“In order to have a successful business, you need technology. In order to have technology, it takes someone with a technical background” – This has been the mantra for many people considering their first foray into entrepreneurship. But what if there was another way? What if all one had to do is create an app and start marketing without having any experience in computer science or programming?
If you want to build a successful app and find the right tech partner, it’s important for entrepreneurs to learn their skills. You might be surprised at how easy it is once you know what to do with your hands!There are many ways to create a great app without a tech background. One entrepreneur, who is also a mother, shows you how it’s done. Read more in detail here: best entrepreneur books.
Jillian Darlington, the MomCo app’s creator, with Beth Bryan, her co-founder.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished there was a “app for that,” as the iconic iPhone ad famously said.
I’ve pondered why no one has created an app that enables me to outsource all of my errands at once on idle days. I wish there was an app for meeting new acquaintances after relocating to a new city (sort of like the platonic equivalent of Tinder).
It takes a lot of courage to start an app or create a product to address an issue you wish could be solved for you. You’re not just looking for a solution to your issue; you’re also creating it.
Jillian Darlington accomplished exactly that when she created the MomCo app. MomCo brings moms together for playdates and companionship, links them with local companies, provides them access to forums, and keeps them informed about upcoming activities in their communities.
“The app is entirely based on my own experiences and pain areas over the last several years,” Jillian explains.
Jillian graciously agreed to talk with me about her experience developing this app. She discussed how she did so despite having no technical background, how she negotiated the startup world with minimal expertise, and how she went about developing something she is really passionate about based on a personal need.
Developing an app to address personal issues
Jillian hoped that a platform existed to link her with other mothers in the region as a single mom operating a company and parenting her small kid. Jillian owned and operated an indoor play gym at the time, where parents could bring their children to play.
MomCo arose from her ambition to develop an app that would allow her to interact with other mothers as well as a platform to promote her company to her target audience.
“The app was something I hoped existed for me as a parent, to be able to connect with other mothers in my area,” she adds. “And then, as a company owner, to be able to advertise myself, run discounts, and organize events on a platform that already had my target audience filled would have been a dream come true.”
Invasion of uncharted area
While the technology for Jillian’s app was already in place, no one had yet developed a local app with a mom-centric emphasis. “I was intrigued by the technology in dating apps,” Jillian explains, referring to applications like Tinder that utilize geolocation and matching.
MomCo felt like a logical next step for her, given her personal and professional expertise. “I catered to women and children, so I’d been in the mom area for a long time, and I’d been in the business world for a long time, […] so I spoke both of those languages quite fluently,” Jillian explains.
Jillian, on the other hand, had experience operating an indoor play gym but lacked any business background, an MBA, or any of the technological skills needed to create an app. Rather of allowing those possible stumbling obstacles to deter her, she began her investigation on the internet, as many entrepreneurs do. When asked how she was able to develop an app with no tech expertise, Jillian replies, “You don’t have to have an MBA and you don’t have to know how to write code.” “You have the ability to make this happen.”
Jillian and Beth, as well as screenshots from the MomCo app.
Do you want to make a product or an app? Here’s what Jillian and MomCo can teach you:
Be your own demographic target.
Jillian has personal experience with the challenges of being a single mother without a support system. She also hoped that as a company owner, she could reach out to her primary target market: mothers. As a result, she understood precisely what to include in an app to satisfy her requirements. “No matter what I’m doing, I want to be my own target demographic because you clearly know how to advertise to those individuals better,” she adds.
Consider what you’d want to see on the market if you’re thinking about developing an app or launching a new product. Take a page from Jillian’s book and evaluate your own personal issues; what issues would you want to see resolved? You’ll discover that creating something using yourself as your target market takes care of a lot of your preliminary market research.
Complete your assignment.
Jillian may have been disheartened if she didn’t have a computer background when it came time to tackle the technical aspect of developing her app. She was well aware that she would have to entrust the development of her app to a developer, something she had never done before.
However, she jumped right in and began her investigation. “I essentially just read every article and watched every video from developers,” she says, adding, “so when I was talking to developers, I knew exactly what I needed to have and what I needed to convey and show them.” “I never want to come off as if I don’t know what I’m talking about, so I double-checked that I had done my homework.”
If you’re entering a sector you’re unfamiliar with, doing extensive study can not only make you feel more prepared, but it may also prevent you from being exploited during the early phases of creating your software or product. “As a total beginner and newcomer […] I simply didn’t want to be taken advantage of, and I didn’t want to come off as stupid,” Jillian explains. “Being a parent and a woman, the IT business can be harsh for us at times,” she says.
How did she deal with it? By being as well-prepared as possible. Before contacting developers, she studied YouTube videos, read articles, and eventually came up with a concept for her app.
Have a clear picture in your mind.
Jillian mapped out the whole app from beginning to end after doing her study. She adds, “I had a really clear vision.” She wanted to make sure she understood precisely what she wanted and how to convey it to developers since she intended to outsource the app’s development.
