Antigua born, Bronx-raised Sian Morson (below) never set out to become a tech expert, entrepreneur or thought leader. In fact, she earned a film degree from New York University. But when she moved to San Francisco and discovered that film work was pretty scarce, while the tech business was on fleek, she resumed an early interest in the latter.
Lisa M. Zunzanyika
Soon, she became the project manager at an advertising agency and began building websites for such clients as Philips, Audi and Coca Cola. Today, Morson is the CEO of Kollective Mobile, a leading mobile app and strategy company geared towards startups, small businesses, agencies and entrepreneurs. But she doesn’t just build for others, Sian made a name for herself last year when she created L’Oreal’s Generation Next Award Winner, Cast Beauty, a mobile app that recommends beauty products based on location, weather, skin and hair type.
For Sian, using technology to solve problems is something she learned, and she wants to help other African American women do the same. After all, we spend an estimated 7.5 billion dollars on beauty products a year and are among the highest users of mobile phones. Shouldn’t we also be at the forefront of mobile app beauty creation? Plus, Sian says it’s the perfect time to get in because there are less barriers than when she started 15 years ago. So if you’re thinking of creating a a winning app, Sian’s tips will help you figure out your next steps!
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When it comes to creating mobile apps, think about solving problems that are universal because success is built on solving problems applicable to large groups, not just five people you know, and not just problems faced by Black women. Sometimes it’s great to think of the multicultural community at large for maximum traction.
How can technology solve the problem that you’re trying to solve? For example: Cast Beauty used data from users and the weather to recommend personalized beauty products to customers. Give thought to the technology tie-in.
No matter what it is and no matter the amount: if people are willing to pay for it, you’re definitely onto something. That means you have a customer base right out of the gate and any startup or business needs customers.
You’re entering into business with this person, so check out their prior work and references. You want to make sure the company is well-versed in the type of app you want because there are guidelines and it will need to get approved. They also have to be able to maintain it as devices and operating systems evolve down the line, or when bugs arise.
Depending on how complicated the app is, it can take anywhere from 4 weeks to 6 months to create. If you already have the designs, it will be quicker than building from scratch.
Focus on what the app does and its users. A lot of people have what they think is the next big thing and forget the important steps. There are millions of apps in the store, so you really want to consider marketing, too; i.e how people will find it, and how well you differentiate it from other apps.
You don’t have to spend a ton of money trying to figure out whether or not an app will work. Create what we call an MVP (Minimal Viable Product), which means you spend the least amount of money on just the essential list of features to prove that there is a need for your product. If it works, you get additional capital to build it. If not, you pivot and do something else.
Do the research, find the resources and get in where you fit in. Mobile is not going away because 75 percent of Americans have phones. If someone has an idea or a niche that they see, go for it! You don’t have to have a computer science degree and coding isn’t the only option. It’s the perfect time for us and our ideas!