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The greatest gift technology has given modern day entrepreneurs is the ability to see the once guarded information of what other successful people are doing. We have all heard that success leaves clues, so when you are reading our guest blogs, make sure you see what specific nuggets of wisdom you can take and implement into your own business. It’s not just about emulating the Cubans or the Bransons, it’s just as important to see how “regular” people with a passion created their dream life.
Today, we’re excited to have one of our members share their success story with you.
Shaun Gianetti was actually one of our original AE members back in 2012, and has been a consistent power player and contributor in our Alumni group. Shaun has a ton of experience producing a wide range of apps, which gives him a unique insight on this business. Originally his app business started as a passion project with his son, but now has grown into an established machine of 45 published apps with 10 in progress. Shaun is now the largest publisher of apps in his country and has been a regular guest speaker in Trinidad.
Q: Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with our community, Shaun! Walk me through the step-by-step process that you went through to get to where you are today. What was the first thing you did? Next?
A: Although my first app did not make me much money (to speak of), it is what launched me into the business. And for that I am grateful. My son was having learning difficulties and a teacher suggested “Fry’s Sight Words”… so I downloaded several apps that fit that description. But I was not happy with the UI/Functions and general abilities. I thought, “I bet I could design a better app.” Fresh out of a webinar on publishing apps with no code writing experience, I searched for more and more info about getting into this business. I came across the App Empire course, I was also attending Trey Smith webinars too. Luckily for me Trey was a friend of Chad Mureta and was offering Chad’s course and a bonus to his “Mobile Game System” and “Project Zero.” So that is where it started.
The App Empire Alumni FB was a buzz of activity and ultimately one of the greatest resources for information and encouragement from my peers. I was among the first to reskin a game app. Avalanche Mountain. I was also fortunate to find an excellent Art Studio and quickly became friends with the Lead Art Director. He in turn put me on to a Ukrainian programmer who built my first “from scratch” game that was amazingly successful and yielded 700% ROI.
Q: Amazing – we’re glad to have you in the Alumni too! You’ve always been super helpful to other members. And it’s a testament to why you’re successful that you kept going even though your passion project didn’t return the results you hoped. Many people stop there! Why do you feel your “from scratch” game saw 700% ROI? What do you attribute that to?
A: Haha, At least I can say that the passion project is what got me into the business. The tricks back then to get noticed (and high ROI) no longer work. One of the Ninja tricks for that app was to release it as Paid at $4.99 for almost a week. It was nerve wrecking as that first week had dreadfully low downloads. Then I switched to free at midnight on Friday. The app got noticed by websites that track price changes. It took off like a rocket. Averaging 20,000 to 25,000 downloads per day for the first week of being free, then the next week 10k-12k per day and so on. Of course the ad network was switched on. Back then RevMob had an eCPM of about $20. So earnings were excellent. Within 2-3 weeks my app had paid for itself and it was all gravy from there. I repeated that Free/Paid trick with many games, over time it became less and less effective. Funny story: I knew it hit a nerve when I got flagged by Apple with a request to change my App name. It was “World of War Tanks”. There was a PC online game called “World of Tanks” that complained that mine was creating confusion with their game (even though they did not have an iOS game). 2 years later they created an iOS game. I changed my name after arguing with them for a month. It was during December. I changed it to Global War Tanks in January.
Q: You know you’re doing something right when you’re creating some waves! What were some of your biggest obstacles? How did you get through them?
A: I can’t say that I’ve had huge obstacles. My education app that was my first development missed its launch window and bombed. But all of my games have covered these costs. The biggest hurdle for any app publisher now is “discovery”. Compared to a year and a half ago, launches have had really poor results by comparison. ASO is more and more important to each app.
Q: Would you say your game “bombed” because your launch window was missed or did you feel other factors were involved? And how do you assess apps now that you think will fail or be successful? What do you look for before building it out?
A: When I first researched this app and keywords, the peak search period on Google around the World was September/October. Why? Because parents would have had their first meeting with their child’s teacher and the recommendation would have been get “Sight words” for your kid… and parents would go Google it. My launch was mid to late November… ack!!! Close to the end of the School Term. I missed the boat. It was either that or wait a year… I dove in and eventually recovered 20% . The key to assessing apps is ensuring that you have done your best at producing a quality app. Don’t cut corners for expediency. Do your best to research ASO and trends.
Q: Did you ever having a turning point or hallelujah moment that really cemented things for you?
A: For me the realization that games should be my focus came early. Most of my apps have done reasonably well. A couple duds here and there, but despite this, my profitability is at about 80% above cost. Many who entered a year after me are still underwater.
