Tag Archives: mobile apps

8 Keys to this Entrepreneur’s Happiness

Are most entrepreneurs happy? I’m not sure, but of the ones I’ve met, most seem to be. I’ve always had a feeling of happiness, ever since childhood. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have down days, everyone does. But for the most part, I am really happy and I started to ponder why that is. In this post I will share with you a bit of my self-reflection.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Mahatma Gandhi


8 Keys to this Entrepreneur’s Happiness

After a bit of reflection, I’ve identified things that have created happiness for me:

  1. Exercise – As a kid, I spent lots of time outside: hunting, riding my bike, playing sports, and walking the farm where we lived. Once I graduated college, I started working out with weights and doing cardio every week. Now 30 years later, I continue to workout every week and intertwine lots of outside activities into my day (cycling, hiking, walking, golfing, etc.). Although I did not start working out to feel happy, it just happened. Exercising increases your self-esteem and it releases endorphin, the happy chemical.
  2. Relationships – I try to surround myself with like-minded and positive people. I have an incredible wife, great kids and friends that I try to do things with weekly. It may be just a chat or a golf outing, but it is important to build and maintain relationships.
  3. Being Nice – Being nice to others is rewarding. I like to greet people with a “hello” or “good morning” and strike up conversations with people I don’t know and I say “thank you” and “please”. I don’t try to monopolize conversations, I learn a lot about a person by just listening. And I love hearing about people’s successes, no matter how trivial or monumental.
  4. Money – As they say, money can’t buy you happiness but neither does poverty. I do think that a certain amount of money can aid in happiness– at least enough that satisfies your immediate needs (food, clothing, housing and health care). Past that, “wants” tend to disguise themselves as “needs”. I’ll admit that I could be much more frugal but I do get a rush of adrenalin when I under spend my budget for a month.
  5. Optimism – I am wired to think that everything is going to work out well and many times it does. When things don’t, I try to learn from it and use that knowledge in the future.
  6. Hobbies – Work hard but play harder. I’ve met lots of people who consume themselves with work and when they get a day off, they don’t really know what to do with their time. Having hobbies will make you happier. What are mine? I love to cycle, play golf, fish, travel, hike, swim, hang out at the beach, boat, watch college and pro football — just to name a few! I also set goals for my hobbies (like cycling 50 miles in 3 hours, hiking a strenuous mountain, and lowering my golf handicap).
  7. Being Grateful – I realize how lucky I’ve been. My parents sent me to college but they nor their parents or their grandparents had the opportunity to do it. I couldn’t have built and sold my software company without learning from some incredible mentors. I am lucky to have an incredibly supportive family and our kids have grown up to be something we are truly proud of. I survived cancer at just over 30 years old. I’ve been really blessed.
  8. Faith – I don’t consider myself a religious person but I do consider myself a spiritual person. I grew up in the church but don’t attend regularly. However, I have a close relationship with my maker and pray everyday. I’ve personally witnessed the power of faith.

This Article Was Brought to You by 2HourAppreneur

This article was brought to you by 2HourAppreneur makers of the aMemoryJog Password Manager app.

aMemoryJog: Best Password Manager

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Hopefully these 8 keys are helpful to my readers. I would also like to hear your stories and understand what makes you happy. Please leave a comment!

Preparing to Test your App as Development Progresses

In my prior posts, I’ve discussed my journey to develop an iPhone app and I have documented the things I’ve done along the way.  This is a continuation of that series of posts. Today we will discuss test preparation tasks you can begin doing as your app is being developed.

Success is where preparation and opportunity meet. ― Bobby Unser

If you missed my prior posts regarding building an app, you can see them here:

Test Preparation as the App is Being Developed

If you’ve followed my advice thus far, you have outsourced the development of your app so that you can spend time planning the marketing effort. However, one of the most critical things you can do while your programmer is developing your app is to begin to prepare for the testing effort you will go through once the programmer sends you the first version of your app.

If you wait until you get the first version of your app, you will be scrambling to figure out what tests to run. The best approach is to create a list of test cases you can run — but do this as development is going on. This approach allows you to flow right into testing the day you get your first build.

How to Build a List of Test Cases

In a prior post, I discussed how to get the best price for your app development. As part of this, I discussed creating a detail specification in RFP format so that the developer will fully understand your requirements. Taking this approach also aids in your test case development because when you begin developing your test cases, you can simply go through each section of your RFP to jog your memory about test cases you need to run.

In your first cut, you will want to simply make a list of test cases without the detailed steps to execute each one.  For aMemoryJog, here are some of the initial test cases I created. This is a very abbreviated list of test case (I have about 90 test cases so this is just a few of them).

Test Case Examples

Test Case Examples

Notice that I have test cases for each screen within the app. So for the login screen, I first inspect the look and feel of the screen to ensure that it matches the design specified in the RFP. Then I have a test to ensure that all of the required fields must be entered before going forward. For example, if they want to login, they must enter both their email address and password to login and if they don’t, it should alert them of that. Then I move on to testing for a valid login and an invalid login (incorrect email address and password).

Adding Steps to Each Test Case

Once you have created a list of test cases you wish to run, go back and add the steps you must go through to run each test. Why go through this? Well first of all, it makes testing mindless. You don’t have to try to remember how to execute a specific function, it has already been documented. Another reason is that one day (once you are successful), you will probably outsource your testing effort and having detailed test cases makes that process easy.

