FIPLAB: Bootstrapping An App Startup With No Programming Experience

How does someone with no programming experience bootstrap a $30k / month app startup?

Rishi Modha & Anirudh Sharma are the co-founders of FIPLAB, an application development studio that specializes in creating viral, high quality mobile applications. I invited them here to talk honestly about how they did it.

Rishi Modha & Anirudh Sharma

Rishi Modha & Anirudh Sharma


Rishi Modha & Anirudh Sharma are the co-founders of FIPLAB, an application development studio that specializes in creating viral, high quality mobile applications.



Full Interview Transcript

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Hey everyone, my name is Andrew Warner, I’m the founder of, home of the ambitious upstart and the place where real entrepreneurs, not wannabes, not great talkers, tell you how they really built their businesses so that you can learn from them, build your company and go out there and do what today’s guests are doing, share what you learned with others. Big question for this interview is: how does someone with no programming experience bootstrap and $30,000 a month app start-up. Rishi Modha and Anirudh Sharma are the co-founders of FIPLAB, an application development studio that specializes in creating viral, high quality mobile applications. I invited them here to talk honestly about how they did it. Welcome guys.

Rishi: Hey, Andrew.

Anirudh: Hey, Andrew.

Andrew: So, you guys told me before the interview that you’re fans of Mixergy, you’ve heard these interviews before, right?

Anirudh: Yeah, Absolutely.

Rishi: Yeah, definitely.

Andrew: So you know the first question I am going to ask you is: how much money, profit, not sales, not top line, but bottom line, how much profit did you guys make last month?

Anirudh: That’s the month of September, OK, fine September was about $34,000 profit.

Andrew: $34,000 in profit.

Anirudh: And $41,000 or so of revenue, turn- over basically.

Andrew: OK, all right, give me a picture of where you are today and then I want to ask you where you were before, and then this whole interview is going to be about the audience learning from you. We got tactics, we have specifics and we’re going to tell them exactly how you did it so that they can learn and follow in your footsteps. But give me a big picture view of where you guys are today.

Rishi: Yeah, all right, OK, so our business is basically split over the IOS app store and the Mac app store and our income is pretty diversified, about 50% ad revenue and the other 50% from paid app sale. And we very much started off as a game development studio. We launched our first app called CopterKid. We quickly found out that games wasn’t really the source of sustainable income, and we moved into more utility based apps. We actually really started bootstrapping this company when we did a contracting job for a company called Orange Box. And there we made around 12,000 pounds and using that we created our first app, main stream app, called Talking Gremlin.

Andrew: Wait, how long ago was it? I don’t want to tell the whole story here in the intro, I want people to have to listen to the whole thing.

Anirudh: September 2010 is when we had the Orange Box contract, it’s a bit of a recurring contract, but the initial sum of money was $11,000, over the course of the entire‚Ķgiving them more access to iPad codes and so on, it was about $12,000.

Andrew: So, roughly twelve, thirteen months ago, you guys got started using money that you earned from contract work that was done over that period of time.

Anirudh: Yes.

Andrew: All right, I’ve got a sense of where you guys are now. Congratulations on the success. Take me back before this, where were you guys before you learned everything you’re about to share with us here today.

Anirudh: OK, fine, so we were just basically fresh out of University and we both studied finance- based courses. I did Maths and Economics, Rishi studied basically business management at top Univs in London and we almost destined to go down the whole route of, you know, finance, investment banking and so on. And I’ve done internships, he’s done an internship as well. And it was ten weeks there. It was good money no doubt about that but those 10 weeks for me were a complete nightmare and I’m sure Rishi feels exactly the same.

Rishi: It was number crunching on Excel all day long and basically being told what to do. There was no opportunity to make an impact.

Anirudh: Our creativity was completely stalled and that alone was the turning point for us in the sense that there is something better and bigger for us out there. What do we do? Around that time the whole iPhone apps to a gold rush was just surfacing. About four or five months from the prior inception of that entire apps store is when we got down and started talking to each other. We had always been in touch for the last ten years we’re good friends.

Rishi: We actually know each other from high school.

Anirudh: Exactly.

Rishi: So that’s what he meant. We went to different universities.

Anirudh: But we’ve always been close in high school. Same form, same classes and so on. It was just a pretty creative, insightful discussion between the two of us as to what we can do with our lives and that is when the entire app business was born. We started off as a gaming company and our first idea was CopterKid.

Rishi: We were talking with MSN and were like, “Hey, let’s just make a game,” and he was like, “Yeah, let’s make a game.”

Andrew: Is either of you a developer? Did I get that right that you guys are not programmers?

Anirudh: No.

Rishi: No, we’re not programmers. I have a background in designing websites in the past so I have contacts in programming. I know designers and I know how to project manage.

Anirudh: Exactly.

Rishi: I had an idea how we could go about having that app developed.

Andrew: Sure.

Rishi: We’re not developers ourselves.

Anirudh: We love our tech I mean I used to live in Japan so I’m completely infused with all things tech so we love our technology.

Rishi: Yeah.

Anirudh: It’s just that we never felt we had the knack for programming so there’s no point in us trying to go down that route especially if you don’t enjoy it.

Andrew: All right. I think that actually makes this interview even more useful to the audience because I think there are more people who are not developers, of course, than are developers, and they want to know how you guys were able to do it without programming skills. Even programmers themselves need to learn from how you guys hire people so that they can learn how to outsource.

We broke this down into specific tactics which we are going to get into but first I’ve got to ask you this question. You guys just revealed your profit to me here. Rishi, you and I have talked via Skype for, I think, weeks maybe a couple months now. I asked you to come on to Mixergy and you said, “No.” You’re very deliberate about what you decide to do. In fact, this whole success has been very deliberate. So with that why come on here now and say, “Andrew, this is how much money we made last month, this is the revenues, this is step-by-step how we did it including the competition,” and doing all the stuff you’re about to reveal. Why are you saying so much?

Rishi: I guess it comes down to: we really want to give back to the community. We were watching the Mixergy interviews and seeing people sharing their advice. That was one of the reasons. The other reason was we just want our company to be more known in the community. We’re well-known here in London but we’ve not really engaged the tech community before so it would probably be a good opportunity for people to just know about us and make it easier for us to recruit in the future when we hire another programmer.

Andrew: That’s the big thing that I can see because between you and me sharing it’s too early. You guys are just getting started right so to risk having competition out there is not worth the idea that you’re going to give back. Wait five years, ten years and these stories will still be as impactful, in fact even more useful.

Anirudh: Yeah.

Andrew: So I feel when people are getting started say, “I want to give back,” it’s a nice way of really saying I have an ulterior motive. Fair?

Rishi: Yeah.

Andirudh: I partially agree to that. There’s another aspect to that as well. If you look at the IOS app for instance, they have about 500,000 + apps. We could be making something that’s generating tons of money for us, but it doesn’t mean that someone else can copy or if someone does come in they’re going to be successful. It’s too big and too competitive a store for our tips to really make sure that someone is going to really make a success story out if it.

Rishi: Whether or not we published that product or say how much money we make or what we do we always have competition anyway so a few extra competitors isn’t really going to make an impact.

Andrew: All right OK. Well what I have found is people who do these interviews do have an easier time hiring because they get a bigger reputation. They have an easier time starting conversations with others in the space and getting feedback from them and sharing ideas because when you stand up and say, “Look in a short amount of time we were able to do this big thing,” to others in the space you look like a player. You look like someone who has made something happen and worth having a conversation with because if they share their ideas with you, you will have some meaningful information to share with them in private.

OK. All right with that behind us, let’s get specifically into what you guys did. The first you did was, well you tell me and tell me how it led to you looking at your competitor.

Andirudh: I think one of the most important lessons we’ve mentioned in our blog and what we believe in is it’s all about scanning the market. Picking something that you feel can either be improved, replicated, made better, cheaper, more efficient and above all more user friendly. So in our case I think the first success story financially for us besides the fact that the Orange Box project, that was an outside project. For us, financially, it was talking venom in, which was basically inspired from Talking Tom Cat, which was a huge, massively popular app about last summer and it’s still prominent in the chart.

Andrew: You saw Tom Cat in the app store, what does Tom Cat do and where was it in the charts when you guys saw it?

Anirudh: So, Tom Cat came out around July 2010 and we must have noticed it late August, early September. What it does is basically you hold your iPhone up, you speak into this character which appears to be a cat and it repeats what you say, you can record videos, but it’s inherently viral in the sense that you can post those videos on YouTube, Facebook email them, SMS, so on. That is what was gaining popularity and it’s hilarious because it tweaks your whole voice and reproduced it in a high pitched manner. But where we’re sat, we’re like Halloween is coming up, the cat is fairly decent to look at, but it’s nothing to write home about.

Rishi: The graphics weren’t amazing or anything like that so there was room for improvement.

Anirudh: Exactly. So, where we stand is we always believe we’re quite creative and we can improve upon certain things that catch our eye, and this particular app was number one pretty much on the apps, so not even on entertainment but as a whole. So, we knew that this is big and this is something that could be replicated in a good manner, which is why we thought we’d come up with a monster, maybe more appealing for Halloween and just something cute looking. But above all, graphically it’s just going to blow your mind.

Rishi: Yeah, so in terms of our animation, graphics quality, that was a lot better, had more animations, we had like really, really cool sound effects that Anirudh would actually record it himself. So, yeah, and the timing was perfect as well.

Andrew: All right, so you’re scanning the market, you’re seeing who is doing well and saying to yourself, can we do something better than them, right? So, if for an example an iWork app is doing well in the app store, you can’t say, I can do better than Apple and create a better iWork app, but you can look at this Tom Cat app and say, I can duplicate it.

Let me ask you something before we go to the next step. Let’s suppose someone in my audience see Colin’s app, Colin, our mutual friend, has an app called Free Books, I keep checking the book section in the app store and if he’s not on top, then Disney for a week or two is on top, then he’ll bounce back the following week and he’s making good money from it, he’s living well and building a whole business off of this one app.

Can someone in my audience look at that and say, I’m going to copy that app, I’m going to create Free Books also, and if Colin has, I don’t know what number he has, 12,576 free books, they might have 12,577 free books and beat him that way. And maybe we do it just a little bit nicer, would that be enough to beat him?

Rishi: Colin’s one of those people that you probably don’t want to go up against because he’s so crazy about optimization and really pushing the boys when it comes to competing.

