Top 3 Ways to Get Started in an App Ecosystem

Breaking into a mature app ecosystem can seem overwhelming.

The landscape is crowded, user expectations are high, and the competition is fierce. However, with a strategic approach and careful execution, it is possible to carve out a niche and succeed.

At PencilPay, we navigated this complex journey by focusing on three key areas:

  1. Identification of Core Apps,
  2. Research, Development and Integration, and
  3. Feedback and Product Improvement.

These steps not only guided our entry into the market but also helped us build a robust foundation for sustained growth and customer satisfaction.

1. Identification of Core Apps

The term ‘core application’ refers to the primary app that your ideal customer uses daily. This application is central to their business operations, handling essential tasks such as production, finances, or resourcing. 

Surrounding these core apps are smaller applications, often called add-ons or integrations, that provide complementary services not covered by the core app.

For example:

  • Specialized project management tools integrate with major CRMs.
  • Specialist tax apps tie into high-volume accounting packages.

At PencilPay, our target customers are B2B product sellers and wholesalers. Therefore, ecosystems centered around inventory and stock control were the most relevant for us. 

Identifying these core apps was crucial in aligning our product with the needs and routines of our ideal users.

2. Research, Development, and Integration

Research is the foundation of successful app development and integration. Begin by exploring the app store of your identified core application.

Investigate apps that offer similar services to understand what they truly provide beyond their descriptions. 

Determine the type of customers they attract and assess the potential for crossover with your target market. This often requires participating in live demos to gain deeper insights.

Engage with people within the ecosystem, including customers, implementation partners, and representatives from the core application. 

These conversations will help you understand specific user needs and build features that address real pain points, rather than making assumptions.

Additionally, these interactions offer the chance to form valuable partnerships, fostering mutual education about each other’s offerings.

Integration is essential for visibility and viability within an ecosystem. Ensure your app seamlessly integrates with the core application and get listed in their app store. Without integration, your app may not be considered a viable option by potential users.


3. Feedback and Product Improvement

The next phase involves onboarding customers, gathering feedback, and iterating on your product to enhance user experience and meet their needs more effectively.

A notable example from our journey is Cin7 Core. After interviewing several Cin7 Core system integrators, we identified gaps in the B2B payments space. 

By building simple features to address these gaps, we not only forged strong partnerships with our interviewees but also gained satisfied customers and compelling case studies.

As more customers use your platform, the volume of feedback increases. This growing dataset enables continuous improvement of your product, ensuring it evolves in response to user needs and market trends.


Navigating a mature app ecosystem can be challenging, but with strategic identification of core apps, thorough research and integration, and a commitment to continuous feedback and improvement, your product can thrive. 

At PencilPay, these steps have been instrumental in successfully launching our app and building lasting partnerships within the B2B ecosystem. By focusing on these key areas, you can position your app for success and deliver real value to your users.