This bot has your apps worked out

31/08/2015 - 11:49

Do you want to know how your app is fairing? Well, there’s a web-app for that.

This bot has your apps worked out
strong team: Leading lights of Perth’s startup scene, Claire McGregor and Stuart Hall, have joined forces to launch their app review site. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Do you want to know how your app is fairing? Well, there’s a web-app for that. 

Stuart Hall went home one night in May 2013 and coded an app from start to finish in six hours; 18 months later, the app had more than 2 million downloads despite not a cent being spent on marketing.

Perhaps, at that moment, Mr Hall fully appreciated the potential of the App Store; it had started as an experiment to show that significant downloads could be achieved without any major investment of promotional dollars.

He elegantly proved his own case, and more than 250,000 people have read his blog posts about the entire experience.

Now, two years later, Mr Hall’s successful ‘7 Minute Workout’ app has been sold for a tidy sum and he is deep into his next project, AppBot, with co-founder and startup stalwart, Claire McGregor, who was previously head of marketing at Agworld, an organizer of Startup Weekend, and director of the Founder Institute’s Perth chapter.

AppBot allows app developers and marketers to see how their app is going on all app stores around the world simultaneously. While other services focus on tracking downloads and revenue, AppBot targets the quality of an app in the eyes of the user and identifies ways to improve it.

AppBot helps customers track the number of crashes, bugs, feature requests and overall user sentiment, which is then fed back on to dashboards, allowing the app owner to monitor problems and new ideas.

Where products and services in the real world may use ‘net promoter score’, the apps in the app world have AppBot.

“AppBot started as a side project when I was doing Discovr,” Mr Hall told Business News, referring to a past endeavour.

“Mainly because it was such a pain monitoring all your app reviews across multiple stores.”

The web service started as a free product, and within a short time had 7,000 users tracking the performance on 38,000 apps. In mid 2014, Ms McGregor joined the project, and earlier this year both went full time on it. They now have two staff, and some household names of the app world rely on their services – Uber, Ebay, Evernote, Wordpress, Dropbox, Etsy and Tinder among them.

The free option has now been turned off, and all new users are paying.

“We provide app owners with information about what is important to their customers so that they can improve,” Ms McGregor said.

“There is a massive amount of work for them to keep up to date with their Google Play reviews (where you are allowed to respond, and those commenting expect a response); it’s almost like managing another social media channel.

“We are in contact with our clients all the time, and we receive a lot of emails … they provide us with all the features they want to see.

“What we also find is that developers move around a lot, and they bring our product with them.”

Mr Hall said the product’s unique features made marketing unnecessary.

“I think we’ve shown that by making the product awesome, it can sell itself, which was what I found out with the 7 Minute Workout app as well,” he said.

For now, this bootstrapped company is happy to grow its client base and features, and see where that takes it.

“We’ve both done the venture capital thing before and learned lessons,” Ms McGregor said.

“We’re really satisfied in building something that can support itself. We’re totally accountable and not dictated to by a board or anyone but ourselves and our customers.”


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