Make Apps Like You Make Pizza

I was about 7 years old the first time I tried pizza. It was at Pizza Hut if I recall correctly. The moment my tastebuds embraced that cheesy goodness, my South Indian palate changed forever.

As a techie and a foodie, my brain is usually occupied with thoughts about either of the two. If I’m not thinking about tech, I’m probably thinking about food. Those two streams of thought randomly happened to cross over recently, which got me visualizing some significant parallels between the app development process and the popularity of pizza.

What Does Pizza Have To Do With App Development?

Glad you asked. I’ll get to that soon.

There are several ‘right’ approaches to making great products. I could use a framework like the double-diamond method, or cite the agile methodology to explain how this is done. But a lot of non-technical folks don’t need that kind of jargon.

That’s where the pizza analogy comes in.

If you look at the way pizza is made and why most pizzerias tend to be successful ( debatable, but let’s go with it ), there’s a lot of inspiration you can draw on. Among them, to say the least, is the ease of preparation, cost, mass appeal, and versatility of the dish.

Here are a few key takeaways

Start With Your Cheese Pizza — Your Minimum Lovable Product ( MLP )

Our good ol’ classic cheese pizza is a fantastic example of a minimum lovable product. There are so many ways you can offer a pizza, but acquiring customers starts with one dish (or a few).

While an MVP’s core purpose is to test the market and improve the product, an MLP serves to capture consumers from the beginning by differentiating early on. It’s so you don’t invest time and effort into building something users don’t want. The MVP is functional, but the MLP focuses on desire, delight, and emotion.

What you want to focus is on is creating something users will love, and leave them wanting more. While you don’t want to invest too much into your dish — organic ingredients, premium toppings — you also don’t want to serve the basic marinara sauce, mozzarella, and dough. Your MLP should result in validation of your product’s uniqueness and the confidence that users will come back for more.

People want pizza, but they want great pizza, or else they can grab any dollar slice around the corner.

Make it Social, Make it Shareable

The best part about a pizza is how well it works as a dish that can be shared among large groups. It’s the ideal meal for a casual social setting — cost-effective and easy to share.

The most popular apps belong in the social category. Either that or they have a social component to it. Two great examples are Venmo and Peloton. Sure, one’s a payment app and the other a fitness product. But what they’ve got common, and what makes them great, is the social component to it. Venmo is super popular among millennials because of its social feed, giving users an insight into how friends are spending. Peloton, on the other hand, works on creating a sense of community and shared success towards one’s fitness goals.

By the Slice or Whole Pie? Flexible and Scalable

The way pizza is commercially prepared and sold lends itself well to a flexible delivery model. The great part about this business is you don’t always have to sell the entire pie. Depending on demand, you can serve up singles or the whole pie.

Granted, not all parts of this supply chain are scalable. But the important parts are, like cooking. This framework is possible because the infrastructure in place to cook the food makes it easy to handle varying levels of demand. The key is to create a process that can adapt to changes in requirements. You can use one oven to cook 2 or 10 pies. It’s flexible and scalable. Even better, you can charge a fair price according to how much you sell.

Scalability is critical to success. In doing so, it should it be able to handle the volume, but with simplicity and speed. Not only that, but the experience across the growing user base should be positive and consistent.

Adaptable and Customizable

You can order off the menu or top it up with up to 5 different toppings if you’d like ( not recommended ) — the choice is yours. What’s important is you have the option, at zero to a small upcharge.

All great products offer the option to be customized according to a user’s preferences, without requiring major changes to the underlying platform. Keep the base of your product the same, and build options for users to change it up as they’d like.

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