Many tech startups specialize in mobile applications. In the process, they assemble a team, do MVP, test various interfaces, and, of course, make mistakes. Entrepreneur Azganush Misakyan is now creating the Improve fitness app targeted at US residents. Azganush Misakyan spoke about how demand testing, investor search, and user behavior research take place in her author’s column.

 Azganush Misakyan is an entrepreneur and co-founder of Improve mobile fitness app. 6 years in business, founder of the school of airbrushing in Moscow, creates her own network of conceptual exhibitions and museums Fundora in the United States. Here are the key things she considers when creating a mobile app.

The Search for a Business Idea

The idea of the fitness application project came to mind after we visited America and realized how difficult it is to keep the body in shape here. I am one of those who enjoy doing yoga and regularly go to weight training, and I pay a lot of attention to my health. Living in Moscow, it was easier to maintain such a regime: a different culture of food consumption and fashion for healthy eating. In the country of fast food, to find healthy food is not an easy task when faced with plenty of sauces, fried and greasy food, and huge portions.

Obesity is a problem for the entire US population. Looking around, and you see not just people who are overweight, but those for whom it has become a health scare.

We’ve seen that, for all the diversity in America, it doesn’t work for everyone. “Why is it so?”- this was the question, the answer to which we wanted to find. We have long wondered whether in America an application like the Russian one will be popular: with intensive circular workouts for rapid weight loss. To test the hypothesis, we decided to conduct a study, taking the first step to creating our project Improve.

How She Started Creating the App

When starting a business, you first need to analyze the market you are going to enter. It is necessary to understand whether the product will be relevant and whether the audience needs it. We followed a simple path: we created an online survey on SurveyMonkey, selecting as a focus group a thousand women who suffer from being overweight and want to fight it. We saw them as the target audience of our project.

The result caused both sympathy and horror. To the question of the quiz about why a person wants to lose weight, many answered: “To run with my young children. My weight only allows me to walk next to them, but even feel shortness of breath.” As a result of the survey, it turned out that our target audience is not able to immediately take on a huge load. Its representatives need a special, gentle training program, suitable for the needs and characteristics of the body. 

We decided to focus on personalization, so that by opening a mobile application, a person can create an individual program for himself. Someone wants to do yoga and loves a relaxed, slow pace, someone likes effective cardio, and some like to do a heavy workout. Receiving photos of the clients, their parameters, age, weight, as well as preferences, the application itself will determine what the user needs.

Our fitness app has long been under the working title Fatburnmania (“passion for fat burning”). We even released a prototype under this name, but then we explained that the word Fat (“fat”) – is very rude and offensive to Americans.

We did not want to resort to the services of expensive branding agencies, so I just downloaded the book by Sergei Malaykin, “In a word: A book for those who want to come up with a title”, and started looking for answers there. I did the exercises in the process of reading, but the title never came. Then suddenly, when I was thinking about how to make the app even better, the name Improve came up, which means “improve”. It fits perfectly into the concept of improving the human body.

After that, we had a long time to choose between two options Beshape (“be in shape”), which suggested one of our friends, and Improve. As a result, our customers decided what kind of name it should be. We just did a survey on Instagram and they chose what they liked best.

The first version of the application was developed by the outsourcing team. With them, we smoothed all the bumps, as the application was created twice as long as planned. And MVP (minimum viable product) we received only after 4 months. This was probably the most emotionally difficult stage. But in the meantime, we conducted surveys, tested hypotheses, prepared content, and continued to study the market.

Test Time

In creating your own application, there is another important step that is worth investing in. This is beta testing.

The main task is that, based on selected programs for the focus group, which is now using the beta version, the machine understands the mechanics of work.

Now, in our application, there are several parts. Workout of the day: daily users get their workout, every day a new one. We are still testing this model and collecting feedback from users on it. In this part of the application, each exercise is given in a video recording format. We also have paid content, which includes selected meals, tasks, prizes and challenges between participants. It is based on the principle of video task + meal plan for the day + training + report. Now we are running our free product, while simultaneously testing the “premium” on a test group of users (closed).

The next step will be the introduction of another group of users, where we will track the behavior within the software, for example, how often users quit training.

The devil is in the details. Thus, checking every detail, we will be able to bring the application to a perfect working state, in which it will be ready to scale. I think that we will launch our application by the end of October-then you can fully use not only free, but also premium access. We expect to monetize the project by subscription – $4.99 per month.

Where to Get Money for the Project

At the moment, we are investing our own funds in Improve (about $ 50,000), but after the beta test, we are going to resort to the help of investors. I held many meetings with potential investors who were acquaintances of acquaintances or whom I accidentally met at events. Networking in America is everything.

The peculiarity of financing startups in the United States is that it is not entrepreneurs who fight for funding, but investors to invest in a cool case. Especially if we’re talking about a tech startup. There is even a myth that if investors do not knock on your door with an offer to invest in development, then the project you are doing is not so good.

In America, there are a huge number of funds and accelerators, placing in which you can get investments in the project. Yes, novelty and relevance are incredibly important, but if you have them, then there will be investments.

It is difficult to get into the most famous accelerators Y Combinator and 500 Startups, but having done this, you can find investments on fairly favorable terms. For example, $ 150,000 for 7% of your startup. Not bad in my opinion. The main thing is to create something new that is different from others so that people want to invest in your product.

We plan to participate in the accelerator, because for us it is more of a reputation story. This will help us get to know more about major investors. In addition, if your startup is located in one of the local accelerators, which is quite difficult to get to, this already says a lot about your project. The media begins to write about it, larger firms are interested in it. We are creating our fitness application with the goal of its further sale. Planned investments that will be necessary for scaling – from $ 500,000.

There is a little life-hack on the topic of communication with investors in America: don’t be too impulsive. When sending a request to a person, remember that here both parties communicate with each other for a long time before starting to cooperate. So first ask for a personal consultation with someone you want to attract in the future. We are not in a hurry to choose any one investor quickly. Investment for a project like ours is not only about money, it is also about connections, partnerships and other benefits that an investor can give.

Instead of Summary

In America, there are simple rules, given that you can create a really strong project. It is, in principle, universal and applicable in many countries. Let’s once again walk through the algorithm of actions for the implementation of the startup of your dreams.

First, do market analysis and make sure you’re not reinventing the wheel.

Second, find the target audience to whom your project would be interesting and ensure the relevance of your idea.

Third, to conduct beta testing and identify weaknesses that can be revealed when scaling up the project.

And, fourth, if the first three points are successfully passed, feel free to go in search of an investor!

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