How to Build an App Empire: Can You Create The Next Instagram?

Chad Mureta runs his seven-figure app business from his iPhone. (Photo: Jorge Quinteros).

I first met Chad Mureta in Napa Valley in 2011.

Two years prior, he had been in a horrible car accident. He’d lost control of his truck in at attempt to avoid a deer, hit a median, and flipped four times, nearly destroying his dominant arm in the wreckage.

While in the hospital for a lengthy recovery, a friend gave him an article about the app market. Shortly thereafter, Chad began designing and developing apps. His results?

“In just over two years, I’ve created and sold three app companies that have generated millions in revenue. Two months after launching my first company, one of my apps averaged $30,000 a month in profit. In December of 2010, the company’s monthly income had reached $120,000. In all, I’ve developed more than 40 apps and have had more than 35 million app downloads across the globe. Over 90 percent of my apps were successful and made money.”

After finishing rehab, Chad was able to leave his real estate company, where he’d been working 70 hours a week, to run his app business from his iPhone… in less than 5 hours per week.

“Apps” are the new, new thing, thanks to major successes like Draw Something (bought by Zynga for $210 million) and Instagram (bought by Facebook for $1 billion), among others. But for all the hype and promise, few people actually know how to create something that gets traction.

In this post, Chad will discuss his step-by-step formula for rapid app development and sales optimization. It covers real-world case studies and the details you usually don’t see: early prototype sketches, screenshots, how to code if you don’t know how to code, and much more.

Last but not least, don’t miss the competition at the end. If you’ve ever thought “I should make an app that…,” this one is for you…

Enter Chad Mureta

When you are on your deathbed, will you be able to say you lived a fulfilled life?

I nearly couldn’t.

I started my app business from a hospital bed, wondering if I even wanted to live. I had barely survived a terrible car accident that shattered my left arm. I had gone through two groundbreaking operations, and spent 18 months in painful rehabilitation.

With limited insurance, I had racked up $100,000 in medical bills. Even though I survived, I had no clue how to get out of the deep hole I felt trapped in. I was moved to a physical rehabilitation center and worked on reconstructing my body, my mind, and ultimately my life. While I was there, I read two books that made a huge impact: Unlimited Power strengthened my thought processes, and The 4-Hour Workweek inspired me to pursue lifestyle freedom.

During that time, a good friend gave me an article about “appreneurs” and told me I should consider getting into the business. I learned that most appreneurs were one- or two-person teams with low costs, and the successful ones were bringing in millions in profits. Still in my hospital bed, in a state of semi-coherence from the pain medication, I began drawing up ideas for apps.

Three weeks after my final surgery, desperate, broke, and grasping at straws, I borrowed $1,800 from my stepdad and jumped into the app business. Fortunately, taking that leap was the best decision I’ve ever made…

These days, my life is about doing what I love while earning easy income. I run my business from my iPhone, working in a virtual world while earning real dollars. I am part of a growing community of “appreneurs,” entrepreneurs who make money from applications that are used on iPhones, iPads, iPods, Droids, and Blackberries. As of this writing, the world’s youngest appreneur is nine years old, and the oldest is 80!

Appreneurs earn money while creating lifestyles of great freedom. Two of my appreneur friends spend several months of the year doing nonprofit work in Vietnam, while their businesses are generating seven-figure incomes. Another is taking his kids to see the Seven Wonders of the World, creating priceless memories with his family. Still another friend goes backpacking throughout Europe with his wife for most of the year. As for me, I’ve hiked in the Australian Outback, trekked with Aborigines across the desert, climbed in the Rocky Mountains, got certified in solo skydiving, heli-skied in Canada, walked on fire, and most important of all, learned not to take life so seriously.

No matter what your dream lifestyle is, you can have it as an appreneur.

The Opportunity for Appreneurs

There are currently more than 4.6 billion cell phones being used worldwide, enough for two-thirds of the people on Earth. The app market is literally the fastest growing industry in history, with no signs of slowing down. Now is the perfect time to jump into the mobile game.

What happened during the early days of the Internet, with the creation of websites like Google and eBay, is exactly what’s happening today with apps and mobile technology. The only difference is that we have experienced the rise of the Internet and are conditioned to react more quickly to the app revolution. This means that the app world is running light years ahead of the Internet, when it was at the same development stage. Developing apps is your chance to jump ahead of the masses and not be left behind, saying years from now, “I wish I had…”

Common Objections

“I’m not a tech person. I have no experience in this market.”

I was in the same spot, and I still don’t know how to write code. But I found successful people to learn from, emulated their models, and hired programmers and designers who could execute my ideas. If you can draw your idea on a piece of paper, you can successfully build an app.

“The app market has too much competition. I don’t stand a chance.”

This industry is just getting started– it’s less than four years old! What makes the app business unique is that the big players are on the same playing field as everyone else. They have the same questions and challenges as you and I will have.

“I don’t have the money.”

You don’t need a lot of money to start. It costs anywhere from $500 to $5,000 to develop simple apps. As soon as you launch your app (depending on your sales), you could see money hit your bank account within two months.

“It’s difficult… I don’t understand it… I’m not smart enough.”

Just like everything you’ve learned in life, you have to start somewhere. Fortunately, running an app business is far easier than almost every other type of business. Apple and Google handle all of the distribution, so you can spend your time creating apps and marketing them. And you don’t have to come up with new, innovative ideas. If you can improve on existing app ideas, you can make money.

Many people are joining the app gold rush with a get-rich-quick mentality and unrealistic expectations. Maintaining an optimistic perspective is important, but so is understanding that you will have to put in work. My goal in this post is to help you think like a business owner, and show you the map I’ve used to find “the gold.” This is not a one-time app lottery, and you can’t treat it as such. If you think of this endeavor as a long-term business, it will grow and become a sustainable source of income.

Still interested? Then let’s get started!

Step 1: Get a Feel for the Market

As with any business, your success will be directly related to your understanding of the marketplace. The App Store is the marketplace of the app business, so in order to understand the market, we have to study the App Store. This seems rather obvious, but you wouldn’t believe how many developers I meet that don’t understand this concept. They don’t watch the market, follow the most successful apps, or try to figure out why those apps are successful.

In order to become a great app supplier, you must first become an app addict. That means spending at least 2-4 weeks researching the market while downloading and playing with tons of apps (give yourself an app budget of $100 to start). This training period is an investment in your expertise, which will become the lifeblood of your success. The more hours you rack up playing around and studying successful apps, the better you’ll be able to understand their common traits and what users desire.

