February 10, 2017Startup strategies
10 min read

Tools & Sources That Help Validate Your App Idea - Part I

Tools and Services That Help Validate Your App Idea

In our previous article, we suggested an algorithm or a step-by-step approach to validating your app idea. Here it is again:

  1. Define the problem.
  2. Examine your target audience and see if the problem is relevant to them.
  3. Analyze both existing and failed solutions.
  4. Articulate one or two features that make your app stand out.
  5. Brainstorm multiple monetization opportunities.
  6. Create a landing page and see how many people are interested.
  7. Test your model through a crowdfunding platform.
  8. Build an MVP and launch it on the market.

Also, we mentioned some sources and tools previously that would be helpful at each step. While most of them are quite easy to use, it still takes some time to figure out how. This article aims to save you this time by providing instructions, manuals, and short explanatory videos on each of the mentioned sources and tools.

Steps 1-5 represent the least expensive validation stage at which you don’t need to build anything, and can get answers to most of the questions every startup founder should ask themselves. In this blog post, you will find a list of tools and sources that will help you validate your app idea at each of these steps.


But before you get down to validating your app idea with the suggested tools and sources you will need to do some preparations.

  1. This one is for those who haven’t read the previous article or have already forgotten some of it. At this point, you need no other tools than a simple sheet of paper and a pencil or pen, even though this doesn’t sound very innovative. Most likely, you already have it in mind - the real existing problem you’re going to solve with your mobile app. What you need to do here is clearly state the problem. Articulate it, write it down in a simple statement. Can you do this? If you can, proceed. If not, just stop right here and think twice.
  2. For this research, we will use the example of The Everlast Notebook, a startup app that has already raised funds on Kickstarter. The problem the app solves is all-round accessibility of handwritten notes.

You might find a lot of data during the validation process which will be hard to handle. For this reason, we suggest you organize the data in a table like the one below.

Once you’re done with preparations, it’s time to take a look at the tools and sources, as well as, once again, validation stages. Note: almost each tool/source provides data for multiple stages, so you won’t be able to strictly follow the step-by-step approach. That’s why we decide to organize the process in a flexible form where you click on a Step to highlight tools and sources that'll be helpful at this step, and vice versa - click on a Tool and see at which steps it'll be useful.

Challenge Define and examine the problem Examine your target audience and demand for a solution Analyze existing and failed solutions Articulate one or two features that make your app stand out Find monetization model that suits your app best Tools & Sources Google Keyword Planner Google search App Store SEO tools Google trends Social media search Quora Surveys Polls MakeMyPersona Open Market Data App charts Competitor apps Monetization knowledge base No specific tool here but your initial idea,? personal experience, and data gathered Using ?the above mentioned tools.

Google Keyword Planner

What it helps you find out:

  1. If the problem your app is going to solve exists.
  2. How else people may word the problem.
  3. Similar and related problems people might experience.
  4. How likely marketers are to use related searches for the advertising purpose (Competition column).
  5. Existing fit-for-purpose commercial solutions.

How to use it:

Using Google Keyword Planner to do research on the problem your mobile app is going to solve and discover existing solutions


  • To gain access to Google Keyword Planner you need to sign up for Google AdWords and create at least one campaign with one ad (here’s how);
  • Think of how people may word the problem for the search engine and try out multiple queries. If you find many searches for a clearly stated query this means that the market exists, which certainly is good news. On the other hand, if there are only a few searches this doesn’t mean your app idea is a disaster either. The market might not even have a clue that there could be a solution - given your idea is truly new, of course.
  • We recommend organizing the results of your research in a table

Google Search

What it helps you find out:

  1. If the problem your app is going to solve exists
  2. How else people may word the problem
    • Suggestions in the search box;
    • Related searches on the bottom of search results page;
  3. Similar and related problems people might be facing
    • Suggestions and related searches;
  4. How people solve the problem now (lifehacks, tricks, unconventional use of conventional tools, etc.).
    • Blog posts;
    • Forum discussions;
    • Social media posts;
  5. Who experiences the problem.
    • Bloggers and their subscribers;
    • Forum topic starters and discussion members;
    • Social media publications authors and commenting users;
  6. Existing fit-for-purpose commercial solutions.
  7. Failed competitor apps.
  8. Strengths and weaknesses of the existing commercial solutions.

How to use it:

Using Google Search to find alternative wordings of the problem your app is aiming to solve, do research on the problem, and find out who experience the problem and how they solve it now


  • Type your search term into the search box and pay attention to suggestions and related searches on the bottom of the search results page. Among them you will find alternative wordings of the problem, as well as similar and related problems.

