The App development tactics in this interview are not for everyone (but definitely worth hearing)

Today I’m featuring the kind of mobile app entrepreneur that you don’t usually see interviewed.

Instead of working hard to create an app that takes off.

Today’s guest created DOZENS of apps. and then HUNDREDS of them. He flooded the marketplace. This is the story of how he did it and what happened to his company.

Carter Thomas is the founder of Blue Cloud Solutions, which owns a collection of app development companies.

Carter Thomas

Carter Thomas

Blue Cloud Solutions

Carter Thomas is the founder of Blue Cloud Solutions, which owns a collection of app development companies.



Full Interview Transcript

Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I am the founder, the champion, the founder of Mixergy. And it is home of the ambitious, and that is worth boasting about. Today I’m featuring the kind of mobile app entrepreneur that you don’t usually see interviewed.

Instead of working hard to create an app that he hoped, possibly would one day take off, today’s guest created dozens of apps, then hundreds of them. Then he ended up pretty much blanketing the app store. This is the story of how he did it and what happened to his company as a result.

Carter Thomas is the founder of BlueCloudSolutions which owns a collection of app development companies. We’ll explore all of those companies and how they all fit in together. We’ll see how much of his model we can emulate, and we’re going to do it all as we listen to the story, thanks to my friend, Scott Edward Walker of Walker Corporate Law.

By the way, I’m going to tell you more about Scott later, but I just happened to see that somebody from my audience emailed Scott, set up an appointment with him, cc’d me, and then didn’t make it to the appointment.

Please, Scott is a good friend. You’ve got to take good care of him, and he will take good care of you. Scott didn’t complain. I just don’t like when my audience doesn’t live up to the reputation that I create for them. Carter, welcome.

Carter: Yeah, things are happening.

Andrew: So I’m looking at one of your apps here. You know which one. Let me see if I can even show it up on the screen. Do you recognize that right there?

Carter: Yeah. Coconut Craze.

Andrew: Coconut Craze. Let me see if I can show it. I got it backwards.

Carter: I know.

Andrew: It kind of resembles an app that some of us already know. I can’t do it backwards.

Carter: Yeah. It’s just like Fruit Ninja totally.

Andrew: Fruit Ninja.

Carter: Exactly.

Andrew: And is that part of your model to create apps that look a little bit like other apps that are popular?

Carter: Sort of, yeah. It kind of indirectly happened that way. In this case, for example, that was one of the first apps that I did, and I chose that app purely because that was one of the options for me. I’ll explain what I mean by that. But, yeah, to a certain extent I did go out and find popular apps. I find popular themes. I find popular game play, and then my business is built around winning models.

So I don’t necessarily try to pioneer brand new things. I try to find what works and capitalize on it.

Andrew: Okay. I know that this kind of approach brings out some trolly behavior.

Carter: Mm-hmm.

Andrew: I want to say this to the audience. You stay three minutes into the conversation, and you know where I’m going with this interview. If it’s not for you, totally fine. Reddit has so many interesting things for you to do. If it is for you, let’s get it on. I’m going to dig in and really understand how this business works. Reddit is the best place for me to send them?

Carter: Yeah, I would say it’s probably where they want to be going for sure.

Andrew: All right. There you go. You started out in Internet marketing. That also should tell people maybe this isn’t the right interview for them. What kind of Internet marketing did you do?

Carter: I was working at a startup doing a little bit of everything, eCommerce, and then I left to start my own business. And I was doing a lot of it for lawyers, and the only reason was that lawyers tend to pay a lot more money for the exact same amount of work your local flower shop would. That’s why it was. It was highly competitive. I loved it, and I tended to be able to work pretty well with lawyers.

Andrew: What would you do for them, Carter?

Carter: So I was doing websites. I was doing search engine optimization, some research stuff, and a little bit of everything. Customer management, [??] acquisition, and it was going pretty well. I liked it. It was paying the bills, but it was a small town in Maine. It was just like, what am I doing? This is a pretty small town, everything about it. You can’t really scale. There were no ways to create a business model. So I was looking for something else.

Andrew: Something different.

Carter: Exactly. Yeah.

Andrew: You know what, though? What were you doing there in the first place? I’m taking a look at your website, at your blog on, and I’m seeing attitude in there. I see on the right side a guy punching another guy in the face and it says, “How to win.” I see another guy giving the middle finger to me, the reader like, “Quit your job.” I guess that’s the idea. You’re supposed to be giving the middle finger to your boss, travel the world.

You don’t seem like the kind of person who would even do that work for small town lawyers from a small town and be happy. Why did you get into that?

Carter: Yeah, I mean, it’s a great point. A lot of it was just because I didn’t know what the options were. I didn’t really know what was possible. And I just followed the money trail by just asking questions. I was just saying, “All right. Well, here’s an opportunity. I’ll take this one, and it wasn’t until I got into apps and got started with the blog and connecting with a lot of people within the community that I realized how much potential there was in the world.

And not only professionally but personally, like, what you’re capable of if you really push it and really want to make great things happen. A big part of my blog is conveying that to people and communicating that and having a discussion about really doing great things.

Andrew: I remember years ago being in the Greeting Cards business and thinking, ‘I can’t believe it. I’m doing tens of thousands of dollars. I’m on track to break a hundred’, or something like that. Then I talked to someone who was doing millions of dollars and I thought, ‘We’re in such similar businesses. This is really possible? I can’t believe it.’ And that’s when my eyes opened up to the possibilities and I started going to different directions. Yes, that happens.

Carter: Totally. Totally.

Andrew: And one of the things that you learn as you’re building websites for lawyers is a lot of those sites were built on themes. Right? So, how do you take that knowledge to this new App path that you’ve decided to go on?

Carter: Yeah. Exactly. I realize the best way to make money is to do the theme type of business, and so when I got into Apps, I looked, I researched and did everything I could to try to build an App, figure out what was entailed. It was tens of thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours of work, and a huge learning curve. I realized there was no way I could mentally process that kind of horse power. So I applied the same business model. I said, “If I could build templates for websites, I bet I could build templates for Apps.”

I went out and started cold-calling developers all over the world, cold- emailing them, cold-calling them, until I found someone who would give me a license on his code. I said, “Let’s create a new design on this. You can keep your own App, but I’ll pay you a lump sum for the rights to use your core code base and create a completely new, different App.’

Andrew: What kind of Apps were you looking to buy the source code for?

Carter: Mostly archaic stuff. Back in 2012, it was more about, “Can you get into the store?” than anything else. So I started off by building one of those squirrel arcade games. They shoot stuff that comes down the top. It was like a Top Gun theme. From there, it’s just these basic runner, fun arcade game that I could just . . .

Andrew: How can you . . . Can you give me an example, because I don’t understand how you can take a game that’s already existing and just change the design, have the game play still function and, frankly, have the whole rest of the artwork [?].

Carter: Totally. Yes. A good example would be – this guy created a World War II arcade game, and it was all World War II planes, etc., etc. I said, “Hey, look, I want to make this a Top Gun version, all new title, all new keywords, a completely different look and feel, but the actual mechanics are going to be the same. The [??] are going to be similar. It’s just going to be a different theme.”

When you look in the App store, figure out how many slot machines games there are. There are so many different ways you can differentiate a slot machine. Then it just comes down to design. It’s that principle. It’s the same with the website. If you use a specific log theme, it always comes down to design to differentiate yourself.