So, how do you keep pace with the market? The best way is to study Apple’s cheat sheet constantly. The App Store displays the top paid, top free, and top-grossing apps (the apps that make the most money, including free apps), almost in real-time. Apple provides the same lists in the individual app categories.

These charts are golden because they tell us volumes about the market. The best part is this information is freely accessible to anyone, at any moment (unlike the market info for basically every other industry).

Review these charts frequently, and keep a notebook of potential trends you spot. Doing this repeatedly will educate you on successful app design, marketing, and various pricing models. The research you’re doing is simple, costs nothing, and it’s actually fun!

Here are some questions to ask while you’re researching successful apps in the market:

  1. Why is this app successful?
  2. What is its rank and has it been consistent?
  3. Why do people want this app? (Look at the reviews.)
  4. Has this app made the customer a raving fan?
  5. Does this app provoke an impulse buy?
  6. Does this app meet any of my needs?
  7. Did I become a raving fan after trying it?
  8. Will the customer use it again?
  9. How are they marketing to their customers? (Check out the screen shots, icon design, and descriptions.)
  10. What is the competitive advantage of this app?
  11. What does this app cost? Are there in-app purchases? Advertisements?

Most developers will build an app and expect tons of people to find and download it right away. That rarely happens. You have to figure out what people are interested in and the kinds of apps they’re downloading first, then you build your app based on that insight.

Once you’ve put in the necessary 2-4 weeks of research and feel you have a decent grasp on the market, it will be time to look back on the trends you discovered and explore some ideas for potential apps you can develop.

Step 2: Align Your Ideas with Successful Apps

How do you know if the market wants your app? Again, you’ll need to look at the Top Apps chart. Are apps like the one you want to create listed there? If yes, you’ve got a potential winner. If not, keep looking. It’s that simple.

Don’t hate; Emulate! When you follow in the footsteps of successful apps, you will have a better chance of succeeding because these apps have proven demand and an existing user base. This takes the guesswork out of creating great app ideas.

I can’t stress the importance of emulating existing apps enough. It’s easy for people to fall in love with their own idea, even if the market doesn’t show an appetite for it. But this is one of the costliest errors you can make.

Unfortunately, developers make this mistake all the time. They focus on generating original ideas and spend a lot of time and effort creating those apps. When it doesn’t work out, they go to the next untested idea, instead of learning from the market. Often times, they repeat this cycle until they run out of money and dismiss the app game. This doesn’t have to be your experience.

A personal example of how to successfully emulate competitors is my Emoji app. First, I took a close look at what the market offered and downloaded all the major emoticon apps. I liked what I saw, but noticed that there was a lack of variety and limited functionality.

Screenshots from a competing Emoji app. The app (left) is opened once to provide the user with instructions on how to enable the Emoji keyboard (right).

I wondered how I could improve upon these existing apps, given that the Emoji keyboard had a limited number of emoticons that couldn’t be increased. I was also curious how profitable these apps could be if they were only being used once.

I kept brainstorming until it hit me. I couldn’t add more emoticons to the Emoji keyboard, but I could include unlimited emoticons within my app that people could send as images via text message or email.

I created an app that not only enabled the Emoji keyboard, but also contained an additional 450 emoticons within the app itself, which could be shared via SMS, e-mail, Facebook, and so on. The app was used constantly since users had to return to the app to send an emoticon.

Screenshots of my Emoji app.

The Emoji app was developed in two weeks. It followed the freemium model, meaning free with an in-app purchase option. The app hit the number one spot in the App Store’s productivity category and the number 12 spot in the top free overall category within six days, raking in nearly $500 per day. Bingo.

Whenever you decide to look into emulating an app, ask yourself these six questions:

  1. Why are people purchasing this?
  2. Can I do something to emulate this idea and take it to another level?
  3. What other ideas would this app’s demographic like?
  4. How many other similar apps are in the market? (Visit to find out.)
  5. How successful and consistent have they been?
  6. How does their marketing and pricing model work?

Step 3: Design Your App’s Experience

You’ve studied the market, you see an opportunity, and you have an idea that could be profitable. Great! Now it’s time to turn those thoughts into something tangible.

To convey your idea properly, you can simply draw it on a piece of paper. Maybe it will look like a 3-year old’s artwork, but it will still convey what you’re trying to do. Some people like putting this together in digital form, using Photoshop or Draft. Whatever you’re most comfortable with, and whatever will give the programmers the details they need, is the way to go.

For your viewing pleasure, here are the rudimentary drawings (a.k.a. wireframes) for my first app, Finger Print Security Pro. As you can see, it doesn’t have to be pretty!

And here’s how the app’s final design turned out:

To make the design process easier, I look at certain apps in the App Store and reference them to show my programmers what I’m looking for. For example, I’ll say, “Download the XYZ app. I want the ABC functionality to work like theirs. Take a look at the screenshots from this other app, and change this.” I take certain components of apps that I’d like to emulate, and give them to the programmer so that we are as clear as possible.

Highlight menu vs. Facebook menu

Notice any similarities? Highlight’s menu (left) emulated the style of Facebook’s menu (right).

The clearer you are, the fewer misunderstandings and problems you will have once it’s time to hand off your drawings to a programmer. The idea is to convey what the app will look like, where everything will be placed, and what happens if certain buttons are selected. This helps the programmer know what you want and will be a useful blueprint when designing your app. Do not be vague or ambiguous. You should know what every part of your app will do. If you don’t, you need to develop your idea more thoroughly.

You have to consider your design to be final before you can begin the coding phase. Inevitably, you will have ideas for additional features once you start testing the initial versions of your app. But if you decide to make major changes after a substantial amount of work has been done, it can frustrate your programmer. It’s like telling the builder who just installed your fireplace that you want it on the other side of the living room. The news will not go over well. Most people don’t realize this is what they are demanding of their programmer when they ask for big changes. That’s why it’s important for you to take your time and carefully plan every aspect of the app before you submit it for coding.

Step 4: Register as a Developer

You now have your idea drawn out. Before you go any further, you need to sign up as a developer with the platform for which you’re looking to create apps.

Don’t be intimidated by the word “developer.” It doesn’t mean you have to be the programmer. It’s simply the name used for somebody who publishes apps. All you have to do is set up a “developer account” so you can offer your apps for sale in one of the app stores.

Here are the links for each platform and a brief overview of their requirements.

Apple iOS *— Registration requirements include a fee of $99 per year and accepting the terms of service.

Android— Registration requirements include a fee of $25 per year and accepting the terms of service.

BlackBerry— Registration requirements include a $200 fee for every 10 apps you publish. You must have a BlackBerry World App Vendor Agreement in place with RIM (the creator of BlackBerry) to distribute apps.

