Running an App Development Agency

I’m running Tapadoo 7 years now. As a retrospective, I’m writing a few articles about this. I hope you like them. This is the first one: a general set of ideas rolling around my head.

The app store is very difficult to make money in.

The chances of getting rich through the app store varies between impossible and highly improbable. This is why I run an app development agency. I love the process of producing apps, but we’re not reliant on commercial success of apps to stay alive.

So you may wonder: “Wait. Aren’t your clients making money in the app store?”
Well, not necessarily; There are many reasons to have apps in the app stores besides them being a source of income. Our most common apps involve augmenting an existing service or product and making it more useful. In this case the app itself isn’t making money, but rather increasing usage or making a service offering more compelling to end users.

Running an agency means always having one problem

You’ve too much on or you’ve too little on. You never sit back and think “isn’t this marvellous?”

Believe it or not, they’re kinda equal problems.

Projects don’t really have a hard start and stop

Instead they “take off” and “come in to land”.

Customers find “take off” hard to understand. They want their project going at 100% right from the start. This is actually not possible because (a) All the pieces are never in place to start a project and (b) The people working on your project are “coming in to land” on their previous project.

Despite this, customers totally get “coming in to land” – They are often ok with (say) 20% allocation while they are getting their marketing, etc. in place for a launch.

Everyone wants their project started next week.

Nobody calls you and says “we have this idea for a project, which we hope to start in a month or two”

Every app development agency will necessarily have lead time, so all projects actually begin about 4-6 weeks after the first chat anyway.

You never know where the next project is coming from.

We see roughly 2-3 project ideas per week. Many are too early stage to begin, many have unrealistic expectations in terms of return on investment. And some are gems. The first stage meetings are always interesting.

Running an agency means getting to understand aspects of business you never expected.

We’ve worked in online banking, logistics, med tech and even a company that trades coal internationally. Gaining insights into other people’s businesses is my favourite aspect of the job.

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