I contacted Dwayne Ratleff years ago when developing smartphone apps was in its infancy and people were making millions off a single app. Dwayne Ratleff was one of the developers I had heard about that had made a successful app and I decided to shoot him an email. To my surprise he replied and gave me some insight into his journey to create a successful app and some of the difficulties he faced.
Dwayne Ratleff developed Don’t Eat That, an app that helped decipher over 1,500 food additives and ingredients and lets you know whether they might be carcinogenic, genetically modified, a known allergen, or otherwise unhealthy. This was almost ten years ago and this is what he had to say.
“I decided to create my app after my 50th birthday, I want to find out what was in the food I was eating. So I started checking labels and realized no one short of a food scientist could possibly read food labels. After over 1500 hours of research and filtering hoaxes and myths about ingredients I created a searchable database. The amount of internet pollution is rampant. So an app that filter out all the false information out there I felt would work. No I did not worry if it would succeed because it started out as personal goal for me and evolved quicker than I had time to worry.
I hired a PR firm and did some PR myself. My during the period I hire the PR firm went up to number 4 under health and fitness during the time I hire them. Personally I found the newspaper advertisement a complete waste of time. I got low return for high expenditure. Yes I made mistakes. The biggest one was targeting my app too wide. Example; when I targeted my app to people who were most likely to use it I got mostly five stars. These people know how difficult it is to find reliable information on the internet. When it went to a wider audience that had expectation about my app that were not realistic I got lower ratings. Targeting you user is really important.
The biggest mistake I made was not realizing that I had to change government (FDA) regulations for the app to work at the lever most consumer want it to. I have petitioned the FDA to do this and it is in review by them. I can give detail if you want but I wont bore you with it hear.
Also if you have add ons of other technology to your app, be very careful because your user will not know this technology is separate and will fault your app if it preforms poorly. I did not make this mistake but I know other who have.
Make your app self explanatory. I have track it only half the people who bought my app actually when to my information site.”