Bootstrapping an App for Launch

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Bootstrapping an App for LaunchA rapid, low-cost, server-less approach to app


Theres never been a better time to be a developer

App store markets are over-saturated

There are over 2.2 million apps available for download on the Google Play StoreStatista

Just building a great product isnt enough

Less than 0.01 percent of consumer mobile apps are considered a financial successGartner

Doing what someone else already knows how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. But when you do something new, you go from 0 to 1.- Peter Thiel

Apps need to stand out

65.5% of smartphone users download zero apps per monthQuartz

After launch,It can take years to reach product/market fit

Product/market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.- Marc Andreessen

Prepare to pivot

Successful Tech PivotsPinterest was a mobile shopping app called Tote for 1 yearTwitter was a side-project of the podcast directory OdeoInstagram began as Burbn, a check-in app with gaming elements from Mafia Wars - and a photo featureAndroid was an operating system for cameras in the 2 years before it was acquired by Google

Monthly overhead

55% of companies will increase their content marketing budget this yearContent Marketing Institute

Apps are expensiveto make

How much does it cost to build an app?Big shops: $500,000 to $1,000,000Average shops: $150,000 to $450,000Small shops: $50,000 to $100,000Savvy Apps

How much does it cost to build an app (cont.)?Zero-frills: $9,900Full-featured: $50,100Crew

How much does it cost to build an app (cont.)?$10,000 to $1,000,000


DesignerGraphic Designer$51,360/year = $25/hourGlassdoor,16.htm

Back-end engineerRuby on Rails Developer$93,906/year = $50/hourGlassdoor,23.htm

Front-end developerAndroid Developer$84,562/year = $50/hourGlassdoor,17.htm

Project managerSoftware Project Manager$108,659/year = $50/hourGlassdoor,24.htm

Server costs

Infrastructure as a ServiceApproximately $60/month for:Small EC2 instanceS3 bucketCloudFront CDN$50/hour for maintenanceAWSAmazon Web Services

Platform as a ServiceApproximately $125/month for:Standard Plan with 3-1x dynosProduction databaseSSL EndpointWeb sockets push add-onHerokuHeroku Pricing

So how much?

Example appSocial loginUser profilesFriendshipsUser-generated contentPush notificationsGeolocationAnalytics

EstimateDesign: $25/h x 100 h = $2,500Back-end: $50/h x 200 h = $10,000Front-end: $50/h x 200 h = $10,000Project management: $50/h x 50 h = $2,500Total: $25,000


Potential Savings

Imagine if we could cut out the back-end

Imagine if we could focus on making the app awesome

Imagine if our overhead was zero,and we could scale as needed

Heres how we get there

What we often do


What we should do


MVP(Minimum Viable Product)


Back-end as a Service

Server-less is at its most simple an outsourcing solution

Authentication ServiceTraditional client/server architectureClient(s) (app)Authentication ServiceAPI GatewayDatabaseServer ApplicationPush Notification ServiceFile StorageSolution


Authentication ServiceServer-less architectureClient(s) (app)Authentication ServiceAPI GatewayDatabaseServer ApplicationPush Notification ServiceFile StorageSolution


Authentication ServiceAnalyticsDatabase

But why?

BenefitsReduced operational costReduced development costReduced scaling costsReduced operational managementReduced time to market

DrawbacksVendor controlVendor commitmentSecurity concernsRepetition of logic across clientsLoss of server optimizations

Okay, great.

Back-end servicesWith free tiers

File storageCloudinary




Real-time Push /Push notifications

Urban AirshipOneSignal


Mobile BaaS (MBaaS)Back-end as a service, built specifically for mobile apps

ParseSunset by Facebook

Host your own from the GitHub repo:

KinveyAuthorizationData storageFile storage with CDNPush/SMSAnalytics

AWS Mobile ServicesAuthenticationData storageCloud logicNoSQL databaseAnalyticsPush notifications

FirebaseRecently overhauled by Google

Realtime databaseAuthenticationPush notificationsFile storageRemote configAnalytics

Live codingLets build Instagram (Lite)

Facebook loginPost photosNews feedCommentsLikesActivity feedFollow friendsPush notifications

Firebase itty bitty photo sharing app

Create a project

The Firebase console

Add the SDKbuildscript { // ... dependencies { // ... classpath '' }}build.gradle

Add the SDK (cont.)apply plugin: ''android { // ...}dependencies { // ... compile ''}// ADD THIS AT THE BOTTOMapply plugin: ''

Available libraries

AnalyticsRealtime DatabaseStorageCrash ReportingAuthenticationCloud Messaging / NotificationsRemote ConfigInvites / Dynamic LinksAdMobApp Indexingapp/build.gradle

The data modelUserPhotoActivityfacebookIdemaildisplayNameprofilePictureUrlpushTokenphotoUrluserownerrecipientkeytextphoto

Enable Facebook login

Authenticate with Facebook// Initialize Facebook Login buttonmCallbackManager = CallbackManager.Factory.create();LoginButton loginButton = (LoginButton) findViewById(;loginButton.setReadPermissions("email", "public_profile");loginButton.registerCallback(mCallbackManager, new FacebookCallback() { @Override public void onSuccess(LoginResult loginResult) { Log.d(TAG, "facebook:onSuccess:" + loginResult); handleFacebookAccessToken(loginResult.getAccessToken()); }

