measure growth? Some say the average growth percentage by the distinguished parameters should be around 5%. If it is 1% or less you should rethink your goals and strategy.

Among the useful tips to make your app famous there are:

  • Promotion before publishing

Either promotional video or advertising in any other form that informs potential users of your app and its functionality will add more points to popularity. Not to mention, to create eagerness for a quick app launch and gathering data about user’s expectations and interests.

  • Promotion after publishing

In addition to the app stores feature when the new apps are highlighted it is useful to promote the app from the very beginning.

  • A website or social media presence

You can put comprehensive information on the website page about all the features and fresh news. Linking it with social media channels brings you more traffic to your app making it more popular.

  • Analytics

After publishing it is useful to analyze statistical data about downloading, engagement and other user’s activities. Check all the parameters. For example, whether users interact with the app only once and are there any obstacles when they are the most active.

Because if you find it worth it, you will want to spend more time refining or adding more useful features. If not, you might consider whether you should consider rethinking it or just stop all the activities.

  • Communication with users

Responding to user’s reviews and feedbacks, accepting or taking into consideration their suggestions will show users the possibility of potential progress and give you valuable info for future app improvement.

  • Informing users about updates

Stay connected with your users by giving them updates about new features, plans for improvement and other useful information. Press releases, blog posts, social media publications, video presentations and any other form of marketing will work for your app popularity.


Most apps don’t make money, some of them are making the first steps to monetization, the others are getting the best revenue. Which category do you want your app to belong to? Most likely, it is the last one!

For that, you need to make through many steps of research, analysis, implementation and much more. There is no guarantee that it will give you billion-sized profits. But your app will definitely take an honorable place among most users lists of favorites.

Moreover, you shouldn’t get through all the steps alone. There are plenty of experienced professionals who know the right recipe for a successful app startup development that has high chances to actually make money.


Content Marketer. Strong understanding of innovative technologies, design, and digital marketing solutions for business.
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