* For your first app, I strongly suggest developing for Apple iOS, rather than Android or Blackberry. Simply put, Apple users are much more likely to spend money on apps. You will increase your odds of making a profit simply by developing for the iOS platform.

Also, don’t forget to go over the App Store review guidelines. Apple enforces these rules during the review process, and if you don’t follow them, your app will be rejected. For instance, you might remember seeing a plethora of fart or flashlight apps on the App Store awhile back. As a result, Apple has decided to no longer accept those types of apps. Knowing these rules can save you a lot of time and effort. If you see any of your ideas conflicting with the guidelines, reject them and move on to the next one.

Step 5: Find Prospective Programmers

Coding your own app, especially if you’re teaching yourself at the same time, will take too long. The likelihood of you getting stuck and giving up is very high. It will also be unsustainable over the long run when you want to create several apps at the same time and consistently update your existing apps. After all, the goal is to get your time back and escape the long hours of the rat race. Therefore, programmers will be the foundation of your business. They will allow you to create apps quickly and scale your efforts.

Hiring your first programmer will be a lengthy process. You’ll need to: post the job, filter applicants, interview qualified candidates, have them sign your NDA, explain your idea, then give them a micro-test… all before coding begins! But while this process takes time, it is time well spent. Making great hires will help you avoid unnecessary delays, costs, and frustration in the future. You’ll always be looking to add new talent to your team, so learning how to quickly and effectively assess programmers is an important skill to develop.

Let’s get started. The first part of this step is to post your job to a hiring site.

Top Hiring Resources

These websites allow programmers to bid on jobs that you post. As you can imagine, the competition creates a bidding frenzy that gives you a good chance of getting quality work at a low price.

Here are a few of my favorite outsourcing sites:

oDesk— Its work diary feature tracks the hours your programmer is working for you and takes screenshots of the programmer’s desktop at certain time intervals.

Freelancer— This site has the most programmers listed. They claim that twice as many programmers will respond to your ad, and I found this to be mostly true.

Guru and Elance. Both of these sites have huge lists of programmers.


Below is a template of a job posting, followed by an explanation for each of its components:

Click the image to enlarge.

Enter the skill requirements—What programming languages do they know? For iPhone apps, the skills I list are: iPhone, Objective C, Cocoa, and C Programming.

Give a basic description of your project—Keep it simple and skill-specific. Tell the applicants that you will discuss details during the selection process. Do NOT reveal the specifics of your idea or marketing plan. Use general descriptions, and request info on how many revisions (a.k.a. iterations) their quote includes.

Post your ad only for a few days—This way programmers have a sense of urgency to quickly bid on your job.

Filter applicants—I always filter applicants using these criteria:

– They have a rating of four or five stars.

– They have at least 100 hours of work logged.

– Their English is good.

Compose individual messages to all suitable applicants, inviting them to a Skype call for further screening. Most of these programmers will overseas, which can present issues with communication and time zone differences. Therefore, a Skype interview is an absolute must before you can continue. Disqualify anyone who is not willing to jump on a Skype call.

The Interview: Essential Questions to Ask Programmers

Don’t give away any of your ideas during this initial conversation. Whenever the topic comes up, say you’ll be more than happy to discuss everything after they sign the NDA (if you want a copy of the NDA template I use, see the bottom of this post). Here are the questions you should ask each applicant before committing to anything:

– How long have you been developing apps?

– How many apps have you worked on? Can I see them?

– Do you have a website? What is it?

– Do you have references I can talk to?

– What’s your schedule like? How soon can you start?

– What time zone do you work in? What are your hours?

– What’s frustrating for you when working with clients?

– Are you working with a team? What are their skills?

– Can you create graphics, or do you have somebody who can?

– Can I see examples of the graphics work?

– What happens if you become sick during a project?

– What if you hit a technical hurdle during the project? Do you have other team members or a network of programmers who can help you?

– How do you ensure that you don’t compete with your clients?

– Can you provide flat-fee quotes?

– What’s your payment schedule? How do you prefer payment?

– Can you create milestones tied to payments?

– Do you publish your own apps on the App Store?

– How do you submit an app to the App Store? (Can they verbally walk you through the process, or do they make you feel brain challenged?)

Finally, mention that you like to start things off with a few simple tests (creating/delivering your app’s icon and a “Hello, World!” app) before coding begins. You need to tell them this upfront so they aren’t surprised after they have provided their quote. Most programmers are happy to get these tests done without a charge, but some will want a small fee. In either case, be clear with this requirement and have them include it in the quote.

During the interview, pay attention to how well they are able to explain themselves. Are they articulate? Do they use too much techno babble? Do they speak your native language fluently? Do they seem confident with their answers? How is their tone and demeanor? If you have any issues or worries, you may want to move on to somebody else. But if you can communicate with them easily and your gut is telling you “Yes,” you’ll want to proceed to the next step.

In either case, thank them for their time and mention that you will follow up with an NDA agreement if you decide to move forward.

Step 6: Sign NDA, Share your Idea, and Hire Your Programmer

You must protect your ideas, source code, and any other intellectual property. These are the assets that will build your business, so you need to have each potential programmer sign an NDA before you hire them. Yes, it’s rare to have an idea stolen, but it does happen (read the bottom of this post if you want a copy of the NDA that I use).

As you’re going through this process, you will be getting feedback on your programmers’ responsiveness. For instance, if it’s taking too long for them to sign the NDA, it might indicate how slowly the development process will move. Buyer beware!

Once the NDA has been signed by both parties, you can share your idea and designs with your programmer. At this stage, it’s critical to ensure they have the skills to complete your app. You do not have any wiggle room here, especially on your first app. Either they know how to make it or they don’t. You want to hear things like, “I know exactly how to do that” or “I’ve done similar apps, so it will not be a problem.” You don’t want to hear things like, “I should be able to do that, but I have to research a few things” or “I’m not sure but I can probably figure it out.” If you hear those words, switch to an app idea they are confident about or run for the hills.

After you’ve found the best programmer for the job, you can commit to hiring them. Establish milestones and timelines during the quoting process (break up the app into several parts), and decide on a schedule for check-ins that you’re both comfortable with (ask them directly how they like to be managed). You will need to periodically review their work, from start to finish. Most applications go through multiple iterations during design and development, and I won’t release partial payments until I’m fully satisfied with each milestone.

Step 7: Begin Coding

Rather than jumping haphazardly into a full-fledged project, I prefer to gradually ramp up my programmer’s workload by starting with a couple smaller tasks. You need to assess their graphics capabilities, implementation speed, and overall work dynamic (e.g. communication, time zone, etc.). If you’re underwhelmed with their skills, you need to get out quickly. Remember: Hire slow, fire fast. It will pay off over the long run.

