How This Founder Grew His Platform to 7,000 Users Without Paid Ads

How This Founder Grew His Platform to 7,000 Users Without Paid Ads

My name is Roman Medvedev, and I’m the founder of AppstoreSpy, a mobile app intelligence platform. We help mobile app developers and marketers grow by spying on competitors. It collects data from various sources and uses mathematics and machine learning to analyze and extract key insights about app competitors.

Can you provide a short overview of your business and the problem it tries to solve?

AppstoreSpy collects information from various sources and extracts key insights about app competitors. 

These are some of its features:

  • Market Explorer: Quickly find data you need about apps, developers, and niches.
  • Watchlists: Gather competitors' data, monitor their updates, and discover new ones daily.
  • Chrome Extension: Explore mobile app metrics without opening app pages.
  • Niche Finder: An easy way to find niches with low competition, high traffic, and growth potential.
  • App Timeline: Take a look at the changes to the apps and understand their impact on installs and revenue.
  • Market Overview: Explore market size, vital market metrics and dynamics, trends, and key players in just a few clicks.

Businesses that use AppstoreSpy can monitor their competition, conduct research more effortlessly, and select the most effective keywords for their apps. It's a valuable tool for achieving success in the world of mobile apps.

What’s your background, and how did you come up with the idea?

As an app developer, I've faced challenges in finding an affordable tool for quickly assessing app niches. Collecting information from competing apps manually was time-consuming. Recognizing this inefficiency, I took the opportunity to create a more effective solution, leading to the development of AppstoreSpy.

Initially, I designed a Google Chrome extension that integrated key app metrics directly into the Google Play search results. This allowed me to conduct niche analysis without opening additional pages, streamlining the process for myself and my colleagues and saving significant time and effort.

As the extension gained popularity, I expanded its functionality into a web service with advanced analytics. Users can efficiently explore apps, evaluating downloads, revenue, countries, releases, ratings, and similar apps. This comprehensive service facilitates competitor research, enables the curation of app collections, and provides tools for tracking changes.

How did you get your first customers during the early stage of the company?

I installed the AppstoreSpy extension on Chrome, and users quickly discovered it on the Chrome Web Store. This resulted in widespread sharing, leading to a notable increase in installs and usage. Recognizing the growing interest, I dedicated time to refining the extension, fixing bugs, and introducing a pricing model.

During this refinement process, I ensured that essential data remained accessible upon installation, providing users with a valuable initial experience. I introduced premium features accessible through a paid subscription, enhancing the overall functionality for those seeking advanced capabilities. The strategic combination of a user-friendly free version and premium offerings proved successful, as users found value in the service, and the affordable pricing attracted a new wave of users seeking a comprehensive yet budget-friendly solution with AppstoreSpy.

How’s the business doing today?

We've grown by about 113% in the last 4 months, thanks to the launch of version 2 and new tools. Now, AppstoreSpy has about 7,000 people using it every month. These users come from different backgrounds, such as small startups, individuals who create their own apps, marketing teams, and even large companies. Many of these users are from places like Morocco, India, and Pakistan.

Each month, we have around 20,000 users visiting our platform, and we have 14,000 users on our email subscriber list.

Currently, we are operating at a breakeven point; we're not generating any revenue at the moment. We are using our own invested funds to develop and grow the product.

Also, we're in the process of integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into our tool. Currently, our backend developer is handling the work, but we'll be seeking an AI developer for this role. This AI integration will provide quick answers, ensure data accuracy, allow dynamic exploration, and deliver actionable insights. By the way, in September, we achieved a remarkable milestone by being awarded the #1 product of the day on Product Hunt. It's a significant accomplishment and a source of motivation for us to continue working harder.

Presently, what marketing channels are working well to acquire customers?

We don't spend money on paid ads. Instead, we use strategies like partnerships, promo codes, working with influencers, and writing articles to grow our user base. To initially attract customers, we utilized the extension as our primary traffic source, leading users to the web service. With the launch of the second version, we diversified our marketing approach by incorporating email marketing, which yielded positive results from cold outreach and regular campaigns. We gather emails through website registrations. We're achieving a solid conversion rate, with approximately 20% opening the newsletter and a click-through rate of about 6%. Our newsletters feature cases, guides, and insights from AppstoreSpy data, introduce new tools, and encourage feedback.