Here is an example of steps in a test case:


Where Should I Keep My Test Cases?

Your next question might be “Where do I put all these test cases?”.  If you are just starting out and don’t have a lot of working capital, I suggest you simply keep them in a spreadsheet. You can include a column in your spreadsheet to keep track of whether the test case passed or failed. Here is an example:


Once you have working capital, I suggest you use a test management system. I use QAComplete from SmartBear Software because it allows you to create test libraries, test sets and has some really good reporting capabilities that show you the status of your testing effort. It also allows you to track bugs (defects) so that you can communicate them with your development team and track their fix status.  If you don’t have any working capital up front, I suggest you use Zendesk for defect tracking since it is free.

QAComplete by Smartbear Software

QAComplete by SmartBear Software


Take the time to plan your testing effort while your programmer is coding your app. Don’t spring for a test management system until you have some working capital but purchase it as soon as the business can support it.

Shameless Plug

The app I am creating is slated for production in the App Store in November 2014. However, the web edition is already available at http://www.aMemoryJog.com. Once the app is done, it will seamlessly sync with the web version.

Download a free trial and check it out!


Also, if you like this blog, please share it with others to increase our following. Our twitter account is @2HourAppreneur and be sure to like my Facebook page at http://www.Facebook.com/2HourAppreneur.

Thanks for following the blog!

Newly redesigned website for aMemoryJog

In last month’s post, I discussed how to keep track of your appreneur tasks and time spent. This month I thought I would take a break from the typical posts regarding how to build and run an appreneur business and let you know about the latest happenings with our app, aMemoryJog.

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.  Winston Churchill

Redesigned the aMemoryJog App

We were just about ready to launch the aMemoryJog app and took a 2 month pause. Why? Initially we were going to have 2 apps, a free one (aMemoryJog Lite) and a paid one (aMemoryJog Pro). After reviewing other apps in the App Store, we decided to move forward with a single app (just called aMemoryJog). It will be free but will offer an in-app purchase that will unlock some additional capabilities (this is called a Freemium approach).

The reason for this decision was that it will be easier to maintain and market a single app than it will if we have 2 separate editions of the app and the customer will have a much better experience if they decide to unlock the additional features with an in-app purchase. If they upgrade using the in-app purchase, the features will immediately appear and they will not have to download a separate app.


Basic Features of the aMemoryJog iPhone App

When the free app is downloaded, it will have the following BASIC features:

  • Remembers passwords and other private information
  • Tracks accounts, credit cards, frequent flyer, loyalty card, and more
  • Easy-to-setup categories, custom fields and unlimited notes
  • Single tap access to your websites – fills in user names and passwords
  • Secures stored information with bank-level 256-bit AES encryption
  • Search feature finds any item containing the phrase typed in
  • Provides a strong unique password generator
  • Shields passwords from prying eyes with password masking
  • Configurable timeout setting for automatic log out after an inactivity delay

Premium Features (available with in-app purchase):

The cost to upgrade from the Basic features to Premium features will be $9.99. Below are the additional features that you get:

  • Provides all features of the Basic edition but with no ads
  • Includes a free web based edition accessible from PC, Mac or tablets
  • Allows you to import data from a spreadsheet
  • Cloud backups prevent loss of data if you restore your mobile device
  • Syncs with the web edition
  • Allows you to restore any deleted entry from a recycle bin
  • Supports English, Spanish, French, and German languages
  • Supports Italian, Russian, Chinese, and Japanese languages
  • Self-destruct feature erases data upon too many invalid password tries
  • Remote self-destruct erases aMemoryJog data if phone is lost or stolen
  • Data erased from self-destruct can later be restored from cloud backup

If you want to learn more about the app, check out the aMemoryJog iPhone App website.

Redesigned the aMemoryJog Web Site

As the developer was redesigning the app, we took this time to also redesign the entire aMemoryJog website. The new site is easier to read, has more images, and is more search engine optimization (SEO) friendly than the original site. Below is the new look, but you can see the entire site here: http://www.aMemoryJog.com.



Related article: How to Build a Product Website for your App

When will it be in the Apple App Store?

We hope to have the app in the Apple App Store by early to mid-November, assuming we don’t hit any snags. As you may remember, the web edition is already in production and a free trial can be downloaded here.

Also, if you like this blog, please share it with others to increase our following. Our twitter account is @2HourAppreneur and be sure to like my Facebook page at http://www.Facebook.com/2HourAppreneur.

Thanks for following the blog!

Keeping track of your appreneur tasks and time spent

In my prior post, I discussed the pre-release tasks you can concentrate on while your outsourced team is developing your mobile app. Now that we know what tasks to concentrate on, how is the best way to keep track of those tasks and time spent?  All of these questions will be answered in this blog.

The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot. ― Michael Altshuler

Keeping Track of What To Do

How is the best way to keep track of all of the things you must do as you are developing your app? Well, you have lots of choices. You can use project management software (like MS Project), development tools (like Rally or ALMComplete), a white board with a list of to-do list items, to-do list tracking software (like MS Outlook), etc. I have tried all of the above but I have found the most efficient way to track these items is by simply using a word processor (I use Microsoft Word) and a spreadsheet (I use Microsoft Excel).