Here’s my three-step process during the coding phase:

1. Icon—Ask the programmer to create and deliver the icon of your app. You will probably have several ideas for icons, so pass them on and ask for a finished 512 x 512 iTunes Artwork version of the icon.

2. Hello, World!—Ask the programmer for a “Hello, World!” app. It’s a simple app that opens up and shows a page that displays “Hello, World!”, and it will take them 10 minutes to create. The idea here is not to test their programming skills, but to determine how they will deliver apps to you for testing. This app should include the icon they created, so you can see how it will look on your phone.

3. App Delivery—When the programmers are ready to show you a test version of your app, they have to create something called an “ad hoc” (a version of your app that can be delivered to and run on your iPhone, without the use of the App Store). This ad hoc version of your app needs to be installed on your phone before you can test it. The initial installation was a bit cumbersome in the past, but a new service called TestFlight has simplified the process. I ask all programmers to use this service even if they have not used it before. They will be able to figure it out, and you’ll be able to install your test apps with a few touches on your phone.

The first version of your app is finished and delivered, and you’re now staring at it on your phone/tablet. Give yourself a pat on the back — you’ve made serious progress! But don’t get too caught up with yourself, because now it’s time to begin the testing phase.

Step 8: Test Your App

If you were having a house built, you’d want to make sure everything was in working order before you signed off. You would check major things like the roof and plumbing, all the way down to minor things, like crown molding and paint. You need to do the same thing with your app.

To start, your app must perform as expected. Pull out your initial design document and go through every feature. Never assume that something works because it worked last time you tested the app. Test each feature every time, especially before the final release.

Most importantly, don’t be the only tester. Your app makes sense to you, but it might not to others. You need to get everyone you know, from your 12-year-old nephew to your 75-year-old grandmother, to test your app.

The time you spend on testing is crucial because you will see how consumers use your product, what features are intuitive, what they don’t understand, and their patterns. They will have questions that won’t occur to you because you designed the app and everything about it is obvious to you.

Hand the app to them and say, “Hey check this out.” Don’t mention that it’s your app, what it’s supposed to do, or how it works. Give as little information as possible and watch as they try to understand and navigate through your app. This experience will be similar to the one your real user will have, because you won’t be there to explain things to them either.

Watch them testing your app and ask yourself these questions:

– Are they confused?

– Are they stuck?

– Are they complaining?

– Are they using the app the way you intended?

– Did they find a mistake or a bug?

– Are they having fun?

– Are they making suggestions for improvements? If yes, which ones?

Get them to talk about their experience with your app. They will be more honest if they don’t know the app is yours. Don’t get offended if you hear something you don’t like; their feedback is priceless. Assess each response to see if there’s a problem with your app, then ask yourself these questions:

– Would other users have the same issues? If yes, how can I fix them?

– Should I move things around?

– Should I change colors to improve visibility?

– Would adding some instructions help?

– Should I improve navigation?

Testing and debugging will take several iterations, like the design and development stages. This is all part of the process. Don’t forget to use TestFlight to save lots of time with the mechanics of installing test versions of your app.

Just remember: If you keep tweaking things and adding features, you might unnecessarily increase costs and production time. You need to get the app on the market quickly and in a basic form to test the concept. Only redesign during this phase if you feel you have a good justification for it. Otherwise, add the idea to your update list and move forward with development (I keep an update list for each app and refer back to it when the time is right).

Step 9: Post your App to the Market

At this point, you’ve had all of your friends and family test your app, taken the best feedback into account, and wrapped up any final changes with your programmer. Congratulations – it’s time for you to send the app to the App Store for review!

It’s a good idea to have your programmers show you how to submit your first few apps. Do not give out your developer account login information to your programmer or anybody else. The best way to have them show you how to submit your app, without having to giveaway your login, is to do a screen-share over Skype or GoToMeeting and have them walk you through the process. As your business grows, you might want to delegate this task to someone on your team.

Below is a screencast on how to upload an app to the App Store. As you’ll see, it’s a fairly confusing and tedious process. Best to leave this task to your programmers:

The amount of time Apple will take to review and approve/reject your app will depend on whether you’re submitting on behalf of yourself or a company. If you’re an individual, it will usually take 3-7 days. If you’re a company, it will likely take 7-10 days.

The real fun begins once your app is approved and available for download…

Step 10: Marketing Your App

The App Store is filled with thousands of great apps, but most developers are not skilled when it comes to marketing. Meanwhile, many poorly designed apps rank highly because their developers have figured out the marketing game. How do they do it?

You really need to focus on a few key areas to effectively market your apps, which will allow customers to discover and download them. Understanding how an app’s basic elements are marketing opportunities is essential to being successful in the app business. Your job is to create a seamless flow from the icon all the way to the download button. Let’s take a closer look at these components, which you can adjust at any time from your developer account:


The first thing users will see when they are checking out your app is the icon — the small square image with the rounded corners to the left of the app title. It’s also the image that users will see on their phone after they install your app.

The icon is important because it’s how the users will identify your app. It needs to look sharp, capture the app’s essence, attract the users’ attention, and compel them to investigate your app further.

Great app icons are clear, beautiful, and memorable.

Many developers create icons as an afterthought and focus all of their effort on the app itself, but the icon is the first impression you will make on the users. The old expression “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression” applies here. Make sure you have a quality icon that represents your app and makes the users believe it has value.


Over 80 percent of searches in the App Store are related to an app’s functionality, rather than an app’s name. Therefore, it is critical that you help users find your app when they perform relevant keyword searches in the app store.


Each word in your app’s title serves as a keyword, much like keywords in search engines. You can think of the title as your URL. For instance, if you type “angry” into the App Store search field, the Angry Birds apps will return as a search result.


Having a compelling description for your app is like having a great opening line — people are more willing to learn about you once you’ve piqued their interest. The first chunk of your app’s description needs to be packed with the most relevant information customers should know.

If applicable, use statements like “Top App 2012” or “One of the Most Addictive Games in the App Store.” Follow it up with a call-to-action, such as, “Check out the screenshots and see for yourself.”


Screenshots are great marketing tools because they give users a visual of what they will experience. Think of them as the trailer for your app. Here are a couple examples of effective screenshots:

Nike+ GPS screenshots.

Free Music Download Pro screenshots. Note the use of captions to explain the app’s features.

Many people shopping for apps won’t read the description, but will instead scroll down to the screenshots. The screenshots need to convey the main functionality of the app without showing too many details that may confuse users. If your screenshots are cluttered, it will be as ineffective as a realtor trying to sell a house with messy rooms. The brain gets overwhelmed and buyers have more trouble seeing the product’s true value. Therefore, the screenshots you include should be clean, appealing, and informative.