In terms of partnerships, we maintain successful collaborations with industry partners, internet magazines, developer communities, and more, effectively driving traffic from various regions. We're actively looking for new partners to join us. Usually, we give them discounts on our tool and let all their subscribers use it for free for a while. Additionally, we promote our partners on our website and social media channels. Two months ago, we teamed up with an online school for app developers and gave all the students a free premium subscription to AppstoreSpy as a cool gift for finishing their online course. It was a great way to let more people know about our tool.

Regarding customer retention, our flexible approach and quick problem-solving have helped numerous development studios and game companies overcome challenges. Even past users who no longer actively utilize our service often recommend it, serving as a potent source of new customers. We've achieved minimal negative feedback, validating the effectiveness of our approach.

What has been your biggest achievement so far?

One of my most significant achievements as a founder has been the realization that there is a genuine interest in and willingness to pay for the tool I've developed. It goes beyond just creating a tool, it signifies that the offering meets a need in the market and is seen as a valuable solution.

I'm proud that the acceptance and financial support show the venture is on the right track. It demonstrates the tool's effectiveness and positive impact. This motivates me to refine and expand it, ensuring it consistently exceeds user expectations. 

What has been your biggest challenge since the company's inception?

In the process of growing my business, I've learned valuable lessons. One of them emphasizes the importance of planning and assembling a qualified team. I've realized that soft skills like communication and a willingness to learn often play a more crucial role than hard skills. Building a team capable of learning and collaborating effectively has become a key factor in our success.

A significant decision was positioning our business in the small business market. We found our niche among small development studios just starting their journey. This greatly impacted our success, and we're actively working on creating products tailored to the needs of this target audience.

Additionally, we continually learn from the products and tools we create. For example, our "App Timeline" tool was developed to help developers track app changes and their impact on installs and revenue. This experience has taught us to be more attentive to market dynamics and not miss essential changes.

In summary, it's essential to adapt continuously, extract lessons from our own experiences, and prepare for changes in the business environment. Maintaining a cohesive and effective team and striving for innovation and improvement help us successfully grow our business.

What’s something you know now that you wish you had known when you started the company?

Find the pain and solve it. It works best for yourself. I still don't understand how to find the pain by asking questions on the street to random people. So, I don't go around asking questions. Instead, I give my solution and ask for it to be evaluated. If it resonates with people, then it's the right one.

If your MVP, built on your knees, suddenly finds users and is growing, you need to develop and expand it.

But no, the majority of users boycott the new and continue to use the old familiar version.

So, create a new version as a new product and look for new users.

What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs?

Empower your decisions with data: Analyzing data has not only guided me towards profitable choices but has also laid the foundation for crafting a data-centric tool.

Engage with people to uncover their challenges and innovate solutions.

A well-crafted product resonates, sparking organic sharing within communities. A quality tool becomes its own advocate, effortlessly garnering free promotion.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

My answer will be classic: I rely on a combination of discipline and physical activity. Establishing a structured routine, including creating a daily to-do list and organizing tasks using Jira, helps me stay focused and accountable. The discipline instilled through task management and the physical energy gained from regular exercise contribute to a holistic approach to keeping myself motivated.

What are your plans for the next 6-12 months?

Over the next 6-12 months, we're introducing several new features in AppstoreSpy:

App Timeline: Provides users with a comprehensive overview of their app's performance and changes over time.

Keywords Finder: Assists users in discovering and evaluating the potential of keywords to enhance the visibility and popularity of their apps.

AI-boosted mobile market analytics: Utilizes artificial intelligence to deliver instant analytical insights, supporting users in making strategic decisions.

Niche Comparer: Simplifies and enhances the efficiency of manual market analysis by providing an intuitive interface for comparing niches.

Where can people get in touch with you?

Website: https://appstorespy.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AppstoreSpy

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/appstorespy/

X: https://x.com/AppstoreSpy

Email: [email protected]

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