New Startup? Think Twice About Mobile First

Since Fred Wilson wrote the original post about “mobile first” companies nearly two years ago, there has been a large uptake in this philosophy. In general, this makes sense as internet usage is moving rapidly off the desktop and onto mobile devices. Every day more new services are being developed that are truly “Mobile Only” where their web presence will always be relatively minimal (Uber, Hotel Tonight, Instagram, etc.).

What concerns me are recent articles encouraging companies for which a web presence is part of their near term strategy to launch “Mobile First, Web Second”. I disagree that this is the right model unless there is some core part of your company’s value proposition that you can only prove on mobile. At Lookcraft we believe that the future of shopping is primarily mobile (particularly tablets), but we’ve consciously chosen a “web first” strategy. The reasoning behind this is simple, mobile development is still slower than web development by nearly an order of magnitude.

When you’re working on an early-stage startup your number one goal is to find product-market fit. If mobile is not a core part of your company’s value proposition and you are spending precious development cycles working on a mobile app instead of a website you’re severely limiting your product iteration cycle and its going to take you a lot longer to find product-market fit. Sometimes “mobile first” is the only strategy that makes sense, but until mobile development speed catches up to web development (Companies like Parse are doing a lot towards making this easier, but the industry still has a long ways to go to catch web-dev tools/frameworks) you should think twice about if its the right strategy for you.

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