  • Related Searches

    Related searches

  • Once you’ve discovered alternative wordings of the problem check them with Google Keyword Planner;
  • Try different wordings plus “failed startup” as search terms to learn about who failed and why.
  • Blog posts, forum discussions and social media posts on the problem will help you:
    1. Track down users who write and talk about the problem and see what they have in common - in other words, find out who your target audience is;
    2. Discover how people solve the problem now;
    3. Learn about strengths and weaknesses of the existing solutions, whether they’re commercial fit-for-profit solutions, lifehacks, tricks, or unconventional uses of conventional tools;
  • Once you have a list of the existing solutions, use their brand names as a search term plus “review”. It’ll help you find out which of their strengths and weaknesses matter to users. Also, by using their slogans as search terms you can find more competitor apps.
Google search using Evernote's slogan

App Store SEO Tools

What it helps you find out:

  1. Alternative wordings of the problem.
  2. Related problems.
  3. Existing fit-for-purpose commercial solutions

How to use it:

Using SearchMan to do research on the problem and existing solutions

Using Sensor Tower to do research on the problem and existing solutions


  • Both tools offer a minimum trial of 14 days which is long enough to complete your app idea validation.
  • Premium features like those provided by Sensor Tower help you find more useful queries but you can by with a free plan.

Google Trends

What it helps you find out:

  1. How often people look to solve the problem, by region and globally.
  2. How the interest in the problem has changed lately.
  3. Alternative wordings.
  4. Related problems.

How to use it:

Using Google Trends to do research on the problem your app is aiming to solve


  • One sad thing about this tool is that it shows no data if your search term appears to be used rarely. Nevertheless, for a wide topic Google Trends may suggest new ideas, topics and queries related to your problem.


What it helps you find out:

  1. If you have enough knowledge of your target audience, or more research is required.
  2. Which questions to ask when building your app’s potential user’s portrait.

How to use it:

Using MakeMyPersona to determine your app’s target users


  • Provided by HubSpot, MakeMyPersona is a great tool for marketers allowing them to build their potential customer portrait, or “buyer persona”, as they call it. It can help you better understand your target audience, too. You can answer some of these questions at once, while answering others would require more research.
  • search engines, social media and other tools.

Social Media Search

What it helps you find out:

  1. If the problem your app is going to solve exists;
  2. How else people may word the problem;
  3. Similar and related problems people might experience;
  4. How people solve the problem now (lifehacks, tricks, unconventional use of conventional tools);
  5. Who experiences the problem;
    • Popular users and their subscribers;
    • Topic starters and discussion members;
    • Publication authors and commenting users;
  6. Existing fit-for-purpose commercial solutions.
  7. Strengths and weaknesses of the existing commercial solutions.

How to use it:

Using YouTube search to determine your app’s target users


  • Yes, this is very similar to using Google or other search engines. Yet people tend to forget that social media such as Facebook, Medium, YouTube and Pinterest have their own search engines that can help you find entries about the problem and how people solve it. You might be surprised with the results compared to those provided by Google;
  • Social media help you answer questions about your “buyer persona” (see MakeMyPersona).

Competitor Apps

What it helps you find out:

  1. If there’s demand for the solution you offer.
  2. Strengths and weaknesses of competitor apps.
  3. How unique your solution is.
  4. How you can make your app stand out.
  5. How your app could be monetized.

How to use it:

Using Google Play Store to find competitor apps and learn more about them


  • Try competitor apps yourself. Do they actually solve the problem? How do they monetize? In what ways do they perform better than your app and vice versa?
  • Read reviews on Google Play Store, Apple App Store, their social pages and official websites. User feedback will help you see an app solution’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Google Play reviews

    Google Play reviews

  • Read FAQs on competitor apps’ websites to see which features they pay special attention to.

App Charts

What it helps you find out:

  1. How popular similar apps are.
  2. How competitors monetize their solutions.

How to use it:

Using AppAnnie to do research on competitor apps’ popularity and monetization models.


  • AppAnnie shows you app rankings based on their popularity and monetization models. This allows you to find out how well competitor apps perform compared to each other and other apps on the App Store;
  • If you feel that AppAnnie is not enough then you may want to try similar services and sources, such as TopAppCharts and Mobile Action.


What it helps you find out:

  1. If people are looking to solve the problem.
  2. How people solve the problem now (lifehacks, tricks, unconventional use of conventional tools).
  3. Existing fit-for-purpose commercial solutions.
  4. Features desired by users, which competitor apps don’t provide.

