In 2009, Apple famously declared, “There’s an app for that!” By 2016, media outlets were proclaiming, “There was an app for that… and thirty failed startups!” Nearly seven years have passed since Apple’s iconic slogan, and the app landscape has become saturated. Why? Because aspiring entrepreneurs have been indoctrinated to believe it’s the only path to success.
I’m here to debunk that notion because I’ve been through it. The app gold rush is long gone, and I successfully shifted gears to bring an exceptional product to market.
Like many ambitious college sophomores, I attempted to launch an app with two individuals I met at a local Startup Weekend. Our grand vision was to create an anonymous-based, photo-sharing app tailored to college campuses, destined to revolutionize the tech world.
But it didn’t. We found ourselves investing more time in innovation than actually creating the product. How could this non-profitable app gain traction? We had no answers, so we eventually abandoned the project.
Two years later, while sipping my mom’s oddly named wine, inspiration struck. What if we labeled an alcoholic beverage “Sechs” and marketed it to college students like myself? Remarkably, Sechs (spelled as such, in line with our German counterparts for the number six, and pronounced exactly as it sounds) was available for trademarking as an alcoholic beverage.
I brought the guys from my previous app venture on board, and a business was born. A year later, we’re on the shelves at Ohio State and Ohio University, and soon to be at a frat party near you.
Transitioning from developing an app to creating a consumer product offers a notable advantage—it spares you from reinventing the wheel at every turn. Virtually any question we encountered while building our company had a straightforward answer, just a Google search away.
For tech startups, challenges that can require months of whiteboarding, like, “How do we monetize this app?” were refreshingly simple for us as a tangible product-based company: create a product, sell it to stores—simple.
Starting a business in one of the most regulated industries in the United States wasn’t as effortless as I may imply, but the beauty of determined entrepreneurs, who persevere where others falter, is that we find solutions.
I’m not suggesting you abandon your tech entrepreneur journey; quite the opposite. I encourage you to step off the well-trodden tech path and spend your resourceful energy on launching a business the traditional way.
Throughout history, humans have built businesses, brick-and-mortar style. So, give it the good old entrepreneurial try. Begin by revisiting the fundamentals, create something you’re passionate about (I was passionate about beer in college), and perhaps challenge age-old theories. For instance, does sex sell?
If you ask me, I can unequivocally confirm that it most certainly does.