My App Has Come Full Circle . . . What does this mean? Well for me it means my app is under review for submission to the Apple App store once again. Tediously slow.
Not the same app, but a greatly improved version of it. You see the journey started nearly 5 years and 8 months ago when the Apple iPad was first released . . . One of my best friends was in the hospital about a month later with a medical condition which caused a serious speech impairment. He couldn't speak, or more accurately his voice was so weak it was nearly impossible for anyone to understand!
I had the great idea of making an app to speak for him on the iPad, so all he had to do was press some buttons with words on them. My first attempt failed, or it barely worked, but I got some needed help by a new business partner, who re-coded the app while I reworked the UI design and we continued improving the app until it worked well enough for us to communicate with my speech impaired friend, who by now was transferred to a convalescent facility.
We tested again and it worked well. I made a few minor improvements to the design and at that point we decided to put the app in the Apple store to help other people with speech impairments.
Later I bought out my business partner, and decided to code and develop a modified and improved version of the app for the Android market myself. I even produced a simplified Amazon Fire version and a full blown Chrome Web App Browser based version which takes payments from PayPal. So in a general way, “I Finally Created My Own App Store” as well . . .
Setting up your own app store is not as easy as you might think. Yes e-commerce has been around for a long time in internet years as well as PayPal. But you have to realize a few things:
People are now use to going to the app stores, Apple and Google, rather than going to a private provider store for software apps. It is not just a trust issue, habits have been formed. Some of the customers are not use to using a web app with a login and password that is sold through a payment shopping cart on your website, sent to their Paypal email address, but some are, and some have to be reminded of it, even when instructions are clearly spelled out on the website. I did it this way, because people still know how to use shopping carts to purchase software access, but my experience has been that you need to sell access forever. A yearly renewal fee doesn't sell well for my kind of software.
Because you have to give access forever, this can be an issue if you don't design your app correctly and you get too many hits to the website, whether or not you scale in the cloud. The cost can be offset by new features bringing in new customers, but eventually you will have to raise per unit cost to scale financially and cover hosting. It is best to have a diversity of app types, native apps, hybrid apps and pure web apps. Everybody has a different need and device to support.
That's it for now. I'll post more as a learn more about what works and doesn't. I'm sure it is different for different types of software apps and customer audiences, you will have to figure out what works for you by trial and error, as I did.
The cost margin using Paypal is significant enough (~33% savings over conventional app stores) that I am surprised more people haven't tried this sooner? Maybe they have and I don't know about it, they may have failed, or it's a well kept secret?! Or maybe, just maybe I'm ahead of the curve. Only time will actually tell.
Please play the audio narrative above for this blog article. Recorded by Michael McAnally on the morning of Nov. 22, 2016.
I'm writing this post early in the morning, in fact a little after 4 am on Thanksgiving day. I'm up worrying about the start-up, about our team, about how we are going to bootstrap this thing?! Maybe I'm not cut out to be a founder? I must push it back, tune it out, move forward anyway, for I need to set a good example for the others.
It's been about three months and we are in stealth mode, so I can't talk much about specifics. We have made progress, there our four of us on the team now and we are answering many of the necessary questions. We are beginning to get some traction with our value proposition, business plan and even technology architecture and prototype refinements are progressing. We have the added difficulty of having to manufacture an IoT hardware component for use in our business model.
Admittedly we are progressing much slower than desired, but considering we are doing this with no fuel but our own sweat equity, not really bad at all. Coaching my self again, I really need to keep prospective and remain positive. The team has finally gelled and we are thinking of adding others! They will bring their own dynamic energy to the mix, both solving and creating new problems.
It has not been easy or effortless. Anyone who thinks that putting the word founder or co-founder after their name just to sound cool, should really think again! Sure it's exciting to be creating something really new and different, but very hard as well. At this time If I were to offer advice on whether to build a new start-up . . . I would have to encourage you only if you have the necessary fortitude and determination, and dissuade you if you do not.
Well that's all for now, thanks for reading my blog, I have include some helpful essential links for your founders journey.
