SellanApp launches to crowdsource the gap between concept and reality

By Nathaniel Mott , written on November 7, 2012

From The News Desk

Good ideas only go so far. Though some are able to live based on the sheer brilliance of their thoughts, most people have to take an idea from a figment of the imagination to an observable, tangible entity. The artist who can paint a masterpiece in his mind but can't manage to make a paint-by-numbers look halfway decent is doomed to a life spent in musky bars lamenting how his genius has been wasted.

This same principle holds true for people who dream up a new app. Without writing code and shipping to the App Store, the "next big app idea" is worth about as much as a flying pig. SellanApp is a platform meant to take these App Store imagineers and connect them with the people who can make their idea a reality. Oh, and there's a little bit of crowdfunding as well.

To reduce SellanApp to a cliche, the platform is what might happen if and Kickstarter met and made an app-obsessed lovechild. App ideas get posted to the service, the crowd decides whether or not they want to pitch a little money towards the app's development, and then developers vie for the job of building the product.

SellanApp has the potential to handle a lot of money. Users are pledging capital to projects, developers are getting paid, and, if the app's progenitor chooses, portions of the app's revenue can be shared with everyone that contributed to the project. It will take some time for the service to handle meaningful amounts of cash – especially since it launched just last week – but the possibility is there.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of SellanApp is the company's iPad app. Because app ideas can be hard to convey without a visual representation, SellanApp developed a mockup tool meant to be easy for people who may not have experience designing apps (read: the people likely to use the service).

After spending a few minutes with the app, which is powered by App Cooker, I found the experience wanting. The app itself isn't Retina-ready, making each element look jaggy and low quality, and working with the app was a lesson in frustration. If I were trying to build a mockup that could mean the difference between my app idea getting funded or left to rot, I probably wouldn't want to turn to this app.

Which is unfortunate, because giving non-technical people the ability to build app mockups is, to me, one of the most interesting aspects of the service. SellanApp's mockup builder has all of the right features, but the interface (which may have less to do with SellanApp and more to do with App Cooker) leaves plenty to be desired.

One could make the argument that this barrier to entry could discourage people who weren't committed enough to their concept in the first place, but that feels disingenuous. Without basic knowledge of app design and familiarity with a convoluted interface, these idea-makers can't be blamed for getting frustrated or giving up.

If the app concept doesn't require a heady explanation, or if the project head can build a mockup on his own, however, SellanApp has a lot to offer. As I've written before, the main draw of crowdsourcing platforms is starting to shift from raising money and hoping that that will solve any problems to adding extra value beyond capital, whether that's community-led product development or offering other services.

SellanApp is reminiscent of AppStori, another app development platform I wrote about earlier this week. Both services have crowdfunding aspects, and both are – as evidenced by their names – focused specifically on facilitating app making. Conceptually, however, the two services are trying to solve a similar problem in wildly different ways. Where AppStori connects people with technical know-how to people that can shape the idea and direction of an app, SellanApp takes the opposite approach and connects the idea-makers with developers.

The fact that both of these services exist shows that, despite the hundreds of thousands of apps in the App Store, app development is incredibly hard. Everyone, from the developer who can code like a fiend (do fiends code well? I hope so, or that simile falls flat on its face) but doesn't have the perfect idea to the creative person who couldn't code a "Hello world!" message, needs a bit of help.