Starting a business at university: App business

Whether you have visions of creating the next Uber, Candy Crush or Snapchat, a university campus is the perfect place to trial an app...

Why start an app business?

The app market is booming. Google estimates that the UK’s app industry will be worth over £30bn by 2025 and research from Cisco has indicated that there will be around 2.7 billion smartphone users by 2018 – evidence which all suggests app demand and uptake is only going to increase over the coming years.

While there are hundreds of apps vying to get a share of the market, if you have an innovative app idea, a passion for technology, and the ability to market to a captivated audience (the student market is ideal) then there’s nothing stopping you from starting an app business.

The on-demand app industry is also growing with a vast array of different ‘Uber for X’ app services cropping up each week, delivering food, laundry and even massages to your door, so an on-demand app could be the gateway to becoming a successful student app entrepreneur.

Starting an app might seem daunting but don’t be put off. 19 year-old Young Gun Nick D’Aloisio started his news summarising app Summly, sold it to Yahoo! for $19m and worked at Yahoo! developing a new iteration of the app all before he even went to university!

How to start an app business while at university

It is possible to develop a simple Android app for as little as £500 and a basic iOS app for around £800 with the help of a mobile developer. However, if you have the technical skills to build and test an app yourself – IT and technology degrees will be ideal here – then you should be able to keep costs to a minimum.

Time is the biggest resource you’ll need to start an app business as it can take up to six months to develop an app which is why university (where free time is part and parcel of student life) marks a good time to launch an app business.

It’s worth noting that there are a number of great app building platforms such as The App Institute and Build-An App which you can you use to build a successful app but costs do vary. PR and marketing will be essential in getting your app out there. Look at ways you can market your app to your peers and enter as many tech competitions as you can – such as the Startups Awards’ App of the Year category – to raise your app business’ profile.

To start a mobile app business, read our step-by-step guide here.

Student start-up inspiration

Ben Mallett, Philip Linnemann, Si Dhanak and Alvaro Sabido

The four young founders came up with the idea for their app, Caribu, while in their final year at Imperial College London. Launched in January 2014, Caribu is a video-calling app which allows parents and children to read picture books simultaneously, even if they’re thousands of miles apart.

Since launch, the university students have been involved in Microsoft’s start-up accelerator, participated in the UKTI’s Sirius Programme, and, in October of last year, had the honour of being chosen by Apple to showcase its new iPad Air 2. Their app also took home an award at the UK Mobile & App Design Awards and has received press coverage from tech publications such as The Next Web and Forbes.

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