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Why Startups Should Focus on Mobile First

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A founder from Latin America whose mobile traffic expanded 15 times in less than two years talks about why your startup should be smartphone focused. 

By Cristian Angel Rennella (Founder, oMelhorTrato.com)

When we think of the Internet, more than 90% of people think of a computer with their favorite browser. This is totally understandable simply because the Internet was born based on that excellent combination and it continues until today.

However, the reality is, due to constant changes, that context is in danger of extinction. Based on this paradigm shift, as entrepreneurs, we should focus on where the market is heading (where our future clients will be) and NOT where they have been in the past.

An Absolute Change in Consumption Habits

Smartphones have a high speed of adoption and their penetration into the market is defining a whole new context. There’s no turning back. A few years ago, having a computer in our cell phones was simply too futuristic to be believe in the short term. Let’s make the change clearer with more precise examples.

The shift in consumption habits is such that today the success or failure of Facebook is more related to its capacity to adapt to the mobile world than any other factor. In the beginning, you could access Facebook through an installed browser in your computer. Today, one-out-of-three users logs in from a mobile device, and it’s expected that next year more people will use the application from a cell phone than from a computer (including tablets.)

This is just one example, but I think it’s more than enough to understand how consumption habits are changing. It is important to observe this phenomenon with the aim of adapting online entrepreneurship specifically to smartphones and avoid making the mistake of developing a whole new service based on a technology with falling statistics. (This includes computers, tablets, iPods, etc. and we’ll analyze why below.)

If you think that this is only happening to the Internet giants, you are wrong. This applies the same way for everyone. In these last two years of entrepreneurship at elMejorTrato.com we’ve seen how traffic from mobile devices has grown from 2% to more than 30%. That is to say, it grew 15 times in less than 24 months.

Personalization and Direct Contact Are Key

As opposed to what has existed until now, the growing world of mobile devices enables us to reach clients with direct contact, “face to face” as it’s known in the offline world. A clear example of this is the king of the Internet: Google. Previously, when searching, for example, “places to have breakfast,” the results were basically a very poor answer to your query. Today, when we use the Internet through our cellphones and search for “best restaurants to have dinner at,” the answer is automatically personalized. The answer now gives us an efficient result that generates value and is really helpful. The recommended places, their addresses, telephone numbers and even the comments of peers/friends/acquaintances that have already visited the place are all personalized.

Another concrete and current example is Waze, which informs our cellphones in a personalized way which route to a destination has the least amount of traffic. What’s more, it uses the experience and personalization of other users to accomplish this.

The BIG Differential Is Consistency

Lastly and personally, the item I consider most important is consistency.

When I speak about consistency I mean the habit of checking your cellphone more than 100 times a day. This shows in a clear and simple way how we have absolute access to the Internet wherever we are and no matter what time it is. Whereas we can’t use our computers and tablets while we drive, cook, shop in the supermarket, travel, watch a match, etc.

This consistency allows every entrepreneur to grab the attention of the potential client when and where it is needed. With this in mind, we should ask ourselves: Has there ever been in the history of humanity any marketing tool more powerful than this one? Honestly, it’s impressive. Any noise or vibration of our mobile device will have our full and total attention, which generates unparalleled potential for all of us entrepreneurs.

This totally changes the online world. In the past we had to wait until a user reached our website to offer him or her our services. Now, we can directly contact the client ourselves, for example, with last minute discount coupons on their cellphones ready to be presented in the shops where the clients already are, or with trip deals at the same airport.

We are facing a new Internet and it’s our duty as founders to understand it and to generate innovative and successful companies around it.

Is your strategy mobile first? Why or why not?

n512799654_923767_5236About the guest blogger: Computer Engineer Cristian Angel Rennella (@crisrennella) is the founder of oMelhorTrato.com, serving Brasil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia and México. He loves PHP, .NET and Ruby programming online with friends, and is a teacher at Catholic University of Argentina. He is working on new project SegurosObligatorio.com.