Andrew: That’s what I’m trying to get at though, if you’re looking at a competitor, it’s really easy to say, I see the elements of what makes him successful, he’s got a book app, he has lots of free books, he has a nice icon and he has this text that has a little bit of SEO. I’m going to copy the same thing and beat him, but there’s magic sometimes behind the scenes, or maybe not magic but fierce aggression behind the scenes.

Rishi: Yeah, it’s more aggression, like with Colin there was the other books out, classically, not classically, classics, Eucalyptus, but classics only had like twenty books, you know really nicely displayed but twenty books is only twenty books. It doesn’t stand a chance against 23,000 books. And Eucalyptus was called Eucalyptus so, anyone searching for books wouldn’t really come up with it..

Andrew: I mean, now we’ve learned all that, now we see exactly what he did because he’s blogged about it and you guys have shared the information because we’re all smarter now and we can analyze it. I’m saying that there’s something else, you can’t just look at the app store and say this is doing well so I’m going to compete with them, right? Sometimes, people have some kind of, frankly, they know how to spam the system and go to the top of the list and if all you see is an ugly looking app that’s at the top of the list that you can improve fifty percent with twenty-three hours of work, you’re missing out on what’s really key to it so how can you tell what’s key and what’s now?

Anirudh: I think for us another factor is to do with the initial release date of version 1.0. If something has been released recently it is mimicable, if that’s even a word. It’s something that can be replicated in our opinion. If something, like for instance if you look at Free Books now, it just came out two years ago or something?

Rishi: Yeah, I think two years ago.

Anirudh: And, you can straight up look at certain apps and say, oh my goodness, this had a lot of time, energy and money spent into the development of its icons.

Rishi: Yeah, and sure you can still try to go up against Free Books, but you’re going to be spending months and months of development time just to get on level with them.

Andrew: OK, so here’s what I see you guys doing, and tell me if I’m wrong, you guys see things in, you see things as battle in that app store. What you’re looking for is a weak opponent who somehow got to the top of the charts, and you want to pick that guy off. So, you don’t want the Apple’s, you don’t want the Colin’s of the world, you want the guys who just hit it big with a new app that you guys can pick off quickly, and that’s what we’re looking for. So, it’s not enough to look and see who’s at the top.

Anirudh: Exactly, in the sense they hit it to somewhere reasonably high in the charts, or even if they’re doing really well. And they’ve done it as a small development team, small app idea and so on. It’s pretty likely that the app idea itself is what the winner is and that is what we want to replicate.

Rishi: And, Andrew, also, the fact that we’re not just a one app company, we have like twenty apps on the app store. So, we don’t really need to make one app that makes $2,000 a day, we’re happy to make an app that makes, you know $100 or $200 a day, because it’s combined with that whole portfolio, you know it adds up to a fair sum.

Andrew: OK, so what we’re doing is, my precious, precious audience of entrepreneurs who are picking off competitors like you are is scanning the app store, looking for a weak player that doesn’t have a lot of backing behind them who somehow shot to the top. Going after them with just a little bit of improvement. We’re going to talk about how to keep costs low so that they don’t have to spend too much money to do that and by keeping costs low, they don’t have to make a killing on the first app. They just have to know this is now another soldier in their army in the app store.

Anirudh: Absolutely.

Andrew: That’s what we’re going for.

Anirudh: You want your numbers to be somewhat of that manner as opposed to spiking up and down, because that’s much more risky. And, that’s where we tried to make our company stand where it’s at right now and we feel we’ve got a diversified, stabilized level of income with our apps as a whole.

Rishi: Yeah. And I don’t want to generalize, but a lot of the apps, by no means, they’re made by programmers and they haven’t had a lot of design direction or they didn’t have a lot of marketing skills. So, they made a great app but you know, like the app icon might not be very good, the UI design might not be very good, the app name, key words, description, all that plays a part when you’re trying to convince someone to download your app over a competitor’s.

Andrew: Rishi, do you have design abilities or design background?

Rishi: Yeah, I do, actually, I used to actually work as a designer before. I freelanced. I was like fifteen years old and so I liked to do web designs by hosting companies and I did up my own web design for Xbox and stuff like that.

Andrew: And did you do the design, the early designs on the products? No, you outsourced them to a designer, right?

Rishi: In the early designs, like actually for example, one of our most successful apps in terms of user numbers and main stream success in terms of all the press coverage it received is an app called London Cycle which is an app for the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme here in London, just a public bike rental scheme. And we made an app for that and I did the whole, all the design by myself, the only thing we outsourced was the programming for that and that was a massive success. And even with the app icon, we got the bicycle done by an illustrator, a whole bold looking app icon, which played a big part in getting people to discover our app.

Anirudh: Exactly, that’s where we were working pretty hand in hand as a whole because Rishi’s got great skills when it comes to, you know, at least [??] bonds and so one where we can get the message across, get our ideas across. So, I mean, my skills lie in terms of hand design and hand drawing but I don’t have Photoshop experience, I don’t have illustrator experience.

Rishi: Yeah.

Anirudh: It’s very lax of me really because I never bought into that, but I do have the ability to draw by hand and Rishi’s got the ability to get those creativity juices flowing when it comes to getting something down on the computer.

Andrew: Let me hold off on getting into design. I want to come back to it and find out what if the person who is listening to me right now, while walking the dog or fighting his way into work, what he can do if he’s not a great designer. But, let’s go on to the second thing, do you have the list in front of you, the ones that you put together with my pre-interviewer or do you want me to coach you on the second.

Rishi: Yeah.

Andrew: What is the second tactic that you guys discussed?

Rishi: Don’t cut corners and keep it simple.

Andrew: OK, talk to me about that, there’s something that I want to talk to you that I think you can only say that others who’ve created apps can’t say here. So, you tell me the story and then I’ll run with it.

Rishi: OK, so this is when we basically started the company, and our first app as you know was Copter Kid, so on Copter Kid, as you know we had no programming experience, we knew we would have to outsource it. I mean, me and Anirudh, we had money from our internships and we decided to put in two grand each, $2,000 each, into our first app project.

Anirudh: Yeah.

Rishi: So, $4,000 total.

Anirudh: Well, this is about February/March 2009, as well as the time line.

Rishi: Yeah, so keep it.

Andrew: So, $4,000 you want to put into this project, how much of it was going to go into development?

Rishi: Well, for development, I think we probably set aside like half of that.

Anirudh: Yeah, the thing was, in the region of about 1300 Euros, that almost comes out to about $2,000, I’d say, yeah.

Rishi: Yeah, so basically with that, let’s keep in mind that when we launched, Copter Kid, when we started developing Copter Kid, then the app store was very, it was still very much in the early days. I mean, you had apps like iShoot doing really, really well, which is like a really, really basic action game and that was one of the success stories that basically inspired us to start the company in the first place.

Anirudh: Mm-hmm.

Rishi: So, we knew that we had to spend big on design, we had the best looking 2-D, size [??] game on the app store, we would do well. There was no freebie games, there was no EA games, there was Ubisoft, any of them. There was none of that, they weren’t involved in the market yet. So, it give the Indie game developer a chance to really make an impact and put a high quality game out, that would be one of the market leaders. So, we spent around, I think, 1600 euros on a designer-illustrator.

Anirudh:: Yes.

Rishi: And we hired, we actually posted an advert on oDesk. It’s the outsourcing website. And we got a bunch of quotes and most of them were spam quotes, that you get. They hadn’t even read the description. We found one company. This company was actually based in India. And we had already heard really bad things about outsourcing to India because you get delayed and the quality isn’t as good. But, this particular company actually had their main company, their main business, was actually in the Netherlands. And this was their outsourcing partner. So, it’s not as bad as just going directly to any company. It’s actually through another European company. So, we decided to go ahead with them and I think we paid something really, really cheap.

Anirudh: It was almost $500.

Rishi: It was too good to be true.

Anirudh: It was $500 for the entire project. And back then, our eyes lit up and we were like, wow. We could have an iPhone app programmed for us for $500. That’s incredible.

Rishi: Yeah.

Anirudh: And, yeah, as a whole it’s not to say there’s no talent in India. But, back then it was way, way too early in the development of iPhones and so on. And, when an offer is way too good to be true, it probably is. And that’s, I think one of the key lessons that we learned. We got messed up about, a number of months. The project itself should have taken about a month and a half to make, according to estimates. It ended up taking about four months. Version upon version was just messed up. We were testing way into the night trying to find out if it works or not.

And then, back then, I think it was IOS.2.2 was the programming language. So, the operating system eventually had been delayed so much that 3.0 was supposed to come out. We were like, wow, now we have to reprogram the entire app to be compatible with 3.0. It was just nightmare upon nightmare.

Andrew: So, how do I know, if I’m working with an outsourcer, whether it really just takes that much time to create the app, or I’m being jerked around by an inexperienced developer. How do I know where I stand?

Rishi: I guess you need to have a somewhat good idea of how long it takes to program things. I think that only comes from experience because I’ve been doing web development and stuff.

Andrew: So, assume I don’t have experience. Frankly, my whole idea here with Mixergy is to steal your experience so that my audience can short-cut their way to the top. So, if we don’t have experience, how do we figure out how long an app should take?

Rishi: I think you should get multiple quotes from different reliable people and see what they say.

Anirudh:: Personally speaking, I would honestly only go with somebody who’s got past experience. It would be foolish not to do so.

Rishi: Yeah.

Andrew: Someone with past experience and on oDesk you can see it. I thought you guys picked a company with past experience.

Anirudh: Exactly. And they did have past experience. They had made some apps and some good stuff if I’m not mistaken and a game or two over here. Something to do with crosswords and moving puzzles around and stuff.

Rishi: Keep in mind this is in the early days of app stores.

Anirudh: Exactly.

Andrew: So no one really had a ton of experience back then.

Anirudh: Exactly. The app store itself was about seven months old at the time. And, you have to also remember the fact that we were desperate at the time. We had x amount of money and someone’s actually giving us a quote which is much less than half that, even. So, we were like, man, maybe it does cost that much to make an iPhone app.

Rishi: Yeah.

Anirudh: And this is something to go ahead with and see how it goes.

Rishi: I think a mistake that a lot of people make is that they see a good deal. They see something for $500, or they don’t factor in the time costs. If you hire a cheap programmer, OK, they might get the job done. It might take them four months. You could have hired someone who got it done with better quality in one month. Then your app could have been selling for those other three months that you otherwise missed out on.

Andrew: Oh, I see, right. So, you wound up with even poor quality in the app store longer than great quality in the app store for a shorter period of time.

Rishi: Yeah.

