Does your app make us proud and/or smile ?

There are many reasons why some mobile apps take off and others do not. The team, user experience, timing, luck, network effects, speed and a lot more. 

This post isn’t meant to be an exhaustive analysis of what makes a great mobile app. 

But there are two things in particular that I’m fond of discussing with startups these days.

Make us proud

Are your users proud of their profile on your platform?

Since the earliest days, many users would add to their email signature things like “follow me on twitter @username”

To this day, I include my twitter handle in my signature. It’s way more compelling than “sent from my iphone” and i’m proud of my Twitter profile and my tweets. 

I know people have that same proud feeling when they share their Instagram or Tumblr profile with others. It makes sense that Instagram would create web profile pages for their users. Make them even prouder of their work. Here’s my profile page on Instagram for example. I like the way it looks and feels. 

You can see the same thing at It’s a social network and platform for academics and research to publish their own research without going through gatekeepers or locking up their own information. Here’s Richard Price’s profile page on that service (richard is the founder and ceo). This is a page to be proud of. He can see his stats and other cool things. He can publish his work directly. This is in stark contrast to the status quo where researcher basically hand over the copyright of their own papers to a journal and the result is that the majority of the world is unable to access their work

Having fun

Last week, I had the opportunity to have a “fireside chat” with Dennis Crowley who is the cofounder and ceo at Foursquare. We had a talk in front of the whole company and Dennis asked me a few questions and i took questions from the team. One thing Dennis asked me was why we invested in Foursquare in the first place. 

I told everyone at the company mtg that I fell for Foursquare because it was this wonderful mix of fun and utlity. I hadn’t seen anything quite like it – especially on mobile. It was fun using the app and remains that way for me every day. 

I feel the same way about Twitter’s new video product Vine. It’s a great way to share and consume videos for sure. But the thing about Vine that makes it really special for me is that it’s so much fun to create a Vine. It doesn’t feel hard or cumbersome like other mobile video sharing apps. It just feels fun to create. 

Here’s one of my first creations on Vine. Please share your Vines in the comments. You can also find me on Vine by searching for ‘bijan’. 

There are a variety of things to consider in your product plans. But I think these are two key things worth keeping in mind. 

(disclosure: we are investors in twitter, tumblr, foursquare and

Sleep on it

We all have our warts.

Mine is the desire to make decisions quickly. Probably it comes from my days in startups where time is scarce and a decision needs to be made. 

Or its just my personality. Whatever. 

It’s an area where I’ve been making steady improvements over the years. But sometimes the old ways creep up when I’m not looking. 

One of the many lessons I’ve learned is the notion of sleeping on tough decisions. If you are uneasy about making a call then don’t. Go sleep on it. Some of my favorite role models and founders are those that have the patience of an oyster. They are comfortable with the idea that tough calls need time to sort out. 

There is a tendency in life or startups to make a decision with conviction rapidly and then move on. The team needs guidance and an organization needs a path. Leaving a meeting without a decision feels gross.  Balancing thoughtfulness with a healthy sense of urgency is extremely challenging and the best do it well. 

Perhaps this idea comes naturally to others. And I’m sure there are folks with the opposite challenge: those that find themselves spinning with indecision. But if you are like me, the best answer is to sometimes take a breath, go for a walk or run, hug your family and then sleep on it. 

You’ll get to the right answer. Sometimes it just needs a little more time.

Fun little mobile shortcuts

Some of my favorite mobile apps have these little gems tucked inside.

For example, in Tumblr’s iOS app, you can swipe up from the new post button and automatically get into camera mode. It’s a brilliant, fast way to take a new photo and post to Tumblr. 

In Twitter’s iOS app, you can swipe up from the “Me” tab and get to the DM/messaging area. I love Twitter DM and use it all the time. Love this short cut. 

Got any favorite little mobile app shortcuts? Please share.