@Override public void onCancel() { Log.d(TAG, "facebook:onCancel"); // ... }

@Override public void onError(FacebookException error) { Log.d(TAG, "facebook:onError", error); // ... }});

Authenticate with Facebook (cont.)private void handleFacebookAccessToken(AccessToken token) { Log.d(TAG, "handleFacebookAccessToken:" + token);

AuthCredential credential = FacebookAuthProvider.getCredential(token.getToken()); mAuth.signInWithCredential(credential) .addOnCompleteListener(this, new OnCompleteListener() { @Override public void onComplete(@NonNull Task task) { Log.d(TAG, "signInWithCredential:onComplete:" + task.isSuccessful());

// If sign in fails, display a message to the user. If sign in succeeds // the auth state listener will be notified and logic to handle the // signed in user can be handled in the listener. if (!task.isSuccessful()) { Log.w(TAG, "signInWithCredential", task.getException()); Toast.makeText(FacebookLoginActivity.this, "Authentication failed.", Toast.LENGTH_SHORT).show(); } // ... } });}

Authenticate with Firebaseprivate FirebaseAuth.AuthStateListener mAuthListener;

@Overrideprotected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) { mAuthListener = new FirebaseAuth.AuthStateListener() { @Override public void onAuthStateChanged(@NonNull FirebaseAuth firebaseAuth) { FirebaseUser user = firebaseAuth.getCurrentUser(); if (user != null) { // User is signed in Log.d(TAG, "onAuthStateChanged:signed_in:" + user.getUid()); } else { // User is signed out Log.d(TAG, "onAuthStateChanged:signed_out"); } } };}

Write to your database// Write a user to the databaseFirebaseDatabase database = FirebaseDatabase.getInstance();DatabaseReference myRef = database.getReference("user");


File Storage// Points to the root referencestorageRef = storage.getReferenceFromUrl("gs://");

// Points to "images"imagesRef = storageRef.child("images");

// Points to "images/cat.jpg"// Note that you can use variables to create child valuesString fileName = "cat.jpg";catRef = imagesRef.child(fileName);

// File path is "images/cat.jpg"String path = catRef.getPath();

// File name is "cat.jpg"String name = catRef.getName();

// Points to "images"imagesRef = catRef.getParent();

Upload Files// Get the data from an ImageView as bytesimageView.setDrawingCacheEnabled(true);imageView.buildDrawingCache();Bitmap bitmap = imageView.getDrawingCache();ByteArrayOutputStream baos = new ByteArrayOutputStream();bitmap.compress(Bitmap.CompressFormat.JPEG, 100, baos);byte[] data = baos.toByteArray();

UploadTask uploadTask = photoRef.putBytes(data);uploadTask.addOnFailureListener(new OnFailureListener() { @Override public void onFailure(@NonNull Exception exception) { // Handle unsuccessful uploads }}).addOnSuccessListener(new OnSuccessListener() { @Override public void onSuccess(UploadTask.TaskSnapshot taskSnapshot) { // taskSnapshot.getMetadata() contains file metadata such as size, content-type, and download URL. Uri downloadUrl = taskSnapshot.getDownloadUrl(); }});

Read from your database// Read from the databasemyRef.addValueEventListener(new ValueEventListener() { @Override public void onDataChange(DataSnapshot dataSnapshot) { // This method is called once with the initial value and again // whenever data at this location is updated. String value = dataSnapshot.getValue(String.class); Log.d(TAG, "Value is: " + value); }

@Override public void onCancelled(DatabaseError error) { // Failed to read value Log.w(TAG, "Failed to read value.", error.toException()); }});

Monitor token generation@Overridepublic void onTokenRefresh() { // Get updated InstanceID token. String refreshedToken = FirebaseInstanceId.getInstance().getToken(); Log.d(TAG, "Refreshed token: " + refreshedToken);

// TODO: Implement this method to send any registration to your app's servers. sendRegistrationToServer(refreshedToken);}

Receive notifications@Overridepublic void onMessageReceived(RemoteMessage remoteMessage) { // TODO(developer): Handle FCM messages here. // If the application is in the foreground handle both data and notification messages here. // Also if you intend on generating your own notifications as a result of a received FCM // message, here is where that should be initiated. See sendNotification method below. Log.d(TAG, "From: " + remoteMessage.getFrom()); Log.d(TAG, "Notification Message Body: " + remoteMessage.getNotification().getBody());}

Send an upstream notificationFirebaseMessaging fm = FirebaseMessaging.getInstance();fm.send(new RemoteMessage.Builder(SENDER_ID + "") .setMessageId(Integer.toString(msgId.incrementAndGet())) .addData("my_message", "Hello World") .addData("my_action","SAY_HELLO") .build());AnDevConService.javaIf using Firebase, sending notifications needs to be done from the server.

Launch party!

What we should do


Create a Landing Page

Social Presence

Choose a launch date

Test test test



Lets reviewCut-out over half the development budget with no back-endOutsource any server effort with MBaaSSpend less time programming the plumbingSpend more time making the app stand outOn-board tons of beta testers prior to launch to receive critical feedbackGenerate buzz leading up to launch through influencers and free servicesBring the app to market quicklyKeep overhead to zero until reaching product/market fitIterate - learn, tweak, build, test

Launch party!

Thank you!Bootstrapping an App for Launch