Each week, I enter my accomplishments and how many hours I spent working into a MS Word document and I keep track of future to-do lists at the end of the document so that I can easily pull those into a specific week. At the end of the week, I also update a MS Excel document that tracks how many hours I worked for the week.

Here is a copy of the MS Word document I use. You can see how I have tracked my accomplishments since the beginning of my app development journey.

Weekly Accomplishments - MS Word format

Weekly Accomplishments – MS Word format

Weekly Accomplishments - PDF Format

Weekly Accomplishments – PDF Format

Also, here is a copy of the MS Excel document I use. As this blog suggests, I try to (on average) work 2 hours a day on this venture and from the document below, you can see that I have averaged a little less than that. That does not mean that every week is a 10 hour week, some are more, some are less. I work when I am inspired and when things really need to get done.

Weekly Work Hours - Excel Format

Weekly Work Hours – Excel Format

Weekly Work Hours - PDF Format

Weekly Work Hours – PDF Format


Keep track of all your accomplishments and time spent. Don’t spring for expensive project management tools — make do with a word processor and spreadsheet.

Shameless Plug

The app I am creating is slated for production in the App Store in September 2014. However, the web edition is already available at http://www.aMemoryJog.com. Once the app is done, it will seamlessly sync with the web version.

Download a free trial and check it out!

aMemoryJog – Web and iPhone editions

Also, if you like this blog, please share it with others to increase our following. Our twitter account is @2HourAppreneur and be sure to like my Facebook page at http://www.Facebook.com/2HourAppreneur.

Thanks for following the blog!

Pre-Release tasks when developing Apps

In my prior post, I discussed how to get the best price for the development of your app by creating a solid specification / RFP. Once you have created a great spec and chosen a vendor to do the work, you can just sit back and wait until the development is completed, right? Nope! Now is the time to start pre-release tasks– tasks related to marketing, localization, and finding tools to help you once your app goes live.

The task ahead of you is never stronger than the strength inside of you! ~ 1 Happy Thought

Gain Public Visibility

By the time your app is fully tested, it would be great to have a public presence so that people can find you — it will help you from a marketing perspective and will start to build trust and consumer confidence in your capabilities and your app.

Using Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

One way to establish your public persona is to create Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook accounts for your business so that others can find you and so that you can begin communicating with people who share an interest in your product offerings. Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are free and setting them up just takes a few minutes.

Once these accounts are setup for your business, you should start building a following. First, invite all of your friends to follow you but that is not going to give you a wide audience. To build a broader audience, begin following other people who share common interests and ask them to follow you back. You can do this manually but it is quite tedious. I use a neat little tool called JustUnfollow (http://www.JustUnfollow.com). It allows you to find others to follow based on keywords or even by having it see who is following someone else you might know. You can use the tool to follow others and see who is following you back. In most cases, I unfollow people who have not reciprocated the following because I want it to be a win-win relationship.

Creating a Twitter and Facebook account without posting any Tweets or Facebook posts is a waste of time. Once you begin building your following, try to Tweet, and do a Facebook and LinkedIn post a few times a week.  Tweet about things that are cool and complimentary to your app. Tweet about the progress of your app development. As you are reading this post, it was posted to my Twitter and Facebook account so that it can be distributed to my followers. With this, I am providing helpful information to other appreneurs and appreneur wannabes — so hopefully I am providing good articles that people are interested in.

You can see my Twitter account at https://twitter.com/2HourAppreneur and my Facebook account at http://www.facebook.com/2hourappreneur.

Build your Website

You will need to build a website that showcases your app. You can subcontract this work out to someone on oDesk (http://www.oDesk.com) or if you are technically inclined, I would suggest purchasing a website template and customizing it for your own needs. You can purchase a website template from lots of different sites but I really like Template Monster (http://www.TemplateMonster.com).

I did this with my website (http://www.aMemoryJog.com and http://www.amemoryjog.com/iPhone.aspx). My template set me back about $45 and I customized it with my own content, screen shots and descriptions.

If you decide to customize your own website, you should also learn a bit about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is a way of creating your web pages in a way that makes it easy for Google, Bing and other search engines to find it based on specific keywords you are targeting.  There are lots of articles on SEO, just Google it and you will get an idea of the tactics needed to give your site the best chance of ranking higher by the search engines.  You can also subcontract this task out to someone on oDesk, but I think it is a good idea to learn what this is about and take the first stab at it. You can always enlist a professional later once your product starts generating cash flow.

While we are discussing websites, make sure that you hook up Google Analytics to your website so that you can see how many visitors you get, what pages they visit most often, what country they come from, what browsers or mobile devices they using to access your website, etc. Google Analytics is also free and easy to hook up into your website, you can learn more here: https://www.google.com/analytics.  Not only will you use Google Analytics to analyze your web traffic, you can also hook it up for your app to get the same type of statistics for people using your app!

Related article: How to Build a Product Website for your App

Develop your App Descriptions and Keywords

Once your web persona is created, it is now time to shift focus back to your app. When you’re looking for new apps in the Apple or Google App Stores, you probably do a search for them, right? The other day I was looking a for an app that would allow me to track a list of meals I normally eat because at the end of the day, I am always trying to answer the question “What should I eat tonight?”. I thought it would be cool to put my favorite dishes in a tool and be able to see them by breakfast, lunch and dinner. It would also be cool to let me randomly pick one of my favorite foods to cook.