Unlike your icon and title, keywords are not something the users get to see. When you submit your app to the App Store, you’re allowed to provide keywords relevant to your app. When users search for one of the terms you entered, your app appears in the search results.

For example, if you type in the word “kids” or “game” on the App Store, you will find that Angry Birds is one of the search results. The terms “kids” and “game” are not in the app title. The makers of Angry Birds most likely chose those keywords to associate with their app.

A good example of effective keyword usage is an app I created called Flashlight. Since the name is Flashlight, we came up with keywords, such as “bright,” “help,” “light,” and “camping.”

One time, I added the term “phone” to the keywords of my free prank fingerprint app. This seemingly minor change propelled the app to the number one top overall free category, which moved the company’s income from $1,000 per day to $3,000 per day. This is the power of refining the marketing components for your app. Simple changes can dramatically increase your revenue.


The App Store organizes apps into specific categories to help users find them more easily. In addition to the top overall rankings of all apps, each category has its own top rankings and, therefore, generates a certain amount of visibility based on these charts. Users looking for certain apps often browse through these category charts without looking at the top overall charts. For instance, an app that doesn’t show up in the top 200 overall might still be in the top 10 of a particular category.

When you’re submitting your app for review, make sure to select the most relevant category for your app. On the other hand, many apps can be classified into more than one category. You have to choose one, but you can always change the category during an update.

One of my apps, Alarm Security, wasn’t performing well, and I was trying to bring it back up in the rankings. I initially tried changing the name and keywords, but it didn’t move much. The one thing I hadn’t tried was switching it out of the Entertainment category. The app contained various alarm sounds (like loud screams and gunshots), so I assumed users would use it more as a goof than as a tool. I was wrong.

Once I moved the app into the Utilities category, the number of downloads skyrocketed. After five days, the paid downloads had tripled, and it was only because of a category change.

Just as your app will always need certain refinements due to consumer demand and competition, so will your marketing. For most of my apps, I have changed the icon and screenshots three to five times and the title and description between 5 and 10 times. I change keywords almost every time I update apps. I always switch the categories when it makes sense. Keep an open mind and continue to be inspired by your observations during your market research.

Finally, there’s a simple rule of thumb I follow for making changes: Tweak once per week, then measure. You have to allow ample time to see the effect of any changes you make. Measure your results, then make adjustments based on your data in the following week. Your goal is to increase traffic and revenue, all while improving your users’ experience with the app.

Bonus Marketing Tactics


After you’ve taken care of the basics, your best marketing tool will be offering a free version of your app. It will generate traffic and visibility that you otherwise wouldn’t get.

Free apps create the most traffic because they have the smallest barrier to entry. It takes five seconds to download, and it’s free. Why wouldn’t you push the button? Once the free version of your app gains some traction, you can use it to advertise the paid version of the same app. This is like getting those free food samples at the supermarket. If you like the sample you tasted, you might buy the whole bag and become a long-term customer.


Nag screens (pop-ups that remind users to check out the paid version of the app) have been the most critical marketing tactic for my business. You might worry about annoying users with these ads, and that is a valid concern, but you need to think of nag screens as adding value for your users. If they downloaded your free app and they are using it, a percentage of your users will be interested in buying the paid version of your app. For those who don’t, a quick pop-up message is a small price to pay for using the free version.

You have to accept this and not shy away from this type of marketing. If you’re still on the fence, consider this: When Apple launched its iBooks app, it used a nag screen within the App Store app. If you had an iPhone at the time, you may remember seeing that pop-up inviting you to download iBooks. Well, you were nagged by the one and only Apple.

Basic nag screen (left) vs. Advanced nag screen (right). Advanced nag screens typically have three times higher click-thru rates.

When adding a nag screen, explain to your developer what you are looking for, and reference specific examples of other apps that have nag screens. Be sure you can change the nag screen without submitting a new update to the app store. To do this, tell the developer you want your nag screen to be dynamic. This will allow you to change your marketing message redirect your app’s traffic within seconds. This is an absolute must. Your nag screens will lose a huge part of their effectiveness if you cannot change them on the fly.

How do you assess the effectiveness of your nag screen? All you have to do is keep track of how many times you show a particular nag screen and how many users click “Yes” to check out the app(s) you’re promoting. This is called your click-through rate, and the higher the percentage, the better.

Final Thoughts

This is the first time in history when so many of us have the tools and access to knowledge that can quickly lift us out of the rat race. Your background, gender, race, education, and situation are irrelevant. All you need is the desire and a game plan.

You don’t have to wait till “someday” to fulfill your dreams. You can start right now…

Contest and Bonuses

We’re throwing a contest for any readers who are ready to dive into the app world. Whoever comes up with the best idea for an iPhone app (as decided by me and my team) will have 100% of their development costs covered. That’s right: You won’t need to spend anything to have your app made – all it will cost is your time and effort. This will be a great learning experience for the winner, so if money is all that’s holding you back, we want to help you get started.

Here are the details:

– You have 1-week (ending Monday, April 30, 2012 at 9am EST) to research and design your app idea. Your app should try to fill a void in the market or improve upon apps that are currently available.

– Once you’ve decided upon your idea, post a comment below with a detailed explanation of the app you want to develop. Bonus points if you can show us (with a drawing, video, etc.) how your app will function. More bonus points if you show us the research you did to prove your app’s potential for success.

– You can only submit one (1) idea (one entry per person), so make it good!

– Up to $5,000 USD of your development costs will be covered. 100% of all revenues earned will go to the winner.

– Winner gets a 1-hour phone call with me (Chad) at any point during development or marketing.

For those who are worried that someone is going to steal your idea and make a million dollars with it– you don’t have to enter the contest! Just remember: my success in the app store came from emulating successful apps. In other words, borrowing proven ideas and trying to make them better. If someone else can succeed by taking one of my ideas and improving upon it, that’s only fair game. Don’t let the fear of losing prevent you from trying to win.

Contest deadline has passed; Winner (Alex K.) has been contacted. Thanks, all!

Finally, for those who’d like a copy of my NDA template (along with the checklist I use when hiring a new coder), email a copy of your receipt for App Empire, my comprehensive book on app development and marketing, to bonus (at) The book goes into depth on advanced marketing and monetization techniques, including how to put your business on cruise control (automate).

We look forward to seeing what you guys come up with! Talk to you in the comments 🙂

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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952 Replies to “How to Build an App Empire: Can You Create The Next Instagram?”