This phase was crucial for retaining as much control as possible over the final result, and Jillian credits much of her early success to how precisely she defined the project from the outset. “Basically, you have to create the whole roadmap for [the developer] and then give it over to them and say, ‘Okay, now go construct this,’” she explains.
Jillian felt safe contacting a broad variety of developers and interviewing several candidates before deciding who she wanted to work with since she had a clear vision. “I went to Odesk, Google, spoke with freelancers, spoke with the major development companies in town—I spoke with everyone,” she adds. “All I wanted was to be able to make an informed decision.”
You’ll be able to make the greatest, most well-rounded choice possible and develop something genuinely in line with your vision by doing your research, making sure you have a clear vision for the ultimate objective of your app or product, and shopping around before deciding who to work with.
Recognize the worth of your own time and effort.
Jillian had money set aside from the sale of her indoor play gym company to finance MomCo for the first six months, but she realized it was time to start raising more money. “Getting the app up and running was a piece of cake compared to collecting money,” Jillian laughs. “It was totally new to me.”
She began by casting a broad net, concentrating on any angel investors willing to meet with her in Southern California. Her app’s specialized nature, on the other hand, proved to be a challenge. “Having something that just a few angels care about is a big disadvantage,” she adds.
Jillian knew she’d have to narrow it down and focus on angels who she believed would be more interested in MomCo—women and moms. “We simply flipped and began focusing on other angels,” Jillian explains. “If it’s someone who is a mother, they understand right away. You don’t have to make a hard sale; instead, you may get right into your company plan.”
While new companies are encouraged to think large at first and meet with everyone who will listen, Jillian recommends limiting your emphasis on those investor groups who are more likely to be interested in your concept, since this will save you time and energy. “You don’t have to waste your time persuading them that it’s a good idea,” Jillian adds.
Don’t be hesitant to become friends with your heroes.
“Find someone who has done what you’re attempting to accomplish and speak to them about what makes them unique,” Jillian suggests.
She did exactly that, reaching out through Facebook to her idol Jessica Denay, the creator of popular blog Hot Mom’s Club, and asking to pick her brain. Jillian adds, “Now I consider her one of my friends.” “Having someone like her is incredible; she is so supportive.”
What’s the takeaway from this? Think big when it comes to your heroes, and don’t be hesitant to reach out. While you may be concerned that the greatest people in your industry would ignore you, it’s worth sending them a polite note asking for guidance or a chance to speak. If you’re fortunate, you’ll be able to seek guidance and perhaps form a mentoring relationship—or even a friendship—with someone.
Spending money on marketing should be avoided.
Despite the fact that MomCo has graduated from the bootstrapping stage and is now getting angel financing, Jillian stresses the need of deferring marketing costs as much as possible.
Jillian has done much of her marketing via social media “growthhacking” methods including MomCo’s brand ambassador program, responding on HARO requests to gain website mentions, and engaging on social media. “Anything we can use, we use,” she adds.
She also claims that she has been pushed to be more innovative as a result of her marketing budget restrictions. “When you acquire a lot of money, you start to get a bit lazy. “You hear things like, ‘Oh, I can simply pay for it,’ or ‘Oh, we’ll launch a campaign,’” she explains.
Jillian also points out that the customized aspect of social media marketing has aided in spreading the word about MomCo more effectively than paid advertising or publicity in well-known magazines. “The human touch makes such a difference with an app and what we’re doing.”
Jillian’s advise to aspiring entrepreneurs is as follows:
- “This is the most difficult thing you’ll ever do, and if leaving is an option, you’ll take it. Make certain you’ll be able to stay with it.”
- “You can learn anything by yourself. Don’t assume you can’t learn something just because you didn’t go to school for it. You can, you really can, study anything these days if you simply locate the appropriate website.”
- “You have to be enthusiastic about it. You can’t go out and kill it for something you don’t really believe in.”
Using your passion as a source of motivation
When it comes to motivation, Jillian is motivated by MomCo’s good effect on the lives of other moms in similar situations to herself. “You can’t control what other people do for you, but you can control what you do for other people,” she adds. “Making my own pain point go away for other people is my greatest inspiration.”
“I really feel like we’re addressing such a genuine pain point,” she says. Loneliness is a serious issue, and I believe that being alone as a mother may be overwhelming. So I believe that the fact that we’ve built this platform to address it has the potential to transform some lives, and I’m eager to hear those stories.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you make an app with no experience?
A: In short, no. In more detail, this is a question that you can answer yourself once you gain some experience and start learning programming languages such as C++ or Python.
What to do if you have a good idea for an app?
A: You cant build an app with a good idea. What you need to do is search online for the keywords app development and see if there are any groups of developers who want people with ideas for apps to pitch their ideas. If not, then start your own company that develops apps!
How do I create an app for my business?
A: There are many different ways to develop apps. The most common way is a web-based app, which can be made in HTML and CSS. Desktop apps typically require Java or .NET software development kits (SDKs), while mobile apps often use Android SDK tools.
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