Tell us a bit about yourself. I'm a mechanical engineering graduate from Montreal. I currently hold a full time engineer position at Canada Post, improving mail tracking through barcode technology. I have to say I'm a traveller, having spent most of my life in Africa, Europe and now North America. This diverse upbringing gives me a broadview of the world and an open mind, which both allow me to see the "big picture" in projects. I draw a lot of parallel between my life and the tech world. It's not just one thing. For me, it's not just tech. It's also marketing, communication, graphics and originality. innovation is by definition always new. Just like art - actually art takes a huge part of my life (writting and dancing principally).
What is the inspiration for “did u”? As I said, I was a "montrealer". So I'm used to spend a lot of weekends there visiting friends and family. I've noticed I tend to forget basics things, such as the key to my brother appartment, or deodorant, because my mind is so focussed on my projects. Then one Friday evening, before closing my bag when packing, I thought "you need something that asks you if you did take everything before you close this bag!". I was tired questionning myself in the bus: "is the frig closed?", "what am I missing?", etc. Now since apps are so popular today, it was suddenly natural an app would address my problem, and not just a "classic" to-do or checklist app. No! But rather one that you trigger in action, upon need, and that pops up and ask you the right questions. A real companion! Finally, one day at work, I heard a colleague ask another one "did u... ?". I thought, it's really panicking hearing those simple two words from a boss when you can hardly keep track of your tasks. Bingo! I had THE name.
How did you go about developing “did u”? First, I thought it over, wondering if it was worth it. They are already a lot of to-do and checklists. It's crowded. But after a couple of days, I realized "did u?" was missing in the landscape because it's not a "to do" but rather just "did u?". You use it mostly after in the process to validate dynamically your actions. I've talked to some friends and most of them really liked the concept. So I turned to Code Factory and Cocoa Heads who led me to a developer. The guy had already an app selling well, so I was comfortable trusting him. Also, my brother Regis (who's graphic designer and film animator) got involved and created the GUI and the logo. It took February and March to have a beta. We tweaked it a little afterwards and submitted it by mid-April. It got approved by Apple in only 3 working days! With a crew in Montreal, I worked on putting together the demo you can see on "did u?" website (www.diduapp.com). I even composed the music myself. Marketing is so important. You have never done enough! So "did u?" has been selling since April 19.
Getting an app in the app store is quite a bit of work, what is your biggest lesson learned? It is sure a lot of work but only a start! The hardest is to make your app popular and stand out in the app store among the other 200,000 ones. So the lesson learned is simple: Don't think an app will create a buzz by itself! People have to know about it, address one of their problems with it and understand it! Achieving these 3 objectives with a fun app will get people to download and more importantly, like it! So you have to keep all these objectives in mind from day one and any action you accomplish HAS to serve them. If not, don't take that action!
For your next app what would you do differently? My next app is really the next versions of "did u?". More is to come. But in general, I would say, with honesty: Reduce my early great expectations! It's quite a challenge to give traction to your app. The concept, even when good, is not enough. Not that people don't like "did u?". A lot of those who see it, love it. No, the challenge is really about getting them to SEE it in the first place. This is where the work is once you've launched it (or even before). Now I'm more aware of that, so I'm planning the next phases of this ride accordingly. It is indeed a ride. Think "long term" here. If success comes sooner, bonus! Do you want to build an app? Do you want it to sale? Do you want it to have traction? Give yourself time and don't discourage.
Anything else you would like to share? I think we are going through a revolution here. We should not overlook it because gadgets don't "look" has serious as PC's or Macs. They will replace them for most of the tasks in the future though. The apps will even extend the usage of these gadgets far more than we expect. It has started. Each week I'm stunned by discovering new capabilities with another app. Look at "Augmented Reality" for instance. Today, if you know about building apps, it is a lot like if you knew HTML in 1994! I mean you're still early in the game. A lot of startups in 1995 got succesful (and bought) by simply building websites for clients. In 1999/2000 on the other hand, the landscape competition was everywhere, there was a lot more to know about and money had become scarce. Today is the right time for apps even though it's hard to earn money. But if you can manage to sustain and play for the long term, opportunities will come and hopefully success!
- Ian Graham