Q: What do you see as common mistakes people are making that keep them underwater?
A: I think I was lucky to get in when I did, when discovery was much easier. The most common mistake people make is to think that stock art will cut it. Another is hiring a lousy graphic designer or buying code just because it is cheap, but may have poor user experience or potential for retention. But there are also other problems that don’t help the situation, sometimes the App Store is just broken and your app is never discovered. I recently released a beautiful puzzle game and discovery has been non-existent. It peaked at 90 DLs and reduced to 0-5 per day. It’s 2 weeks old with some good reviews. Too much crap to compete with out there? Maybe.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about this business? What drives you to keep going?
A: I love the creative aspects of this business. Years ago I was an advertising Creative Director. So this keeps my creative juices flowing. It’s fun. And all my 10 y.o. son’s school friends think he has the coolest Dad, cause I make games
Q: Haha that’s awesome. Love to hear that! What is one of the most memorable pieces of advice you ever received?
A: Simplicity of App names… I showed Trey Smith a game of mine about 1 1/2 years ago. I thought I had a super cool game name. He suggested “Just call it: Helicopter War Game”. It was a hit and my most successful Project Zero Game.
Q: Right, it’s amazing how often people tend to complicate things. I’ve definitely been guilty of it.
Q: The inconsistency of Apple reviewers – just crazy. What are other things you or you feel people need to simplify in this business?
A: App names should be 2-3 words at best. Long names just look like a scam. Unprofessional. Developers need to concentrate on quality, not necessarily quantity. (Less stress too)
Q: It’s one thing to get started (a huge struggle in itself!), but it’s another thing to get over those first hurdles and become what we call a “success story.” How do you feel others can get over these hurdles to really accelerate their growth and find their own success?
A: People have to know up front that this is not a get rich quick scheme. Your first app is not going to make you a Bazillion Dollars. You need to keep publishing and build experience. Being reasonably well capitalized is also pretty important. Because some apps are going to be duds and some will just get your money back. Always aim for quality. There is so much crap in the store, I don’t know how some get past review. Once you have gained experience, then you need to consider several business models. E.g. partnering with some other Indie Publishers and pool your resources to get into the AAA category.
Q: I’d say a common concern people tell me is, “I don’t know how to partner with other publishers when I’m not successful.” What would be your advice to them?
A: Sounds like a Catch-22 situation. Success attracts success. I would say that you need to network a lot, be visible on Facebook groups and participate in the forum discussions to build credibility. Eventually you will come across a few peers that are at the same level of production as yourself. Try and start a small project together. Small: 5 people – $1,000 each. Now you have a $5,000 app (potentially). You have group participation of ideas, pool the apps earnings into a small business model. Rinse, repeat.
Q: Great advice! What do you see as the main reasons people do and do not succeed in this business?
A: Under-capitalization. Without enough money you won’t be able to stay in the biz too long. No business plan. If you don’t know where you are going… any road will take you there.
Q: When you look at the future of this business, what do you see? Are you planning to make some big changes? Are you sticking with your current model? What are your plans?
A: The quick money for most small apps is gone. Discovery is harder and harder. Reskins had a lot to play in this part, not too different to what happened in the introduction of the internet. Every rope has an end, but we still have some good years ahead if you move smart. So you either have to grow or get out. I’ve mapped out several business models. Scaling up in size is key for me in the next year. 1. To increase the number of published apps x 20. 2. To build a select number of medium apps that can be resold as turnkey solutions 3. To continue pursuing a partnership with some selected friends and build several super AAA games. 4. To consult with local companies for customized apps.
Q: a) And where are you focusing your efforts in order to start scaling faster and grow your app publishing by 20? b) Also, how effective have partnerships been to your business?
A: a) To scale faster, I need my wife to quit her job and project manage full time, followed by hiring some virtual assistants to remove the mundane activities from day to day. I already have an artist who can scale up with me at any pace I require. I have also expanded my base of developers. So my objective should be achievable. b) The partnership I have is a group of individually successful appreneurs, each with their own strengths that compliment our group. We are currently in production mode on several projects simultaneously.
Q: If an aspiring entrepreneur walked up to asking for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give ‘em your best tip, what would it be?
A: Reskin a few apps and publish them asap to gain experience in the “Process” of 1. Outsourcing & 2. Publishing. More importantly, DON’T make your first app your passion project.
Q: Beautiful, I love that. Gaining experience and being strategic instead of emotional is huge! Anything else you would like to add?
