There is never a day that goes by that someone doesn’t call to ask me if I can help them develop an app for the Apple or Android smart phone. At first it was the younger set who wanted to be a part of the “get rich quick” generation. Now I am getting calls from middle age to golden years folks who have ideas of their own. Here are some of them:
1-An app that lists the local senior centers and their activities
2-An app that gives reviews of 55 plus housing communities
3-An app that tells you “what is free” in every neighborhood in America. Such as wine tasting parties, gallery openings, open houses at museums, new store galas, restaurant previews, cocktail parties for new designers at department stores, school lectures, etc.
4-An app that lists every benefit you should be receiving when you are 65
5-An app for volunteering
6-An app that lists senior friendly bars
7-An app that lets you join others so that you don’t have to eat alone
8-An app that helps you join golf, bridge, bowling, tennis and chat clubs
I was terribly frustrated at first because I didn’t know how to help most of the people who called. I hate being put in that position. So, I spent the last few weeks researching what it takes to get started as well as being successful.
I am devoting a post to this subject, but I already know the reaction of many of the people who have called on me. “Stop lecturing me, Lois.” There are so many people who think they have a great idea and want to be successful. However, they are clueless about what it takes to get there. You can give them a blueprint of exactly what to do and they will just take shortcuts, because they think they know better. All they are interested in is someone writing a check and letting them play. When they finally end up with nothing, they blame everyone but themselves. I remember spelling out the same thing in a post I recently did which covered presenting yourself to venture capitalists and angel investors. I am not trying to be bossy. I am trying to help. Don’t shoot the messenger, me.
After many conversations with agencies and software developers who create apps, I found that they too get approached by hundreds of people every year with what they believe are great ideas. John Hobson and Phil Lockhart of Project Tiki, a developer of apps in Dallas, said that the first thing they look for is whether the people with suggestions have “any skin in the game.” In other words, if an idea person is not willing to invest themselves (around $10,000), then they will never act on their proposal. (I just spoke to another source who told me her two apps cost $80,000). Software developers who make apps get more so called great ideas a week than they can digest. Ideas are cheap. They need development money. It is very rare that they think something is such a brilliant idea that they are willing to work for free and then share in the payoff. You have to have strong proof.
Gone are the days where you show up with an idea scratched out on a piece of paper. Phil and John told me that most apps in the iPhone and Android stores go nowhere fast. Only a small percentage make money. The rest go to sleep and die because the idea people had no follow through, no promotion, no marketing money, no one sitting behind the driver’s seat making it happen. I want to underscore that creating new ideas for businesses or being an inventor as a second career when you are over 50, is very important for your mind and body. Many of us can once again experience the joys of a rewarding and productive life. Go for it! It would be so awesome to read Forbes, Fortune, or Business Week and see a whole new trend of the older generation leading the way in innovation. It is so important for you to understand the path you need to take, the monies required and the time you have to devote to these projects.
If you are now one of the people, call me. I have a much larger list of resources. This world is all about connecting the dots.
Steve and I watch Shark Tank every week. It is one of our favorite shows. As I am in the gourmet candy business, and have been in fashion in the past,( from baby, to bridal and my own
decorated collars and harnesses for dogs, inspired by my “little girl” pug named Kirby), we enjoy seeing new products on the show. Steve has a wonderful invention in theory only, and I wish I had it in my own kitchen to use daily. I’ve begged him to get it developed, because I need it, and I am sure millions of others would use it as well. But……where do you start? How do you find someone with the knowledge to help you develop your product without stealing the idea?
Of course, financial backing is the next issue. I’m sure you hear this all the time.
So, I guess I’ll just have to continue dreaming about the convenience and time this invention could have saved me……. like right now, at this very moment!