To find the app, I searched the App Store for “Whats for Dinner Tonight”.  It came up with lots of apps but most of them tracked calories, had tons of recipes, etc. Overkill for what I was looking for. So I started to think that I could really just use a To Do List type app to list my favorite foods. But I also wanted to have the ability to randomly pick an item so I searched for “To Do List Randomizer”. It returned several apps and I was drawn to a particular app called “Laza Lists” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytzZtiBrRSY).

So why did I choose them over all of the other apps?  Well first, I noticed their app icon and really liked it:


Then I read their description it talked about having a randomizer feature — that really pulled me in because I wanted that ability.  Then I looked at their screen shots and it looked to have a clean and simple user interface.


So based on this, I downloaded it and setup my meals in the “Decision Maker” section so that I could randomly choose something eat each day (below is a list of Lunch items and the green one is the one I selected randomly by tapping the gavel in the top right of the screen):


So as you can see, there 4 things that affected my decision about choosing their app over others:

  • The keywords that I entered (To Do List Randomizer) showed me their app
  • The app icon caught my eye
  • The app description convinced me that it was the right app
  • The screen shots showed me that the app would be clean and easy-to-use.

So this brings us back to your app. You need to spend a lot of time thinking about how you describe your app in the App Description section of the App Store. It will show the first 4 lines of your description before you click “More” so your value proposition must be clear in the first 4 lines. You should get a professional graphic artist (from oDesk) to create a cool looking app icon because that will catch your eye first. You should have the app designed with a clean look. And finally, you should think of keywords that people might search for to find your app. When setting up your app in the App Store, you can enter 100 characters of keywords, each one separated by a comma — so it is important that you choose ones that people will most likely search on.

So how do you know if your description and keywords are correct? You can start by researching your competitors to see what keywords and descriptions they use. The App Store will show you the description but it will not show you their keywords. But you can use a number of different tools to find that out (AppCodes: http://www.appcodes.com/, Sensor Tower: http://SensorTower.com, and Strapley: http://Straply.com) are the ones I use. Once you research 5 or 6 competitors, you will start to see a pattern and can make your own judgments.

Once you have figured these things out, put your App Title, App Description and Keywords into an MS Word (or similar) document so that it will be handy when you get ready to submit your app to the App Store.

Develop a list of contacts for reviewers, bloggers, and journalists

As soon as your app is completed and submitted to the App Store, you will want to generate some buzz for your app. One way to start buzz is to have reviewers try your app and write a review about it. Likewise, you can contact bloggers, technical writers, and other journalists that might agree to give you feedback on your app and if you are lucky they may include your app in their blogs, electronic articles or their magazine articles.

So now is the perfect time to start looking for bloggers, app review sites, and magazine editors whose audience might be interested in your app. Spend time each day looking for these people and sites and log them into a Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) so that once your app is published, their contact information will be handy. What CRM should you use? There are a number of free CRM systems, I settled on Zoho CRM (https://www.zoho.com/crm) because it was free, easy to use and could send emails out.

Once your app is completed, you will want to contact these people so you will also need to create a Press Release and a Press Kit.  This provides them with all they need to know to try your product and to provide a review of it. If you want to see my Press Kit (which also contains a Press Release), you can see it here: http://amemoryjog.com/PressKit.html.

You will also want to post a video of your app in action on YouTube. You can create the video using Camtasia or Jing (http://www.jingproject.com) and post it directly to YouTube. That will also be part of your Press Kit.

Sign up for Banner Ad Networks

If your app is free, you will probably want to include banner advertising to drive some revenue your way. Before your app is fully developed is the time to sign up for banner ad networks. I use iAd (http://advertising.apple.com/) and adMob (http://www.google.com/ads/admob/). While you are at it, sign up for Apple’s Affiliate Network (https://www.apple.com/itunes/affiliates/), you will cross promote other people’s app within yours (by adding a MORE section) and each time they purchase an app, you will get an affiliate commission.


Once done, your app will be in the App Store and will seen all over the world. Imagine you live in Spain and search the App Store for an app similar to yours. Let’s say it shows 10 apps and 2 of them have descriptions and screen shots that are in Spanish instead of English. I would guess that the Spaniard will look more closely at the ones in his own language than the English ones. That’s why it is a great idea to localize your app for different countries. You don’t have to do all countries, but consider supporting the more popular languages (English, Spanish, Italian, French, German, Japanese, Chinese and Russian).

It does take more thought and preparation to localize an app because your app has to display things in the supported language, screen shots will have to be taken in those languages and your App Store descriptions and keywords will work best if localized. Use the pre-production time to hire subcontractors from oDesk to provide localized text. I did this and the cost was not overly stiff. It cost me on average about $30 per language to localize our text — which included screen elements (labels, buttons, etc.) and App Store Descriptions and keywords.