There is so much more developmental resources available now compared to 2 years ago. There is still good money to be made out there, if you have the right plan and money to work it.
With my hat in my hands, I come to you with sad news.
My dear friend, Dr. Kareem Samhouri, almost died last week. He’s now been in the hospital for over 2 weeks with a mystery illness and infection that doctors STILL don’t know how to cure or even find the source.
After over 6 surgeries, with more on the way, Dr. K (as most call him), his wife and newborn baby Jordan, are now looking at over $1M in medical bills, despite their insurance coverage.
I think we’ve all had experience with the failure of our medical systems whether personally or witnessing friends or family deal with a financial crisis AFTER overcoming their medical crisis. I know I have! I racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars after my car accident.
It’s hard for me to see him, someone who has helped thousands of people gain back their health and lives, go through this as a 33-year-old healthy individual with a newborn baby.
The doctors are baffled, and I have to do something…which is why I could use your help. But first, I wanted to share something with you.
Many of you may not know this, but Kareem was a huge influence on App Empire and a true mentor to me and my team. He’s a top notch marketer, networking master, and an incredible business leader. Even more impressive is that Dr. Kareem is a highly sought after Physical Therapists and Personal Trainers. He is one of the major reasons why I am now able to live a functional life again without pain.
Here are just a few things I learned from working with Kareem that I wanted to share with you today:
1. Give and you shall receive x1000.
I remember the first time I was at event and hanging out with Kareem. Everyone seemed to flock to him like he just came from the red carpet dressed to impress. I remember thinking to myself that this made no sense at all. I thought, “Yes, he has been successful, and yeah I guess he is a handsome lad, and yep he is a doctor, but what was the big deal?”
People kept running up to him all night, wherever we went, giving him hugs, and trying to help him in anyway they could like he was Jesus. It only took me about 1 hour of hanging out with him before I figured it out. Kareem continually helped people with their injuries or ailments whenever he came across someone in need. He fixed them right on the spot and taught them how to keep recovering for when he wasn’t around.
Through his selfless dedication to others, Kareem has built up a large network of friends and followers from all areas of life (which is how I was fortunate to come to know him). People often ask me how to find opportunities through networking. This is exactly what I talk about when I say don’t focus on what people can give to you, focus on what you can give to people, and your network, business, and life will flourish. Giving is also the ultimate gift you can give yourself, and there is a measurable chemical reaction explaining why it feels so good.
One of the first things he asked when he was working with App Empire was, “How can we help more people live the life they love?” That was always his first question. Whether working with customers, training an employee, or helping someone start their business, he would find out what motivates them as an individual and use that to inspire all areas of their business and life. The more value you give to the world and the more you help others, the more doors will open for you in ways you might not even be expecting.
2. Great Communication = SUPER POWER!
Dr. K is one of the best communicators I have ever seen. He’s poised, with the right tone, has strong eye contact, and he uses words like a ninja slings throwing stars: tactful and poignnant. Aside from his uncanny ability to talk 100 words per second during meetings (picture an auctioneer), his brain is able to break down complicated projects and piece them into tangible chunked objectives.
Did he learn all of this in school you ask? No. How did he get so good? Practice. He took classes, read books, and even practiced on friends and family until his skill was at such a high level he could lead an army with little effort. I’ve seen him use this super power to our benefit countless times. From big business deals all the way to getting free drinks in a bar in Costa Rica. He would find a way to make it happen through his communication.
Personally, he helped me realize that the communication I was using at times was incomplete and confusing to those around me. Communication is still something I practice every day as it is a muscle and you should never stop exercising it. In fact, I think it is one of the most underutilized super powers that if you master becomes a complete game changer. If you ever get one thing from me, get this. If you want to have an epic life, become wealthy, help people, and do all the fun things your heart desires, you MUST become a master communicator, and never stop asking the question of how you can get better.
3. True leadership gains followers by inspiring them.
Indecision is often worse than being wrong. Kareem showed me that moving forward was better than not moving at all. It’s really easy in business to be stagnant on big emotional decisions and drag your feet. You can even whiteboard it out and feel like you’re making progress, when really it’s just a better looking way of stalling.
Some of you know my advice on flipping a coin to make the final decision in stalemate situations. Even if you’re wrong, or as some call it “fail,” you learned something and you kept moving through it. Make a decision, move forward, analyze, and keep growing. You both most likely have the same goal so pick up the pieces and keep going. Leaders make progress by keeping their eye on the prize with steadfast emotional intelligence.