Listen, I ride the technology waves as much as any other futurist, sci-fi reader/blogger, dreamer and prediction geek, but you have to get real, and "realize" that new technology doesn't live in a bubble, it's constantly being hyped and poked by the media. That's their job. Sometimes they are to blame, sometimes not.
Things are sensationalized, hence "The Peak Of Inflated Expectations", then the depression that follows, "Valley of Disillusionment" when it doesn't seem that technology delivered on its promises, example Google Glass. It wasn't technologies fault, it was our expectations! Something like Glass will be a success, it just hasn't arrived yet. I pick on Google, why? Because simply that one is just too perfect an example.
This article might be better titled "What Have I Learned About Building And Profiting From Apps?" The simple answer being it's not as easy as you think! Having a good idea for an app does not make a successful profitable app. You need much more.
Let's take a specific app in case like my app, "Touch Voice". One I have actual real world data on. That's not fair you might say, and you would be absolutely right. My app is not a game (although I have coded some in the past), it's not a social networking app, its not IoT, it's not popular, or even average. I can guarantee you that you have never even heard of it. Although, I'm still going to use it as an example anyway and you should thank me for that.
It basically has grossed over 26,000 dollars in 4 years. Not really great actually, but believe it or not it is better than the average for most apps... Not counting taxes and operating costs, and the simple fact that it has actually put me in some credit card debt, which I'm not going to say just how much. Is it a successful app? Probably not by most standards, but I still think so personally.
Let's face it. Like it or not, most apps usually fail. Ask yourself, how many people do you personally know with a successful app? Then again, ask yourself how many people do you know who have written some app more sophisticated than a simple "hello world"? Spare me, don't try to tell me your get rich quick app idea, I don't care, I've heard them all.
Remember the saying, "There is an app for that!" Well, "there is also a million idiots out there who think they have a good app idea!" You can actually quote me on that one. So why do I think my app is successful? Here is why . . .
Graphic taken from The Economist, "To fly, to fall, to fly again", Issue July 25th 2015. Fair Use.
Silicon Valley is under stress. When is it not? You say.
Well the type of stress has changed. A few years back it was about finding a job in an economically challenged economy.
Now its about finding and keeping a job in an economically accelerated economy. With people questioning whether the "Tech Bubble" is just too big or is about to "POP!" (more likely a series of them, when it comes), with rents at the price of previous mortgage payments, and mortgage payments in the stratosphere, that is sky high! One million dollars for a one-and-a-half bedroom condo? The facets must be only gold plated then, with a robot parking garage and no concierge. How very terrible for you.
I can see clearly now, with my eyes the number of cranes on the skyline, which have doubled and now tripled. There are less parking spaces (thank you city supervisors) and more people needing to park. What about the green bike lanes and red bus only lanes? Some of our streets are just too damn narrow for both cars and bikes, not to mention pedestrians and construction everywhere. Injuries and fatalities can only be up, please be careful out there.
Greed is a motivator and many people are looking to cash in on the economic upswing. Many of the younger people, who are migrating here from another country, H1b, or just from a middle American state, are finding the Bay Area way too expensive to live in. Those tech companies and venture capitalists offering those high salaries and high valuations are clearly driving this change.
What am I complaining about? This is a good thing right?! It is better to have an economic boom, than bust, right . . .Well it depends on who you are and what your situation is, as it has always been the case. Not to quote Spock, but statistically, the greatest good, for the greatest amount of people, over the greatest period of time.
I think back to the last Dot.Com Boom and Bust, and whatever this one will ultimately be called . . . It devastated me, I was making the most I had ever made in my life, working so hard I could barely see straight. Playing hard too!
Maybe that's why I couldn't see straight? When the layoffs came, yes rounds of layoffs! I stupidly hadn't saved any money. Thinking it would just keep flowing, and if I lost a job, my skills where good, I could just get another one quickly.
Submitted by Michael McAnally on Sun, 07/19/2015 - 10:35
I'm sitting in the Alan Turing room at Noisebridge hackerspace here in San Francisco, CA writing this post. That explains the den of hackers reference in the title. But before I explain the Edward Snowden reference we need to get a few definitions straight, and a few stories need to be told.
