The Mobile App Development Process – Rootstrapped

Ben Lee

Ben Lee

CEO and Co-founder of Neon Roots

Ben Lee is the co-founder and CEO of Neon Roots, a digital development agency with a mission to destroy the development model and rebuild it from the ground up. After a brief correspondence with Fidel Castro at age nine, Ben decided to start doing things his own way, going from busboy to club manager at a world-class nightclub before he turned 18. Since then, Ben has founded or taken a leading role in 5 businesses in everything from software development to food and entertainment.

Ok – so you have a genius idea for a mobile app. One that you think could really break the mold and make it big. To bring your app idea to life, you have a couple of options.

Your Developer Friend

Informal development teamIf you know anyone who knows how to code or has a mobile app development company, you could ask them to build it for you. This might be cheap, but it’ll take a long time – and it’s hard to know what the quality of your app would be like. Following this route, you might get a half-decent app on the cheap, but you could also waste months or years of your life for something that’s not good enough to pass quality control. And even if it does, you still have no idea whether the app will succeed in the marketplace.

The Agency

Alternatively, you could take the opposite approach and hire a high-end agency to build your app for you. No doubt, this will be exciting: they’ll bring you into a boardroom with catered lunch, walk you through their development philosophy and process, and after showing you their trophy case, they’ll promise that they can build you a world-class app.

There’s just one problem with this road, though: you’re walking into a broken model.

Mobile app development companyYou’re compensating this agency for their time. Every hour that their coders work on your app, you pay them a fee. That means that they’re incentivized to bill as many hours as possible, because that’s what makes them the most money. That’s a dead-set recipe for scope creep.

The agency will continue to promise you that your app needs more features, keeping you hooked in the development cycle way longer than you should be there. After months and months of developing a perpetually-growing app, you finally launch – but by this point, your app is so bloated with features that users think it’s too complicated and don’t adopt.

And how much did that whole experiment cost? Anywhere between $150,000 to $500,000. That’s months of development and hundreds of dollars down the drain for an app without any knowledge of whether users will adopt it or if you’ll ever see a dime of your investment back.

Or, You Can Avoid Jumping Into a Trap

What if there was a way for you to make sure your app would succeed in the marketplace before investing the time and money to develop it? And what if you could do it in less than a month and for a fraction of the cost of development?

That’s Rootstrap: a full-service product development bootcamp that takes you from napkin sketch to investor deck in just two weeks.

The first step is to contact the Neon Roots team. They’ll give you the information you need to fully understand the mobile app development process and know what you’re getting yourself into. After a bit of an education, you submit an application for the Rootstrap workshop. If that’s approved, you’ll meet with one of our own product strategists – and that’s where the fun really begins.

After locking in dates for a Rootstrap, you’ll receive your own NR swag box. Under that glowing green top, you’ll find all of the information, terminology, and materials you need to go through the Rootstrap process as a well-educated participant.

As your Rootstrap date gets closer, your personal RS team will be hard at work researching your idea, your competitors, your target users, and the marketplace. They’ll put together a presentation for your kick-off call, where you and your team will go over everything you’ve set out to accomplish over the next two weeks. After the kick-off, you’re in full-on Rootstrap mode.

 

Neon Roots swag box

All Rootstrappers receive a swag box courtesy of Neon Roots

 

The Rootstrap Workshop: Week 1

After a comprehensive look at the viability of your app idea, you and your Rootstrap team will get started on creating a product backlog, which is essentially an in-depth list of all the individual features necessary to bring your mobile app to life. Backlogs are essential in mobile app development because they provide a step-by-step roadmap to complete development – they tell a mobile app development company exactly what needs to happen for the app to be completely functional.

While the full backlog is exciting, the first step in Agile development – which we believe in wholeheartedly – is always an MVP, or Minimum Viable Product. The MVP is the leanest iteration of your app that you can take to users, and it’s critical for launching early and gathering feedback. Make no mistake, you can develop the complete app later on – but testing the MVP is critical to ensuring your final app is something people actually want to use.

Week 2

Mobile app wireframesWith your backlog built out, you and your RS team will work to groom it, selecting only the features necessary for an MVP. Your team will then create wireframes based on the backlog, which provide the overall backbone of your app.

Now comes the real fun. Your team will take the low-fidelity wireframes they’ve built and turn them into a beautiful, fully rendered clickable prototype. This is your MVP: it’s something you can take to users and investors alike, and it’ll be invaluable on the road to developing a complete version of the app.

In addition to an MVP, you’ll leave your Rootstrap session with a complete, prioritized backlog of user stories. You can take this backlog to any Agile development shop in the world and they’ll know exactly how to build the app you’re dreaming of – no need for extended development cycles or feature creep.

After Rootstrap

The other thing you’ll get in your Rootstrap is an award winning, Neon Roots-approved set of pitch materials. Combined with your MVP, you can use this to pitch potential investors to fund the complete version of your app.

Normally, your odds for getting funded are pretty slim: only about 1 in 2,000 startups ever achieve funding, which would give you about a .05% chance. Without Rootstrap, you’re almost better off trying to get struck by lightning than trying to get funded.

But with the detailed user research, market analysis, and pitch materials of Rootstrap, you’ll be happy to know you fare much better in the investor circle. Just how much better?

2,600% better. 13% of our alumni receive at least $150,000 in funding from some of the most prominent accelerators and angel investors, and half of that subset raise more than $1,000,000. So yes, you’ve got some pretty good odds.

Take the Next Step

So what do you say – ready to take your app idea from vague concept to fully-rendered prototype? Ready to go to investors with an award-winning set of pitch materials? Ready to make your entrepreneurial dreams come true?

If you are, we’re ready to help you. The first step? Rootstrap it.