Alex went from learning how to develop for Android and IOS apps to earning hundreds of reviews of 4.5 to 5 stars in Google Play & iTunes in 4 months.
About the author:
Alex Genadinik is a software developer with a background in marketing, strategy, and have helped thousands of businesses started across his apps. If you are interested in getting in touch with Alex, say hello on Twitter @genadinik or check out some of his mobile business apps.
A Founder’s Story:
In approximately February 2012 I decided to learn how to build mobile apps. The phone I owned at that time was an Android phone so my first app was an Android app. The app I decided to build was aimed to help entrepreneurs plan their companies by giving structure to their business plans. I released my first app in late March. The app was terrible. It had no logo, many bugs, and many usability problems. But surprisingly enough, from day one, it began to have downloads and users, which allowed me to monitor their behavior on the app and improve the app due to the things I was able to learn from how the current users behaved on the app.
I had built consumer products in the past, and knew how lukewarm users can be. In the beginning, the experience with this app was no different. But since Android allowed me to release a new version of the app every few minutes (which sometimes I did) I was able to fix bugs quickly, monitor user behavior, and improve the app daily. As the app grew in quality, so did the general user response. In the summer of 2012, at about version 60, the app sported a healthy 4.8 out of 5.0 stars in Google Play, making it just about the highest rated business app across all Android apps.
At that point I decided to monetize the Android app while starting to teach myself how to create this app for the iPad/iPhone. By September, my first IOS app was out, but the Android app was still struggling to make money. Part of the problem was demographics. Since 50% of Android users are outside the United States, charging even a nominal fee of $1 can be considered pricey in certain countries. Thus I focused monetization efforts on the U.S., Canada and Europe. As it turns out, iOS users are a more affluent audience and my IOS apps sold pretty well even at higher price points.
By mid-Fall of 2012, there have been over 15,000 downloads and out of those 15,000 people, 5,000 of them used my apps to plan their businesses. I was able to observe business mistakes as people were using the business app. Many people had ideas that did not match their skillsets or interests. For that reason, they could not make money or raise money. There was also a very high quit rate in areas of marketing and finance because these could be intimidating topics for people who have no experience in them.
That led to the creation of the 4-app course (all paid apps) on starting a business. The app course consists of a Business Idea app, a Business Plan app, a Marketing app and a Fundraising app that all worked together. I put them on every platform I could: iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle and NOOK.
The apps work together as a course. The first app in the course is the business idea app. That app does not provide business ideas because different ideas may work for different people. Instead, the app takes the “teach a man how to fish” approach and teaches users good practices for coming up with their own ideas and avoiding common mistakes. There are many written guides on various business idea topics, and an ability to ask questions (I answer all questions) to get feedback on people’s ideas and discuss most aspects of it. The second app in the course is the Business Plan app. That is the central app in the course because the planning feature in it is made to be collaborative. People who want help can use each business plan section (marketing, finances or other) as chat with me (or any staff member in the future) and get help planning each section. This is a unique feature that I have so far not seen in any other business plan tool.
The biggest hurdle between planning and starting for most people tends to be raising money. The fundraising app has articles on what paths are available for fundraising (donations/loans/grants/investment) and general guidelines for each. Once the person is ready to get started, they need to market and sell whatever they are offering. This is where the marketing app comes in. Its articles are crafted to get the user from being a beginner to have most of the fundamentals to market their particular business whether it is a lawn care service or selling widgets online. And the key is in each of those apps, the users can get live help and have most questions answered (just not on legal or tax issues because those vary so much by city/state/country).
At the time of writing this article (Winter 2013) I can share some of my early observations regarding how the apps behave across platforms and across one another. Firstly, the least downloaded app is the marketing app because that space tends to be most crowded. The most popular app is the fundraising app because it is a fascinating topic, and people seem to always want to raise money.
Regarding platform differences, the biggest surprise is how well the Barnes and Noble Nook business apps perform. They sell much better than the Amazon Kindle business apps partially because the NOOK platform allows fewer aps into their ecosystem and emphasis on quality. For that reason, the NOOK tablets seem to have more trusting users who tend to be willing to pay more for apps. From what I can observe so far, my IOS apps out perform all platforms, then come my apps on the NOOK store, Google Play and Kindle Store.