There are millions of apps out there. Many are very successful, but most are not. What are the steps taken by successful app makers that distinguish them from unsuccessful ones? In addition, many people have ideas for an app but don't know where to begin. What are the steps you need to take to create a successful app? As part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ahmed Reza.
Thank you so much for joining us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory and how you grew up?
I received my degree in engineering, however my desire to be successful was more important, no matter the industry. Entrepreneurship came to me as a necessity as opposed to by design. I started my entrepreneurial journey back in high school, selling incense and oils at a festival, which wasn’t as profitable as we had hoped. As I got older, I focused on different side hustles to continue my business experience. I began buying and reselling cars. The Milken Institute granted me a scholarship, where I became a member of an exclusive group of winners. A fellow scholarship recipient inspired me to look into business as a full time career.
Most of us have been around a lot longer than apps have. What were your hobbies and interests in your youth before anyone knew what an 'app' was?
Before smartphones and apps became popular, I was a child actor in Bangladesh, so I was already hanging out with well-known people. I have always liked reading, hanging out with friends and do things outside like hiking and camping. I’m naturally interested in people and liked joining clubs or groups.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons you learned from it?
The funniest mistake was when my friend and I took all our money, including our savings, to put into our incense and oils business venture. The original $200 we had turned into $20 that day and on top of that, we were stuck with a lot of incense that we didn't know what to do with. Money management and planning were some of the first lessons we learned that day.
I tend to meet two types of app developers; people who are passionate about app development and technology and people who started an app because they saw it as a means to solve a problem. Which camp would you put yourself in, and how did you arrive there?
I can say that I’m very passionate about app development and technology, but I am also a developer who started an app as a means to solve a problem. I am constantly driven by a strong desire to develop novel solutions.
As a co-founder of TrepHub, I’ve seen how hard it can be to get a business to a scalable, profitable state. My core belief is that the best way to support startups is to create an environment where they can thrive and be successful. Trephub, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building startup ecosystems, was recognized for its contributions to the startup community around the world. We not only created a place for people to work and collaborate, but also where they could develop relationships and form communities to support and challenge one another.
Entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint—though I suppose sometimes it's both at the same time. What kept you motivated to develop your first minimum viable product, and how have you kept your momentum since then?
I’ve always believed that my purpose in life is to help people be successful. I believe that everyone has the potential to achieve great things and it is my mission to assist them in reaching their full potential. I do this by offering guidance, support, and resources to those who need it. Whether it be through mentorship, coaching, or providing access to necessary tools, I try to do everything in my power to help others achieve success. I am dedicated to making a positive impact on the lives of those around me and will strive to do so every day—this is what keeps me motivated. In developing a minimum viable product, it is important to align my needs and desires with market opportunities. To maintain momentum, it is important to be aware of career growth opportunities and to continually learn and stay motivated.
Can you tell us a bit about your app? How does it help people? What do you think makes it stand out? What are you most proud of?
Yobi helps businesses to streamline their internal and external communications. The app uses advanced AI algorithms to automate repetitive tasks and improve the efficiency of communication between team members and their customers. With Yobi, we are unlocking the power of AI for small businesses. It utilizes powerful AI technology to support translation, provide a personal assistant, call/messaging analytics, and reporting. Yobi’s AI helps with time-intensive tasks that were slowed down by humans. Its goal is to replicate and replace the need for humans in phone/chat/email interactions with humans.
Approximately how many users or subscribers does your app currently have? Can you share with our readers three of the main steps you've taken to build such a large community?
Yobi has more than 14k users to date. The three main steps are first, identify and solve a unique problem through requisite research and understand your users; second, build a strong marketing strategy, think outside the box and get the best marketing talent; third, continuously iterate and improve the app according to the market’s always changing technology.
What is your monetization model? How do you monetize your community of users? Have you considered other monetization options? Why did you not use those?
Yobi is subscription-based, giving users access fees monthly or yearly. Additionally, we also offer a freemium model, which gives our users a taste of the app and opt to pay for additional premium features and functions.
Can you tell our readers about the most unconventional tactic you've used to test, market, or gain feedback on a product? What did you try, what was unique about it, and what was the outcome?
During the first year, every time a user signs up, a member of our team calls the user to instantly engage with them by welcoming them and asking how they plan to use the app. This gave us instant connection with our pilot users and has significantly increased user retention.
What are some of the strategies you have used to improve your products and build on their success?
We focused on key success metrics, creating a solid product strategy, and on specific features and how to improve them.
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a very successful app? If you can, please share a story or an example for each.
- Identify a unique and useful problem to solve: The most successful apps are those that solve pain points for their users. Before developing the app, research and identify problems that are important and recurrent. Then try to solve them in a unique, easy, affordable or permanent way. The more aspects your solution covers, the more successful the app you create is. This ensures that people would actually want to use and stick to it.
- Create a strong value proposition: To convince potential users to download and use your app, make sure to clearly communicate the value it provides. This is known as your value proposition. Consider what makes your app unique and how it can benefit your users. Make sure to expose your value proposition to the right audiences. Finding out early about the narrowest markets that would welcome your app will have a huge impact on its success among users.
- Design a user-friendly interface: A well-designed app is key to user retention. Take the time to create an intuitive and user-friendly interface that is easy to navigate. Great ideas are always linked to simplicity of use. It has been proven via research that it creates a tremendous word-of-mouth effect. Everyone likes to tell friends and family about their latest app discovery. Make your app that one!
- Build a strong marketing strategy: Develop a strong marketing plan that includes a mix of traditional and digital marketing tactics to get the word out about your app. Seeking the help of marketing experts can give your app a tremendous advantage, but always make sure you are very much involved. When the marketing message is crafted from the app maker’s vision, it is always more impactful.
- Continuously improve and iterate on your app: The app market is evolving like no other market. Keeping up with the fierce competition is the only option app companies have to survive. The latest trends and technologies would just happen overnight. Make sure to continuously improve your features to keep your app relevant to market needs.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
A movement towards democratizing AI and unlocking its power for as many people as possible. The goal is for people to have a more balanced view and a better understanding of AI, its applications, its benefits, its risks, its limitations, its progress, and its likely future paths. This draws on some of my personal experience with AI and its applications over the past few years as a serial entrepreneur. I am confident that this movement has the potential to improve the lives of millions of people around the world.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Yobi’s Press Page: https://yobi.app/press/
Yobi’s Blog: https://yobi.app/blog/
For more content like this, subscribe to The Product Manager newsletter.