Andrew: Let me challenge you guys on this. So, I read the blog post where you guys talked about this. And I’m wondering if, maybe the outsourcer isn’t the only one to blame. You guys were brand new. Maybe the way you communicated with them was also partially to blame. Maybe not blame. I won’t say that. But maybe you learned a little bit about how to communicate with outsourcers to get stuff done. What did you learn? Let me steal that knowledge from you.

Rishi: Yeah. I was going to say that with or without spec. We gave them a spec sheet, but I don’t think it was detailed enough. It was quite vague.

Anirudh: Yeah.

Rishi: So, when it came to specific features, they were slowed down by the fact that they didn’t know exactly what we wanted.

Andrew: So, what should I include, if I create a spec sheet And the person was saying to me, create a spec sheet.

Anirudh: I feel it has to be incredibly detailed. When it comes to, especially making a game, the hardest factor I would say is about the game play, and the playability itself. And that creativity and that vision has to transferred from the idea generator, which is us, to the actual person who is going to program it for you. If there’s a missing channel between that the game is not going to come out right.

Andrew: How do you do that, because I know that with productivity apps you can lay out each screen individually, but with a game it’s impossible because the character could move up, could move down, could move sideways, and those options are all available every second of the game play.

Rishi: That’s right.

Andrew: How do you design it?

Rishi: It’s difficult. It’s very difficult because when they sent us the game and we tested it, we’re going to make tweaks, we’re going to change the speed at which the character moves at, where the level ends, how many objects come in the path of the character that’s flying around on the screen. It takes a lot of tweaking. It’s hard to actually put that down on paper. You’ve got to actually test the game for yourselves.

Andrew: How do you do it? Do you do it in story way where you write it out the way that a user might experience the app? Do you do a lot of screen shots with . . .

Rishi: Actually, from the other apps that we developed, the best way to do it is to walk the programmer through how the user would use the app. So, you can be like, for example, with our London Cycle app. You can say, the user there is entering into the search, the location where they can find a cycle station nearby. They enter that. They press the map. The map zooms in, and it shows the cycle stations around that location. They have color coded pointers on the map to give a visual indication of how many cycles are available at each station.

Andrew: I’ve heard this a lot from people. I’m sorry to interrupt you, but there’s so much that I want to get to, and we’re only on point number two. So, I have to keep talking quickly and pushing to get as much out of you as possible. I only have a limited time with you guys.

I know that when I get a big email with a lot of text, I can’t read the freakin’ thing. And now, you’re working with Indian programmers. You switched to a guy in Germany, if I remember your story right.

Anirudh: Yes.

Andrew: Both are not native English speakers. And you have to give them this long text for them to fully digest and to read. Do they do that? Do it actually work?

Rishi: The German guy, he’s actually from England. He’s just living in Germany.

Andrew: OK.

Rishi: And we actually just spoke to him over Skype about all the ideas and stuff. Luckily, he got it pretty much straight off the bat, and he made the changes in like, one quick [??]. We had a fully working, bug free app after that. We’re not using a full time developer. We just discuss things over Skype, and we just try to keep the features as simple as possible.

For example, one of our apps, Space Tab [??], we upgraded from version two to version three. We tried to have one key feature as the main aim of that upgrade. We don’t try to complicate it by adding another 20 different features in because then it’s harder to commit to all of that and also to test that. So, we try to keep it simple in terms of new features that we’re adding.

Anirudh: I think back then it was our first ever venture. I think we were a bit too na?Øve.

Rishi: I think you should in mind we had no software experience.

Anirudh: We had no experience at the time although the Indian company was completely fluent in terms of English and so on. I think the reason where us and them didn’t gel was because they were too corporate. I think they had way too many channels and a director and this guy wanting this and this guy managing them. So, it wasn’t that one person was fixed and assigned into making our app. It was jumping between person to person to person. Where one person left off, the other would start on.

I think that’s where the game was quite intricately detailed and had to have that magic. We kept telling them it has to have that magic. Play it yourself, and you’ll experience it’s not got it. Fix it, please, and that’s how it used to go. I think it was just too early for both parties at that time, and that’s why that project didn’t work out with them in particular. And that’s why we were doing bad.

Andrew: So, here is the thing that I was alluding to earlier. I’ll ask you this, and then we’ll move on. You guys, first of all, have Indian backgrounds?

Anirudh: Well, yeah. I was born in India. I was there for seven years of my life , and then I lived in Japan for four years, moved back to India for another three. And I’ve been here for the last ten.

Andrew: OK. So, here’s what I’m getting at. Several other entrepreneurs who hired outsourcers to build their apps have told me in private Indian outsourcers are the worst to use for this work. And every time they said it, I said, “Guys, it becomes too distracting if what you’re going to say sounds racist. I don’t want that. I want to focus on what we can do. I don’t want to distract people with questions of whether they’re being racist or not.

You guys now are Indian, so you’ve got the credibility to say it, and you did say it. You said, “Do not hire Indian programmers. It’s a problem.” Why?

Anirudh: What we mentioned actually, we’re proud Indians. We mentioned that in our blog as well, and it’s not so much about not hiring Indian outsource programmers, it’s more about being very careful of the ones you do hire. I believe the reason why is they’re not the best currently in regards to making iPhone and Mac apps. The reason is because the Apple culture doesn’t exist yet in India. It’s still very much a niche product. It’s hard to get hold of. For a developing country of that sort, Apple just does not have the market standpoint that it does in the rest of the world. We don’t even have a registered, full on Apple store in India. We have premium resellers, and that’s why the entire mentality doesn’t exist for an Apple developer, is that keen attention to detail and the perfectionism. And especially, I mean, that’s what we like to believe.

Andrew: That makes a lot of sense. So it’s not about the culture, not fitting, it’s about the fact that if you have a culture where people actually have the iPhone in their hand or you have the developers who have the iPhone in their hands, and their mom’s have the iPhone, and their girl friends and husbands have it, then they’re going to be much more fluid in it.

Rishi: Exactly.

Anirudh: Let’s put it this way. They were only using SDK.They did not have a itemized phone.

Andrew: Yeah. We were only using it on a map.

Anirudh: We found that out a bit too late.

Andrew: All right, Let’s move to the next one. The next one is about design. What do we need to know about design? Now that we understand how to get it developed. How to send out our requirements to the developers.

Anirudh: I think the main idea is you can’t underestimate how important design is. And for us we’ve always been religious to the fact that Apple icon, brand name, product name, and the entire look of this screen shots, the UI is so paramount, that it’s the difference between someone choosing your app or a competitor, or just basically not downloading your app whatsoever.

Rishi: Yeah. At the end of the day, it comes down to starability. You open up the travel charts, and you scroll down, you see 200 apps there, approximately the top 200. And your app might be the best app on that entire list, but if the icon doesn’t attract the user to click on it, to find out about your app, then what’s the point of having a good app.

Andrew: All right. Let me ask you guys. Look at my design, nothing behind me, look at my hair, I’m completely undersigned. I’m wearing just a T-shirt. I got no eye for design, and I’m anal about structures, as you can see. So what I need, in order to understand this, is some kind of formula that I can use to understand how to create the design. You can’t leave me, poor little me, with just saying, ‘Have a nice design’.

Give me something like what Colin once said, Colin said, ‘Shock the audience’. Like if you’re going to give away a free book app, his icon needed to look like a hammer and sickle, it need to have a bright color to get people’s attention, and a shocking image to get them to stop and said, ‘What the hell is this’. And enable within the icon itself so that they can see into the image what it is about. Free books, hammer, sickle, yellow background.

Rishi: There’s two ways you can go about these. You can do what Colin did initially and have that bright red and yellow icon that says ‘Free Books’ over the tops of it. And sure that will be a lot of attention. There are developers that do that, in the top 200, on the iPhone charts. They make a ton of money doing that just because the icon is neon green or something like that.

If you want to go down the route of making aquality product and having a chance to be featured by Apple, I think you need a very bold distinct icon. The best example is our London Cycle app icon. It was blue, it had the iconic Barclays Cycle on the app icon, it’s very crisp, clear and as soon as you saw it, you knew that app was for the Barclays Cycle.

Anirudh: I think it’s two points we can make there. I mean, with regards to the London Cycle app, it was to the point, I mean, there is no waffling around exactly what that app does. You see it and the Barclay bike itself is very distinctive, it does not look like a standard bike. It’s got different nefarious designs and so on. So when someone sees that in similar color scheme, blue, light blue, dark blue and so on, they know straight away what that app does. But then again we have had Talking Gremlin as our other app. And what the app icon does there, is got bright orange boarder, gooey kind of a boarder, the character is going to leashing out of the app icon. You’ve got star bursts, stellar space kind of background.

We implement two different strategies, one is the simple app idea, with London Cycle. You go to the point of simplicity, succinctness, in terms of the app you got to sell. With Talking Gremlin, there are other apps exists at the same time, you want to make sure your product particularly stands out. So that’s what we did with that. So there are two different approaches you can take.

Andrew: Jeremy told me that I should also ask you guys about the Orange Box story. That’s where you guys understood the importance of design and the importance of a specific designer. What was it about Orange Box that helped you see? Tell me about the Orange Box story.

Rishi: OK. So it’s good to explain where the Orange Box contract came from. So we made this app for London Cycle that we’ve been talking about at the beginning of interview. And London Cycle it launch at a really, really good time and the whole press was talking about Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme. We got featured in like the Evening Standard Newspaper, and a ton of magazines. Even Apple themselves, Apple’s marketing team contacted us and go, ‘Hey, guys send us over all these different banners, and different sizes’ , they go, ‘If you send us good banners, we’re going to feature you on the main page of the ITunes, on the main front page banner’.

So they also only give you 24 hours to do this. I tell you it it’s not good they’re not going to feature you at all so. It’s kind of crazy. So we got that at like 6:00 pm. in the evening. I mean, quickly we worked on some banners and, we submitted them to Apple. And it got featured there as well. And in a matter of days we had like 10’s of thousands of people using our app. And these are all people in London, and the kind of people that use the cycle hire scheme in London are like tech people, people working in media, PR, and design.

So we got contacted by a couple of people looking for us, looking to hire us to make an app for them. One of those companies was OrangeBox, OrangeBox Company that make really high end designer office furniture. And basically what OrangeBox do is that they go to like Google or like Microsoft and go, they want to redesign their entire floor, and they show all their catalogs. They have like five different, really high quality glossy catalogs to show them. They shift through all of them trying to find the products that can show them. And they are also a company that is really focused on like eco friendly products.

