A while back I crowd-funded my first app and launched it to a hungry niche. I barely had enough money, no knowledge of coding and no one to help guide me on this new journey. Over the course of six months I successfully launched an iPhone app I was proud of and new would help a community looking for a new resource built just for them.
The app was named ManagR would was to be the first ever application built to help the hundreds of thousands of small lawn care companies manage and grow their businesses. The first version of the app allowed them the schedule their days, create a customer data base of clients and know who still owed them money. The next version was already created in my mind and would allow our users to create effecient routes each day depending on which clients they had scheduled. Everything seemed amazing and I was on top of the world, until iOS 7 came out.
With around $5,000 invested in the app, $2,000 of my own personal money and left with a merely 42% equity in the project, things went south quickly. iOS 7 ment our app needed to be updated, I’m no programmer so the coder from our campaign was contacted (He also had 10% equity). He stated how he needed to be paid to update the app, at the time I was furious. I mean, we were so close to breaking even on the investment and then becoming profitable. I had no team…… Looking back now, I cannot believe how made at the programmer I was. He deserved to be paid for his time and work but I was completely out of money.
No return on our investment and a few years later brings us to this post. My goal here is to share my experience in crowd-funding and launching an iPhone app. Remember, I failed and never turned over a profit so take this post with a grain of salt.
Maintain Your Code
I cannot stress enough how important it is to truly own your code. Because of the platform I used for crowd-funding and development, I have never seen the code and they will never release it to me. Because of this, I am completely out of options and locked out of ever updating and fixing ManagR. Get your own developer account and launch from there.
Crowd-Funding Is Great But Can bit Your Ass
Because of crowd-funding I was able to see my idea come to life and launch my project. Without it I would have not achieved my goal within the time frame. It also meant me only getting 42% equity and payout on the profit of the app. This would never be a problem if the app was doing hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue, which it wasn’t. Because of the whole situation, I have yet to see a dollar from the app sales. Crowd-funding is great for large projects you realistically expect to bring in a ton of revenue and don’t mind taking home less than half.
Know What Your Market Needs
I knew I wanted to launch an app that year and I didn’t care what it was or who it was for. Because of this, I picked a group of people who owned businesses and would be willing to pay premium for something that helps them. I randomly chose the smaller lawn care business niche and went to work. I had no clue what they needed because i’ve never ran a lawn care business. So, I called, messaged and emailed everyone I could find to ask them their biggest pain points (Stole this from Dane Maxwell and The Foundation). Eventually I figured how much paper they were using to run their business. It took them time to type everything up and print it out for each day. Sure there were plenty of business solutions for them to use but they were to complicated for their specific application.
I landed on the idea of what ManagR would be and asked their opinion and what they would be willing to pay. I also asked what features they liked, hated and wanted. Eventually created a solution they actively asked for. Because of this, I was able to launch an indie application and charge anywhere from $4.99- $9.99 per download.
Launch To A Hungry Audience
Because of my efforts and networking before I even begun raising funds to build the app, I had a small targeted audience of users waiting to pay for the application. I created a simple landing page using Unbounce.com and began collecting emails. I wrote guest posts and got the word out. When we were reading to launch we had a couple hundred people ready to go. Although it was a smaller conversion on purchasing the app.
Split Test Everything
This is something that I wished I knew more about at the time. Split testing was incredibly easy to use with Unbounce, I just chose to be a complete dumbass and not use it to my advantage. Test everything from design concepts, pricing and even name. The more split tests you run, the better chance of success you will have. Split testing should be done before you begin building your app. Create mockups of your apps, then design a few of the pages users would see. Make a few variations you like and begin testing with sign ups as your conversion. Eventually you will have a blueprint for a product you know your audience wants. No more guessing and hoping for the best. Take your new data and build the best version of your app from the first launch to an audience eager to pay you.
What happened to ManagR? My app is currently sitting idle on the marketplace with terrible reviews from users who expected a working product. Because I have no access to the code or the developer anymore, it is lost among the other forgotten application that were never updated for newer versions of iOS. It saddens me that something I created is going to waste and not delivering a solution for the very problem it was created to solve. canva
Building and launching ManagR was a great experience. It was also an expensive lesson, one that I would do all over again if I had the chance. I have never wanted to experience the “what if” feeling. If I want to experience or try something new, I do. I will and have failed but it is all worth it. If I ever decide to build an iPhone app, I have enough knowledge to do it right this time and increase my success.
If you have any questions about crowd-funding or launching iPhone apps, please comment below and I will answer to the best of my knowledge.
To your success,