Andrew: Okay. So, you bought it. What did you pay for the first source code?

Carter: I paid about 11,000 dollars, plus 3,000 dollars for the design, which, for me, was maxing out my credit cards. I was standing up all night, freaking out. It was a huge investment for me, but I also knew if I didn’t do that, I wasn’t going to go down to the mettle. I needed to go so far beyond what I thought I should be doing. So, that’s what I had to do.

Andrew: That’s a lot of money. So, you paid it all upfront. You didn’t know if the source code would necessarily make sense, if you could use it. You just said, “I’m going to take a gamble.”

Carter: Exactly. Yes. We did a payment plan, so he helped me integrate the design. But, yes, it was all paid off the day it went live, so I had no . . .[??] . . .

Andrew: So, you did have a payment plan at least to be able to look at the code and make sure it made sense?

Carter: Totally. Yes.

Andrew: Who did you give it to to design it?

Carter: I hired some guys in Argentina.

Andrew: Do you know the name of the company or the guys?

Carter: That’s a good question. I think his name was Rodolfo [?]. I found him on an outsourcing website. He’s the boss. He’s a great guy.

Andrew: Okay.

Carter: Yes. Back then it was pretty difficult to find high-end designers, but now, searching . . . I was doing all these sample projects. I tried to do it myself, but that wasn’t going to work. Yes, just doing it.

Andrew: So, you had an App that worked. You had SEO background, so you understood how to write your description of your App so it gets more search results in the App Store. You had a designer in Argentina – great country. You’re suddenly are in the App Store, and you must have made a killing, right?

Carter: [laughs] It was October 19th, 2012, I will never forget the day. I get an email Apple sends you, “Hey, your app has been approved.” I looked at the phone, “My life is going to change. Everything is going to change tonight.” They still release reports every day. The original guy had made hundreds of thousands of dollars, so I thought I was on my way to . . .

I wake up the next morning and I checked the report, and it was 50 bucks. I couldn’t believe it [??] I had exactly as you said. I had all the background, I had all the energy, I believed in it, I worked hard, and it just tanked. It just didn’t work. The next day I made, like, $30 or something like that. It just, trickled along.

Andrew: That is sad. You maxed out your credit cards in order to get to that trickle. April Dykman on the Mixergy team pre-interviewed you. She wanted us to understand what went wrong. She pushed you, ahead of time, to try to get an understanding of it. So here at the interview we’ll know what to avoid. So what are some of the things that went wrong if you look back on it?

Carter: So the number one thing that went wrong, was my pricing strategy and the way that I marketed this game out of the gate. I thought that paid apps, especially games, were still a viable option. What I didn’t realize was that you can make so much more money by having a free app. Flooding it with traffic. Then having them consume products inside the app. That was my first mistake. I released it as a paid app.

Andrew: How much?

Carter: For 99 cents.

Andrew: So even 99 cents is too much money?

Carter: Oh yeah. There’s, like, 100 to 1 delta on free to one-dollar on the app store. So a couple weeks later I made it free. That changed everything, we can talk about that. So that was my first mistake. The second mistake is that I didn’t understand anything about the users, the analytics, and if I wanted to actually go out and buy traffic, what to do with it. So I was relying on review sites, and all these other things, I had no control over.

Andrew: You mean you were hoping that they would do it?

Carter: Well, I was hoping they would have an impact. But I couldn’t really measure it and it was very different than the web rover, where you can measure everything. So those two things were pretty big, the pricing was probably the biggest and the third piece was that the keywords I selected were from a web perspective and not a surf or an app store perspective. I learned a lot about how to choose keywords.

Andrew: What is the difference?

Carter: The difference is about, you only get 100 characters in Apple, the title is weighted differently, the icon, how it effects everything else. I just assumed that I could pick these random keywords and it would work. When in reality I needed to do some research that I did later on. But not at the beginning unfortunately.

Andrew: So you are starting to feel sorry for yourself though at this point?

Carter: Yeah. More than anything it was just an emotional blow. I thought it was going to happen and, for about a week, I was like, what am I going to do with myself? This was everything to me. But, I woke up one day and said ‘Look, there’s no way I’m letting this get the better of me. I’m not going to live a life like this.’ I started doing tests. I started changing things, I started really trying to make it all work.

Andrew: I know about the price drop. Actually, the elimination of the price. What else did you do?

Carter: What I started doing was, I started updating the app really consistently. Every two weeks I would put in a new feature I would add some new weapons or ammo.

Andrew: That means you had to go back and hire developers because you weren’t doing this yourself right?

Carter: Correct.

Andrew: You had to hire developers and say, ‘Add more functionality to this app that is failing.’

Carter: Exactly.

Andrew: Why did you do that?

Carter: It was the only thing that I could find. The users that are in there like the app. I just need to be able to get more money out of the existing users. From my internet marketing standpoint I knew that the people buying stuff would be the ones that continue to buy. So if I could just feed that demand.

Andrew: I see. There was also in app. purchases. So if the users were happy enough they were continuing to play your game. There weren’t that many but there were some that were happy enough. Then it makes sense to invest money in a new gun that those happy users might want to pay money to get?

Carter: Exactly.

Andrew: Gotcha. Okay, so that’s one thing you did. What else? What’s one other thing and then I want to get into the price drop and the impact.

Carter: Yeah, so what I started to do was I would do some sales on consumable stuff. So I would do promotions. I started integrating push notifications to alert people that hey, the laser gun is on sale today, or whatever it may be. Things like that started to make it much more of a store and that started to get the momentum going as well.

Andrew: What’s it like to work with outsourcers for the first time when you’re not a developer and you need to keep explaining to them what has to happen to this app that’s not doing so well. So you feeling the pressure, you’re feeling the lack of understanding and you also have a barrier to communication because of the distance between you.

Carter: It was very, very frustrating at first. But, I found that the more I helped them succeed, the more that they would do for me. They knew more than they let on in the beginning. So I had to really sit down with them and work with them very, very closely. It was less about “Hey I need an app done, let me know when it is done,” it was more about “Hey I’m going to be here to help you, I’m going to help you walk through the process.” They really appreciated that. But it was very binary. Very linear in their thinking. It was hard to explain growth to someone who just wants to have a to-do list.

And that got, you know. It was just frustrating because I was sitting there being like, “I have to make money,” but they were sitting there saying “well tell me what you need me to do to make the money.”

Andrew: I see, and it’s all on you to do it, but were they responsive? I’ve worked with people who weren’t local and they’re not responsive. And when someone is here and they’re not getting the job done, I can see what they’re working on and know, sometimes, that, you know, they’re busy. They have important things to do.

When they’re remote, I just feel so disconnected that it’s almost hard to be understanding when they’re not turning things around fast. Especially when you have the kind of pressure that you’re talking about. You’ve had that experience. You’re nodding your head, right?

Carter: Yeah. No, I did. There’s been plenty of developers that have been very frustrating to work with. I’ve also found that by giving them the notion that you are going to be around for a while as well, like you’re going to continue to give them business, that’s a more effective technique at keeping them excited, keeping them producing for you than trying to be a very, like, deadline-oriented person. That’s just been my experience.

Andrew: Be consistent with them, let them know that they’re going have ongoing work from you.

Carter: Exactly.

Andrew: Okay. I get that. All right, then you drop the price.