How to use it:

Using Quora to do research on the problem and currently available solutions.


  • Search for questions about the problem your app is going to solve. If you can’t find anything ask a question yourself.
  • Use competitor app names as search terms. This might give you a clue to what features are not provided by the apps, yet desired by users.

    Using Quora to find competitors' weaknesses

    Using Quora to find competitors' weaknesses

  • Quora is the most obvious source for this data, but not the only one. Check out alternative Q&A websites here.


What it helps you find out:

  1. If the problem your app is going to solve exists.
  2. How people solve the problem now (lifehacks, tricks, unconventional use of conventional tools).
  3. Who experiences the problem.
  4. Existing fit-for-purpose commercial solutions.
  5. Features wanted by users which competitor apps don’t provide.
  6. If there is a demand for your app’s unique features.

How to use it:

Using Google Forms to do research on the problem, target users and existing solutions


  • Using surveys only makes sense if you have a questionnaire prepared. This certainly requires some effort because if you have too many questions people are unlikely to participate, while too few questions won’t gather enough data. Also, your questions should be very clear and have no multiple interpretations. Easier said than done, right? This guide will help you;
  • Use surveys only after you have collected enough data with Google Keyword Planner, Google Search, App Store SEO Tools, MakeMyPersona, Google Trends, Social Media Search, Competitor Apps sources, and Quora;
  • Once you have your “buyer persona” built look for your target audience on LinkedIn and reach out to them with your surveys on Google Forms and/or SurveyMonkey;
  • The final step here is processing the results to represent data gathered in a comprehensive form. We suggest using Excel for this purpose.


What it helps you find out:

  1. If the problem your app is going to solve exists.
  2. If users are satisfied with how they solve the problem now.
  3. Which app is the best among those that solve the problem.
  4. If there is a demand for your app’s unique features.

How to use it:

Using polls on Facebook to do research on the problem, the target audience, and current solutions


  • Once you have a vision of who your target audience is, find which Facebook groups which they belong to and create polls there. Your questions are:
  1. Do you experience the problem?
  2. Are you satisfied with the way N app solves the problem?
  3. Which of the apps that solve the problem do you use?
  4. Would you rather switch to an app that offers R feature or stay on the N app that doesn’t?
  • In some groups member posting might be not allowed. In this case you’d have to reach out to the group administration. They might sell posting opportunities.

Monetization Knowledge Base

What it helps you find out:

  1. How likely you are to make money with your app idea.
  2. What changes you should make to optimize your app’s monetization model.

How to use it:

We don’t have a video guide here because all you need to do is read and learn from these three sources:

Open Market Data

What it helps you find out:

  1. If there is a market around the problem your app is aiming to solve.
  2. How big the market is.

How to use it:

Using US Census Bureau database to do research on your market


  • The above-mentioned sources can only be helpful if you can clearly define your industry, or type of business. As for US Census Bureau, this is required to determine the correct NAICS code for your business.

So, you have conducted your first research on the problem your app is going to solve, its target audience, existing solutions, monetization opportunities, and chances for your app to stand out. At this point, you must have already decided whether your app idea is worth further effort or if your time, energy and resources deserve better investment. If you’re still optimistic about the initial idea, or you have discovered a better alternative, it’s time to take your research to the next level. In the second part of this article, we will tell you about how you can create your landing page, test your app idea through a crowdfunding platform and build an MVP.

List of articles in Create Your Own App series:

  1. 8 Steps to Validate Your App Idea
  2. Tools and Sources to Validate Your App Idea - Part I
  3. Tools and Sources to Validate Your App Idea - Part II
  4. How Much Will It Cost?
  5. How to Make Money with your App
  6. Do I Need a Technical Co-Founder?
  7. How to Get Funding For the Idea
  8. Finding Developers for your Startup
  9. Beginners Guide to Technology

Got a ground-breaking website or mobile app idea?

Let's make it real!

Rate this article
Average rating: 5, 4 votes
Similar Articles
December 12, 2016Devvela insights

Devvela Bursts Into the Chicago's Top App Developers

Top app idea deserves being executed by top app developers. Clutch has recently named Devvela as one of the top app development agencies in Chicago, and here’s why.

February 12, 2018Devvela insights

Play to live, live to win with a new Exantra World RPG Fitness game

Meet Exantra World - a new RPG fitness game that will change your fitness and gaming experience forever.