Here is an example of how aMemoryJog looks localized in a few languages:


Putting it all Together

Here are the tasks you should be doing as your app is being developed:

  • Setup Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, start posting to those weekly
  • Build your website using a template and build with SEO in mind
  • Develop your app icon, app descriptions, app title and keywords
  • Develop a list of 100 or more contacts for bloggers, technical writers, and/or magazine editors, keep this information in a CRM system
  • Create a press release, press kit and YouTube movies for your app
  • Sign up for banner ad networks and the Apple Affiliate program
  • Localize all your screen text, app descriptions, keywords and take localized screen shots


Now we what things we should be doing as our app is under development. My next blog will be out in a couple of weeks — I will discuss hot to keep track of your appreneur tasks and time spent each day on tasks.

Shameless Plug

The app I am creating is almost done, we plan to submit it to the Apple App Store this week. It should take about a week to get approved by Apple, so the app will be available VERY SOON!  If you haven’t already, download the web edition at http://www.aMemoryJog.com. Once the app is done, it will seamlessly sync with the web version.

Download a free trial and check it out!

aMemoryJog – Web and iPhone editions

Also, if you like this blog, please share it with others to increase our following. Our twitter account is @2HourAppreneur and be sure to like my Facebook page at http://www.Facebook.com/2HourAppreneur.

Thanks for following the blog!

Outsourcing your App Development: Getting the Best Price

In my prior post, I discussed how to create a business plan for developing a mobile app. Once your business plan is complete and you have determined that your mobile app idea is viable, it is time to get bids from subcontractors for developing your app. But how do you get the best price possible?  Is cheapest always the best?  All of these questions will be answered in this blog.

The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it. — Henry David Thoreau

Getting Legal Protection

Before soliciting bids for outsourcing your mobile app development, be sure to have the right legal documents in place. Your idea is valuable, so you want to protect it. First, require bidders to first sign a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA).  The NDA ensures that the bidder will not go off and develop your idea and sell it as their own. Here is an NDA you might consider using (click on an image to access the document):

NDA (MS Word)

NDA (MS Word)



Once you choose a subcontractor, have them sign an Independent Contractor Agreement (ICA). This ensures that your intellectual property is protected and that they are acting solely as an independent contractor and not an employee.  Here is an ICA you might consider using (click on an image to access the document):

ICA (MS Word)

ICA (MS Word)



How to Get the Best Price from Your SubContractor

Imagine building a house without architectural plans. You might tell your builder “I want a small house with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a nice kitchen”.  That type of house might cost $100,000 or it could cost $1,000,000. It all depends on the finishes, the builder you choose, etc. A $100,000 house might have carpeting, no fireplace, laminate counters instead of granite, a single sink in your bathroom instead of dual sinks, and may be built as a rectangle, without any interesting exterior features.

A $1,000,000 home would most likely include hardwood floors, granite countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms, high-end appliances, indoor and outdoor fireplaces, incredible landscaping, a theater room, a home audio system that runs throughout the house, a pool and deck in the backyard, and a 2 story plan with a turret and other interesting design elements. To get a more accurate cost, you must be very specific in what you want so that few assumptions are made.

Software is very similar, you need a plan (called a Specification) that details what the app  might look like, all of the screens associated with the app, and what you expect the app to do on each screen. Without a specification, a developer cannot reliably provide you with an estimated cost because they cannot nail down exactly how much time it will take to complete it.

In fact, without a solid specification, few developers will provide you with a fixed price bid — they will want you to pay them by the hour — and this is not good for you because you are never sure of how much the app will cost to build. And they are correct — without a specification, you could change your mind a thousand times as you begin development which adds a lot of rework and unnecessary costs.

So how do you build a specification? First, create a prototype of your app. You don’t need programming skills to do this, simply purchase a prototyping tool (like  Balsamiq Mockups) and create your screens.  Here is how it might look in Balsamiq:

Balsamiq Mockup

Balsamiq Mockup

Once your prototype is created, write a specifications document that shows each screen and the details of how each  screen works. The specifications document will also serve as your Request For Proposal (RFP) document that you send to subcontractors to get bids for the work.  With a good specifications document, you can insist on a FIXED PRICE bid for the project so that you are not billed by the hour — this saves you from cost overruns. Here is a example of an RFP / Specifications document.  This document shows the first couple of screens developed for aMemoryJog to give you an idea of how to create a good RFP (click on the images below to access the document):

RFP (MS Word)

RFP (MS Word)



Selecting a SubContractor

You can find a subcontractor from oDesk (http://www.oDesk.com). oDesk is free to use but once you choose a subcontractor, they will charge you a 10% fee.

Once you create a free oDesk account, you can post your job with a budget amount. The budget amount is the amount you are willing to spend. You might find that some bids come under and others go over your budget, but the subcontractors use the proposed budget as a guideline to decide if they wish to bid on the work.  Here is how I posted my job for aMemoryJog:

We currently offer a web based application called aMemoryJog (http://www.aMemoryJog.com) and would like to subcontract the development of an iPhone edition using Xamarin, C#, SQL Lite and SQLCipher.

The work is for creating 2 iPhone apps, a free edition and a paid edition. We have created a very detailed specification complete with a database design, wireframes, and details of how each screen is to work.  

Part of the work is to also implement a web services component using Visual Studio 2012 (C#) that allows syncing data between the iPhone app and our web edition.

Knowing the complexity of what I was asking to have built, I put an initial budget amount of $5,000 (fixed price). Once I submitted that, I was able to search oDesk for qualified subcontractors and ask them to consider bidding.  I always try to hire a freelance programmer rather than an agency because an agency has overhead costs that a freelancer does not have, so a freelancer is normally less expensive.