Carter: Yeah, so like I said, I was getting about 20 downloads a day for the paid apps, and then I made it free. And overnight I went up to about 10,000 downloads a day.

Andrew: Wow.

Carter: So, I woke up and I said okay, now I have something we can work with. You know, like, here we go. And that’s when things started to happen. That’s when tests actually started to have some real deltas. That’s when the store really started to make some money. I started making $100-$150 a day. The biggest game-changer that happened when I did that, is I started using advertising networks, which didn’t really exist before this point in 2012.

And that changed everything. That continues to change everything. That has changed the entire app store, for lack of a better term. I put those ads in, and everything changed about that business model. Because I had the traffic to support it, and now I had a monetization path that was cheap, it was very viable.

Andrew: Two decent monetization paths, it sounds like. It’s the in-app purchases and it’s the ad revenue.

Carter: Oh, totally.

Andrew: Which is bigger? Or which was bigger at this point in the story?

Carter: Oh, the advertising. Hands down.

Andrew: Advertising.

Carter: Oh, big time. Without question, yeah.

Andrew: Because, you know what? I’ve played your games, and it’s in between sections of the game. Like, I’ll chop some fruit and then there’s a full-screen ad with an ‘x’ on it, and if the full-screen ad is an ad for a game, if I click the ‘try it’ button, I go right into the app store where, I guess, you get revenue per installation?

Carter: That’s right. Yeah. So the game that is advertising in there will pay me, let’s say, $3 for every person that I can get to install their game. And then that just runs through the ad network and they take a cut of that.

Andrew: Okay, so now we’re talking serious money coming through.

Carter: Big money, yeah.

Andrew: What’s a good ad network for that that you recommend today? And I know that things change, but we’re talking about mid-2014.

Carter: Yeah, good ad networks. Chartboost is a good one. They’re in San Francisco. PlayHaven is a great one. They are also in San Francisco. AppLovin has made some pretty good moves. TapJoy. There’s a handful of them, but those are the big- especially for games, which, you know–

Andrew: What was that last one? I know I stepped over your lines there.

Carter: AppLovin. The’re a good one.

Andrew: All right. Then, was the next app the one that I showed you earlier?

Carter: Yeah, Coconut Craze. That was it.

Andrew: Coconut Craze. I see a smile. You’re still proud of this baby. This is a good one.

Carter: Yeah. I did that whole thing myself, actually in Photoshop.

Andrew: So, all of these screens that I’m seeing on here– oh, I just got pushed into the app store again. All these screens you did?

Carter: Yeah. I edited everything in Photoshop and layered files. I taught myself how to do it, because just from a strict P&L standpoint I knew I needed to keep my costs extremely low to keep this app thing going. So I said, well, what better way than to do it myself.

Andrew: And the source code underneath it?

Carter: Source code underneath it, same sort of deal. Cold calling guys, I found a guy in the UK who was a couple-hundred bucks. This one was so much cheaper, and he was very willing just to license it.

Andrew: You know, Carter, I was going to say that you paid $11,000 for the first source code. That’s a lot of money.

Carter: Ton of money.

Andrew: Is it because of the time? Because I see today that you can buy source codes for apps for about $300 like you’re talking about here. Definitely under $1,000. Not more than $10,000. Was it because of the time or because you just weren’t experienced enough?

Carter: It was a combination of both. It was a combination of that, and then also, the app had had such big success that that was baked into the price. That I thought it was going to be a winner out of the gate, and there just wasn’t very many options to choose from.

Andrew: Okay. I see, and then boy was it a letdown then when it didn’t hit.

Carter: Yeah.

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So you’re doing it yourself, get $300 for the source code, you still, I guess, have to pay someone to connect the two, right? The source code with your design?

Carter: Yeah, exactly. I hire someone for a couple hundred bucks to kind of piece it all together, and make it work, and then I can upload it to Apple.

Andrew: So now we’re talking $500 for this whole thing.

Carter: Mm-hmm.

Andrew: You know, I always want, when I do my interviews, to puff up the numbers, you know, at the top of the interview, so that people will care. So I go for the millions of dollars and so on, but then, if I talk to someone over drinks, or over dinner here, and they say, you know, work is so hard and all these people who say that, tell the stories of all the guy who just made millions of dollars overnight, they just are not adding to my understanding, they are just making things worse when I’m in the trenches.

Those people are right, and I get it, and so I want to take a moment here, and check in with you, and see, was it really $500? Were there other expenses that were missing, if we’re going to tell an honest story, what else could we include in that number?

Carter: So, the other expenses I guess would be, to be an Apple developer, it costs $99 per year, so that’s an expense that you will have to make if you want to upload apps to the store. And then in that case, I mean PhotoShop, if you buy it, get a license on it, I don’t know how much PhotoShop costs these days, but that will be a separate… and that’s pretty much it. That was the extent of it.

I mean, luckily I had some background in the ability to know all of the pieces and put the pieces together, but once you get the design, and once you get the developers together, everything else is easy.

Andrew: You say that you knew the pieces. What are the pieces that you have to know how to piece together?

Carter: I just knew, I knew PhotoShop, I knew HTML, very fluent in web programming, so I could look at [unintelligible 2:45} which is the Apple software, and go to a developer and say, “I know that this is what needs to happen, and you need to do this, this, this, and this. I don’t know how to do it.” To them, they look at that, that job, and say, “OK, that’s only going to be $300, but to someone else, they might charge $800, because they don’t know, you’re coming in being like, “Here’s exactly what you need to be doing…”

Andrew: I see. Okay.

Carter: It’s more like of that type of education that can save you a lot of money in this world.

Andrew: And Carter, did you know what screens to make because you read the code, or did you know what screens to make because… well, how did you know them, actually, I should say, instead of giving you a multiple choice?

Carter: Yeah, well, a little bit of both. When they send me the software file, the X code project, there is a folder that has all of the images in it, sliced up, you know, pieced together, and those are all of the images that need to get redesigned. And so, with this code, the guy who sent me a layered PhotoShop file, and so I had to use those layers, PhotoShop files, and then copy and replace the images that are in the actual game, which is the one you see. And so, I would just lift it up in PhotoShop, open it, redesign it, and then restate it back into the code, and then do that hundreds of times, just to make it look completely different.

Andrew: Oh, wow. Okay.

Carter: Yeah.

Andrew: All right. So, I’ve got a sense of what goes into it. Now, you get it into the store, does it take off automatically?

Carter: This one did pretty well. I learned a lot, I went through a rep with that, it’s a popular game, as you know, and I picked the keywords correctly, and this time, all those added in the words from the start, and I able to monetize that much better. So, this was getting, I think, into 10,000 a day, consistently for the first few months, which was a completely different, I didn’t have to update or anything, and it was doing really, really well, a couple of hundred dollars a day.

Andrew: Look for a better way. These are all, I think I’ve got… Look at this…

Carter: Yeah.

Andrew: I could just keep scrolling through the list. And this is, is this just one company? Do you have other companies that I’m not seeing in this list? Is this just App Group, International, LLC?

Carter: That’s one. There’s three others that I actively manage, and then there’s, under the Blue Cloud umbrella, and there’s probably six or seven others that are just partnerships that I have equity in all over the App Store. So there’s a lot of them. I think there’s up to about a thousand that I’ve built so far.

Andrew: A thousand. Wow.