March 25, 2016Lifestyle & mindset

Top Entrepreneurs Share On How They Manage Stress

Every startup founder is put under a lot of pressure daily. Yet top entrepreneurs have found their ways to stay calm and in control at times of stress. Some of them are even sharing their secrets with others gladly. Here’s what they say.

November 19, 2015Startup strategies

10 Reasons Why Online Businesses Still Rock

​Private breweries and yoga studios growing popularity is no threat to online businesses. Due to rapidly developing technologies and other crucial reasons they keep booming. Both new eCommerce and mCommerce startups come and go before our very eyes. What makes online business so attractive? These 10 reasons are the most obvious ones:

December 21, 2015Startup strategies

Startups That Failed In 2015

​90% of all startups fail. In 2015, we’ve seen the end of seemingly very promising online businesses. Let’s take another look at them and try to understand why they failed.

February 02, 2017Startup strategies

8 Steps To Validate Your App Idea

Most startups fail, and they fail because the ideas behind them haven't been properly validated against the market. As a technology services provider, what can WE do to prevent our clients from failure? This post sums up what we've learned from our experience checked against what successful founders say to help you validate your app idea like a pro.

December 29, 2015Startup strategies

4 Awesome Books on Entrepreneurship and Startups

There is always something to learn. And sometimes reading articles on the Internet is just not enough.

January 29, 2016Startup strategies

5 Tips On Finding The Right Development Company

Finding the right development team is one of the key challenges when building a web/mobile based startup. Our tips are based on 8 years experience as a web and mobile development company and meant to make the challenge easier for you.

November 19, 2015Startup strategies

3 Reasons Not to Implement the Strategy of Being the Cheapest

There is a widespread belief that when starting a new business you have to offer goods or services at a lower price than your competitors do if you want to carve out your niche and build up your customer base. This belief does have some basis in truth and might really work in some cases. Yet there are three things to consider before taking this road.

November 26, 2015Lifestyle & mindset

10 Inspirational Quotes About Successful Startups and Business Values

Leading entrepreneurs talking about where amazing ideas come from and values behind successful startups.

March 18, 2016Startup strategies

13 Signs Of A Failing Startup

If your startup lasts longer than it should, it's burning a big deal of time, money, skill and talent which could certainly be more useful when working on a real big thing. These 13 signs will help you to determine whether to stay persistent or put your business to bed.

November 23, 2015Startup strategies

How To Treat Talented Employees

​One day entrepreneurs becomes employers. The luckiest of them are those who managed to attract the most talented employees. But one day, when they realize what treasure is in their hands, they find out they don’t know what to do with it to make a good use of it and, at the same time, keep it.

December 03, 2015Lifestyle & mindset

13 Tips To Overcome Fear Of Public Speaking And Develop The King’s Speech

Ever heard of glossophobia? You may not know what the term stands for, but it doesn’t mean you have never experienced the feeling. Glossophobia is a common fear of public speaking a.k.a. “stage fright”. Most studies show that it has its place in the top 5 fears, and 3 out of every 4 people fear public speaking.

December 07, 2015Lifestyle & mindset

Procrastination: A Guide To Better Understanding

​Caught yourself putting off important tasks in favor of cute kitties pictures on the Internet or scrolling down the newsfeed again? Welcome to the i-will-do-it-later’s club, the place where personal development dies! We surfed the Web to find out if being a procrastinator is actually so bad and if it is, how we can cope with it.

December 11, 2015Lifestyle & mindset

Fight With The Couch, or How To Stay Productive After Work

Even if you aren’t involved into your own private business after work, you might like being able to spend your so-called free time wisely. We browsed the Web and read through forums to find out what experts suggest and what people actually do to stay productive after work. Here is what we have learned.

December 18, 2015Lifestyle & mindset

Feeling No Progress In Life And Work? Time To Look Around.

Being an entrepreneur means doing things that may seem weird, or at least unworthy to the majority. Even if you’ve found enough courage for the first step you still might end up feeling stuck, low in energy and unable to make any further progress - thanks to these people.

December 24, 2015Lifestyle & mindset

7 Tips to Cut Fear of Failure

Fear is one of the most common forces that prevent us from success. More specifically, fear of failure has power to immobilize us, to make us feel helpless and useless. But to move forward, one has to learn being able to do things despite it (getting rid of the fear completely is neither required nor helpful).

December 24, 2015Lifestyle & mindset

How To Stay Persistent

How many times have you heard that it’s important to stay persistent if you want to achieve great goals? Indeed, occasional success might bring opportunities, but it won’t bring you millions. Yet keeping on track is often easier said than done. We did a little research on the topic and came to the following tips.