Anirudh: So, you can imagine their whole entire mindset is the fact that they have renewable kind of products that can be recycled over time. But then they make these immensely fat, glossy, big paper brochures every six months. Their product line is changing and these particular brochures go out of date. So they’re like, we clearly wasting tons of money on these, and is not creating a good image for our entire brand as a whole. What we need is something electronic, something digital. And what they wanted to do, iPad had just come out a few months before that, they wanted an iPad App for the sales people to be given. So that when they walk in, to say Google’s office, and say we want to fit you out with the newest furniture, and they have four other competing companies come up to them with thick paper brochures. Google obviously going to keep in mind the one which came with the iPad and projected it on the main screen.

Rishi: It’s just a way to stand out, really. It might be a bit gimmicky but it’s a way to stand out. And the Apple is very slim and you can zoom in to pictures, you can flip through to videos. You can see a floor plan, you can zoom in and out where the keen gesture is.

Anirudh: You have to remember over time, I mean, yes, initially it’s going to cost more money to buy an iPad and make an expensive app, essentially to put on to them. But over time, it’s just going to be a matter of uploading images on to the App drive.

Rishi: But anyway, going back to where we were. So before that we had Copter Kid, which was making us $50 a day, between the both of us. And this Orange Box opportunity came about, and we were like, ‘Wow, this is the opportunity for us to make a bunch of money, in a matter of two weeks’. They had a very tight deadline, because they wanted to showcase this App, in London School of Art, it was like some exploring innovation conference expo going on there. And that’s where we’re going with tech companies demonstrating the new gadgets, Microsoft were there with their big touch tablet, showing that to companies.

Andrew: So where did you learn about design from this? Is it that you just needed to hire a good designer, because if it matters to them, then it has to matter to you.

Rishi: It’s clearly Orange Box, because Orange Box being like a designer furniture company they are very, very particular about design. And the way things work with apps. They want it to be very sleek, fluid, swipe right through things. The design aspect for them was very, very important.

Anirudh: Imagine, let’s put it this way, basically imagine like you know about the Apple philosophy to design. But suppose you walk into an office of a company which actually practices it and does it first hand. That’s what the inside philosophy was. We walked in and we saw the level of perfectionism, and how they design their products and how the screen process work.

Andrew: So it’s like apprenticing with them for a few weeks.

Anirudh: Almost was. You could say yeah.

Andrew: Now, I tell new bloggers that if they want to learn how to blog right, they should do guest blogs on other people’s sites because they’ll get feed back. Like when I first did a blog post for Mashable, they emailed me back and said here is how to make your posts more readable, more scanable, and they just kept giving me feedback. You did the same thing with them and that’s how you learned design.

The other thing that I’ve learned, and I wrote this down was, you want to be very obvious with the icon about what the product is doing, right? You can’t say it’s a bicycle app but then only have like the spoke and not let people understand that’s the spoke of the wheel.

Anirudh: That’s what being the competitors in the past have done as well.

Andrew: You want it right so that it stands out. And you want to, if you can have it pop out almost, the image pop out of the icon. Kind of like the Instagram early camera icon, looks like it was popping out of the icon. That’s what I’ve got from you and hopefully what you guys have gotten from me. I’ve no clue about design, I’ve apprenticed under nobody.

All right. Let’s go on to the next one. Marketing plans, now you’ve got your app, you’ve got your developer, you’ve got your designer. It’s time to market it. What do you do?

Anirudh: All right. So regards to marketing, this is more specifically with talking with them which was our first real taste of marketing. I mean, with regards to London Cycle, we brought that app out at a time when it was incredibly topical. The Barclays London Cycle High scheme was the thing that everybody was talking about. And our app was out at exactly the right time when the scheme started. So we kind of got the press coverage all on its own.

Rishi: We didn’t send out any PR, really.

Anirudh: Nothing. Nothing.

Rishi: We’re just lucky in the sense that our timing was perfect.

Anirudh: Precisely.

Rishi: The app coincided with the very topical use of that.

Anirudh: Exactly.

Rishi: We didn’t do any marketing on that side.

Anirudh: We had editors coming and emailing us and getting in touch with us on Twitter.

Andrew: How did they find you? Did they do a search in the app store to find out if there’s an app related to this?

Anirudh: Well, I mean it’s a mix of factors, we were moving up really fast with this, through the actual iTunes ranking charts themselves. So maybe, yes, if you search for London cycle, and then cycle scheme, and our app was showing at the time. It was very distinct with regards to the app icon and so on. So when one major cooperation features you, everybody else wants to do the same.

Rishi: Yeah, you get an icon in one press and then it seems like all of them are contacting you all of a sudden.

Anirudh: Exactly, we got featured in London’s Evening Standard which is pretty much one of London’s, if not the biggest, one of London’s biggest daily tabloids. So it was a big paper to be in. As a result of that, loads of websites and other press publications featured us, as well. But, like I said, that’s a separate issue because we didn’t have to really do anything for that there.

Andrew: But that is actually a marketing idea that I’ve seen work.

Anirudh: Sure.

Andrew: For lots of companies. If you tie into the news in any way, you’re going to get swept up with the coverage and that’s what happened here. Before you go to the next one, did you guys go out there and buy a bunch of the copies of the newspaper? Do you still have it somewhere?

Anirudh: We keep that at home.

Andrew: Your moms have a copy, too?

Anirudh: Absolutely, absolutely.

Andrew: When a date comes over does she happen to see it on the coffee table, ‘Look at this.’

Anirudh: Usually, the one line is that we bought a bunch of them which kind of sucks because you don’t want to read 99.9% of the entire paper but you want to see the app icon inside it.

Andrew: I see. So that works but, obviously, it’s not a whole marketing plan to hang the rest of the business on.

Anirudh: Exactly.

Andrew: What else has worked for getting new users?

Anirudh: With regards to Talking Gremlin on the other hand, we actually set aside a budget for ourselves. We had $500 set aside for the marketing aspect of this app. We’d been developing it for a month and half, we’d spent good, considerable money on design work. Top-notch, top quality. We had this guy called Tristen who do it for us.

Rishi: The numbers, we spent around 1600 pounds on the design and programming, I can’t remember exactly what it was now, but I think it was about . . .

Anirudh: $750-$1000, something like that.

Rishi: Yeah, and I think it came out to $1500.

Anirudh: Exactly.

Rishi: Sorry about quoting the different currencies. Our program was in America and our designer was in London.

Anirudh: Yeah, and then with regards to marketing we had $500 set aside and we had a pretty clear cut agenda as to how we were going to do this. What we noticed, it’s silly of us to just market on one particular blog or website, ‘Hey guys, we’ve got Talking Gremlin coming out. Can you please download it?’ It’s too generic, it’s too general an audience that it’s reaching out to.

So we looked on Facebook and we saw a Talking Tom Cat again. They had something like 350,000 or 400,000 fans on their Facebook fan page itself. And we were like, ‘We have to target these guys, they’ve obviously got iPhones, iPod Touches, iPads and they’re fans of Talking Tom Cat. We’re a direct competitor, we know our app, as a whole, is much more fun to play with. It’s got better graphics, it’s so cute, it’s amazing.’ So we’re like, let’s target these guys and we used Facebook super sniper. Absolute stupendous levels of budgeting.

Rishi: We basically targeted everybody that was a fan of Talking Tom Cat on Facebook.

Anirudh: Exactly, we were talking to fans who had Talking Tom we at least, focused a little bit more.

Andrew: So you bought ads that targeted people who were fans of your competitor’s product.

Anirudh: Fans of our competitor’s product who had iPhones, who liked iPhones and more so of the general demographic between, I think, something around seven to fifteen years of age because that’s generally what we were targeting. Maybe a little bit older, as well.

Andrew: You’re pointing out one of the dangers of having a big fan community on Facebook. What you’re doing is telling all your competitors, ‘Here is the pool of people you need to go after.’ And that makes it even easier for your competitors to target specifically the ones that they want to take from you.

Anirudh: Exactly, yeah.

Andrew: Like, for example, if you’ve got a business that’s aiming at the high net worth person, you look for your competitor who has high net worth people and maybe you say, ‘I want his fans but only his fans who also have black cars or his fans and only the ones who have been to, what, I don’t know, the South of France.’

Anirudh: But it was a combination of, obviously the marketing side which was important because we needed the downloads but more importantly we knew we had a product to back it up, as well. That’s where we knew that no one would download our product if it looked like complete rubbish. If they see an ad being targeted and they see something completely ridiculous in it, they don’t want to download it. You’re going to have one percent of the people clicking through.

Rishi: Yeah, and Facebook ads are really, really expensive, as well. You’re paying something like 30 cents per click so it’s quite, quite expensive in real terms.

Andrew: So you bought Facebook ads. Look at the language that these guys use, this is what you told Jeremy. We bought a Facebook ad account for sniper-like targeting options.

Anirudh: Absolutely.

Andrew: I like the military sniper-like description of what’s going on here.

Anirudh: We regard the entire apps store as a military battlefield. I think we mentioned that quite clearly in one of the blog entries, as well. Where I’ve mentioned something like the innovation and the annihilation and you’re just going out to the battlefield and crushing the competition who are at the top. It’s all fun and games, but at the same time this is what we do for a living as well, so it’s a load of fun but it’s just the way the world works. You have to be competitive.

Andrew: Alright, so before we talk about the ad network, what I was curious about is, how do you know that 30 cents a click is expensive? How do you know what a user is worth to you and how do you tie it back to what your acquisition costs are?

Rishi: Well, we’re talking remnants quite straight forward actually, because the app was free and we’re monetizing users based on ads, basically.

So our ads were paying when you vote. With my ads were paying really high. We were get like ridiculous amounts of money through ads, like $20 CPM rates on that. So what $20 CPM rates means that for every thousand impressions of an ad click, ad would pay us $20. And that’s a combination of impressions plus clicks as well. And so that was really, really good and we used other network, such as AdMob and Mobclix top anything that IS puts up.

And the good thing about Facebook ads is, what we did is, we didn’t actually to our app directly from Facebook ad. What we did is we used Facebook ads to promote our own fan page, so when someone clicked on our ad, they will go to the Talking Gremlin Fanpage, and they will become a fan of that. We’re able to directly track conversion, and the benefit of doing this, this is why it makes the cost more worth it, is that we’re cranking our own fan base that we could market to in the future, for free. So we got like 3000 talking Gremlin fans, and now we can always send an ad to these guys via fanpage update for free.

Andrew: That makes it harder than to tie in expenses with revenue, right? Because the user has to take several steps before you can monetize.