But being a leader is more than just making decisions, it’s also about inspiring those around you to passionately work for a common goal. Dr. K refuses to let people sacrifice their core values just because they have a “job” or are an “employee.” Before hiring or working with anyone on a team, he finds out what’s important to them individually. He then ties those values or goals into our business to motivate everyone to a common goal. Most companies do not do this, and this is such a key element for motivated employees in the culture we live in. The companies that do nail this are companies like Zappos, and you don’t have to look very far to see just how good they are doing.
This is something you can easily apply to your own team! Take the time to listen, and create a culture that meets the needs of your teammates. For example, a team member is looking to travel to Indonesia in the next year, so as a bonus for hitting a milestone, timeline, or business achievement, you’ll contribute $200 towards their travel fund or pay for one of their excursions abroad, if they meet that goal.
4. Strategize and Energize.
I am a big proponent on brainstorming and white boarding, and when I met Kareem he showed me another level. He called them “immersion sessions,” which he has been doing for years with his patients.
It would be a very long, intense day/s but by the end we would have some massive results. (We would of course take breaks to laugh, eat, or jump in a hot tub.) It also showed me how helpful it is to work with someone else and take your “blinders” off. When you’re working with yourself, it’s really hard to see what you may be missing.
The trick is to do all of your major brainstorming and strategizing at once. Have one “think tank session” a quarter, then take time to lay out your execution plan for the next couple months. And then, execute.
Do this every quarter instead of having the same recurring brain storming session every week. It’s a waste of time, money, and worse yet, energy. Whenever these sessions happen it completely reenergizes the whole team. Everyone gets on the same page and has a plan of attack to focus on.
5. Make work fun and get better results!
If there is ever someone that has influenced me to live a life that I love, it is Kareem. He is a huge advocate that working, living, and loving life do not have to be mutually exclusive. Kareem is always aware of how important it is to make work fun.
“You spend so much time at work, why wouldn’t you make it fun?”
I’ve never had more fun brainstorming sessions than when I was working with Kareem. We’d be holed up in a room for hours coming up with crazy ideas (maybe a little too crazy), but it never felt like work because we were inspired, motivated, and amped on the possibilities of life and business. The guy is electric and he brings that passion out of you.
It’s often hard as a remote business to put the “fun” in work. If you don’t make a conscious effort, you and all your employees will spend their days plunked down in front of a computer. This is extremely deteriorating for moral, creativity, productivity, and will hurt your business.
Do you ever feel like you were working on a project for months, only to finally come out of your hole and realize you were developing with blinders on? I’ve seen great app ideas completely miss the mark because they weren’t able to step back and look at their business with fresh eyes. The easiest way to do this? Break your own pattern and have some fun.
I’m serious. Step back, get outside for an 1 hour, maybe don’t look at the project for a whole day, take a stay-cation, and come back to the project with a whole new outlook. Give yourself a reboot and add more fun and play into your daily routine.
Dr. K goes above and beyond making sure, not only himself, but his employees have fun because a happy team is a productive and inspired team. YOU are not your business, your team is.
With all the wisdom and insight I’ve learned from Dr. K over the past couple years, I wanted to share how you can help a great healer.
Kareem remains under constant surveillance with more surgeries on the way, as doctors search to find the answers, and his medical bills now over $1M. We all feel helpless during this time.
So I’m reaching out and helping the only way I know how: to my AE community and friends.
To support Dr. K and his family during this time, we set up a GiveForward fundraising campaign where you can donate to help support and save Dr. K (whether that’s $5 or $500 – every bit helps).
How can you help? 1) Donate (every bit helps) and or 2) Spread this to your friends.
To also show you how much I appreciate this kind gesture I’ll be giving away prizes as a token of my sincere appreciation.
1. All you have to do is donate over at the GiveForward fundraiser page here:
100% of proceeds go to Dr. K’s medical bills (which is now over $1M and growing as he continues surgeries to fight the infection).
What you’ll get:
- $100 or more donation: All 3 months of AE Monthly (you’ll receive all 3 months at once – over $800 value).
App Empire Monthly is seriously the best possible series of videos I could put together on how to make your business well-rounded, effective, and top-of-industry. More importantly, it was an opportunity for me to share all of the lessons I’ve learned to help ‘craft’ success in my life and my business.If my brother, parents, or best friends asked me for advice on how to become successful, this is what I’d tell them. I’m opening myself up to you, 100%, in this 3-part series.
- $2000 or more donation: 2 hour business & life coaching call with Chad Mureta. To see the effect my consulting has had on people’s businesses, read the case studies here.
