5 Reasons Why Google’s Flutter Is the Biggest Equaliser for Women & Non-Binary Tech Entrepreneurs

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This year marks the 10th anniversary of my first visit to the United States. While I usually don’t commit to memory the dates of every country I have ever visited, my “entrepreneurial” holiday to Silicon Valley will remain memorable simply because it changed the entire direction of my career.

In late January 2012, I entered and won Startup Weekend in San Francisco. One of the advantages of winning such a competition at the heart of Silicon Valley is that you are literally at the epicentre of tech.


The entire bay area functions as a business incubator housing smaller incubators, working as one giant ecosystem designed to nurture and grow tech innovation.

To get to know the community better, I began attending meetups and various tech events. While I was always welcomed into these social gatherings, there were occasions when I distinctly felt like an outsider.


Some folks always felt the need to inform me that I would have better luck attending a business incubator for black people.

There were no ill intentions behind their words. Probably, they thought they were doing me a favour by catching me up on “how things work around here,” but such conversations always made me uneasy.

Silicon Valley’s struggle with diversity and inclusion is well-documented, and “the absence of women and minorities has been recognised and discussed at length in various documentaries and articles.”

This article, however, will have a different focus. In this piece, I intend to offer practical guidance for women and non-binary tech entrepreneurs or aspiring tech entrepreneurs who have ideas they want to release to the world.

I believe that right now, more than ever, the odds can be in your favour thanks to Google’s Flutter.


What is Google Flutter and why should you care?

Flutter, built on the Dart programming language, is a UI framework for app development. Flutter allows you to create beautiful mobile, web and desktop apps from a single codebase.

In a nutshell, you can launch your idea on Android and iPhone with the same code.

Released in May 2017, Flutter continues to grow in popularity, with tech giants like GrouponeBay Motors and Alibaba using the technology to power their mobile apps.

That said, Flutter’s relatively short existence means that its resources are not as extensive as React Native or iOS. There is also the added task of learning Dart if you want to harness the full power of Flutter. Google compensates for this shortfall through excellent documentation and a well-developed educational ecosystem which I’ll discuss later.

Though a new(ish) kid on the block, Flutter, levels the playing field for the under-served tech community members, here are five reasons why.


Minimum Viable Product

Your MVP, short for Minimum Viable Product, is the version of your product with just enough features to be usable by your customers. This methodology comes from the famed book, The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries.

The goal of the MVP is to avoid spending time on a product people don’t need or want. Instead, you validate your idea by releasing a basic version and relying on your early users to provide feedback that shapes the ongoing improvements of your app.

Flutter lets you build your app’s UI out of widgets, making it ideal for spitting out an impressive-looking and functioning MVP in very little time.

The benefit of having a shorter time-to-market cycle means that you can quickly get your idea in front of your customers and begin the process of gathering that all-important feedback. The MVP methodology has significantly contributed to the success of tech giants like FacebookTwitter and Dropbox.


User Acquisition

Before releasing my iOS MVP, I had grown an email list of around 3000 people. I had an engaged community that interacted with me through emails and Twitter. One of my core strengths is my ability to grow an online tribe, something I’ve done repeatedly and perfected over the years.

However, when it came to releasing a mobile app, I was faced with making a devastating decision to prioritize one group over the other. It was too expensive to launch an iOS and Android app at once, so I decided to start with iOS because all the popular apps were launching on iOS first.

Mobile startups like Instagram and Whatsapp started as iPhone apps and subsequently released Android versions as their userbase grew, so I figured I would follow in their footsteps. This decision would later come back to bit me, as some of my hardcore followers were Android users.

Unlike Instagram and WhatsApp founders, I was paying developers to build my app, so adding new features based on user feedback became too costly to maintain. In addition to this, I had successfully alienated a significant fraction of my hardcore early adopters, therefore limiting the initial number of early engaged users.

Launching on both platforms would have been a better strategy because it would have boosted the number of people engaging with my app, which would have given me a firm advantage when it came to speaking with investors.

The lesson learned here is that when you’re a non-techie bootstrapping a tech startup, you should overcome your weaknesses by leveraging your strengths. Never blindly follow other people’s strategies.

The good news for you is that you don’t have to choose because Flutter lets you launch on iOS and Android from the code you write just once.

As someone who hasn’t got the backing of a VC power broker to invest some initial seed money into your idea, the speed at which your userbase grows can make or break your startup.


Attracting Investors

If you don’t hail from the “lucky sperm club” and you need to hustle your arse off to raise funding, let me give you a little advice — VCs love a pretty prototype.

Don’t make them work to “imagine” what your idea will do or how it’ll work. Elevator pitches alone won’t cut it. The key here is to have a beautiful product that people regularly use.

Flutter has an extensive theme library to help you create a pretty impressive app. Through its support of Material Design and Cupertino, you can build a user-friendly, simple-to-use and visually appealing app that will attract investors.

Nobody expects a professionally designed app, but you will increase your chances of success by delivering a product that is beautiful to use. Flutter’s “widget” approach means you don’t have to sacrifice aesthetics for function; you can simultaneously add new features and implement an attractive UI.

Costs

In my case, I paid one developer to build my web app, then another for my iOS app, before eventually learning enough code to hack together a basic MVP.

What I did was not a smart move considering I was bootstrapping my startup. I invested a lot of time and money developing products that I couldn’t improve on because I ran out of money. I was severely inexperienced at the time and listened to the wrong advice.

The best technology to pick for your MVP is the one that lets you release a stable product as quickly as possible and is easy to extend as you gather feedback from people interacting with it.

Flutter’s cross-platform functionality means that you don’t need to hire different developers to release your app on various platforms.

The hot-reload allows you to easily and quickly add new features, so you’ll spend less time in development and less money too.

Another thing to consider is that MVPs require numerous iterations to get right. Paying other people to build, maintain and constantly add new features to your app is not a sustainable business model. People I’ve seen go down this path eventually abandon their idea due to lack of funding.

Flutter’s advantage is that the widget components make the learning process a fun experience, so give yourself the best possible chance of success by learning how to build your app!


Support

This final point will be your best weapon. In a bid to scale worldwide adoption, Google is currently actively ramping up support for Flutter.

In addition to the usual tech meetups, they also actively promote and support a Flutter community called “Flutteristas.” The Flutteristas is a worldwide community of people whose gender identity is either female or non-binary and is interested in the Flutter SDK.

Being in a community specifically designed to help you learn and grow will be your biggest asset in the long term.

The Flutterista’s meetups are focused on training, so this is the perfect place to keep learning and growing in your skills, as well as meeting new people.

To echo the words of John C. Maxwell, “Nothing of significance was ever achieved by an individual acting alone. Look below the surface and you’ll find that all seemingly solo acts are really team efforts.”

People remember Steve Jobs as the genius maverick that built Apple, but the truth is they’ll be no Apple without Steve Wozniak.

The Flutteristas have an upcoming meetup which I highly recommend you attend. Learn, grow, make friends and don’t forget to play nice.


In conclusion

As Silicon Valley and the greater tech community continue striving towards a fully diverse culture, more and more opportunities become available for the under-served population. Google’s Flutter and its inclusive community is a case in point.

I wish you every success in your journey as a tech entrepreneur. Don’t forget to drop a link in the comments. I’d love to see your “flutterful” creations. Lastly, let me know if you’re interested in learning how to build a mobile app with Flutter. If I get enough requests, I’ll do a FREE tutorial.

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