Rishi: It does, it does.

Andrew: So how do you know if at that point it’s just a guessing game?

Rishi: It won’t a guessing game. I’m pretty sure that we didn’t make money from those users that we generate from Facebook that downloaded the app, we did not recuperate 30 cents in ad revenue from that specific user. But you can’t really look at it in such a narrow way, what you have to look at is that all these people became fans, they own Facebook news people, you’ll tell all their friends that they became a fan of this page. It helped us move up in the rankings, in turn we got more visibility because we’re higher ranked in the iTunes store.

Anirudh: Not to mention the fact that you could upload Talking Gremlin in video to Facebook itself, and that just generates more and more buzz. And that’s what Talking Tom Cat did so well, Which is what we really want to replicate as well, is the virality of it all.

Rishi: So basically doing these adverts, the mark-it-up made it direct proper based from the users that not just app from clicking on the ad. But it got the ball rolling, like the viral aspect of it. People start like uploading videos on YouTube, on Facebook, like emailing videos, they start doing all that kind of stuff. They start recommending it to their friends and that really kick started our organic and word of mouth downloads.

Andrew: OK. So you’re saying that and the other thing that you’ve said that works for you is buy ads through a mobile ad network. Which network are we in and how did that work for you?

Rishi: With mobile ad network, a word of caution first, I don’t want to sound like we’re recommending ad networks out right. We use ad networks in a very, very specific way.

Anirudh: More like a contingent way. As a backup, more so like all out means that we just didn’t leave any stones unturned.

Rishi: So in the app store, for the entertainment section, or for any other section, when you go to top paid or top free charts for entertainment.

Anirudh: On your iPhone.

Rishi: You see a list of 25 apps, and then if you see more than that, you have to press show more, obviously it takes that extra click that users has to take. Most people are going to check the top 25. So Talking Gremlin got to the top 26 position. And we were pretty confident it’s going to keep up, but we thought, why don’t we just give it that extra little kick. Spend a little bit of money on an ad network, just to help it. We didn’t want to not do it and then not break into the top 25, and then regret it for the rest of our lives.

Anirudh: Exactly.

Rishi: So what we did was, we got really, really good deal with our marketing, what we did is we had $250 left of our marketing budget. So we spoke someone at InMobi, and they agreed to double whatever we have. So we input into $250 and they’ll give us another $250 credit, so we actually had another marketing budget of $500, just for the ad network.

Andrew: What do you mean? Like you, as a guy who only has $250, you can negotiate for double the ads from these guys? You have that kind of negotiating power or are they just their published ad rates sp out of whack?

Anirudh: I’ll tell you a story. It was a friend of a friend, and it just this young guy just joined InMobi , and he got us the sweet deal, you could say, regards to that.

But let me mention the fact that, yes, we have 26, and we went gung ho and made sure we went to 25, and we didn’t want to the disappointed, because we spend a lot of high energy and effort, money so on, with Talking Gremlin. And we knew we had a winning product with it. And it wasn’t just the old fact find, we use these guys, we made to the top 25, we maybe hit to 22, 23, so on like that.

It was just very incremental, we hit the top 25, we actually ended up going all the way to the number one position as well. So it was just the app as a whole is pretty successful all the way around.

Andrew: You bought some Facebook ads, you bought some mobile ads, you also did a few other things. You said you made the ad inherently sharable that when someone created a video you made it super easy for them to add it to YouTube, to add it to Facebook, right?

Anirudh: Right.

Andrew: We’ll get to in a moment about how you also encouraged people in all your apps or as many as you can to like you. But let me ask you this, if someone is sharing a video that they made on you app on Facebook and YouTube, how do you get their users who are watching those videos to come back to the app? What’s the strategy that you use for that?

Rishi: Oh, it’s very, very easy. You know when they operate the video you can implement your own [??] so that when they publish the video to YouTube and I think the description of that video would be like [download talking gremlin for free user link].

Andrew That’s all it is. It’s just download this for free link?

Anirudh: Exactly. The title would be something like Talking Gremlin for iPhone. The description will be fairly obvious what it does. Then, obviously, the video will be tied with their fans and so on. I mean they’ll tie them to keep . . . [inaudible].

Rishi: It’s the nature of the app itself, though.

Anirudh: Exactly.

Rishi: Talking Gremlin isn’t an app that you just use by yourself. You think of friends, you try to send funny messages to your friends. It’s not something that you play in isolation.

Anirudh: It’s the kind of app that I could record a message for, say, my grandparents in India or [something like that and they could just open it on YouTube, if the provision of computers and take another look].

Andrew: I see. One of the other soldiers in your army is a Mac based app called Facetab. Facetab, basically, lets people see the messages on Facebook within the Mac menu item, really easy to use. The bottom of it, I believe, there is a button that says Like.

Rishi: Yes.

Andrew: I think you said on one of you blog posts you get hundreds of people to hit Like. We’ve discussed so far how when a company has a lot of fans, a lot of people who like it, it’s easy to pick off their customers. So, we talked about the negative side of it.

Rishi: Easy, easy.

Andrew: There’s obviously a positive side. I’m sorry?

Rishi: : It’s easy, but it’s expensive. It’s all right.

Andrew: It’s easy, but it’s expensive. But let’s talk about the positive side. There’s obviously a reason to do it because you guys are hammering your users or giving them lots of opportunities to like you. You’re proud that you’re getting all these fans. How do you turn those fans into customers and into users?

Anirudh: It’s a number of aspects really. I mean, think of it this way, if you brought Facebook app that launches a new menu bar, it’s got a Like button which obviously relates to Facebook. It’s being used by somebody who is on a Mac. So, I mean, it’s not like it’s a Like button on the app that’s used for traveling in London on an iPhone because that’s not going to work as such.

When you’re on a Mac and you go to the Like button which links you to Facebook within an app which basically includes Facebook, it’s the perfect, perfect combination, in my opinion. I think [Mitch] will agree as well.

Rishi: Yeah. Exactly.

Anirudh: What we do in terms of making these long lasting customers or making them aware of other things is we update them with news and updates with regards to what’s happening with Facetab. We tell them about changes with Facebook that could be current. Kind of like a portal for us to communicate with our fans.

Rishi: Yeah. Just to give an example is that after Facetab we relaunched a similar one called Mailtab which is like a menu bar client for Gmail. What we did is that we advertised this on our app itself in a little text link that showed in app and also we promoted it to our entire fan base. This was all free, didn’t cost us anything.

Anirudh: Exactly.

Rishi: It pushed up mail time into the top ten free charts. Then we launched all together later, but we launched the pro version [??].

Anirudh: Exactly. So, I mean that is, I think, one of the best forms of marketing, especially when you’ve got a Like button which relates in a Mac based app and we’re launching more and more Mac apps.

Andrew: I get the cross promotion. I get how if I’m in one of your apps and you say, “Hey, you like this Facetab app, well, we also have the same thing for Gplus or we also have the same thing for Gmail. I get how that would encourage people to add more of these apps, but what I’m curious is you get these Facebook fans, what are you doing differently? Are you emailing them using the messaging system? Are you just adding things to your wall on your Facebook fan page and bringing them back. What’s been the most effective?

Anirudh: I believe the most effective things is when we engage in discussions with them and it don’t have to be exactly about apps as a whole. We’ve asked them about what do you think of the new Facebook layout. We’ll get 50 Likes and about 15 comments regarding that. Then we can engage with these users, and it makes them feel that the company is actually in touch with these individuals themselves. We like doing that.

Andrew: So it’s not a direct do this, get that number of customers.

Anirudh: No.

Rishi: For example, in the early days of Facetab what we did was a user poll and we said, what new features do want for version two.

Anirudh: Exactly.

Rishi: We got like a ton of people engaged with us, like, we want brown notifications. We want different colored menu bar icons. We hate your menu bar, give us another menu bar icon. We got bunch of feedback. When we implement those changes they come to love us because they’re like, wow, these guys are actually listening to our feedback and releasing an update.

Anirudh: I think one case in particular was this one founder. He had the free version of our app and he was very, very keen. He used to always comment on certain aspects on what he liked and what he didn’t like, and he was always recommending it to others as well on the actual fan page itself. We were so satisfied by his commitment, we actually, you know who asked it’s not that we get so many promo codes, we actually gave him a promo code, but his attitude was so gracious and grateful for that. We knew we had just converted somebody into a fan for life.

Andrewi: Who does this? Is it the two of you who are responding on there or is it someone else?

Anirudh: It’s all us, it’s all us.

Andrew: It’s you, guys. You guys still find time to sit there with the Facebook fans and respond to them all and to chat.

Rishi: It’s very, very important because you want to get feedback from your users, right?

Anirudh: Exactly. I mean what are we without our users? We’re nobody, I mean we’re just somebody with a Facebook app that we can use on our own, that’s ridiculous, we need the users.

Andrew: Alright. I’m sorry, I keep interrupting. Alright, I want to move on to the next topic, but before I do, let me sidetrack for a little bit and tell you this. I was once given a check, a big check from a client, and he said to me after he gave it to me, so what are you going to do now, go buy a Porsche with this? And I was so insulted because I thought, dude, you’re not getting the way I work, this is a real business, you don’t just take money from a business and go out and buy a Porsche, and second that’s not where my head is.

But when I started to make money, even though I didn’t buy a Porsche and a car and all that other stuff, what I did do thought was, remember I refused to make any food at home or have any food at home. Everything from breakfast to lunch to dinner was all taken care of, and everything in my life was. What change have you guys made in your lives since you started bringing in some money?

Anirudh: I think, for us, it’s just, we had a fairly humble background.

Rishi: We moved into an office.

Anirudh: We moved into an office, put it that way. That sounds good.

Andrew: The office, the one that you’re in right now?

Anirudh: Yes, that’s right.

Andrew: That’s it, how much is your office costing you?

Anirudh: It costs us sixteen fifty pounds per month, and it’s a four man set-up but we use it just for the two of us, right now.

Rishi: And it’s a great location, it’s just outside Bond Street, so there’s places to go and eat around here and stuff. We don’t really think about, you know, going out to eat now. It’s like.

Anirudh: Exactly. So I mean, it’s little things like that. I mean, yes, we would like one of the fancy sports cars or something but that would just be jumping into things a bit too quick.

Rishi: Yeah, we’re the bootstraps, so you know, it’s not like we’ve got a ton of VC money and we just go and stash it about.

Anirudh: Exactly.

Rishi: I mean we still value money, even though we’re making $30,000 in profit every month. We still value money.