Carter: Yeah.

Andrew: The reason I open it up is so that I can see what you’re writing today, to get a sense of how you got anyone to notice it. And I can’t tell, it’s called Coconut Craze Fruit Slice Game in, something and then it doesn’t show because it got cut off. Is there something about that title that I’m not noticing that helps people discover it?

Carter: A lot of it was the fact that it was early 2013. The competition was just so much lower back then. So the keywords I could pick up including ninja, freird, froconut, you know, things like [bat slicking], all that sort of terminology? I think there’s probably 5 or 10 apps that I compete with? But there’s huge volume, so, anyone with some sort of marketing background could easily get themselves to the top. That’s how it works. And then once you’re at the top, you can pretty much stay there.

Andrew: So someone might type in ninja, because they can’t remember the rest of it, or fruit ninja, or fruit slice ninja and then you come up.

Carter: Fruit slice ninja.

Andrew: Okay, then you come up. Got it! Got it! Okay.

Carter: Yeah.

Andrew: All right. So now this thing takes off. As I understand it, the next thing you did was you wanted to create more games that are similar to this one. Is that right?

Carter: Yeah. So when I realized [what day this is], I said, well, I can’t keep doing this one at a time. I’ve built the model up, now I need to leverage this. I need to scale horizontally. So my big mission was to go find a couple of teams that could do this; not in a big way.

Over the course of the summer, I found a few people, here and there. And by about August/September, I found a team that could do this really well. They could produce good design, they could get everything uploaded and ready to go and for an affordable price; about $700, everything all-in.

Andrew: So, for 4 or 500 dollars per game, you go out there and you buy the source code, again a few hundred dollars; you give it to them 4 or 5 hundred dollars; they turn it into a game; you put it in the app store and you’re ready to go.

Carter: Exactly. And, the difference back then was, I could purchase one or two codes? And make, like, 25 games out of that one code. You can’t really do that as much anymore, but that is what the difference was. I’d find a few core codes I really liked, and they would design it 15, 20, 30 times on each other.

Andrew: When you say that, the way I imagine it played out was, you saw Fruit Ninja works. We’re going to do coconut slice, we’re going to do cucumber slice, we’re going to do vegetable slice. Is that it? We’re going to do, uh, I don’t know what else slice. But that’s what it is.

Carter: That’s exactly right. Yeah.

Andrew: Okay, and so your team needed to know how to take that same code and for a few hundred bucks, turn it into a similar product. Did you have a checklist for them? Or you can now, at that point, start to say, we need these ads at these stages, we need this kind in that purchase. Was that it?

Carter: Mm-hmm. So, sort of, you’ll see in that list there’s a lot of animal runner games? Like, elephant and tiger, all that? When I found that code, what happened is that I realized that the biggest advertisers back then were companies like [Tiney Troll and Pocket Jems]? Those games are, like, there’s a huge lion on the icon, or a big tiger or a big panda. And they were spending tons of money. So I realized that if I could make a game that was all themed exactly like those ads, when I advertised those games, I was going to kill it. The conversion there was going to be through the roof.

I moved away from the coconut games and started building these animal games because the advertisers would just pay crazy amounts of money; because my games could convert so well to feed them users.

Andrew: Aahh! I see, they had panda games, so if someone’s using your panda game, they’re more likely to install your advertisers panda game. So here’s one.

Carter: That’s exactly right. Yeah, exactly. And with that one, the install rates on that would be 10 times higher than any other games I had been building. And they were our most lucrative advertisers, so I said, why don’t I just do this full-time? For about two months, I was just making these animal games that would just fire all this traffic over to these animal games, that were paying lots of money for them.

Andrew: I wouldn’t have thought of that. You know, I kept expecting when I looked you up, I kept expecting all the reviews to be really crappy. Because how could someone create so many games, and not? Since we happen to be talking about the panda game, I’m looking at the first comment which is, epically awesome!!!!! Five exclamation points. This is the most fun-filled, activity game in history. Enjoy, perfect, free app! I play this everyday [I ?? this app]. Wait, did you buy that?

Carter: No. I don’t do that. That’s all legit.

Andrew: You did at one point buy reviews, didn’t you?

Carter: I’ve hired people to do reviews, not for these games, but for other larger games; when I was doing a full launch? I would bring in people and say, hey, I need 50 reviews on this big game because that’s going to make it kind of a self-affirmed prophecy. But when you’re putting out apps on that velocity, I was just like, we’ll see, I hope it works out.

Andrew: I see, you can’t buy that many reviews for each one these games. So that’s really what it was, not throw it up against the wall and see what sticks, as much as take an intelligent guess and put it out there and see what sticks.

Carter: It was a matter of how can I produce the most apps possible in the shortest amount of time, and I knew exactly which ones to make, and I was like, “How can I make the most as fast as possible?”

Andrew: Do you remember how much money you were making after the first year?

Carter: Yeah, so I was doubling my revenue every month, and so by about September, it was about 20,000 a month, give or take, when I was making those animal apps, and then in November, actually, I used the exact same code base, and I heard about this video called Gagnum Style, as we all know, and I made a Gagnum Style app, and it went to number one in I don’t know how many countries, and got a couple million downloads. That thing made a hundred and something grand.

Andrew: Wait, that one app made a hundred something grand?

Carter: Yeah.

Andrew: Can you actually use his name, I mean, the name of the song?

Carter: No, I got a cease and desist on it pretty quick.

Andrew: But by the time you got the cease and desist, you made some money off of it?

Carter: Yeah, but it was on the way down, anyway. And they did a blanket cease and desist because there were tons of people doing that, using his copyright stuff in the store already.

Andrew: Okay, so then you still made your money toward the top, and then what did you do after the cease and desist?

Carter: I just changed it to like a disco dancer game or something, because by updating it, I retained all the users who were still using it, and there’s still thousands of people that use it today, which is pretty crazy

Andrew: I think that is one of the apps I saw toward the top. Is it, no it’s not Disco Style runner.

Carter: Yeah, that’s it.

Andrew: That’s it?

Carter: Yeah. So that used to be Gagnum, yeah, exactly.

Andrew: Wait, do I do it that way? There’s only one screenshot?

Carter: There’s only one screenshot, yeah, exactly.

Andrew: Why? Were you trying to be mysterious with it?

Carter: Yeah, I think it was either that, or it might have just been the developers just forgot to upload the other ones. I can’t remember, but yeah, that Gagnum game was the first step for me to be able to realize, back to the original point, “Oh, wow, this is what it means to be working at a different level of business.” This is what really can happen in the app store. These are the stories you always hear about, and that was the first taste I really got of that.

Andrew: Did you have a lawyer at the time, when the cease and desist came in?

Carter: I did, yeah, I had a lawyer. This was actually back in Maine. I was in San Francisco at that point. But yeah, I definitely sent it around and I was like, “Okay, what should we be doing about this,” and he just said, “Just take it down. Those cease and desist, Apple hands them out all the time, so it’s not a huge deal, but it was definitely a reality check for me. Ever since then I’ve been a lot smarter about the whole situation.

Andrew: I don’t know. I didn’t seem like you were burned. It seems like that was the right thing to do then, to cease and desist when you’re told to, but not before.

Carter: Yeah, it worked out, no question about that.

Andrew: How much money did you make off of it?

Carter: All in, I don’t know, maybe like 135000 dollars on that one app?