  1. Submission: Drawing Duel

    How it works: This app is a drawing game that presents two users with three drawing prompts from a mixture of all these categories: History, Geography, Pop Culture, Animals, Literature, Appliances, Food, Vehicles, and more. The users draw what their idea of the prompt is and then when both users have submitted, they see how their depictions stack up against their opponent’s depictions. Each user can click through into a google search for the terms once they’re done drawing the set by clicking the “What Is That?” button next to each term. This game is scored for fun in the gentlemenly manner of each person drawing a check mark over the ones they deem correct from their opponent, and an X over the ones they say are wrong. For even more fun, if one person wants to challenge their opponent’s X, they can post to the app-wide Challenge Board and replace the X with a check mark if a majority of voters agree the drawing is good. Users get double points for anything that is resurrected via the Challenge Board.

    Example: User A challenges User B to a match so both are presented with the same three randomized prompts: William Shakespeare, Sloth, and Manhattan. Both Users draw all three and submit. They then get to compare their drawing with their opponent’s drawing. This gets funny because User B has perhaps never actually been to New York City and doesn’t know how to draw the shape of Manhattan and instead draws a man in a giant hat to still try to win the check mark of their opponent through the humor aspect.

    Why it’s cool: It has an educational aspect to it, since you may be compelled to actually learn what the Sphinx looks like after realizing your working knowledge of it is that it’s “kind of a cat.” This is of course after you’ve regaled your friend with a drawing that only proves your sad lack of knowledge of important monuments. Also, the Challenge Board gives the app users a place to peruse and laugh at other people’s drawings while they’re waiting for their friends to submit.

    Who it’s for: people who think they’re smarter than their friends. All people.

    What else it does: Users can post their drawings to their social media sites and comment on their other friend’s completed Drawing Duels within the app.

    Possibility for success in market based on other games: Draw Something is a current chart-topper, and competitive games that use intellect always remain popular, such as Words With Friends.

    Anything else: simple interface, stores which prompts each user has already drawn so they don’t repeat, interaction with other app users, integration with social media, makes you smarter.

  2. Good early morning Tim & Chad,

    Thank you both so much for this awesome post, the call to action, and the terrific opportunity here.

    I’ll stay concise, as I would just be repeating many of the excellent, insightful comments already on here by rattling off details of the success of gaming apps – especially those like Office Jerk and Plumber Crack. In the vein of those two apps, my app idea is Pimple Popper.

    It’ll be a freemium app with in-app purchases for more money to get supplies to help zap zits, customize the pimply face (with hair, glasses, a moustache, etc.) and additional revenue coming from ads at the top of the screen that will run as users are constantly engaged in the app to keep popping pimples on the big face in the center.

    Here’s a link to a scrappy mock-up:



  3. Brilliant post! I’ve been interested in app development for quite a while, but had never considered outsourcing as an option. It wasn’t mentioned in the contest rules, so I’m assuming that this contest is open to those outside of the USA.







    Cocktail recipe database, which allows users to find recipes based on the ingredients they have at hand.




    – 100 – 150 recipes in free version.

    – Additional 500 – 1,000 recipes available as an in-app purchase.

    – Users are able to select which ingredients they have on hand. They are then able to search based on this ingredient list. This list would persist after the app is closed.

    – Users can add their own recipes

    – Users can rate recipes and add comments

    – Every time a user creates a custom recipe, rates a recipe or comments on a recipe, they are prompted to post the recipe to Facebook

    – Information available for each ingredient

    – Free version would contain classic, standard cocktails, e.g. martini, sidecar, cosmopolitan etc, plus a few extras

    – Photos for each drink

    – Drinks searchable by name, flavour category, cover flow

    – Able to choose imperial / metric units of measurement

    – As well as ingredients and preparation instructions, include notes, history and common variations for select recipes




    Very quick n dirty:




    Free version provides 100 or so recipes. With an in-app purchase, the user has access to an additional 500 – 1,00 recipes (probably towards the lower end)

    NO in-app advertising (this is one of the most common complaints about other apps




    In the US app market, there’s one drink database app in the top grossing lifestyle apps category (#40 – Mixology Drink Recipes), and 4 in the top free lifestyle category (#60 – Mixology Drink Recipes (Free); #130 – Mr Bartender; #153 – Cocktail Flow; #155 – 8,500 Drinks and Cocktail Recipes)

    There is clearly a market for these apps, however many of the existing implementations are poorly executed. Even though these apps are near the top of the app charts for the lifestyle category, some only have a rating of 3.5 stars.


    Mr Bartender

    5 Stars

    This app is fairly new, and only has six ratings, so it’s quite probable that friends and family are responsible for the apps high star rating. The app is rather unappealing visually, and looks rather hacked together.


    8,500 Drinks and Cocktail Recipes (Free)

    3.5 Stars

    Ad supported

    App looks fairly polished visually. Users like the ingredient search function and the clean looks. Negatives – Users hate the advertising, lack of classic cocktails, lack of pictures and search bugginess.


    Cocktail Flow

    4.5 Stars

    In app purchase

    This app is extremely polished visually, although one review likened the design to a TGIF in the mid 80s. Despite the high star rating, the most helpful reviews were mostly negative.

    Negatives – Inaccurate recipes, too kitsch looking, high system requirements (for some reason the app requires an accelerometer), unable to add your own custom recipes, missing classic cocktails.


    Mixology Drink Recipes (Free)

    4 Stars

    Ad supported, in app purchases

    The most popular of the free apps, and with good reason. The app is fully functional, but displays banner ads. Users like the professional, polished feel, the ingredient search function, and the random drink search.

    Negatives – Advertising, missing classic cocktails, lacks the ability to perform a search by multiple ingredients.


    Mixology Drink Recipes (Paid)

    3.5 stars

    Same as above, minus the advertising and in app purchases. Users like the ability to rate drinks and add comments. One feature that has been requested is iCloud integration.

  4. My app is a game called: Cupcake Wars

    On the outside, these cute looking cupcakes with tiny legs and tiny arms walk around their mythical landscape minding their own business. But uh oh!

    A rival cupcake gang has formed a plan to take over the area. Armed with some crazy looking guns, ninja stars, and butter knives, the cupcakes will do whatever it takes to battle to the proverbial cupcake death to save their turf.

    This would be a first person shooter type, BUT with wifi enabled and another friend with the game, you’d be able to play with two people in multiplayer mode. (old school time crisis style)

    Thank you for your considerations. Hugs 🙂

  5. *****App submission!*****

    Tim-Stellar content as always…And, a total surprise that this was coming.

    Chad-I’ve been waiting for your book forever! Thanks, man. It was terrific and incredibly uselful.