Anirudh: I mean, Andrew, I’ll let you know, I’m an avid, avid car enthusiast, I mean for me.

Andrew: What’s the car you’re going to get when you finally have a little bit of time to do it?

Anirudh: Oh goodness, I would love something like a Mazerati Grand Tourismo, S, add that as well.

Andrew: What would that car go for, I mean, I don’t know cars well.

Anirudh: Yeah, sorry.

Andrew: What does that go for, a Mazerati whatever S?

Anirudh: Around 80,000 pounds on road, something like that, roughly, so it’s a fair bit of money but that would be my dream.

Andrew: Do you keep that in the back of your mind, like for days when you’re frustrated do you say, but, you know what, this is going to be the reward that will be there. The way that someone whose working hard might have a cupcake at the end of the day if they get this all done. Do you do that?

Anirudh: Well, I mean, it’s good to be grounded but at the end of the day you have to have your hopes high and you have to have certain goals and aspects. I mean, we’re not so forward thinking that you know, yeah seven months from now that’s the day when I’m going to have my Mazerati, I’m going to be made by then. But, it’s little things like, I’ll be going to India over Christmas. I want to in the back of my mind know that I’m sitting there passively making good money and at the same time having a good lifestyle because at the end of the day, the reason why Rishi and I have done this was to get away from the clutches of the million man and the whole investment banking lifestyle, because I’ve got a load of friends who work sixteen, seventeen, eighteen hours a day.

They’re doing one hundred and ten hour weeks out of one hundred and sixty eight that are available, physically. And for what? For what? In the bigger picture, they’re adding no real significance to the world as a whole. And I feel their so smart, they’re so bright, they’re so creative that the entire persona is being limited to an office cubicle. And I think that’s just harsh and more people need to reach out and understand what life is all about because you only live once.

Rishi: Yeah, it’s not, for us it’s not just about the money that we make, it’s more about the lifestyle that we live.

Anirudh: Exactly.

Rishi: It’s like we don’t have to worry about going and working nine to five, you know, if Anirudh wants to come in to the office at twelve o’clock he just comes in, he doesn’t have to worry about. He doesn’t have to come in at all, he doesn’t, you know he can play video games all day if he wants.

Andrew: You know what the big perk is, from what I’ve seen, is the big Mac, the Mac that has the big screen or the Air. Like, that’s the little rewards that we entrepreneurs often give ourselves because it’s often about doing business a little bit better.

Anirudh: Yeah.

Rishi: Exactly. Basically yeah, like when we really made our first bit of cash, like we got our first payment into our bank account we just bought ourselves like little Mac Book Pros with S and C drives, because we use that everyday it’s worth spending on it.

Anirudh: Yeah, it’s more of a business investment rather than just a play thing.

Andrew: That’s, by the way, I love living. I’m good friends with Colin and when we were in Argentina, we were Argentina at the same time and every time I’d see him he’d have a new Apple product, like when the iPad 2 came out, he had that and I think he had to have it because obviously he’s going to port the software for it, which, maybe it was the iPad 1, I forget, but he would have it. When the new iPhone came out he would have it. It was just so friggin’ cool and fun and when you’re talking about perks, those are some of the best ones. I don’t care that Google gives you free food, I would rather just have access to the latest gadget. I’m sorry, I sidetracked us. I want to go back to the next tactic and you mentioned earlier, “If you go free, also have a pro version.” Tell me about that strategy.

Rishi: I think you should illustrate it with a concrete example based on what we did.

Anirudh: I was going to start off with London Cycle. The point is that London Cycle initially launched as a free app. We wanted to get our name across for a very topical news feature and it was right there in the media so we launched a free app. It did really, really well, but we were hardly making any money because ad networks in the UK and London especially weren’t exactly paying us that much money so we were still making about $30, $15, $20 a day, something like that.

So we heard from our customers, “You know what? Please give us a stripped-down, no ad, no B.S. version of your app. We were like, “Why not?”, so we took away the ads, we created a pro version, we cross-promoted it from the free one. On the main screen we have an ad itself that doesn’t interfere with the Google Maps feature of the app itself. Instantly, it shot up as a top ten travel app within 24 or 12 hours?

Rishi: I know there were already paid alternatives out there that were around $0.99 and we launched ours at $3 because we knew we had those users that wanted to upgrade. They were emailing us.

Anirudh: Exactly, so with that we could cross-promote the number one paid app, and it was only because we listened to our customers. That’s the thing about it.

Andrew: So the stats that you guys told Jeremy is that you have 12,000 unique downloads a day of the Facetab app that I described earlier. For the pro version how many paid customers do you get per day?

Anirudh: This was when the Facetab app was at its complete peak when it was number one in the Mac store. Currently it’s at number seven in the U.S. app store, and it’s in the region of about 6,000 worldwide downloads right now. If you were to be number one – I think the store’s grown a lot since April – it would be something in the region of around 20,000. With regards to our paid one, at our peak it was something like 1400 or 1200 units a day.

Rishi: 1200 units.

Anirudh: 1200 units a day…

Andrew: And how much were you charging?

Anirudh: It was $1.99 and we had an initial sale at $0.99 as well for the first two days.

Andrew: So you had $0.70 times 1200 is that the number?

Anirudh: No, it’s $1.99 right now, so it’s $1.39 times 1200 at its peak. Right now it’s at 500-600.

Andrew: OK, so another contributor into the business.

Rishi: That’s right.

Anirudh: Exactly. Because it’s a staple app that we rely on as a whole, but it’s definitely one of our flagship apps.

Andrew: So you have a free app that’s ad-based, how much does it cost you to convert that same app into paid with no ads?

Anirudh: I think for something like London Cycle for instance, it was just us removing the ad banner there.

Rishi: It was like a ten minute job.

Anirudh: It was a ten minute job. It cost us pretty much nothing, but as a whole it gives that app the upper edge. It’s a pro version and it’s not got ads. If somebody doesn’t want to use ads, but they use the app every single day, what is 1.79 pounds? What is $3 for something that you use on a day in and day out basis? It’s nothing. So that there it cost us nothing, but with regards to the Face app, the light and the pro version, there’s a clear distinction. Our light and pro versions are completely separate apps almost. The light is a teaser of what the pro offers you. The pro offers you chat, which is one of the main features with broad notifications. It has a color coded menu, it has broad notifications, it has capacity controls, and so on and so forth, so it has a ton of features which the light doesn’t even touch.

Andrew: Alright, I’m sorry to keep this moving, but the next tactic that you mentioned when talking to Jeremy is that we’re using pre-interviews now. How did the pre-interview go for you?

Rishi: It was actually pretty good. It just helped us get all of our tactics condensed into ten points.

Anirudh: Exactly.

Andrew: OK, good. I want to make sure that I’m adding more value to the interview for the guests and also for you guys. I appreciate the time that you spent here just doing the interviews and to add one more step or requirement, I want to make sure that it pays off for you. It sounds like it does.

Anirudh: Perfect. It really helps us understand this has a structure and where it will go. We can be ready with a few points we want to mention especially, and so on.

Andrew: Alright. If something does well, rinse and repeat. Tell me about that tactic.

Rishi: That tactic is no better illustrated than what we’ve done with our talking apps framework. So once we made Talking Gremlin, we knew we had a hit success and we quickly followed up with an app called Talking Snowball for the Christmas period.

Anirudh: So yes, the Gremlin had a one and a half or two month development cycle. Talking Snowball had something like three weeks. It was a lot quicker, it was a lot faster. We had the framework and…

Rishi: It was just the design of the character that we needed.

Anirudh: Exactly. And more specifically, rinse and repeat was our Talking Gremlin Christmas Special which cost us $500 to add a new background to the Gremlin. That app, over the Christmas period, itself generated about $40,000 for us.

Andrew: $40,000! You sent $5,000 just repurposing . . .

Anirudh: $500 for that one.

Andrew: $500, excuse me, and you get $40,000 from that. I see also, I didn’t see it on your website, but what I saw somewhere is that what you have FaceTab? You have, is it MailTab? And then you have a Google Plus tab?

Anirudh: Absolutely. So it’s pretty much 90% of the core business as well. The way the Google Plus tab ties in, it was again with the right timing. It was the thing to be talking about. So we got a script down, version 1.0, out in pretty much two weeks or three weeks after Google Plus was launched itself, which was the first app for Google Plus in the Mac App store. So again we beat the market to it.

Rishi: Yeah and it got covered in Life Hacker and Unofficial Apple Weblog and we’ve just been the first one. They want to write articles about Google Plus because that’s what drives traffic to their websites.

Anirudh: Exactly.

Rishi: So it was in their interest to cover that.

Andrew: Can I tell you guys something? I know that the whole world is watching Dancing with the Stars, actually I know in the U.S., everyone’s just getting carried away with Dancing with the Stars and the X-Factor. I’ve not seen a single episode of them, of those shows, but here I am hanging on every one of your words. There’s something about, maybe I’m just a unique person or maybe this audience and I are just in this small, crazy minority, but there’s something about hearing an entrepreneur saying, ‘This is the thinking that went into creating this app.’ ‘

This is how I took this other app that I already had, I added $500 bucks and a little bit of a twist to it and I got $40,000.’ I’m not getting any richer for listening to it. I’m not going to be able to eat differently or think differently for sure, but it’s entertainment. It’s an entertainment for me. I don’t know what it is. Do you guys feel the same way when you listen to Mixergy interviews?

Rishi: Oh definitely. It’s so inspiring. Every time you just hear about some of the tips that other entrepreneurs have, you know, giving over these interviews. It’s definitely like eye-opener, like, why didn’t I think of that before?

Anirudh: Exactly. That’s one of the things. It’s like, ‘Man I should have done that,’ you know? Especially because you hear that these guys spent $500 and made $40,000, that must have been super easy, but there was a lot of backend work involved from getting Gremlin initially out in the first place. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but at the same time it’s good to be able to see into the insight behind how we went from a concept to production to wide scale success.

Rishi: I mean we’ve been relentless. I mean, for example, with FaceTab. We’ve had one of our competitors called Facebox Pro. They were a paid app at $5 and they basically gave up on the market when we came into play. But what they did is that they just said, ‘Forget it, we’ll just make our paid app totally free’ and it went straight to number one in the App Store. [??] It’s been ridiculing ourselves the last few months. We’ve managed to beat them everywhere apart from the U.S. marketplace.

Anirudh: I’d actually like to interject as well. Because initially when we launched FaceTab, we had this idea. When we knew the Mac App Store was coming. We were like, ‘What are people going to be using the Mac for like Facebook, Gmail and so on.’