Andrew: Okay, I know you gave some hint of what the revenue was, maybe even gave the whole thing, but I was in such shock at how well it did that I couldn’t believe it.

Carter: Yeah, the whole portfolio that year, it must have done, like, a quarter million dollars, maybe? And this is off of maybe a 25000 investment, so it was a good business to be in. I mean, it still is, but it was a lot of fun, especially for someone who, you know, I was just shooting from the hip in a lot of ways.

Andrew: You had started at this point to accumulate dozens of apps in your portfolio. You were bringing in real money, and then someone made you an offer to buy some of your apps.

Carter: Yes.

Andrew: How did this person find you, and who was he?

Carter: I woke up one day, and I said, “I am not that pumped about what I’m doing,” for various reasons. It’s not the most creative thing in the world. And I called up a broker, and I said, “Hey, I’ve got a hundred apps, some room to sell. They’re making 80 grand a month. Do you know anyone who would want to buy them?

And long story short, they had someone on the sidelines looking to throw some money at it, and we negotiated a deal, and it was a great experience. And looking back, I probably would have made more money if I hadn’t sold the apps, but the experience I got from selling that portfolio was everything I wanted. I wanted to learn how to do deals and to learn how to be in business. I was much more interested in the business of apps than the actual apps themselves. It was a great experience.

Andrew: Where did you find a guy who could see it for you?

Carter: On apptopia. So, is a marketplace, and I’m good friends with their founder, and they do brokerages, as a side business. I knew he would have a huge buyer list.

Andrew: Yeah, I’m on the site right now. I was going to ask you what you thought of it. So, when I’m on apptopia right now, I see an app called EZ swipe navigation. Or, I guess that’s the description of it. The app is called the Scene. It gives me the download count for the last 30 days. We’re talking about in the single digits. Revenue the last 30 days, actually this one has zero. Buy it now price, $150,000. Another one has two dollar revenue in the last 30 days. $500,000 buy it now. What is this?

Carter: It’s kind of, it’s the definition of the wild west. As you can imagine. This is where people buy and sell apps. Whether it be full apps, the rights to apps, or like, a license on an app.

Andrew: My sense is they want to be like is to websites, they want to be to apps.

Carter: That’s exactly right. Yeah. And so, that’s what it’s evolved into. It’s kind of an aggregator. And because of that, the reason I approached them is, one, I just got to know them. But two is because they had a lot of people who wanted to buy into mobile, and they didn’t know how to buy in. And Apptopia became a way for them to say here’s a way I can potentially spend money and be in the app game and enjoy this gold rush that’s happening.

Andrew: Gotcha. And I see on the very bottom of it, templates being sold. A template for Las Vegas strip casino slots, $500. One for super hero action-man runner, $150. These are kind of the templates you bought? Are we talking about design templates?

Carter: Yeah, these are the same things. So, you would buy it, download it. You get the framework, you’d get a document that says “Hey here’s everything you need to update,” here are the ad networks you can use. Here are the IDs you need to change, and here are the design profiles that need to get updated before you can upload this to Apple. And you would get that kind of package delivered to you.

Andrew: Wow. So this whole thing, did you come up with this on your own?

Carter: Yeah. This is all, I kind of started this all. Just working out of my apartment. And I just figured out that this was like the next big thing in the app world. Started blogging about it, and it just took off like wildfire.

Andrew: I was going to ask you, weren’t you pissed when people started to do this?

Carter: Not really. I mean, I’m a pretty big proponent of free information and sharing a lot of knowledge as much as I can. I found much bigger benefit of explaining how the system works to other people. I think, selfishly, there are some days when I’m like, wow. Okay, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to upload a slot machine game again because there’s like, 5,000 people competing with me now. But, what it did do is, it changed the game.

It changed the market. It changed the way the app store works. It changed the way monetization worked in all the ad networks. And it’s forcing everyone to get way better, which I really like. So the apps that win now, they have to be really good. Like, you can’t get away with garbage anymore. And if this system didn’t come into place, you might still be able to do that. Even now. Whereas, because there’s so much coming in, there’s so much more competition, the algorithm has to change. The review process has to get better. It just makes all the apps you end up downloading even better.

Andrew: I see even on your website I’m on,, on the top. It says contact, and to the left of that it says source codes. And you’re selling source codes. For $125 I could get the source code for a Las Vegas hot slots or casino game.

Carter: That’s right, yeah.

Andrew: I see.

Carter: That’s it. Well, a lot of the reason I started that is because all these marketplaces started popping up, Apptopia being one. Chupamobile is another one. And, there’s like 60 pages of apps they can choose from, and 95% of people out there don’t have the time and don’t understand how to go through it all. And so what I did is I said, well, why don’t I find the best ones.

I’ll kind of, curate this for you and prove to you why these are good. I’ll download them, I’ll look through the code. And then in a lot of those sales pages, I’ll actually go through it all and prove to people why this is a good code so that they don’t have to waste their time trying to buy it on, you know–

Andrew: And then you get affiliate commission for linking to the sale?

Carter: Yeah, so I split the revenue with the developer. So they upload the code, they update it, they do the support, and then I market it and distribute it for them.

Andrew: I see. You know, the other place where I saw as I was hunting around, looking through your site, the other place I saw that you were sending people was App Empire, and there was an affiliate link in there.

Carter: Yeah. So that’s a really good buddy Chad Mureta. He, about two years ago now, he launched probably one of the biggest–if not the biggest– app training courses ever. And he and I have been working together for about a little over a year now. And that’s a terrific resource for people that say hey, I want to learn everything there is to know about how to build apps, how to get into apps.

He and I then built a course about what’s called app flipping, which essentially talks about everything we talked about, and we’ve just kind of created this education space for the app world.

Andrew: How much money do you make from the flipping course?

Carter: That’s a good question. We’ve done well on it. I know Chad did really well on the initial launch of App Empire course itself, but the apps [?] course, we’ve sold thousands and thousands of copies of that, so it’s about a 500 dollar price point, so it’s done well.

Andrew: Wow, so we’re talking over a million dollars.

Carter: Yeah, there’s a lot of money, a lot of different ways, there’s source codes and software, and everything else.

Andrew: So, in addition to selling the course, you also sell source codes to the people who bought the course.

Carter: Exactly, yes.

Andrew: I see. Your goal being here is to educate, to share your story, to help other people learn. Is it also to get people to buy these courses?

Carter: It is, and so the reason I say that is because of all the businesses I’ve ever been in, not that there’s been too many, but I’ve worked with a lot, apps have given me the most ability to own things that produce cash that I can walk away from that can automate all that sort of stuff, and there’s such a massive barrier to entry in apps. It’s similar to the web world, but imagine saying to someone, “You’ve got to have 50 websites to make any money.”

You know, that’s ludicrous for a lot of people, but in apps, that’s kind of what needs to happen. So, what I’ve done is, all these people want to get into apps, and I say, “Well instead of building it from scratch and losing all your money, at least start with a winning template that’s going to be coded well, that is going to save you.”

Andrew: Does that even work anymore? Are we looking at a situation where you are able to do it, you’ve got a ton of apps in the store, and you still do, right? I mean, you didn’t just sell it, but you’ve got a ton of apps, and now this isn’t working so well, so you’re going to teach other people how to do it and make money off of the courses, instead of off of the apps.

Carter: I mean, I still upload 50 apps a month.