    My App: Picibomb…Bomb them all, let god sort them out!

    Link To My Research, Rationale, and Plan Vid:

    Link To My Mock Up Vid:

    I broke it up so that people could check out the app, and if they dug it, they could see why I liked it.

    I hope you love it. It was alot of fun to learn, research, and take some serious action!


    Paul C.

  6. Poured through the book, hoping to follow a proven process instead of submitting one of the many apps I always think are going to make me a million dollars. Towards the end (at page 105) the lightning struck.

    I thought Poker/Casino games would’ve been way too crowded a category…but somehow there were 2 Texas Hold’em games in the top 5 gross revenue apps. Look on the app store today, and there are half a dozen on the first page, including multiple slot machine games. Some others on this blog have noticed that too.

    But all the games are terribly impersonal. As much fun as slot machines featuring cows and chickens are… So how do you make these more fun? Make them personal.


    App Idea: PokerFace+: Personalized casino games with your photos and friends.


    Why play at a boring table when you can literally play with friends? Sync with Facebook and your photo albums and put your friends faces randomly on your cards, on the slot machines, and on the roulette wheel. Are you betting on 24 Black or on your buddy from college? I bet you’ll laugh when you get blackjack with your Grandma as the ace and Barack Obama as the 10. Make playing cards just a little more surprising and fun.

    The business model is obvious, time tested and Vegas approved…addicting, mindless games of chance where the odds favor the house and to keep playing the patrons buy more chips. It’s the perfect in-app purchase model, and some like Zynga have perfected when to provide free chips (to encourage participation, telling friends etc) and when to let users go all in, only to lose and need more chips.

    The game algorithms are open source, and the business model has been perfected and is ready to be replicated. We can get some beautifully designed tables, cards, and chips from 99 designs and high end casino sound effects from SFX Source, for under $500 combined, leaving more than enough for the developers. Developers with actual casino app game experience are available on Elance for between $20 and $30 an hour, and can easily meet the requirements under budget.

    You can see some mockups here:

    Let’s make the casino more personal!! Thanks for posting Chad, and for inspiring us to get up and build an app! And of course thanks Tim for the most vibrant blog community on the web.

  7. Thank you Tim and Chad for this timely, excellent article! I got interested in apps a couple of months ago. I’ve been testing WYSIWYG gaming engines and Red Foundry with the goal of bootstrapping. The learning curve is a bit steep.

    Contest Entry: “Creep Out!”

    “A Scary Prank” is one of the current top 10 iPhone apps in the Entertainment category (US). A similar prank app has been downloaded more than 250,000 times on the Android market. Their premise is to use an idiot test to stage a scare: a picture of a zombie accompanied by a scream.

    I think the idea could be refined by staging the prank in the context of regular phone use and by simplifying it.

    1) Set a timer to spring the prank.

    2) Hand the phone to your unsuspecting friend.

    3) The timer sets off an animation.

    So, for example, as your friend is admiring your flickr album or cute YouTube video, a realistic spider “drops” onto the screen and skitters around. A number of animations could be created: phobia related (cockroaches, spiders, bugs) or other (a human eye, blood smears)…

    The goal is to achieve the combined shock and amusement of simple childhood pranks (plastic spider, rubber bats), just set in a different context. I’m reminded of the highly successful Orkin Pest Control commercial of 2000, in which a cockroach crawls across the TV screen. I’ve never forgotten that one.

    A quick mock-up of the idea is here on flickr.

    Thanks again, Chad, for the great guide and for considering my entry.

  8. Hi Chad great piece can’t wait to read the book.

    Here’s my idea for an App


    With all of the cloud storage available at the moment, and expanding rapidly an app that could link to all of your cloud sites and allow you to manage them from one place would be very handy.

    Currently I have over 100 gigs of cloud storage spanning 4 sites , that I have accumulated for free. Not too mention all the other people who have done this or use multiple services


    Sky drive

    Google drive

    Are the main sites

    The monthly cost for this would be quite substantial if I was to go with 1 provider. But using this app it would seem as if they are all one. The sites already have the ability to issue share links to folders this is what would be used.

    A sleek simpler interface with the ability to upload files is all that’s needed.

    Cloud storage is one of the HOT topics in the tech world at the minute.

    A WAREHOUSE for all your digital stuff.

    Thanks GG

  9. Thank you again for the article, you’ve really inspired me:

    I made a presentation and put together a short Youtube clip of my app submission:

    Summary: Remind Me Nearby, a feature packed location-based reminder App unlike anything currently on the market. The App addresses the batter consumption that has plagued many GPS based app through an intuitive notification system, fully-configurable by the user. In addition, rather than selecting one location to a reminder as what most current apps allow, the App enables users the ability to select multiple addresses or better, select a category allowing Google Places to dynamically return locations that satisfy their reminder. Finally, what good is a reminder that does not account for distance or time? Through Google Maps, users specify when and how far away they are from a reminder, assuring they will never be late again. Remind Me Nearby, reminding you, when it matters most.

  10. To start off, Tim Ferriss and Chad Mureta, I thank you for this great opportunity. I always liked designing, and amusing other people with my work. Finally I get the chance to show my work (maybe even to the rest of the world if I win the contest).

    Contest Entry

    App name: Rapid Reaction

    My research:

    Before I came up with my idea I started thinking about which apps me and my friends found the most enjoyable or helpful. The most memorable: A year ago I started playing ‘Angry Birds’’ on the iPhone, like many others. It was and still is a very addicting game and even my grandpa plays it. It has been one of the most successful apps ever made and been complimented by many ‘’big names’’ in the gaming world (for instance the creator of Zelda and Mario, Shigeru Miyamoto). Now there is something new; ‘Draw Something’, playable with friends and in my opinion therefore even better.

    I did research and followed the appstore for a few days and googled a lot to find out what kind of apps have the most ‘success potential’. Combined with my own experience I noticed a few things:

    – the most successful apps are games

    – the most successful apps are usually the most simple apps, not hard to learn, very basic with very few rules.

    – the most successful apps usually have a big market, meaning that it’s rated for all ages and fun for all ages. You don’t need to have a special hobby, like singing or skating, to find it fun.

    I decided to design a game for a big market, for all ages. I came up with an idea. For the idea I need characters. I started making random drawings. At first I thought of serious characters. Matrix alike. Dark characters. But after consideration I thought, it might not be fun to play for children or eldery (my grandpa likes funny characters, with alot of colors and stuff). I started sketching and these are the first results:

    The concept:

    My game is all about reaction. You can play single player or multiplayer with your friends/family. It’s easier for me to explain with a few drawings I made.

