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Why Your Startup Needs Both Web and App Versions: Exploring the Benefits of a Dual-Platform Strategy

Author Ella Napata |

May 26, 2023

Why Your Startup Needs Both Web and App Versions: Exploring the Benefits of a Dual-Platform Strategy

In a world where the mobile revolution is in full swing, startups stand at a crossroads between success and obscurity. With over 3.5 billion smartphone users and billions of dollars flowing through mobile apps, the stakes have never been higher. But here’s the twist: the web, that trusty companion of the digital age, still holds its ground. In this article, we dive into the untapped potential of a dual-platform strategy for startups. We’ll uncover the benefits of startups that embrace both web and app versions and why a mobile-only approach is a one-way ticket to irrelevance in the changing entrepreneurship landscape.

Why Your Startup Needs Both Web and App Versions: Exploring the Benefits of a Dual-Platform Strategy

The Mobile Revolution is Here: Startups, Get On Board or Get Left Behind

The rise of mobile devices and apps has been exponential. According to Statista, over 3.5 billion people own a smartphone, and mobile apps are projected to generate over $935 billion in revenue by 2023. For startups, having a mobile strategy is no longer optional—it’s essential for growth and success.

WhatsApp, Uber, Snapchat – Mobile App Success

Some of today’s most successful startups gained fame and fortune through mobile apps. WhatsApp, acquired by Facebook for $22 billion, started as a mobile messaging app. Snapchat gained popularity through its photo-sharing app. Uber, valued at $82 billion, relies on its mobile app to connect drivers and riders. These startups demonstrate the power of mobile to disrupt industries and build valuable high-growth companies.

The Benefits of Mobile Apps

For startups, mobile apps offer opportunities to engage users, drive sales, and capture valuable data. People spend over 4 hours daily on mobile devices so that startups can gain constant access to users through mobile apps. Mobile commerce continues to grow, with over $3.5 trillion in sales projected by 2021. And mobile apps provide rich behavioral data that startups can analyze to improve their products.

Why Having a Web Platform Benefits Startups

However, while mobile is hot, the web still matters. There needs to be more than a mobile-only strategy for most startups. The web platform offers unique benefits, like more straightforward development and lower distribution costs. It also reaches users who prefer web access, especially for more complex tasks. Successful startups like Airbnb, Dropbox, and Slack have built both web and mobile platforms, using each to strengthen their multi-sided networks.

Mobile and Web are Complementary 

The mobile revolution transforms how startups build and scale their businesses. But web and mobile platforms are complementary, not competitive. For startups seeking hypergrowth, a mobile-only strategy is no strategy at all. By leveraging the unique benefits of web and mobile, startups can craft a winning multi-platform strategy to engage users, drive sales, and capture data wherever their customers are. 

Mobile is Hot, but the Web Still Matters: Why Your Startup Needs Both

While mobile apps are increasingly important in today’s digital landscape, a web presence remains crucial for startups. A mobile-only strategy must be revised and risks missing out on critical opportunities. The web and mobile platforms each have unique strengths that complement one another.

The Advantages of Websites

The web offers certain advantages for startups. Websites are easy to discover through search engines like Google, allowing new users to find your product. They can also handle complex tasks like filling out forms, making purchases, and accessing in-depth content more quickly than most mobile apps. Startups can also build responsive websites to provide a good experience for desktop and mobile users without developing separate native apps.

The Benefits of Mobile Apps

However, mobile apps provide a superior user experience for location-based services, messaging, and other on-the-go needs. They allow for push notifications to re-engage users and in-app purchases for monetization. Many consumers now spend more time on mobile apps than on the web. Not having a mobile app can mean missing out on a vast audience and revenue potential.

Startups that Utilize Mobile Apps and Websites

Some of the most successful startups today leverage both web and mobile platforms. For example, Airbnb and Uber built mobile apps to enable on-demand bookings but also have full-featured websites for browsing listings, account management, and more. Slack started as a web app but made mobile apps once it gained popularity. Now its web and mobile platforms seamlessly sync, giving users flexibility.

Craft a Multi-platform Approach

For startups, the key is not to choose one platform over the other but to craft a strategy that maximizes the strengths of web and mobile. A multi-platform approach allows startups to reach the broadest possible audience, provide the best user experience for different needs, and build a more robust business. While developing and maintaining web and mobile platforms requires more resources, the benefits of a dual-platform strategy far outweigh the costs for ambitious startups looking to scale.

While the mobile revolution is impossible for startups to ignore, the web remains vital. Leveraging web and mobile platforms is the best approach for startups to achieve growth and success in today’s digital world. 

Save Time and Money: How Cross-Platform Mobile Development Fuels Startup Growth

For startups with limited resources, developing mobile apps for both Android and iOS is an insurmountable challenge. Traditionally, building a native mobile app requires learning two different programming languages (Java for Android, Swift for iOS) and maintaining two separate codebases. This approach is time-consuming, expensive, and requires specialized engineering teams for each platform.

Cross-platform Mobile Development

Cross-platform mobile development tools allow startups to overcome these challenges. Frameworks like React Native and Flutter use a single codebase to generate native mobile apps for both platforms simultaneously. This significantly reduces development costs and accelerates time to market. Startups can build a prototype in one platform and easily port it to the other, gaining valuable user feedback to iterate their product.

Small Engineering Team Support

A small engineering team can support Android and iOS apps with cross-platform tools. Startups don’t require separate specialized teams for each platform, allowing them to do more with less. Code reusability across platforms also makes it easier to implement new features, as developers only need to do the work once. This frees up resources for startups to focus on other priorities.

