7 Easy steps for starting a mobile app startup for students

I have seen so many college students who say, “I have a great app idea, but I don’t have the funds to get started“. 

To address this concern, I have put this step-by-step guide for creating your successful mobile app startup right from creating your app to marketing it. 

I have drawn this from my experience of building a saas app and scaling it to a decent monthly recurring revenue.  

Also, I’m assuming you’re a student with very little money to invest, but that means you’ll have to compensate your time for that. Being a student, you have enough time to work on this (don’t take your college assignments too seriously). Even if you fail, you’ll still end up with great learnings. 

Now let’s begin with the process of building your very first mobile app startup:

1. Find & validate idea for your mobile app startup

Most people say, think of the problems you’re facing, and come up with a solution. And that’s not a bad idea if you’re sure that it is practically possible to build such an app and you can do business out of it.

Students often believe in taking anything from offline to online, which isn’t wrong in any way, but here’s how you’re supposed to think for your mobile app startup.

e.g., I wish there would have been an app to see the menu online and order food while sitting in a restaurant. But there’s already a solution called DOTPE for that. Wait, you don’t need to give up on your idea as it still has low competition in the market. All you need is tweaking it a little bit to build your USP & it could be as simple as targetting a different segment like college canteen owners instead of targetting restaurant. When you’re targetting college canteen owners, you’re going to build the user interface of the app in such a way that it solves the specific problem of college canteen owners.

Also, you can think of a utility tools like KhataBook for local business or something like Note Taking App – Evernote for busy entrepreneurs to keep track of their important notes at one place. And believe it or not, people would pay for a simple Note Taking App if you could come up with way of organizing their notes and an improved user interface.

But most important thing is having a USP (unique selling proportion) in terms of features, usability or pricing for your mobile app startup.

2. Learn a framework for mobile app

Don’t be scared about learning a programming technology if you’re going to build a mobile app startup. If you have a little bit of knowledge about coding then I would recommend

And I would recommend you to learn Flutter for creating mobile apps. I found a crash course by Traversy Media on YouTube to get the heck of flutter’s basics in just 1 hour.

Disclaimer: I’m sharing just a crash course to help you decide whether to choose flutter as technology for your mobile app startup or not. But, there’s a full course by the same instructor Maximilian Schwarzmüller available on Udemy if you’d like to continue learning this technology.

Flutter makes it really easy for anyone to build cross-platform apps (iOS & Android) with a single code base. The best thing about flutter is that you don’t need to learn different technologies for Android and iOS. Just for your information, the Flutter framework is backed by Google itself. So, you can be confident using this technology for your mobile app startup.

3. Learn to connect your app with firebase

If your app involves user signups or storing their data onto a server. You can use a free service known as firebase being offered by Google. If you’re still clueless about what firebase, consider checking out the video below.

Introduction to firebase

If you’re worried about connecting these two technologies, there are lots of courses about this on YouTube and Udemy. And it would not take a lot of days to learn them if you spend a reasonable amount of time every day.

I would recommend taking the “Flutter & Dart – The Complete Guide [2021 Edition]” course by Maximilian Schwarzmüller on Udemy if you want to learn flutter & firebase.

4. Get started with designing your app

Once you feel a little comfortable with flutter & firebase, it is time to design your app interface for your mobile app startup. And you don’t need to learn any fancy tool for that; you can do it with pen and paper. 

First of all, write down all the features you have in mind, but it is not necessary to have all the feature drawn at beginning. 

Now you can draw a wireframe of your app on paper or by using a handy tool like moqups on how you would be connecting each page of your app. e.g., After a user register, send him to fill in the complete bio of his profile.

wireframing for your mobile app startup
Designing Wireframe of your app with Moqups

In the end, design a rough user interface for each page that you’re going to have in your app. e.g., App launch screen (also known as a splash screen), login page, profile page, main app interface, notification page, settings page etc. Also, if you have enough time, you can consider learning Figma for designing the app interface in a more beautiful way.

How to design mobile app interface on Figma

Once you feel you’ve designed every possible page you could think of, get started with coding right away without any further iteration or revisions.

Don’t wait for being completely perfect on all of this. Get started working on the real deal, plus you’ll be getting all the solutions to your problems while building it.

5. Build the audience while working on app

It is a must to have someone on your team who can handle its social presence for your mobile app startup. You should consider building your audience all over the platform but majorly on the trending one like Instagram as in 2021.

Ask someone from your team to learn Canva (an easy and free tool to make graphics) and make beautiful posts for your app’s social handles. There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube to learn Canva while getting started but I found this video to be very helpful for beginners while getting started.

Make your potential audience aware and engage them with the idea of the app you’re working on. Keep interacting with them through your social handle. Put a “coming soon” statement on all your handles while you’re working on the app.

Also, keep asking them about any features or suggestions through Polls, DMs & stories.

6. Publish your app

Here comes the most crucial part of your mobile app startup, which is publishing the app. It would be a time for a bit of investment where you will have to purchase a Google Developer Account (25$ for Lifetime) & App Store account (75$/Year) to deploy your app into the play store & app store.

If you’re publishing your flutter app to the play store, consider checking out this official article by flutter on publishing your app to the play store or you can consider watching the video below.

How to publish your flutter app to play store

And here’s an article by flutter on publishing your flutter app to app store or you can watch this video below

How to publish your flutter app to app store

Once the app is published, ask your friends and social followers to be the beta tester and give the usability feedback or report any bug if encountered. Even after deploying the app to the actual audience, it still may take several iterations to fix the bugs or usability issues, but keep going on, keep changing things aggressively if it is necessary.

7. Apply zero dollar marketing strategy to get your initial users

You being a student cannot afford to pay a heavy amount for marketing, but you can leverage the power of your student’s community and enough leisure time for your mobile app startup. Here’s what you can do to advertise your app for free.

  1. Hire or partner with the students across different schools & colleges and convince them to be your app representative/campus ambassador in their college. As an incentive, offer them a certificate or something that would make them feel happy.
  2. Focus on posting good content on Instagram. Believe it or not, but you can acquire thousands of customers only from Instagram without even paying for ads if you’re doing it correctly. Look at this amazing content marketing strategy by a bunch of college students for their ed-tech mobile app startup Coders Eduyear on Instagram.
  3. Engage on relevant forums like quora & Reddit. Find the appropriate question on quora relevant to your mobile app startup and provide them value by leaving a long-form of answer & direct them to your app download page.
  4. Learn basic SEO tactics for your mobile app startup and try to rank them on search results of google play store & app store. You can use App Annie for analysing your search performance and how your competitor’s apps are doing on those platforms.
  5. Utilise other app marketplaces like Aptoide, GetJar, Mobile9 etc to get more eyeballs and downloads for your mobile app startup.

And as you grow with your mobile app startup, you’ll become more mature by itself. Don’t spend too much time about having a solid plan for your app business. You’re not even spending a lot of money, it’s all your learning.

Even if you fail at the end, you will still end up with some great learning from your first mobile app startup & that will eventually help you in your next startup or your job.

Thank you so much for investing so much time in reading this article and I wish you all the best for your very first mobile app startup. If you need any suggestion, you can reach out to me through my Instagram handle: @iamanantgupta

Leave a Comment