Rishi: The marketplace is going to be constant.

Anirudh: Yeah the marketplace is going to be constant. Apps like that. You know, everybody uses Facebook on their Mac. What we wanted to do was the first Facebook app of its kind. But at that time we were working as freelancers and it was difficult for us to get someone out with an app that quickly as well. In that time, another app called Face Menu launched exactly almost exactly what we had in mind. A menu bar based Facebook app . . .

Rishi: $5 app.

Anirudh: $5 app, you know, completely killing the App Store making tons of money.

Rishi: They’re like ranked top five [??]. At $5 they’re probably making a couple of [??] . . .

Anirudh: Exactly. We’ve top five at about $2, which as you can see is about $2,000. So they must have been making about $2,000 a day. Which is a lot, but when we came out with a cheaper, free and a pro version with a paid one as well, we completely killed them. They so much so, shut shop and left the entire App Store to be completely annihilated.

Rishi: If you search for Face Menu, you won’t find them.

Anirudh: Exactly, but then FaceBox Pro did what they did.

Rishi: Yeah. Another competitor called FaceBox Pro which was completely crap, but they just had a big [??] icon because they didn’t care about breaching copyright.

Anirudh: Yeah that’s a different story.

Rishi: Yeah so they started ranking number one because they went from $5 to $3.

Anirudh: Because any lay man would be like, ‘Wow this app was once $5 and now it’s $3, it must be much better than the ones which are free to begin with.’ So that’s where they started completely damaging us. Making $1800/day from FaceTab and we went down to making something like $4-500 a day because we completely just sunk in the ratings and we were relentless. We fought and we fought and we knew we had the better product and we can do it. In fact in a blog we mentioned that by November we would have overtaken FaceBox Pro. That’s all actually happened.

Rishi: Last week.

Anirudh: Yeah that happened last week now. I think FaceBox Pro is somewhere in the region of 35 . . .

Andrew: How do you beat a competitor that goes from $5 to free and gets number one? At that point he has a lot of users, a lot of ratings . . .

Anirudh: I’ll tell you. They were not maintaining the app at all. Since May they haven’t updated the app once. We’ve been completely, you know, up to date with terms with regards to any changes that Facebook is making with its code. Implementing similar changes to our app. So their app is actually broken. It does not work.

Rishi: It doesn’t work properly.

Anirudh: Because as you’ve seen there have been numerous changes to Facebook of late and their app actually does not function, but just because it was visible in the top ten, people see it.

Rishi: They had to get so many one start downloads but because it’s ranked highly, people just download it blindly, right? So even though their app was broken, it took us a few months to outrank them.

Anirudh: What happens is, when people see a broken app they do two things. They either forget about using another Facebook app all together or they search for something that actually works. And over time, they searched for something that worked and they found us. And slowly but steadly we kept rising, kept rising, kept rising, to the point that now we are a top ten app. We’ve overtaken them completely and they don’t like it.

Rishi: And as soon as we overtook them, they’ve completely tanked outside of [xx].

Anirudh: Exactly. It was interesting watching this because you could see us rising, rising, rising, and as soon as we overtook them, they’re like, bam, thirty-fifth position and we’re seventh. It’s just completely…

Andrew: All right, I’m going to put out a call right now for the developer of either of those two apps. If you want to come here to Mixergy and tell your story, I’d love to hear it. All respect to the story, I’m not going to treat it as if you guys were defeated by these guys. I’m just curious about your story and I’d love to hear it here. And it sounds like Rishi and Ani would, too. All right, final point is don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Anirudh: Sure

Andrew: So, how do you diversify? I think I’ve got a good sense of it, but give me a little more detail on that.

Rishi: If we just step back a bit we did [??]. That didn’t make us much money. London Cycle, huge success. Made some good money on advertising, but our main aim for London Cycle was to get our company name out around London. And it kind of did work out because we attracted Orange Box as a client. We were trying to get sponsorship and we were actually approached by [xx] who were really, really super keen on sponsoring our app. We actually went to a couple of meetings with them and we were pretty naive at that stage because we were talking about a five year sponsorship deal in the hundreds of thousands. They asked for our development spec timetable and we just handed that over.

We weren’t happy about doing it, but we didn’t want to sacrifice the deal, which was worth nearly half a million on just not willing to send our development timetable to them. So we did that and then we were meant to hear back from them in two weeks time and they just didn’t get back to us. We chased it up and they just ended up deciding they didn’t want to sponsor our app and they wanted to go it alone and make their own app, which is actually against what the government wanted them to do, but they decided to do it anyway.

Anirudh: The entire agenda was the fact that the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, actually plead out to indie app developers to come up with a solution to the scheme because in the past the government had made its own app. It was hugely criticized because the budget would be something like ‚ǧ200 000 pounds and it would be an incomplete project. But, if you ask individuals who actually know how to make apps to make an app, it’s going to be cheaper for the government because it’s going to be nothing to them.

Rishi: Yeah, I think an example is they made an app for job seekers, they spent ‚ǧ40 000 on it and it was just an app that those in the RSS feed. They spent ‚ǧ40 000 on it and first you have to question, why did they spend 40 000 on such a simple app and more importantly, why did they make an iPhone app for job seekers. How many job seekers are going to afford an iPhone? What’s that all about? So, basically they changed tactics for it. Instead of making the apps ourselves, we’ll challenge app developers to come up with a third party solution.

Anirudh: Which is why it would be condemned for Barclays to make an official app for the scheme, especially since they’re sponsoring the scheme itself and the whole idea was for indie app developers to make it in the first place. So when we had the number one app, for Barclay’s to talk to us made logical sense for them to sponsor our app without making it an official app.

Rishi: We’re adding 10 000 new users every day.

Anirudh: Exactly. We were featured at the time and it was the number one travel app across the United Kingdom. But what they did instead was, they took our spec sheet. We were stupid. We were completely naive at the time. They ended up creating their own app.

Rishi: After, like, 12 months.

Anirudh: Yeah, after 12 months when we completely rinsed out the market anyway. And, they went some much so as to use the FIPLAB keyword in the search keywords of their app itself. So that was a completely…

Andrew: Why did they do that? Did it fit in somehow? Did they copy and paste your description? How did your name end up on their description?

Rishi: When you create an app on iTunes Connect, when you’re about to submit your app, there’s a field there that says keywords. So you can type in relevant keywords. So you’d type in cycle, travel, cycling, bikes. And what they did was they typed in FIPLAB in there, for god knows what. We do know why. Because they wanted to come up when people search for our company.

Anirudh: Exactly. And the thing was their app is nowhere near as successful as ours. Also, at the same time, it’s got an inverse scale with regards to how well our app has done. So ours has something like 650 five stars and so on. It goes like this in terms of five stars, four stars, three stars, two stars, one star. Theirs is the other way around. Its got more negative stars and its got realistic [xx].

Rishi: So, people were downloading their app thinking it was ours and then sending us support requests saying, “Why is your app not working?” “It’s a bug.” “I did this, I followed these steps and it doesn’t work.” And we tried to reproduce that on our app and we were like, “Wait, that button doesn’t exist. You can’t do that.”

Anirudh: So, what it’s doing is essentially taking away our downloads and at the same time, putting people off against the entire FIPLAB idea and our success of the app itself.

Andrew: So, what you’re saying is that because you had other apps, because you’re not just about this one thing that you’re focused on, you can recover as a business. You can earn revenue from other apps.

Rishi: We really didn’t care about them launching their own app, because we were working on all our talking apps, on the map business, we weren’t killed by them launching their own app.

Andrew: Here’s what I’m wondering. Because we’ve a talked a lot about all the different apps you make, and how easy it is to create multiple apps and diversify, but here’s what we didn’t talk about, the difficulty of it. And each one of these apps has its own market, its own customers, its own understanding, its own competitors, how do you keep track of it all, how do you go into Facebook fan pages for all these guys, how do you keep track of all the feedback you’re getting? How do you make sure that you’re fully engaged in every one of these?

Rishi: I’ll tell you, it’s quite difficult, Andrew. We had a plan and basically after doing the talking apps, we found that the ad revenues were decreasing. IOS weren’t paying $20 CPM.

Anirudh: Nine dollars or something like that.

Rishi: We were still making good money but no where near as much as before, and we’re like hey, we don’t want our whole business to be reliant on talking apps, and free apps at that like based purely on ad networks. We decided to expand to Mac apps, create some more paid apps, and free apps would up-sale to paid apps. And our main tactic at that point was to expand our portfolio as fast as possible. And what we’re doing now that we’ve got a big portfolio is actually going back and improving each of those apps and bring them up to par getting them really, really high quality. So before where as our tactic was just to expand, don’t track things too much, just expand, and hopefully each of them, you know, even if they bring in $50 each a day would be fine. And now we’re focusing more on building up a proper [??] in the market.

Anirudh: I think diversification comes for us in the form of, it used to be making paid apps, and then we went on to creating free apps, and this was all on the IOS, iPhone, iPad platform, from then we went on to creating Mac apps, free apps, paid apps. And now our revenue stream exists in the form of both free apps on the IOUS, and Mac site, although the Mac apps don’t pay us anything because there’s no ad network there, but they cost no more than other apps. And paid apps which exist on the IOUS and Mac platforms as well. So we’ve got four different income streams coming in with regards to our apps [??].

Andrew: So, if I’m understanding you right. What you’re saying to me is Andrew, we basically are throwing stuff out there and we’re small enough and hungry enough to work 20 plus hour days in order to maintain it. From my view, it seems like you haven’t yet mastered this. You haven’t yet figured out how to keep track of every one of these apps. Or how to keep track of more apps than you have right now and still keep your sanity. As you develop, maybe you’ll have another developer in this four person office of yours who can manage some of these apps. Maybe you’ll find ways to create a product manager for each one of them. Am I understanding right?

Rishi: We’ve never ever worked like 20 consecutive hours straight, maybe a few times when Talking Gremlins was going to be launched, but we don’t work that way. I mean when we made our apps even the basic version ones I mean we put some app in the market that was useable. What we’re doing now is that we’re going back on all those version ones, upgrading to version two, version three, improving them, adding features that users have been requesting for the past few months and just taking it one step at a time.

Anirudh: What we do is so much better if you have an idea that, you know you feel the market needs, it’s so much better to just come up with a version 1.0 as soon as possible, because it’s no strings attached, you will not be emotionally attached to that particular app.