February 12, 2016Startup strategies

Building A Successful Early Stage Startup vs. Creating A Disaster

Successful tech startup stories are inspiring. And even though most startups fail, the reward of starting a business still attracts many. Learn how to reduce risk of early failure and secure success.

February 20, 2016Lifestyle & mindset

Mastering These 6 Arts Will Help You to Become a More Influential Person

If influential people decide to launch a tech startup, Web and mobile development companies are ready to build their apps for equity, media rush to them hungry for details, and investors and funding crowd react like ‘shut up and take my money’. There’s certainly some kind of natural magic behind them.

April 12, 2016Tech behind startups

4 Athletic Injury Management Platforms and Their Founders

About 70% of children in the US participate in organized and team sports. More than 3.5 million kids ages 14 and younger get hurt in the process. Given these numbers, it comes as no surprise that entrepreneurs come up with web & mobile startups for monitoring athletic injuries.v

March 29, 2018Devvela insights

Hacking Instagram Algorithm with Post Scheduling

The Instagram algorithm can seem annoying but businesses have to learn to be friends with it. Scheduling posts can help achieve consistency, which is important if you want to boost engagement and grow your following. Let’s take a look at some scheduling tools that will help you hack the Instagram algorithm.

November 19, 2015Lifestyle & mindset

​Why Business Should NOT Be Priority ONE If You Want To Succeed as an Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurship is often a struggle and it means going beyond one’s limits and pushing one’s boundaries. This is exactly what makes it similar to the physical exercise, and that's why exercising should be granted place in your list of priorities close to business. Bruce Lee, instructor, philosopher, film director and founder of his own style of martial art once said, ‘If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them’. It’s clear to most of us, but when ardent entrepreneurs have to choose between exercise and work they tend to put the latter forward thinking. Here are some seemingly obvious yet crucial arguments that speak against this decision.

November 30, 2015Lifestyle & mindset

What If I Just Lack Talent?

From time to time we all experience this kind of frustration when we’re asking ourselves: do I simply lack ta​lent to get to the next level? If you find yourself in such situation it’s no reason to throw in the towel. Of course, most of us aren’t born geniuses, neither are all people we see as successful. Actually, you don’t have to be ‘the chosen one to succeed.

December 07, 2015Lifestyle & mindset

13 Tips For Procrastination Treatment

We collected seemingly most efficient practices for beating procrastination suggested by different authors.

December 21, 2015Lifestyle & mindset

How To Deal With People Who Undermine You

Whatever you do there will always be people who will be trying to undermine your self-belief. Here are 6 things that you might like to try to diminish their negative influence.

December 29, 2015Devvela insights

What Youth Athletes Have In Common With Boats

​2015 is closing in and we would like to take a look back at it. At Devvela, we have worked on several projects over the year, but two of them are especially close to our hearts.

March 04, 2016Tech behind startups

2 Free Ways to Build a Tech Startup for Non-Tech Founders

Starting tech business with no money, no technical background and no tech co-founder? Sounds crazy! And yet it can work out.

January 23, 2017Devvela insights

Shy Yet Curious? You Might Love TownSquare App Released Recently by Devvela

Devvela starts 2017 with a Google Play release. TownSquare, the new Android app released on iTunes soon after, enables connections that never could have happened before.

May 12, 2017Devvela insights

VoteSphere - Your GPS for A Complex Political World Built by Devvela

Amidst all the political uncertainty the world has been facing recently, Devvela is especially proud to present this new app that will help you navigate the sea of politics. Create your political portrait with VoteSphere, share it and see others’ spheres.

May 30, 2017Devvela insights

Make the most of Slack with Message.Pro Bot Built by Devvela

We keep on telling about Devvela's latest releases. This time this is neither website, nor mobile app. Meet Message.Pro the slack bot!

July 26, 2017Devvela insights

Devvela landed in Chicago's Top Mobile Developers of the Year

Clutch, a research company in Washington, DC, placed Devvela high in the top rank of mobile developers.

December 25, 2017Tech behind startups

Top 7 Social Features To Boost Your App’s Engagement

Looking to improve user engagement for your mobile app? Consider introducing these seven popular social media features that can be customized to your specifics.

November 29, 2018Tech behind startups

Finding The Best Mockup Tool to Prototype With

There are many mockup tools to choose from. This inquiry will help you find the prototyping app that best meets your specific needs. We will guide you through six mockup tools and conclude by presenting the best options.

Enough wasting your time, let’s
Get in touch