Andrew: You do?

Carter: Oh yeah. I am a true believer. I still do those all day. I’ve got a team of people that does this for me. I’m right there on the lines with everyone else.

Andrew: Finding the team of people isn’t easy. How’d you find a team of people who can turn this around for you?

Carter: A lot of interviews. You know, it was an interview process. It took me about six months to make that happen, but there’s also a much smaller supply pool of labor now. Like, you go online now, you can find companies that will do these re-skins turnkey in a couple of days. That never existed back when I did. So, a lot of people don’t even have to go find a team anymore. It’s a service now, which is completely different than when I started.

Andrew: Okay, so then how do you get discovered in the app store now when there are so many different apps. So many of them are using the same source code, and the top guys are getting even better. How do you compete? How do you get anyone to download your stuff?

Carter: There’s a lot of different things. The algorithm is always adjusting. There’s different ways you can capitalize on the equivalent of long tail phrases, as opposed to larger phrases. You can get very niche on your theme choices to capitalize on things.

Let me give you an example, let’s say, you have a weather app. You can buy a weather app source code, and if you just put up a weather app, you might not get a whole lot of downloads, because it’s pretty generic at this point, however, if you did something like the FIFA 2014 World Cup Weather app, now all of the sudden, you’re doing a weather app, you might get a whole lot more downloads.

Or, okay, I’m going to do the puppy weather app. That’s going to do really well. There’s a lot of different ways you can do it still, and that’s never going to go away. That’s the nature of our market, it’s always going to be available, and that’s the opportunity. It’s more about, now the tool sets are there, we’ve just got to create more tools for people to use. And you still have to use strategic thinking and be educated and have all that.

Andrew: You tried doing other things. You tried buying reviews. It was too much trouble for your approach. It doesn’t work. You tried buying YouTube videos. I’ve seen people do that very well. Did that work for you?

Carter: It did okay. The problem with the app stores is that there’s no analytics, so you don’t know what translated into what, unless you’re buying traffic from another affiliate source. So, I did some YouTube reviews, things like that, and I got about five or six thousand views on them. There was no tangible spike in downloads that day in my app store downloads, so for all intents and purposes, I would say it didn’t work, no.

Andrew: Michael Fox, that’s who it was, from shoes of prey, told me that they did one video review of their shoes, and it hit big, so I guess you just can’t tell. You have to try a bunch of different things. You tried the things you talked about. What else did you try?

Carter: Nowadays, a lot of it comes down to, if you really want to be able to control your fate, you put in really good analytics, and then you buy traffic. It’s all about buying traffic. You know, like, how can you back out the users and find people that are going to do well for you, and a lot of that goes into Facebook, because they always have the best targeting. In terms of regular marketing, low-cost, entry level marketing, the app store, the keyword search stuff you can do now is still very powerful.

I know people that are doing it and they’re one of the top five in their categories off the exact or very similar apps as someone else, and yet they go to number five and the other person goes to number 350.

Andrew: Because of the key words that they pick.

Carter: That’s the only difference. The keyword, the title, the way they lay out their screen shot, the story they tell, the description they have, there’s lots of different things you can do with that.

Andrew: Hmm. Anything else outside that works? Facebook, when you tell me Facebook works, Facebook sells downloads essentially, right?

Carter: Correct. Yeah.

Andrew: How does that work for you?

Carter: So Facebook users are in a league of their own. They’re just so good. Very expensive, but you can target so effectively on Facebook. So it was the kind of thing, you were scrolling down the newsfeed and it says, “Hey, do you want to install this app, recommended apps?” That’s what it is.

There’s hundreds of app networks like that out there, but Facebook just does the best job at it. There are cross promotion networks you can use where you essentially join a community and you always share your traffic, and there ways that you can buy and sell.

So, for example, you would install a proprietary ad network and instead of selling traffic to a big game and making five bucks or whatever you would align yourself — This is popular in things like photo apps and utility apps where it’s very hard to monetize those with games, but if you align yourself with ten other photo apps you can easily cross promote installs on all of the other photo app communities.

Andrew: I see. So you help each other out for free and you share your traffic.

Carter: Exactly. So that can kind of lift a rising tide in both sets of situations.

Andrew: I saw — I can’t find it right now. I’ve been looking as we’re talking that you also had a photo app that looked like Camera Plus. There it is, it’s on this computer. Slow Camera Shutter Plus? Do you still have that one?

Carter: Yes. We still have that. That one gets about $3,000 a day. It’s doing pretty well.

Andrew: Really?

Carter: Yeah. It’s a great app and it’s actually a good example of one of those weird keywords that you probably wouldn’t think of that that a lot of people are searching for it.

Andrew: They’re searching for Slow Camera Shutter?

Carter: Or Slow Shutter Camera whatever it may be. I just rearranged the keywords as a test. It’s to see what works best.

Andrew: Can you put the exact same app in with maybe some tweaks, change the name four different ways for each of four different variations of the app and get into the app store or is that person going to have a hard time with that?

Carter: Yeah. Apple was going to shut it down. They’re not going to let it in. The best example is look at what happened to Sliding [??] Birds right now. Last month there’s been — I don’t even know how many [??] birds are in there.

Andrew: Yes.

Carter: They look like exactly the same design. So like you can get a few. You can get through the cracks, but for the most part Apple’s cracked down considerably.

Andrew: What’s one that they shut you down for that you . . . You know how kids will limit a test. They just want to see how far they can go. When you limit tested and you were pushed back, do you have an example of something you were pushed back on?

Carter: Yeah. Totally. So what I would so . . . So, for example, with those two companies, the App Group International Company and the [??] Company you’ll notice that a lot of them have similar apps, almost identical apps but the biggest difference being the icon.

So that was something I pushed the limits on where I would upload it to one account, I would change the icon and title, and then try to upload it to a completely different account like two weeks later.

Even though the game was very similar, I was just doing just to see like, what you said, just to see if it was possible. And I got it through a handful of times, but now it’s done and it’s not going to work.

Andrew: They were catching that.

Carter: Yeah. Exactly.

Andrew: I see you have Instagram in the title of that. You have free in that. You have plus and pro there, camera too so I guess someone is searching for camera plus. I see this and it looks like the camera plus ad, the icon, plus it says free on the bottom edge, the bottom corner. And now I understand why when I was researching you I came across one company that’s called [??] Mobile and a company that was called APP Group International and then another company and another company. Now I get it, and they all tie in together under one name which is also the name of your site and your blog and the place where people can see the image of the guy who gives people the middle finger, the boss over here.

Carter: That’s right.

Andrew: Let me talk about something here that I’ve just got in the mail. And then I want to ask you a couple more questions to close this off. I should hide some of this.

I happened to be in Ixtapa, Mexico. Do you take a lot of vacations, by the way?

Carter: Yeah, I do.

Andrew: You do. What kind of vacations do you take? And do you work on them?

Carter: So actually I just went around the world. I did an around the world trip, and then two weeks ago I swam [??] the Virgin Islands to test out a new app that I developed.

Andrew: So you were actually swimming.

Carter: Yeah, in the Virgin Islands. And so we lived on a boat and we swam about 18 miles between all of the islands and I built a travel app that kind of catalog the entire experience and share how it worked out. So, yeah, I definitely like to work while I travel and do that sort of thing, too.