Once I submitted my job posting, I began getting emails from subcontractors saying that they were interested. I would reply to them with the NDA document and ask them to sign it before sending them the detailed RFP.  Once I received their signed NDA, I sent them the RFP and asked for a fixed price bid.

After a few days, I began getting bids. Bids ranged from $4,000 to $17,000 — but most averaged $6,000.  I did not choose the cheapest subcontractor; I based my decision on how thorough the response was and how well they answered my questions. The subcontractor I chose provided me with a fixed price estimate, a detailed response on how he would develop the app, the milestone dates associated with the development, and provided me with examples of his past work and references I could contact to get comfortable with his work.

Putting it all Together

Here are the steps to getting the best price for your app development project:

  • Create a prototype of your app
  • Develop a specifications document for app
  • Put together an NDA document that must be signed before sending the RFP to the subcontractor
  • Submit your app job posting to oDesk but require that they sign the NDA before receiving the RFP and ask for a fixed price bid
  • Once bids come in, evaluate the bids based on thoroughness of the response, ask for milestone dates, samples of their work and references
  • Make s short list of bidders, review their work samples and contact their references
  • Choose a subcontractor but require that they sign an Independent Contractor Agreement (ICA) before starting work

Related article: How to Build a Product Website for your App


Now we know how to get the best price from a subcontractor for our app development project. My next blog will be out in a couple of weeks — I will discuss what marketing tasks you can be doing as your app is being developed by your subcontractor.

Shameless Plug

The app I am creating is slated for production in the App Store around July or August 2014. However, the web edition is already available at http://www.aMemoryJog.com. Once the app is done, it will seamlessly sync with the web version.

Download a free trial and check it out!

aMemoryJog – Web and iPhone editions

Also, if you like this blog, please share it with others to increase our following. Our twitter account is @2HourAppreneur and be sure to like my Facebook page at http://www.Facebook.com/2HourAppreneur.

Thanks for following the blog!

Putting the final touches on the Business Plan

In prior posts, I discussed many of the things to consider when developing a business plan for starting an #appreneur business.  It is now time to put the finishing touches on the business plan.

A man who does not plan long ahead will find trouble at his door. – Confucius

If you missed any of my prior posts, quickly access them from here:

Do Not Wear Rose Colored Glasses

Before committing money to any business, it is important to create a business plan. When doing this, don’t wear rose colored glasses. Too many people come up with an idea and convince themselves that it is a good idea without any objective analysis. If they do commit to doing a business plan, they skew their analysis to support their idea that the business is viable instead of objectively analyzing competitors, attainable market share, and overhead costs.  This is a great way to lose money.

How Can We Reduce Risks of Losing Money?

The best way to reduce the risks of losing money on a business venture is to go into the business planning with skepticism as to whether your business idea is worthy of investing in. Only after careful analysis of the market space, competitors and costs do you decide if the idea is worth investing in. If your analysis tells you that it is not financially viable — don’t waste your time and money! Go back to the drawing board and look for another idea that has reduced risks.

If your idea does look like it has legs (is viable), commit a certain amount of funds towards it, based on your startup analysis. Then when you commit those funds, keep an eye on your expenses. If your revenue is not what you expected or if your costs greatly exceed your projections, define a monetary threshold you will not exceed and if you do — shut it down! Pouring tons of money on a bad idea is a great way to go broke!

Anatomy of a Business Plan

OK, now that I’ve scared the hell out of you, you probably figured out that I am really just describing how important the business planning process is. Skip it and you will most likely fail. Go into with a biased optimism can also cause you to fail.

Go into it with open eyes and analyze everything you can so that you can make the best decision possible regarding the viability of your idea. In the past months, I’ve been feeding you blogs that described different parts of business planning.

Now it’s time to put all of this information into a document.  Here are the sections I normally include in a business plan:

  • General Company Description – This contains your mission statement, goals and objective, business philosophy, user demographic, industry information, company strength/weaknesses, and legal form of ownership.
  • Products and Services – Describes your product /services offered.
  • Marketing Plan – Describes your product features / benefits, customer profile, competitor revenue analysis, branding elements, the niche you are pursuing, marketing strategy, a description of the sales process and follow up, marketing budget, how you will price the product, a sales forecast for the first 2 years, and timelines.
  • Operational Plan – Describes your production and maintenance plan, business location, legal environment, personnel plans, inventory process, accounting procedures, general marketing approach, competitive matrix, startup and expenses and capitalization.

Rather than go into each of the above items in ad nauseum, I find it easier to simply give you an example of the business plan I built for aMemoryJog.  Of course, I hide our competitor list, as this proprietary, but you will understand the thinking that went into the analysis.  Below are 2 versions you can use, an MS Word and a PDF edition:

MS Word Version

MS Word Version

PDF Version

PDF Version

Related article: How to Build a Product Website for your App


Now we have a very good understanding of how to analyze our business idea and to create a business plan to determine if it is viable. My next blog will be out in a couple of weeks — I will discuss how develop a specifications document that you can hand off to a consultant to get the best price for developing your app.

Shameless Plug

The app I am creating is slated for production in the App Store around July or August 2014. However, the web edition is already available at http://www.aMemoryJog.com. Once the app is done, it will seamlessly sync with the web version.