Case Study – Untappd

An example of a startup that benefited from cross-platform mobile development is Untappd. The social networking app for beer enthusiasts used React Native to build their Android and iOS apps. This allowed a team of just two developers to support both platforms, cutting their costs in half compared to building native apps. Untappd was able to get their app to market faster while maintaining a consistent user experience across devices.

While cross-platform tools are not a silver bullet, they give startups a powerful option to maximize their limited resources. With a strategic approach, startups can leverage these tools to build a scalable mobile platform and accelerate their growth. 

Map Your Route to Success: How to Craft a Winning Multi-Platform Strategy for Your Startup

To fully leverage the power of web and mobile platforms, startups need a well-crafted multi-platform strategy. The entrepreneurial strategy compass is a helpful framework for devising such a strategy. It considers four key factors: customer segments, value propositions, key activities, and critical partnerships.

Define the Target Customer Segments

Startups should define their target customer segments across the web and mobile. Some customers prefer engaging via mobile apps, while others prefer the web. Startups need to determine the right mix of platforms for each segment.

Deliver Value Proposition

Startups must also determine how to deliver their value proposition on each platform. The value offered to customers may differ between web and mobile. For example, an e-commerce startup may focus on content and community on the web but streamline the shopping experience in their mobile app.

Key Activities

Regarding key activities, startups should decide which platform suits critical functions like customer acquisition, transactions, and support. Some actions may span both web and mobile. Startups should also optimize essential resources and processes for each platform.


Regarding partnerships, startups should evaluate how partners can enhance the web and mobile experience—for example, integrating with social networks on the web and mobile payment platforms on apps. Partnerships can also help startups reach more customers on multiple platforms.

Strategy Compass and Frameworks

Using the strategy compass and other frameworks, startups can make strategic choices regarding platform focus, resource allocation, and partnerships to gain a competitive advantage. Some startups may focus on either web or mobile before expanding to other platforms. Others may pursue an integrated multi-platform approach from the start.

There is no one-size-fits-all strategy. Startups must craft a tailored plan based on their vision, priorities, and constraints. With a well-defined roadmap, startups can avoid wasting resources on platforms that do not align with their key goals. 

Navigating the Multi-Platform Maze: Key Considerations and Challenges for Startups

Embracing web and mobile platforms provides startups with growth opportunities and brings vital considerations and challenges. Startups must evaluate factors such as user experience, security, and monetization model to determine the optimal strategy for their business.

User Experience

Providing a seamless user experience across platforms is crucial but challenging. Startups must consider how features and interfaces can be adapted for different screen sizes and interaction modes while maintaining a consistent brand experience. This requires extra design and development effort. However, a stellar cross-platform experience can boost user engagement and loyalty.

Data Security and Privacy

Data security and privacy concerns are heightened in a multi-platform world. Startups must protect sensitive user data across platforms with strong security controls and encryption. Compliance with GDPR becomes complicated with multiple platforms. Startups must have a well-designed security strategy to avoid data breaches and privacy issues.

Monetization Model

The monetization model is another crucial factor to consider. While some startups can use the same revenue model on both web and mobile, others may succeed with different models for each platform. For example, a subscription model may work better on the web, while an in-app purchase model generates more revenue on mobile. Startups must evaluate the most suitable and impactful models for their target users on each platform.

Multi-platform Strategy Challenges 

Implementing a multi-platform strategy challenges include higher costs, technical constraints, and maintenance overhead. Developing and optimizing for multiple platforms requires more resources and time. There are also limitations in providing certain features across platforms due to technical differences. Ongoing updates and support across platforms can be draining for startups. However, these challenges can be overcome through cross-platform tools, strategic prioritization, and continuous optimization.

With careful evaluation of critical factors and challenges, startups can craft a multi-platform strategy tailored to their business needs and growth goals. By building an agile infrastructure and focusing on core features that provide value to users across platforms, startups can overcome difficulties and thrive in a multi-platform future. 

The Way Forward: How Startups Can Embrace the Multi-Platform Future

The web and mobile platforms are evolving rapidly, and startups must keep up with trends to stay competitive. Some emerging technologies startups should leverage include progressive web apps (PWAs) and accelerated mobile pages (AMP).

What are Progressive Web Apps PWAs?

PWAs are web apps that behave like native mobile apps. They offer app-like experiences, push notifications, and offline functionality. Startups can use PWAs to quickly build an app-like experience for users without developing separate iOS and Android apps. This reduces costs and time to market. Well-known companies like Twitter, Tinder, and Forbes have already deployed PWAs.

What are Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)?

AMP is optimized web pages designed to load instantly on mobile devices. They provide a fast, smooth experience for mobile users. By implementing AMP, startups can improve user experience and search engine ranking. Studies show that people tend to abandon websites that take over 3 seconds to load, so AMP is crucial for engaging mobile users. Major publishers like The Washington Post, Wired, and TechCrunch use AMP.

How to Future-Proof an Agile Tech Infrastructure

To future-proof their strategy, startups should build an agile tech infrastructure optimized for emerging platforms. This means using a flexible codebase that can be adapted for new platforms and a modular architecture with well-defined interfaces between components. Startups also need to closely track platform trends and be ready to deploy new technologies as required to meet user needs quickly.

What is an Agile Platform?

An agile, multi-platform strategy will allow startups to innovate, pivot as needed to new opportunities, and achieve growth. At the same time, new web and mobile technologies bring uncertainty but enable startups to disrupt industries and gain a competitive advantage.

Startups Need to Embrace a Multi-Platform Future

Startups should not limit themselves to either web or mobile but instead embrace a multi-platform future. Building a solid presence across web and mobile, optimizing for emerging technologies, and crafting an agile strategy will position startups to capture new platform opportunities, reach more users, and ultimately drive startup success. 

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