Andrew: You know, you seem so chilled. You seem like someone I should have manage my finances. Then I see this portfolio, this whole thing you’ve got going on here. So I was in Ixtapa, Mexico, for a conference that my wife was a part of. I was basically swimming all day long, and reading on my Kindle. And I met this guy who wanted to take a picture with me. There he is. His name is Larry. I think I can say Larry’s name. Larry feels comfortable with it, Larry Kesling. I don’t know if I could say the name of the guy who sent me this letter.

Anyway, Larry took a photo of me for his brother-in-law, who’s a really big fan of Mixergy, who heard every episode. And I sent him a postcard, too, because Robert, his brother-in-law, happened to also be a Mixergy Premium member, and has been such a supporter.

I get home, a couple months later, and Larry, I guess was talking to someone on the Mixergy team and found out how much I love running and swimming, and he got me this. What is this thing? I have another. He got me two of them. Penatrex for, Penetrex, that sounds sexual, but it’s not, unless I’m missing something. No, it’s not, it’s for relief and recovery.

So he knows that I swim, he knows that I run. I do like to do long runs. It will almost hurt me badly, and he sent it over. And I just wanted to acknowledge it and to thank him for it publicly. I don’t know how private Robert is. I sense that he is private, so I won’t give his last name, but I do want to say, “Robert and Larry, thank you so much for being such fans of Mixergy.”

And while I’m at it, I should also say, if you, the person who is listening to me, want to take this conversation to the next level, meaning you want to learn in more depth with the kind of attitude that I have with the kind of prying personality that I have, with the opinion that revenue does matter, not just funding, I have about two dozen interviews and courses taught by real entrepreneurs, many of whom today you will see at the top of the app store, because, over the years, I’ve interviewed them, they’ve grown, they’ve come back here to talk about how they did it, and to teach you.

I’m so proud that they’re both Mixergy fans and contributors to the Mixergy community, and teachers here. So, if you want to learn from them, go to and you’ll see. They’ll break down their process, and I’ll push them for as many details as possible. We’ll even talk about things that you’re not supposed to talk about, like buying reviews. Like copying apps that are extremely successful. Several entrepreneurs have talked about that.

That kind of openness is what I strive for, that, and more. I also like to get the emotional stuff, not just the financial stuff. And if you’re into it, it is all available for you at I guarantee that you’ll find at least one thing that you will absolutely love so much that you’ll be glad you signed up. So go to and sign up now.

Today, actually 2013, how much revenue are you up to?

Carter: That’s a good question. The source code sales are extremely lucrative.

Andrew: They are?

Carter: Yeah. I make a lot of money doing that. I think that, you know, my app stuff, I probably make anywhere from 50 to 70,000 dollars a month, but I don’t really touch that. That’s on autopilot. Yeah, the source code stuff, it can get up to a quarter of a million dollars a month on a good month, and I haven’t really even ramped it up.

Like, I’m going to start ramping up big time this year, because there’s so much opportunity, but it’s crazy. You can make a ton of money doing this kind of stuff. We’re just at the tip of the iceberg.

Andrew: I realize I make faces as we talk, because I have allergies. I have to deal with it. I’ve got to go back to switching cameras, so that when you’re talking, the camera’s on you, and I can just make all the faces I need to deal with my allergies, and then come back to me afterward and I look all calm and collected.

I’ve been talking for a while about how I need to improve my style somewhat. Actually Satcha Gupta, a friend and someone that’s helped at Mixergy, found me a stylist. Maybe we can actually start to dress me up and make me look a little more professional.

I don’t want to overlook that. Are you making more money…sorry, I just have to sometimes acknowledge what’s going on here, because I hate when I watch television or watch a podcast when something happens, and they don’t acknowledge it, and they pretend it didn’t happen. They’re basically acting like I’m stupid, like I didn’t catch it. I have to point that stuff out.

Are you saying you’re making more money now from selling scripts than you are from the apps themselves?

Carter: The source code? Yeah, oh my gosh, absolutely.

Andrew: You are?

Carter: The reason being, I’m an anomaly, and the reason being is because my blog gets a ton of traffic. I get about two hundred thousand people a month come to that blog. It’s got a pretty good following and a solid brand, but a lot of it is that distribution and the relationships I’ve built.

So a lot of people have tried to see source code on other sites, and they’re having a tougher time. I’m big on customer service, and so I’m all about repeat customers, and things like that. That makes a big difference on this stuff, but yeah, to answer your question directly, I mean, it’s not even close.

Andrew: Wow. How much are you making off of that?

Carter: I would say, maybe last month, I probably made, like a hundred and fifty grand, maybe?

Andrew: Whoa! Really?

Carter: Something like that.

Andrew: I’m looking over your shoulder. I don’t see a Lamborghini anywhere. I don’t see that you’re living in an excessively fancy house. What’s up?

Carter: Yeah, I mean, like I said, I’m not really into flashy stuff. I spend most of my money on good food and going on cool trips. So that’s about it.

Andrew: Let me see. I’m now driving into traffic. I want to confirm if you said 200,000 hits. I can see, yes, outside sources do say between 100- 200,000 hits a month. Is that a month or . . .

Carter: Mm-hmm.

Andrew: Yeah. At least, 200,000 according to what I’m seeing.

Carter: Yeah.

Andrew: Most of your traffic seems to, best sources, seems to be search. You get search keywords like app development, how do free app makers make money. What else searches bring you money? Develop apps?

Carter: Yeah. I think actually it might be ahead of Apple for app development, that keyword, and Google.

Andrew: Really? Let me see, app development. I’m going to type it in.

Carter: Apple’s development, it was for a while. Seventy to 80% of my traffic is from organic search.

Andrew: It is. Look at this. By the way, I hope that this isn’t going to come across as a smart alecky thing for me to do that you say I’m number one, maybe ahead of Apple, and I have to go and check it out.

Carter: [laughs]

Andrew: I have to say we had a good conversation here. All right. I’ll let that go. I have to check it out. On my screen it’s actually coming up as number two which is huge.

Carter: Yeah. It gets a lot of traffic for sure.

Andrew: Unbelievable. Okay. So I see that that sends you a lot of traffic. I see some site called Who’s Zack Will? He’s a developer.

Carter: I don’t know. Is that on my site?

Andrew: He is apparently sending you some traffic. I don’t know how. Maybe what he did was he just did a [??]

Carter: Oh, you know what that was? About a month and a half ago, two months ago, I wrote a blog post. It went really viral. It got picked up by all the big. . . Zack Will was one of them about flappy [??] birds instant rise. I think he wrote an article about that that went to my website.

Andrew: After hearing about flappy birds the past couple of days, I decided to download this 68,000 iTunes. . . I decided to download 68,000 iTunes reviews last night. I explained some of the technical details on it below. Is this the post that you did or he did it about you?

Carter: He did that one and it went to me in that [??].

Andrew: Oh, okay. I see.

Carter: Yeah. It was just like a backlink or whatever.

Andrew: Got you. I can see that also went to VentureBeat. And so VentureBeat ended up linking to you, right?

Carter: Yeah. Mm-hmm. VentureBeat, all those.

Andrew: Wow! All right. Let’s see. Is there anything else here that I can see? No, TechCrunch, same thing?

Carter: Yeah. I think it was kind of like open to discussion, and there was a lot of people saying, “Oh, it was this great indie success story. And at the end of this I say this is exactly like bot activity, what I’ve seen before happened. And I’m just raising some flags here. So I was kind of the devil’s advocate on that side.