- $10,000 or more donation: Day with Chad Mureta (hang out for a full day with me as we go over your business, eat some awesome food, lay out your personal systems & routines, + have a little fun with an activity in beautiful San Diego, CA)
2. Email us your email confirmation from GiveForward of your donation to the campaign (to email@example.com), and our support desk will send you details on how to collect the above.
To learn more about Dr. K’s condition please check out the GiveForward campaign.
Again, whether that’s $5 or $500 – every bit helps Kareem and his family. Thanks so much for your time! Please share with your friends, every bit helps!
Kareem – if you’re reading this. We love you, and wish you a speedy recovery.
The Apps Market is growing faster than ever and with so much competition, it’s getting even harder to find app success. Recent research shows that over 90% of mobile apps are abandoned within a year. Only a select few will make it through to become indispensable to a number of users – and even fewer will become global sensations.
So where’s the disconnect? It’s amazing how often we see developers overlooking essentials. We see super technical developers not understand the concept of marketing or promotion, or we see market-minded entrepreneurs ignoring great UX/UI basics.
The good news is there’s SO much free information out there now, so you don’t have to be left in the dark or launch your app with a half-assed plan.
In fact, we recently read a super extensive guide from our friends at Apadmi.com. They’ve been in business since 2009, and have worked with a variety of developers and entrepreneurs, which has helped them acquire a lot of “dos” and “don’ts” over the years.
Their newly released (and free) advanced guide to making your apps successful is for independent app developers and startups, and we wanted to share it with you. The guide includes tips that Apadmi has learned through creating apps for clients such as the BBC and the Guardian. It contains over 200 tips and tactics on creating, marketing and gaining users for your app, even one with a small budget.
Since their guide is super extensive, we invited them to share their top 8 best pieces of advice for our community:
Most think a lifestyle business is raking in a ton of money while working only “4 hours” a week.
The truth is it is a way of being and a way of feeling more than anything. A life full of choices and opportunities where you’re truly living on your own terms. It doesn’t have to be complicated, and a true lifestyle business usually is not.
For many, a lifestyle business simply means being able to work for themselves and make enough to enjoy life. Whether that looks like $40K a year or $400K, it’s about taking your life back. It’s the emphasis on putting the “lifestyle” into your business.
You do things you want to do because you want to do them. Working hard and doing what you want are not mutually exclusive.
You travel where you want to go, because you want to go there. Or stay in place because all you want is more time around friends and family.
You decide what your day looks like because you’re the boss and you make the decisions. You are no longer tied to the stress of your employer or the office politics of your coworkers. Your business depends on you. When something isn’t going right, there’s no one to answer to but yourself.
You are not a “9 to 5.” Maybe you’re a 12am – 5am, maybe you’re a 8am – 12pm. Maybe you will still work 9 to 5 because YOU want to. Your life and your business is not restricted to social constructs. You’re able to build your business around what’s best for you, and when you play to your strengths rather than fighting your nature, you’ll be happier and more productive. You are constantly growing, experiencing, learning, and living.
Think about it like this (and if you’re an over-achiever draw this out)…
Lucky for us, success leaves clues, which means you can forge your own path by learning from other entrepreneurs. It’s not just about emulating the Cubans or the Bransons, it’s just as important to see how “regular” people with a passion created their dream life.
Today, we have one of our AE members who we’d like to share their success story with you. Justin Malik has been an AE member since 2013, which ultimately led to Justin leaving his job as an analyst and becoming a full-time app developer. Justin was able to sell a small portfolio of apps for $25,000, and since has produced over 20+ apps making $40K in net revenue with over half a million downloads. Justin and his partner, Lee, regularly help fellow appreneurs on their road to success over on their blog MoneyfromApps.com.
Q: Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with our community, Justin! Walk me through the step-by-step process that you went through to get to where you are today. What was the first thing you did? Next?
With Apple’s newest announcements yesterday, you can expect some exciting changes in the next couple months. Surprisingly for the first time the iPhone wasn’t the center of the announcements. With Apple’s release of the Watch (not iWatch as we all assumed and will continue to call it anyways), they delved into a new product category for the first time since the iPad release in 2010.
Remember as a developer it’s crucial to stay informed and ahead on any feature or product changes – and Apple just released a ton! Below we’ve outlined some of the most exciting changes happening and how you should be looking at it:
- Appreneur Success: From Failed Passion Project to Building 700% ROI Apps
- 5 Life & Business Lessons I learned from Dr. K
- 8 Tips for App Success (from 5+ years of trial & error!)
- Top 5 Ways to Build Your Lifestyle Business (that aren’t too good to be true)
- From Full-Time Employee to Appreneur in 7 Months