Our app is user content driven and news-based. We want to simplify the user experience as much as possible, to ensure that a higher percentage of new users are easily on-boarded and exposed to our content and features. From an investor's perspective, they're also interested in the general size and quality of our database. In the early stage, are we better off simplifying (or even removing) the registration process to increase new members/eyeballs, and overall content consumption - OR - stick with a more thorough, gated process which includes capturing multiple data fields upfront (such as DOB/gender/etc.) with an SMS verification. In terms of the features of the app, the mobile number is not really required. It was just included for general security purposes and to increase the potential quality of content submitted.
I guess we're trying to understand whether potential investors would value a higher user base or a smaller, more thorough database.
Try not to think of your "conversion" as a single instance in your app users experience, but a series of nodes that have no try end point. Starting with the on-boarding process after they've DL'd the app it's important to understand what your conversion funnel looks like sequentially. For example, try breaking out the content into a few input opportunities so users can give you the base-level info (and not impede signups or frustrate the process before they get into seeing the value of the app); inversely some users may want to put it all up front, so giving them an outlet to do that as a work-around to your sequenced process may be advisable. Like with most apps, it depends on the types of users you are targeting, but generally speaking try not to create too many roadblocks early on (if your primary goal is first growing total users.)
If this is a problem you have already encountered on the app then I'd seek a quick fix remedy for the time being (even as simple as some text and link/CTA that takes them off that part of the screen but refer them later to it via a message etc.) either way though there are some interesting things you can do to find the right solution(s) to this and calibrate over time - things such as doing A/B or MVT testing with your layout options, using push notifications, gamifying user input etc can all be tools at your disposal to find and solve these sorts of issues. Tying this to investor preferences too is an important (but nuanced) tightrope to walk. Other factors such as security should certainly be taken into account, the exercise here is to lay out all of these details and find ways to test/validate your assumptions and solutions. As to what a potential investor prefers, oftentimes that boils down to the individual group or person you're pitching, the context you choose to provide on your chosen path and how effective you are at providing that context. But the question you ask is a classic one in app development - do you focus on the denominator (total users) first or on the numerator (the activity of what those users are doing.) there are arguments to be made for both, but you have to think what the most compelling narrative is for your app purpose and investor audience.
I've worked with many app-preneurs to build and maintain their conversion funnels/apps and maximize UGC/engagement (as well as go on to raise about a total of $250M+ in aggregate across venture financing paths); so if you'd like to talk about any other details feel free to reach out. good luck!
My suggestion would be leaning towards the simplification of the process. Require only very basic data (i.e. email) and let the user to have a great first experience with your product without unnecessary friction. (I strongly recommend FB or Google signup makes it one-step process and you get much more than just an email.)
To build the quality of your user database, you can ask for more details later. It's always a good practice to offer something in exchange, i.e. if user has 100% profile completion you benefit them with premium feature for certain period of time. Engaged users will take action. Not-engaged users will at least look good on paper and perhaps tells you more about your acquisition activities. If acquisition part of the product funnel works, then shift your focus to on-boarding and retention.
I don't want to say that capturing more data at the beginning and maintaining quality is not a goof approach. But it's likely to require more marketing efforts (both time and money) and that is a showstopper for many startups. But if have other channels how you drive the traffic and the brand is already established, than it may work.
I hope this answer will help you. Let me know what decision you have made.
Also, please feel free to reach out.
Investors will care about the number of engaged users. Between 100 disengaged users where I know their detailed profile and 100 engaged users where i only have an email, which one do you think it is worth more?
I would avoid a police interrogatory style of subscription and go with the absolute minimum. You will always have ways to gather more info at a later stage.
As you insinuate in your question, the direction you go on this decision depends on whether you want to build a huge user base, or a highly qualified and more tailored user community.
You might consider "having your cake and eating it too" -- at one SaaS startup where I ran marketing, the conversion and traffic numbers were huge and the funnel was everything. But we asked for a lot of info up front, which trimmed the total potential universe of buyers. I advocated for breaking down the barriers to getting started with the software -- minimizing the fields needed to just an email address, so they could save their progress -- and allowing the user to see how the software works.
Once you make it easy for users to sign up and then demonstrate value, you'll establish trust, and they will be willing to give you the data you want.
So my suggestion is, consider a two-pronged data gathering / onboarding strategy (some marketers call this progressive profiling). Make it stupidly easy to get in and see how awesome the app is, but hold back a few choice features or capabilities and require incrementally more action(s) of the user to unlock those features.
Just another path you can consider. Good luck!