Andrew: What’s your exit strategy here now that you’ve got this whole thing built up?

Carter: That’s a good question. I’ve been thinking a lot about that. I think that the biggest piece is that I have to figure out how to make that. If I want to go the source code route, how to make the whole thing like proprietary, turnkey, have my own development team, have my own reskin service. It kind of depends if I want to go around that path or not.

But for now what I think I’ll do is build a really cool apps, sell source code I like to people I like, and then funnel that money into building apps that are just awesome, like that travel app, that I can go do cool trips and really sort of enjoy doing the [??] thing.

Andrew: All right. Well, it’s good to meet you. I appreciate you being this open. The site is for anyone that wants to see it. Go into the app store as well and look around for his apps. If they type in, I guess, [??] Mobile will stuff come up? Is that the best way to find some of your apps in there?

Carter: Yeah. I would probably type in . . .

Andrew: Actually I’ve got an idea. Here’s what worked for me. Type in Coconut Craze and then when you see that app click the app developer’s name and you’ll start to see a bunch of other apps. And that will start to lead you in different directions, also.

One more thing. I opened up the app before we started and I started playing it. And for of all here the ads come up. That’s fine. That’s part of the deal, right? When you’re getting something for free, someone has to pay for it.

Carter: Mm-hmm.

Andrew: I hit play and earlier half the screen was covered up with a white bar.

Carter: Right.

Andrew: And that looked like something you’d seen before.

Carter: So [inaudible].

Andrew: What is it? Seven something.

Carter: Because when you show the store results, I guess that was from more of the developers. This is the latest one.

Andrew: Yeah.

Carter: [??] So what happens on that is that not to get into the technical details it’s just that the code isn’t up-to-date for [??] 721 yet.

Andrew: You have to let that one go when you have all of these other apps, right? There’s no way you can go in and get all of this covered, can you? There it is.

Carter: That’s exactly right. It doesn’t make sense for me to go in and fix that.

Andrew: Okay. All right. Thank you so much for doing this. Thank you all for being a part of it, and guy, if you listen all this far into the interview would you please go back to Reddit and tell the people it’s safe to come back to Mixergy [laughs]. Would you please? I want the traffic back frankly. I’ve got to compete with Carter here.

Carter: [laughs]

Andrew: He’s doing a killer job of getting both traffic to his site and app downloads and scripts. And you can see it all, as I said, on Bye everyone!

  • Awesome Daily

    This was the best interview in a long time Andrew.

  • Arie at Mixergy

    Nice–was there anything that was especially helpful?

  • Thanks for posting here
    breaking news.

  • Awesome Daily

    It was just nice to see someone making a ton of money online, without having to build the next Facebook or Dropbox. It’s also in a market that seemingly anyone can get into, even if they don’t have much experience. I like that he just went for it and made it happen. I tend to like the interviews with people that built something from the ground up without investors and a huge team at the beginning.

  • Gabriel Machuret

    Carter is a super star. Good job. Not only a great apptrepreneur but also a top dude.

  • Great interview. He was very open. Andrew, what tool did you use to check his traffic?

  • Great interview.

  • janis

    i love this one to… how to say it ( in positive i mean this) please Andrew more interviews about failures.. that’s what i learn the most of it..

    and this handy because I’m building app at this moment..

  • MellyDanielsisf321

    before I looked at the receipt ov $7090 , I did not
    believe …that…my friend was like actualy taking home money parttime from
    their laptop. . there aunts neighbour has been doing this for less than 15
    months and recently cleared the depts on there condo and bought themselves a
    Mazda MX-5 . you can check here F­i­s­c­a­l­p­o­s­t­.­?­?­?­

  • peichen

    Great interview! Thanks!
    I’ve been kicking around the idea for an app for a while but the cost was too high. Using one of these templates gives a great kick start and gets the PoC off the ground.

  • lieutenant columbo

    great interview. if i was making that much $$, i would totally be pulling some Wolf of Wall street action! :0

  • ShellyWixtedipu321

    my co-worker’s sister makes $76 hourly on the internet
    . She has been without a job for 6 months but last month her payment was $20399
    just working on the internet for a few hours. original site

  • sonibvc

    Does it still work? Usually by the time you read about it in the news, it has ran its course…much like the stock market or trends. Once it hits the front page, its time to bail. I think he sold his portfolio mainly because it stopped working or it was declining and decided to use the money to make really expensive games and run a blog to gain a following selling previous success to the masses on which he will then try and market the big games. Its leverage on previous success which works for him, but will not work for us. The trick is to get in at the start of a trend, keep quite while you are “killing it” and when you see the end is near, bail out and talk about it to everyone selling them how you did it. Its a classic!!!

  • Robert Bradford

    Loved this interview Andrew. Time and time again, you’ve shown us the key to success online – getting your own distribution by building an online audience. This is hands down the most lucrative way to really grow a sustainable business.

    When using someone else’s marketplace (i.e. the app store) there are just so many variables working against you. Building your own audience, positioning yourself as an expert, and then selling your own digital products (courses, software, source code, whatever) is the ONLY way to go.

    Carter is a true hustler with a great marketing mind. He clearly knows what’s up. Thanks to the both of you.

  • the_rosenthall

    Not to be argumentative…..but how is this what he did? It sounds to me like he made his money by being savvy at generating revenue through the app store, not in building his own audience.

  • Robert Bradford

    You’re right, it sounds like at one point Carter mentioned that his app business was generating $80K a month.

    I guess I was trying to make a point though:

    Carter mentioned that he makes between $50-70K a month (on auto pilot) selling source code through his blog. He also mentioned that the launch of his app info product brought in over 1 million dollars (split somehow between he and Chad).

    Personally I’d rather create a single (expensive – $500) product once and sell $70k worth through my own blog than build and manage hundreds of (spammy) apps per month.

    From a marketing perspective, apps are a more difficult business – it’s difficult to differentiate yourself, you have no direct contact with your customers, you’re not getting paid premium prices for your services $500), you’re disposable, you’re in the ad business, and your customers are not loyal to YOU – they just want the next FREE thing.

    On top of that, making 50 apps each month is not sustainable – it sounds like he was burned out on it quickly.

    Having your own publishing platform is a much better way to grow a sustainable business. As demonstrated by Carter… And Andrew for that matter.

  • the_rosenthall

    Okay, well written and I agree!

  • the_rosenthall

    I think these are good points and I’d guess that it’s true that you couldn’t turn around and do the same thing in the app store that he did because of his success. However, I think people working in other domains can probably internalize his strategy and apply it somewhere else.

  • Really Great interview loved the openness and the platform for success that he gives the audience

  • Great interview – Just shows how much information asymmetry is out there with all of the changes happening in the internet space. In my view this is one of two profitable passive business models out there. This is a clear business model that takes advantage of the masses that purchase “software as entertainment” as opposed to the targeted “software as a solution” products that Dane Maxwell at The Foundation talks about.

  • Andrew – this was one of the best interviews because you took your time in getting to the mechanics of the processes that Carter uses. The money is the outcome (great hook) but understanding the process is the key to our learning and motivation to look out for the next big thing. Keep up the great effort! Appreciated.

Who should we feature on Mixergy? Let us know who you think would make a great interviewee.