Rishi: I’d rather spend one week on an app and had if failed spending six months developing something, putting my heart and soul into it only to find out it gets like five sales in its whole lifetime.

Anirudh: And a lot of people do that and it’s incredibly disappointing.

Rishi: I see it time and time a again, people saying you know, I developed this app, it took me six months, why isn’t it getting any sales, help me out, and this is basically because either they haven’t marketed it right, or…

Anirudh: Time and time again, they will put it so many extra features that nobody really needs.

Rishi: And this is actually going back to the fact that we’re bootstrapped. We’re bootstrapped and we’re always looking at how to make money. A VC backed company, I know a few around here that are operating, they spent like 12 months making an app and I’m not going to name them because that’s not very nice. But they spent 12 months an app, and you ask them, well, how are you guys going to monetize this, and they’re like, oh, we don’t know, we’re just focused on gathering users. And then, they launch their app onto the app store and it doesn’t get any downloads, it gets a couple hundred downloads, and that’s 12 months that you just wasted making this app, and then no one’s even interested in them. And we can’t afford to do that because we’re bootstrapped.

Andrew: All right, let me say this, our time is almost up, I’m going to ask you one more question in a moment, but first let me do a little plug here for If you’re one of the few people who’s made it this far in the interview, it seems to me you’re someone who’s really concerned, and really interested in creating an iPhone app. If you go to, we’ve got multiple courses with me leading them, where entrepreneurs who built successful iPhone apps show their computer screen, and walk you through step by step how they found developers, how they build design, how they did usability. All this stuff.

If you like my attitude, and the way that I just keep driving at new tactics and keep pushing and pushing, those courses are going to be for you. If you don’t like it, if you think, ‘Boy. That’s not, that guy Andrew is a little too pushy, or he’s a little too obsessed with details,’ I totally get it. It’s probably going to be for you. Premium members, sorry there, If you’re not a premium member, I hope you sign up and join us. There are a lot of courses with this kind of attitude in them. And by the way, most people, I don’t think, are into it. I’ve got to be honest and accept it, because I see other iPhone podcasts. I see other conversations with developers. It’s a whole lot of bitching and moaning about Apple, or getting excited about Apple products, or talking about how beautiful Android’s new whatever is, and I know that a lot of people love the bitching, the debating, the gawking.

It’s just not my personal style, and even though it would mean I’d have a bigger audience if I could participate in that, I’m not sure if it’s factual. Show me results. I’m not here just to fondle Steve Jobs’ technology. I’m here on this earth to leave some kind of a mark, and even though it means that there are fewer people who gravitate towards this message, the few people who do, boy, they are my people. That’s what I care about. And you guys are. Colin is, and I appreciate that. You guys, I see that you get it.

Anirudh: Definitely. I mean, come and [??] You know? There are so many people who pretend to be someone they’re not. The entrepreneur badge is too loosely associated with people these days, and the listing is, I mean, [??] and I talk about this on a daily basis. It’s people who pretend to be someone they’re not, and then advising others wanting to pretend to be them, and that’s just one…

Rishi: I think those guys would never come on your actual show, because…

Anirudh: Exactly.

Andrew: So I had one of them, actually. We do a good job of screening them out, but there was one guy who was actually speaking at a conference recently, who claimed to be a founder of a big company. I won’t say the name. But the way that he worded it in his speaker bio, it doesn’t say he’s the founder of. He’s a founding me-, it’s like he’s using wordplay to get himself to be a founder, and then he’s going out and he’s giving advice, and the advice is shit. It’s just meaningless. I had him on here and I called him out on it, let him spin so that the audience could see that he’s a top, not an entrepreneur, just spinning around.

Again, if all these conferences don’t do their homework on these people, I feel bad that I ask entrepreneurs to do the pre-interview, but I know it helps. I feel grateful though, that we do research on guests to make sure that this BS doesn’t get out there. And you’re right. You told me before the interview. If any entrepreneur listens to these idiots, they’re going to go in the wrong direction. They’re going to be completely misled. They’re going to waste their time, and they’re going to feel insecure for not going anywhere.

Anirudh: I’m very against that in a way, because sometimes these people end up having a spot in a university, giving a lecture of some sort, and it’s all these bright-eyed individuals just completely gawking at the scope of entrepreneurship and where it can take them. Especially right now, in the UK, where the entrepreneurship culture is building more and more because jobs are so difficult to find as well. It’s just completely leading them up the wrong path, and I think it’s completely the wrong thing to do. People need to own up.

Rishi: Yeah. They basically have awards like here. They have awards like, Britain’s Top Graduate Entrepreneur, and it’s basically a popularity contest. Whoever can get the most votes gets the award. They don’t bother to look at the person’s business, their accounts, revenue, let’s say. I’m always curious about this. I always go. I’ve got access to companies’ accounts. I can do a credit check on everyone. So I go and check…

Andrew: Alright. Let me make that the last question. I was going to ask you a different question, but this one’s even bigger than that. How are you looking at people’s accounts to know whether they’re real or not? You told me this in the pre-interview. You said… you tell me. How do you know if someone’s got real money, and a real business or not?

Rishi: You can subscribe to those different services. One is Credit Gain, I think, and you just type in their company name, and it pulls up all their accounts, because accounts are public information.

Andrew: You know what, though? But I remember Dun & Bradstreet is a company here that tells you how much revenue companies have. It’s all self-reported. I remember thinking, ‘Boy, that’s impressive. I can go and look on Dun & Bradstreet to see how much revenue my competitors have,’ and then one day I get a phone call from them, and they said, who’s running this company? We’re trying to fill this out, and I said, ‘Me,’ and he starts asking me questions like, ‘How much revenue do you have?’ and I forget what number I gave him, but whatever number I gave him he just put in there.

Rishi: I guess it was a bit different over there. What happens here is when we submit our official company accounts to Company’s House, they’ve got, these credit checking companies have a relationship with Company’s House. So they get all that data that we submit to Company’s House.

Andrew: Oh. I see.

Anirudh: Does it specify a court hearing and date that that’s actually been released?

Rishi: Yeah. Say for example, a company comes to you. They want to buy some of your products. You want to make sure that they have the funds to purchase your products. You’re not going to give them credit, otherwise. That’s why this service is there so you could check up on the cash-flow money that these companies are owning. You don’t want to give an order to a company that’s got five CCJs on their account or something like that.

Andrew: All right. Well, it seems like Britain is different from here.

Rishi: Andrew, one more thing. If you invite us on your master class, I want to give your audience a bit of a tip. I want to explain how, in five minutes, we might actually increase our revenues by $20,000 a year.

Andrew: You want to do a master class teaching that?

Rishi: Right. It would be about a five minute master class.

Anirudh: So it’s a mega-tip, or it’s a master-tip.

Andrew: What is the tip? How do we find it?

Rishi: Well, if you want me to tell you now, I can tell you now. Otherwise you can stay with me and [inaudible].

Andrew: I’ve got five minutes before my next interview. Hit me with it now, and then I’ve got to go record another interview. Today, what I’ve done is stacked all my interviews over two days, and then the other three days, I sit on a beach.

Anirudh: I like that.

Andrew: That’s not exactly it, but the other three days I don’t have to do anything. Hit me. Five minutes. Wait. Actually, you know what? How about we do this?

Rishi: I don’t even need five minutes.

Andrew: Well, all I’m going to say is this: I’m going to say, ‘Everyone, thank you all for watching,’ and we’re going to make this tip as a separate…no, screw that. I’ve got to just roll with it. Give me the tip right here. Let’s not make them go and watch another video.

Rishi: This is what we did. We’ve been talking about this whole cross-motion business. How, you know, when our talking apps, we have a grid that opens up. When you launch an app and it links to all our different talking apps. On Facetime we have a text link at the bottom that links to our other app Disk Stop and Memory Clean, so on and so forth. We’ve got all these links, and what I did, which basically took me five minutes, is I signed up for LinkShare, which is Apple’s affiliate scheme, which gives you 5% or 10% of any revenue that you generate.

I’ve known about this for a while, but what a lot of developers don’t know, and what I didn’t know, until a few weeks ago is that when a user clicks on that link, anything they buy over the entire iTunes store in the next 72 hours, you get credited for. So what I went and did is, in five minutes I went and added this special affiliate link to all our cross-motion pages, and I just waited and saw. My revenue already is between $50 to $70 a day just from adding that affiliate link.

Anirudh: And if you scale that up for the course of the entire year, and you’ve just made yourself 15 or $20,000 just by changing a link over the course of five minutes.

Andrew: And this is where you guys are supposed to link within your apps to other apps, and do they return the favor? Do they reciprocate with you, or is this…

Anirudh: It’s our own other apps.

Andrew: Oh, I see. When you’re linking to your own apps in the store instead of linking directly, you’re linking using LinkShare, which is the affiliate program. So now you get commission on your own sales, and you get commission on any other sales they make in the store.

Anirudh: Exactly. People necessarily don’t have to buy our app, but the fact that they clicked our link to the store is what we use.

Rishi: Andrew, you know where this is really powerful is with our talking apps. Because they’re free, people click them and they download them. So then the download is really the…there’s a one percent conversion rate. Between our talking apps, the conversion rate’s 10-20%. So when they download our talking app, they might go and then buy an album or a TV show on iTunes, and I can check and see what people are buying, and I see them buying TV shows for 20 bucks and we’re getting 5% of that.

Anirudh: Or like the entire Beatles collection for $75. That helps.

Andrew: This is…and people have actually done that off your link?

Rishi: Yeah, you can see what they’re buying [inaudible].

Andrew: I can’t imagine now any iPhone developer who listened all this way is going to be so freaking grateful for this. I can’t imagine any iPhone developer not wanting to do this. We’ve torn this down. We’ve gotten into details here. Let me tell you guys, if you’re watching, what to do. First of all, thank them. I always say thank the guests. That’s the way you connect with them. You don’t just want to be a passive viewer, you want to be an active participant, a player in life. Join the conversation. Join this game that we’re all playing, and one of the ways to do that is to just contact them and say, ‘Thank you. Thanks for doing this.’

The second thing I recommend you do is you check out their site and blog, because these guys just keep talking and talking about what they’re learning, They share my attitude toward just details and information. They’ve got a new podcast at with my buddy Collin, whose name you guys keep hearing. They’re going to tear down iPhone apps and learn from them, and that’s about it, right?

Rishi: Yeah, that’s it. Thanks for the interview.

Andrew: Thank you for doing this interview, and thank you all for watching.

Rishi: Bye.

Anirudh: Bye.

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