Last week I had the opportunity to speak with Jordan Edelson the founder of Appetizer Mobile. He is a bit under 30 years old and last year his App Development company had just under $10 Million in revenues.
In this interview we discuss how he got started and what was the key strategy that he used to grow his business into such a huge success.
Note: the interview has been modified a bit so that it reads better and doesn’t look like a series of questions and answers.
Getting Started With an App Development Company
Puneet: Hi Jordan, thanks for joining us today on App Entrepreneurs Association. Let us jump right in. To start off can you tell us a bit about how you got started with building apps and how you got your first break?
Jordan: Sure. I have actually been a tech entrepreneur all my life and my very first memory of working with code was when I was programming video games while still a teen. While I did that I started a company, which telecast people playing video games, something similar to, what Twitch.TV does now, but this was long before Twitch.TV existed.
After this I went on to become the CTO of a hip-hop company. It was at this hip-hop company that I got a chance to build an excellent network of contacts, which helps me to this day. One such contact was a person associated with NBA and he reached out to me to find out if I could help him with creating a novelty basketball app. That basically was the first app we built and got into this business.
Puneet: That’s really nice. So if one of readers wanted to get started with an app development agency, but do not have the right connections like you did, what would you suggest is the best way to get started?
Jordan: I understand that not everybody has the right connections or resources to land big clients in the beginning, so they need to really hustle and build a network. As a app development company founder you cannot just do programming and not build your network. You can do programming in the nights and spend the days building your network.
Note from Puneet: Jordan provided more details on an exact strategy to get big clients later in the interview below.
After the First Few Projects – Increasing Revenues
Puneet: Jordan, a lot of our readers actually independent app developers or have small development agencies but they are struggling to move up the value chain and charge more for projects. How did you guys do it and what can our readers learn from it?
Jordan: When we started out we were charging about $55/hour and now we charge $75/hour. Although that is not a huge change, it is still difficult and I understand the problem most upcoming app developers face. A few things, which really allowed us to charge more, were testimonials and positioning ourselves as a full service agency.
Potential clients are always looking to work with a legit company so good testimonials from your customers, which clearly speak about your skills and help answer some questions the potential customers have in their mind will help a great deal. Also positioning yourself as a full service agency helps you change the perceived value in the minds of your customers.
Growth Hacking Your App Development Company
Puneet: This is some great info. Now let us talk about how to grow your app development business really fast. What kind of strategies have you used?
Jordan: The one biggest growth hack, which I can share with you, is to get yourself projects, which can get you a lot of publicity, because word of mouth marketing and organic customer acquisition has the best results compared to any other strategy you will ever try out.
Puneet: Any ideas on how to get these popular projects?
Jordan: Yes, when looking for popular projects, it is important that you work with influencers, celebrities or sports stars. For example, we have created apps for Lady Gaga and that got us huge exposure, same thing for the apps we created for NBA teams. All these got us a lot of publicity.
In the beginning you might not have the right connections to be able to do this so you will need to reach out a large number of people and may be even offer to create the apps for free or at an extremely low cost. This will get your foot in the door. Once you have a few such projects, you can always showcase them to get bigger projects from other celebs and influencers.
Note from Puneet: I did some research and created this free mini-guide on finding influencers and popular people on social networks to use this growth hack on. You can download the free mini-guide here.
Puneet: Doing projects for free although it is scary, I think is doable but how do you make sure that you get good publicity for your app development company? The apps, I am sure, are not going to be branded with your app development company’s name on it.
Jordan: Yeah that’s right. In such cases, you can actually make it a part of a contract saying that you would need the celebrity to promote the app and your association with them.
Puneet: Thanks Jordan. This was some very useful information and I am sure our readers will really appreciate what you have shared with us today.
Jordan: You are welcome.