A startup has kicked off an ambitious project to build a mobile app in just 60 days – one that was chosen not by its own developers, but through a community.
Working out of the Kitchener-Waterloo region, Dandy is trying to meld crowdsourcing and app development together, essentially developing the apps people are asking for, says co-founder Matt Scobel.
Yesterday, Dandy announced its pick for the first app it is going to build, a suggestion from a Columbia University engineering student named Niger Little-Poole. The premise is that users will take pictures and participate in daily scavenger hunts, with the first user to submit the right picture earning “bounty” for his or her work. Right now, the app’s working title is Picture Scavenger Hunt, but Dandy has been fielding suggestions for an official name and tagline.
The app is slated to be available for iOS, BlackBerry, and Android by Jan. 6, 2014 – a tight timeframe that gives the development team of five plenty to do, starting today, Scobel says.
“We’ve been running around like mad men,” he says, adding the goal is to release the app in beta to the Dandy community on Dec. 21. And while all of that seems like a lot of effort to produce a user-suggested app, Scobel says that allows them to create apps people want.
“What we’re really doing is validating these ideas before we write a line of code,” he says. “There’s a huge problem [where] people are spending their time, their energy, their money, to build apps that really, people don’t want, or can’t find.”
Dandy chose its first app because it has wide appeal and because it’s representative of the community that chose it, he adds.
“We wanted something that anyone in that community would at least pick up and try, and see if they like it … So we spent weeks on the site getting voting, feedback, and research and getting all those angles, and really finding out if there’s something cool enough that people are really going to want to download before we even thought about building it.”
The concept of including the community in the app-building process is key, Scobel says. Not only do users come up with ideas of apps they want to use, but they also receive a portion of the startup’s revenue.
Eight per cent of the app’s revenue will go towards the user who suggested it, while two per cent will go to the users who voted on it. Another 20 per cent goes to everyone who offered feedback and suggestions to improve it. Contributors will also get their names added to the credits for the app.
It’s an unusual revenue model, Scobel admits, but he thinks it has legs. He compared it to Apple’s strategy – when Apple first launched the App Store, it announced it would be taking a 30 per cent cut of developers’ profits.
While some cried foul, Scobel says Apple has integrated credit card payments and the ability to reach a huge number of users, making it easier for developers to make money from putting out great apps.
Dandy might explore crowdfunding in the future too, but first, they want to build a strong community, Scobel says. So far, the team has been happy with how active their community of 1,400 users has been, especially in offering suggestions and feedback on user-generated app ideas.
“We want to make it easy for anybody to participate and contribute to a mobile app … Imagine of that feeling of being on a bus, or being on a train, and looking over at someone’s phone and seeing them using an app that you contributed to. That’s got to be an amazing feeling,” he says.
“We’re hoping that people love it and they come along for the ride, and we’ll make some cool apps together.”
Watch Matt Scobel explain the concept behind Dandy in our video from earlier this year.