So you have a great app idea, does it survive the beer test?

I have some form of this conversation almost daily. Thought I would share it with you to get your perspective. What advice do you have for me to better handle the query and for Leslie (names have been changed) to pursue her goal?

Leslie 10:05 AM

Hi, I’m looking to meet software developers who are interested in building apps for Android iPhone. If you know anyone who would be interested in starting a new project and is experienced enough to build monster apps then may you pass on my details and I would like to meet them and organize a meeting with them to discuss things further. Thank you for your time

Andrew = 12:14 PM

Hello, I lead a team of developers and we build both Android and iOS native apps. “… and is experienced enough to build monster apps.” I’m intrigued what a Monster app is? I get up to town most Wednesdays, and hang out at the co-working place there. We can meet next Wednesday or I can come up another time if we make an appointment. — A

Leslie 1:09 PM

Thank you for your message. I’ll definitely be in touch to arrange a time with you. It is tricky as I don’t feel comfortable just sharing the idea verbally as a great idea can be obviously stolen. How would you feel about if I wanted you to sign papers and non-disclosure forms for my safety? As I know that to make an app many people are talented to do so. But to think of ideas that would be successful are something everyone can’t do.

Andrew 3:09 PM

I respect your desire to protect your app idea and you should be very careful with many parts of the process. There are, however, a lot of things we can discuss before there is a need for you to share the secret sauce.

Ideas Are Easy, Execution on Them is The Challenge

First of all, I completely disagree that the “idea” is the hard part. Maybe an idea to service a specific market that you have unique familiarity with that old guys like myself, couldn’t even fathom,

has value. But ideas that just simply “everyone” will want are cheap. There are many sites that collect them for example.

The Beer Test

I often challenge people that come to me with an idea to do a thorough search of the Apple App Store and/or the Google Play store. Look for apps that when you explain the purpose of the App to your mother, they sound the same as your idea. If they don’t find at least five such apps, they owe me a beer. If they do find 5 or more, I owe them beer, I rarely collect on the Beer, if we have a second meeting. I happily take my shout, either way, they have now learned something from the market and still want to persevere!

So you found the app idea on Reddit and there zillions of similar apps on the stores. So should you give up? No, not necessarily! It is the execution of the idea that is all important.

What Resources do You Bring to The Project

I assume you are doing this to make money. There are other great reasons, but making money is usually high on the list. Or at least recovering the time and money you invest in making the App.


So something you have to work out is what is your budget and how much of the work can you do yourself. If you rock up to an App Development shop like or Besides the first free discussion, they are looking for entrepreneurs with at least $50,000 or more likely $250,000 to get started. Many of the Apps you heard of that have grown big, like Uber and Tender and the like, had much bigger numbers invested in them before you even heard of them. If you have that kind of money go ahead and contact them, they do a good job.


More on the need to Protect Your Idea

Closing the loop on your request to sign an NDA. Two issues:

  1. Legal agreements and contracts are only as good as the quality of the people that sign them and the price of the lawyer you can afford to pay to enforce them. Signing a piece of paper doesn’t suddenly make stealing your idea illegal, you can’t just call the cops, you have to take them to court to protect your rights
  2. More importantly your desire to “protect” your idea through secrecy indicates to those of us in the App building business that you don’t have other barriers to competition. This is not a good thing. Your business prospects are weak if the idea is all you have and have no other unique value proposition, such as I mentioned above, knowledge of how to reach and promote to a specific target audience. One of the judgments of the quality of an idea is how you can uniquely defend it so people can’t simply see it and then copy it.

Testing Your Idea Before You Spend the Big Money

We can talk about a lot of things that can be done to “test” an idea and the marketing channel you will use before you take on the expense and effort in building the full App. Your idea and the assumptions around it, like “lots of people will want my App” can be tested in various ways. A good place to head to is building what the lean startup community calls an MVP. That is the Minimum Product that is Viable for your market channel.

If I haven’t scared you away from me by this frank talk. I would be happy to help you chart a path to developing your app idea. No need to share with me the App Secret, until we are much further down the road. I offer coaching sessions and a free email course at

— A


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