Now first, the definition of “Hacker”. The definition is much more nuanced than common knowledge. For example, you probably think from recent stories in the news, its about someone, an individual, possibly some malcontent, or some countries elite group of security coders stealing your credit card information as you shop at Target or WallMart. That may be true for some hackers, but definitely not all, and not the majority in my experience.
For some the badge of hacker can be worn proudly, it can mean someone who is a genius at computer technology, who comes up with out-of-the-box ways of thinking, of ways to do something so differently, so disruptive (but in a good way), it makes others stop and think . . . Why Didn't I Think Of That? Or WOW, That Really Works! What A Cool Idea! In fact, in the old days I would have classified Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, both as hackers, among other things.
A hacker can be a maker, an entrepreneur, a writer, teacher, many things. Just understand that the definition itself is not always negative, and we are not always out to steal your credit cards! Some of us are even figuring out more secure ways of transacting electronic commerce, bitcoin exchanges, etc.
So suffice it to say I have opened your mind to a larger definition of hacker for a moment and lets move on . . . Hackerspaces, What Are Those? I thought that was only Chinese Internet Cafes, you say.
Entrepreneurship, Silicon Valley DNA, Globally, Locally and in Space. Virtually anything to do with relevant current (sometimes historical) all things, all going on about, how entrepreneurs are doing good! And sometimes those doing bad, when I feel like making it known.
Michael McAnally talks about how to be an entrepreneur in a series of videos recorded very ad-hoc and unscripted. Straight from the mind with a lot of aahhs in speaking.
I'm looking for real stories of silicon valley, start-ups, locally and globally, contact me (advertisers unwelcome), if you have a story you want to tell or if you would like to be a writer of stories for this magazine, we don't pay to start, but you never really know where this could lead . . . How exciting is that?!
Silicon Valley is hot right now, there even is a HBO series by the same name, but this site is about real stories, not made up ones from some script writer in Hollywood. More interesting anyway, in my opinion. And if you don't already know, telling a real story with passion can actually boost your business up, as well as any advertising $'s can, and its a whole lot cheaper.
Submitted by Michael McAnally on Sat, 07/18/2015 - 08:06
I was interested in learning how to sew, something my mother never taught me, mostly because that wasn't something boys learned back then. My father taught me how to take apart a car engine, and put it back together again, but I never learned how to sew.
So when I met Kyle Ng, you can understand why I was fascinated by his work, and it lead into this nice segment about Local Entrepreneurship.
Purchasing goods made locally, can really be good for the planet earth, because materials are not being shipped half-way across the world, just to take advantage of cheaper labor. Kyle has designed some innovative products, hand made with quality. You can check it out on his website at OuterShellAdventure.com
Submitted by Michael McAnally on Mon, 06/15/2015 - 14:27
I'm sitting in Cafe Venetia, an Italian cafe in one of the most powerful and influential technological cities in silicon valley, on one of the most upscale streets of Palo Alto California, University Avenue, waiting to meet Ann Bradley, the blogger and writer of “The Silicon Valley Story” for coffee.
Ann, and I are following up to our first encounter over a year ago at a bitcoin meetup, which I randomly walked into. She arrives with a bike helmet and bag, having parked her bike on the sidewalk outside. We exchange pleasantries and she gets settled in at our table, with what looks like a lovely cappuccino. I glance at my phone to notice that I have only 1.5 hours left on a blue zone parking spot for my car. See says parking is free in downtown Palo Alto, but I don't want to get a ticket.
In a very eclectic and thrilling roller coaster ride of topics, our lively conversation waxes back and forth across subjects such as: degrees of Snowden, the CIA and PRISM, Pebble vs.the Apple Watch, What to do?, the Metaverse, Ray Kurzweil chief engineer at Google, exporting Silicon Valley DNA around the world, my indie comic book, and universal consciousness and the plot of the recent science fiction movie Ex Machina.