Editor’s note: Ilya Gelfenbeyn is the co-founder and CEO of Speaktoit, which develops talking virtual assistants for Android, iOS and other platforms.
As mobile apps have grown into a multi-billion-dollar industry, large corporations have adopted an increasingly hefty presence within that industry. This fact may worry some independent developers and startups, especially those that find themselves in direct competition with much bigger, better-capitalized, better-established enterprises.
But startup developers shouldn’t necessarily fear competition from their bigger brethren. Being small comes with its own set of advantages, and the presence of big enterprise in a space can often be a help, rather than a hindrance. Here’s some advice for small developers on how to hang with the big boys.
1. Embrace being small. Who says bigger is always better? Large, well-capitalized companies may have more resources, staff members and time, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll come up with a better app.
- Take advantage of the lower bar to entry. And thanks to the relatively low bar to entry for creating a mobile app, which tend to be much less sophisticated and much more easily brought to market than, say, computer software, the field is wide open for small startups or single developers. In 2009, Ethan Nicholas developed the game iShoot in his spare time, and the app eventually rocketed to the No. 1 spot on the Apple App Store. Try telling Nichollas (and plenty more examples like him) that a bunch of staffers at a large gaming company could have done better.
- Take risks. If you’re just starting out as an indie developer, you don’t have shareholders to please, payroll obligations to meet, or a brand to uphold. You may have bills to pay or a family to support, but hopefully you’ll be in a position to experiment. This puts you at an advantage to many corporations, who are often too concerned with making a safe play than to seize the next big opportunity.
- Leverage your flexibility. Bureaucracy can stifle innovation, and it can also make it tougher for companies to respond to the market. At a large corporation, a new idea might have to go through several layers of approval before developers are even allowed to start working on it. In the time it takes them to get off the ground, you may be able to pre-empt them with a similar offering.
- Develop partnerships. It tends to take much longer for large companies to agree on partnership terms with other players, whereas you can start working right away with partners who can help advance your progress. Being an indie app developer means that you are a part of a very large community of highly motivated, talented people. Rely on them! (more…)