Download a free trial and check it out!

aMemoryJog – Web and iPhone editions

Also, if you like this blog, please share it with others to increase our following. Our twitter account is @2HourAppreneur and be sure to like my Facebook page at http://www.Facebook.com/2HourAppreneur.

Thanks for following the blog!

15 Marketing Activities to Consider for Your App

In our last post, we discussed how to determine you app’s user demographic using Alexa and how to refine your marketing strategy based on user demographic. Now it is time to flesh out the specific marketing activities we might plan for when preparing our app for the App Store.

Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation. – Milan Kundera

Marketing Strategies for Software

When I was building my last software business, our product sold for about $700 per user per year for our Software-as-a-Service model and about $1100 per user per year for our On-Premise edition. It was not unusual for a single client sale to yield $30,000 to $50,000 because a normal sale was for 30 to 50 users of the On-Premise edition.

I had the sales and marketing side of things pretty well figured out. We would advertise with Google Adwords, sponsor trade shows, speak at events, appear in trade magazines, and perform weekly web-based demonstrations of the product to users that signed up for a trial. All of this was supported by an automated email drip system that emailed clients once they downloaded our product and a sales team that followed those emails up with a phone call to nudge the client to attend a demo and eventually purchase.

Marketing Strategies for Apps

App marketing is very different. Why? Because the price of apps normally range from 99 cents to 20 bucks. With such a low sales price, it would not be cost effective to have a sales team contact people that download the app to nudge them to buy. It would also not be feasible to try to demo the app to users weekly — it just does not fit for this type of product.

When someone starts searching for an app, they will decide in matter of seconds whether they will download the app, normally based on the look of the icon, app screen shots, short description of the app and the user reviews. So it is important to get those things right.

Additionally, the App Store is crowded with lots of apps so it is important to get your keywords right so that when someone searches for an app similar to yours, they find it. In addition to the App Store, you can also drive downloads for your app from other sources. Bloggers and journalists are normally held in high regard, so if they review and recommend your app, it is an easy gateway to gaining users.

Marketing Activities

Based on my research, here are a list of marketing activities that make sense to consider for apps.

  1. Place your product in all app stores (Apple, Google, Windows) – start with Apple first and migrate to other platforms once a platform shows success.
  2. Use Google Adwords to drive downloads. For about $100 a month you can drive more downloads. Always tweak this process and measure the conversions to ensure that the money is well spent.
  3. For those of you reading this blog, it is part of my marketing strategy.  The idea is to build a community of like-minded individuals and provide them with really useful content. When others take a journey with you, they are more likely to share your blog and product information with others — resulting in more visibility for your app.  By the way — please tell all your friends about this blog and have them subscribe to it and my Twitter feed and Facebook page (thanks!).
  4. Spend time every day gaining new Twitter users for your blog — use Just Unfollow to follow and unfollow Twitter users. I try to link to at least 50 new Twitter users per day.
  5. Create a Facebook product for your blog or product and try to gain visibility to it.
  6. Work with journalists, app review sites and bloggers to get reviews posted for the app. In only about a month, I have found about 125 blog / review / journalist sites that may review my app once it is ready for the App Store. Once my app is ready, I will email each of them asking them to review it.  If they post a review (especially if it is positive), it will generate more visibility.
  7. Implement an automatic drip email campaigns for trial users of the software to nudge them to purchase. I wrote my own automatic drip email system but you can purchase Mail Chimp or a similar program to do this.
  8. Solicit sites to link to your web site by looking at your competitor’s linkages and sending emails to the owners of the linking sites asking to link to you. You can see who links to your competitor’s site by using Alexa.
  9. Participate in discussion forums with other appreneurs to offer advice. This is good for newbie appreneurs and can also be very good for you — you will always learn something new. Never overtly pitch your products using this technique but include a link to your product’s website page and a tagline on each post. That gives visibility to your product, you will be surprised at how many people will see it and click to learn more.
  10. Work with other #appreneurs to offer a MORE section of your app where your can cross promote each other’s product. Be sure that the products you show in this section are good products and complementary to yours. As discussed in a prior blog, it is good to also include these as affiliate links, allowing you to earn money for those cross sells.
  11. Implement reminder screens that encourage your free users to upgrade to the paid version.
  12. Continuously tweak the App Store listing by changing the product title, description and keywords with each release. Test the effectiveness of the changes.
  13. Localize the app title, description, keywords and screenshots for each language you support.
  14. Create a good press package for each release that includes a good press release, videos of the product, screenshots, product overviews, and features.
  15. If all above is working and you have extra marketing funds, advertise on Facebook.

Related article: How to Build a Product Website for your App


Now that you have a better grounding for the types of marketing activities you might want to implement, prioritize the list and get started!  My next blog will be out in a couple of weeks — I will discuss how to finalize your business plan and give you the opportunity to see mine.

Shameless Plug

The app I am creating is slated for production in the App Store around July or August 2014. However, the web edition is already available at http://www.aMemoryJog.com. Once the app is done, it will seamlessly sync with the web version.

Download a free trial and check it out!

aMemoryJog – Web and iPhone editions

Also, if you like this blog, please share it with others to increase our following. Our twitter account is @2HourAppreneur and be sure to like my Facebook page at http://www.Facebook.com/2HourAppreneur.  Thanks for following the blog!

