I have created an App Discovery service that helps iOS Games get discovered by ranking apps based on their engagement & quality rather than quality. Developers have to create an account and integrate a framework in their game and I promise them free marketing via our network by showing their games to our visitors.
I supposed that should work because I am solving a real problem. That the utter lack of exposure that many devs face would motivate them to try this option out. But, it appears that, developers are very skeptical. Even though they are in general appreciative of this idea but they wont integrate unless they see HOW much value I'll give them.
Problem is, I cannot launch the site and show it to gamers unless I have a critical mass of games. And unless I dont have a truckload of traffic already coming to my site, the developers' wont come. I've tried sending emails, messages on forums, but very seldom do I get any response. This is happening, despite the fact that I have my idea validated from some knowledgeable guys in the business.
Any clues as to how to approach this?
I have around 80 signups on my beta page of which only 15 have responded when I sent them account credentials and only 2 guys have actually integrated the framework in their game. Around 4 more games are in development-mode and will hopefully go live soon.
General advice when trying to get anything new off the ground is to remove as many barriers that stop people using it as possible.
It seems your largest barrier is that you require developers to integrate with your API. So remove it.
Why do they need to do this? Can you come up with a service that would achieve the same thing without requiring any development time from your customers?
Once you have a basic MVP up and running that shows that you can market existing apps, then you can 'sell' them on an upgrade to a fully integrated framework - they'll be happier to do the time, and you might even be able to charge them for it.
I remember a strategy that was used by PayPal and some other sites as well when they came in business and become successful. Seeding and Weeding. I'll say it is legit enough to seed demand or in your case- seeding supply. See if it helps you by giving a free service and even a simple piece of code that will integrate your framework into theirs.
This is often a problem, when creating a business that needs some scale. So maybe you can ask yourself, if there is actually a way to provide value before you have this scale.
You are creating a service that should show how people engage with your app and this should give them exposure.
How about you start with the first part? Create a simple API that allows developers to track how their apps are used (triggering events, counting data collections). Then provide an analytics tool with a beautiful dashboard and comprehensive statistics.
Let them get useful data, let them define what is useful to them, for example:
So I think your MVP might be a different one, than you think. Once you have data, you can let dev opt-in to publish some of their user statistics...
Your question is phrased such that it appears you are a multi-sided platform facing the chicken or the egg problem. HBS wrote about that here.
To me, it sounds like your value proposition isn't resonating with your audience. Perhaps revise your offering. Would your product still provide value without a marketplace? The value of your app is not the market but the insight, right?
This company is kicking ass with their product. I don't work for them or anything. But I do think that how they handle their messaging works well.
I'd get some game dev buy-in and feedback as to what they think will work. Do some competitive analysis to make sure you stand out and then advertise the hell out of it.