Using Alexa to Determine your User Demographic

In our last post, we discussed how to monetize your app for free and paid apps. We even discussed how to generate recurring revenue from your app. Once you have figured out your monetization strategy, you will need to formulate a marketing strategy. A more refined marketing strategy can be created if you understand your user demographics.

I remember auditioning for record labels and having them tell me, ‘Well, the country-radio demographic is the thirty-five-year-old female housewife. Give us a song that relates to the thirty-five-year-old female, and we’ll talk.’ – Taylor Swift

How to Determine Your App’s User Demographic

If you have really deep pockets, you can conduct user demographic studies that can better pin-point what type of “typical user” might enjoy your app.  You can look at things like male / female, age, geographical location, and education level. But who has thousands of dollars to spend on these types of studies?  Not me!

There is an another approach. Using Alexa, you can put in your competitor’s website and it will spit out the demographic. After analyzing several of your competitors, you can hone in on your demographic.

Let’s take an example. Let’s imagine you are creating an app to compete with Angry Birds (good luck with that).  You can go to http://www.Alexa.com and enter their website address (http://www.AngryBirds.com) and here is what it will show:

AngryBirds Demographic

User Demographics – AngryBirds.com

Based on the above, the demographic is mostly male with very little or no college education. They seem to use Angry Birds at school and home more than at work. As we can see below, it is very popular in India and the USA:

AngryBirds Demographic2

User Geographics – AngryBirds.com

You will want to do that with 4 to 5 of your competitors to hone in on the commonalities.

Related article: How to Build a Product Website for your App

Are Demographics Important?

In some cases demographics can be very important. For example, women tend to use meditation apps more than men so if I were designing a meditation app, I would want very soothing colors and would want to give my beta version to several women I trust to try it out and give me feedback on the design, look and feel and functionality.

The demographic can also play into how you market the app. In our fictional meditation app, I would scour the web for some female bloggers that are early adopters of technology, and are into meditation.  I would contact them to get them excited about writing a review for the meditation app.  Their popular blog could turn other women onto the app if they really enjoy your app, especially if they write enthusiastically about it.


Now that you know how to use Alexa, try determining your app’s demographic! My next blog will be out in a couple of weeks — I will discuss what marketing activities you might consider when planning the release of your app.

Shameless Plug

The app I am creating is slated for production in the App Store around July or August 2014. However, the web edition is already available at http://www.aMemoryJog.com. Once the app is done, it will seamlessly sync with the web version.

Download a free trial and check it out!

aMemoryJog – Web and iPhone editions

Also, if you like this blog, please share it with others to increase our following. Our twitter account is @2HourAppreneur and be sure to like my Facebook page at http://www.Facebook.com/2HourAppreneur.  Thanks for following the blog!

Sneak Peek at aMemoryJog Lite iPhone edition

After several months of development, the FREE edition of aMemoryJog (Lite) app is almost ready for production.  We are now making final bug fixes, preparing marketing materials, and getting ready for the Apple App Store submission.

To jog your memory (pun!), aMemoryJog is an app that tracks passwords, frequent flyer details, loyalty program information, and pretty much anything else that is easily forgotten. By having this information on your phone, it is a tap away.

The edition shown in this blog will be TOTALLY FREE for download in the Apple App Store very soon.

aMemoryJog Lite Movie

My @2HourAppreneur readers get the first sneak peek of the application.  I created a movie that shows the app in progress, click below to watch the movie:


Additionally, I thought I would include some screen shots so that you can see each screen in detail. If you have any feedback (good or bad), please provide it by commenting to this post. We still have a few more weeks to make tweaks, so your feedback is valuable.

Login Process

From here, you will be able to create a new account (if you don’t have one) or login if you do have one. If you have an account but cannot remember the password, you can have it emailed from here.


Please provide some feedback by entering comments into this blog:

  • What do you think of the logo?
  • What do you think of the colors of the application?

All Your Easily Forgotten Info in Your Pocket

Once you are logged in, it shows a list of items you have stored in aMemoryJog. To add a new item, tap the + sign in the top right of the page.


To view the details of an existing item, simply tap it and the details appear.


One of the cool features is the ability to tap the website address of a stored item and it will bring up that website and allow you to quickly log in without remembering your userid and password (you can tap those to automatically fill them in).  Here is an example of that for the Wells Fargo website:


Questions for you:

  • What do you think about how it organizes all your passwords?
  • Do you like the colors?
  • Are the navigation buttons at the bottom of the page easy to understand?
  • Do you like the website browser integration for tapping a website address to automatically fill in the userid and password?

Adjusting your Settings

The app is also configurable, you will have a number of different settings that allow it to work better for your specific needs.


Questions for you:

  • Are the settings labeled in way you can quickly understand  what they do?
  • Is the look visually appealing?

Getting Help

The Help screen allows you to watch a movie that shows how the product works, access frequently asked questions and request support.


Questions for you:

  • Is it clear how to use this screen?
  • Do you like the colors used on this screen?
  • Is it clear what the Tell A Friend section is for?


Thanks so much for supporting this effort. Your feedback is important, especially now just before getting it ready for production — so any feedback is welcome.

Also, if you like this blog, please share it with others to increase our following:

Thanks again for following the blog!