    It starts with a 3 second countdown. When the countdown ends, it will ask the players to tap at a RANDOM moment within 10 seconds. The one who taps faster wins and will punish/attack the loser!

    To make the game addictive, I’ve thought of a few game modes:

    Single Player



    -active multiplayer mode

    -passive multiplayer mode

    Single Player

    In the Single player game mode you have to defeat as many opponent as you can. Defeating 5 opponents will save the results and you advance to the next level. If you lose before reaching the 5th opponent, you have to start all over again. In the earlier levels it’s not hard to complete the tasks. But the more you progress the harder the tasks get, you’ll get less and less time to react. The tasks will change as well, not just tapping but other tasks as well. For example:

    -Draw this random chinese sign fast!

    -Draw a cirkel COUNTER CLOCKWISE fast!

    -Tap your opponent’s HEAD fast!

    -etc. etc.

    In the single player mode you can also unlock new characters or weapons for you character to hold.

    You punish/attack your opponent in different ways depending on your character or the weapon you are holding:


    This will be the “highscore mode”. Here you can play against a certain number of enemies, and your time can be submitted on the highscore board so other people can view it.


    Active mode

    Looks pretty much like the single player mode, but the difference is, now you’re playing against a friend or another random player. You can adjust the settings. You want certain tasks for you and your opponent? Or keep it simple and just tap?

    Passive mode

    This game mode is a bit different and very interesting. Your character’s back is facing your opponent’s character’s back like in the drawing below:

    You can choose a time, between 1 hour and 24 hour. For example, you choose 5 hours. Between now and 5 hours from now, at a RANDOM time, your phone and your opponent’s phone will buzz. When it buzzes, the one who taps faster (or complete a certain task faster) wins. The winner’s character will turn around and punish the loser!

    Never worry about who will do the dishes again! Challenge your brother/sister, the loser does the dishes!


    These are the characters you start with:

    You can earn point through single player and multiplayer. With the points you can buy more characters or weapons, example:


    There will be a free version with single player mode only. And not all levels can be unlocked. After each lvl, there will be a reminder popup to remind you purchasing the full version. The paid/full version will be around € 0,79. You can also use real money to buy ingame concents (character, weapons). But you don’t have to do it! You can use the points your earned for the contents! But that will be alot slower.

    I thank you for your time and consideration!

    Aeron Yung

  11. Hi! Thanks for your post, inspiration, and the opportunity. Here’s and app that you can pop out at any time for some laughs. Party Foul is simple and sure to make people laugh.

    Finally a portable referee that lets you call out your friends when they commit a party foul, strike out, or when they simply need a time out. You may choose your referee character. Rico the referee will blow his whistle and scream out funny phrases like “You committed party foul”, “Guilty!”, “You’re out”, “Looks like someone needs a time out”, and even the Spanish versions like “Y … fuera!”.

  12. Hi Chad,

    Thank you very much. This was an exciting and very informative article.

    My app idea would be called:


    Category: Entertainment

    Mad Sharks is a game played by two players. The purpose of the game is to answer correctly questions posed by the other player and accumulate coins. This game combines: (1) a competition between two participants (like Drawing Something) and, (2) a talking character (i.e. Talking Ben, Talking Tom Cat).

    PLAYER #1

    Player #1 selects one shark from a pool of pre-designed animated sharks. These sharks are organized by themes (i.e. Love Shark, Sport Shark, etc. Players may opt for more animated sharks advancing to other levels while winning games/bonuses). After selecting his/her Shark, player is presented with two fields: Question and Answer. The idea is to ask a question related to the theme selected. For example, Love Shark is intended for questions to determine how much we know each other. Sport Shark for questions about our favorite sport. This game may include trivia questions as well. This question is then sent to Player #2.

    PLAYER #2

    Player #2 receives the Shark selected by Player #1. This shark tells Player #2, “Hi, looks like someone wants to ask you something”. Questions appear on the screen with a space for the answer. While the shark is waiting for the answer, he will talk to Player#2 (i.e. “You don’t look like someone that can answer this question. I can see why everybody wants to play with you”, “Gee, why you have to be so slow”. These interactions are rotated from a pool of pre recorded comments).


    I’m new to this idea of app creation, I purchased my first iphone/smartphone last December and I’ve been addicted ever since.

    One thing I’ve noticed though, is that I’m constantly having to go to different apps to check on my social media, email, IM’s, and texts. I’ve often thought that it would be nice to have an app that lists all my relevant social media, email, IM’s, and texts in one spot. This app would let me know with a simple/streamlined view, which of these individual (social media, email, IM’s, and texts) accounts have had activity. So, for example, if I have a friend who writes on my wall on facebook or my Twitter following rises or falls, etc… I can link automatically from this one app back and forth to the individual accounts that have seen activity until I’ve caught up and/or checked on my status.

    This app can also have a forum for social media alerts/activity of friends, family, people, and things that I want to follow as well.

    This will be a central “Hub” that I can track everything through push notifications and go directly from the app to the various accounts through links to:






    linked in

    email accounts

    Instant messaging


    the list goes on…

    The demographics of the people who would be interested in this would be tweens on up to older adults. This app would also work well for businesses that want to keep track of the activity of their accounts with a simple, timesaving, on the go type of experience.


    The app page would look very similar to the app for the app store on the iphone. The icons for the different accounts that a user would want to track would be on the left and to the right of the icon’s would be the alerts. To link to the relevant app account, the user would just tap the icon. The app page that tracks friends, family, people, and things of interest would be very similar, but instead of icons of various accounts, it would be thumbnails of the relevant interests, with alerts to the right of these thumbnails.

    I see the whole app as minimalist and individual users can choose from a gradient color palette for the background of the app.

    I’m not trying to be Hootsuite et. al, This app will only link and not be a place to post to these various accounts or track marketing information. It will be a timesaving way to keep track of numerous accounts and be alerted to activity and/or follower counts that experience movement, and/or followees activity alerts that the user wants to track.

    My idea is based on the research I’ve listed below and particularly user trends and the sharp rise in the downloading of social media apps, which has surpassed game apps revenue and tied game apps for the amount of user time spent per day. I’ve listed web links to articles and also posted some quotes that I thought were relevant to my research…


    “It appears that simple ideas are sometimes the best…

    Maybe it is evidence of a cry for simplicity and efficiency in a time poor society.” FROM,,,

    48 Significant Social Media Facts, Figures and Statistics Plus 7 Infographics

    “Several recent studies from my lab highlight some of these issues. In one anonymous online survey of more than 1,000 Americans we found that more than half of teenagers and young adults of the iGeneration (born in the 1990s) and the Net Generation (born in the 1980s) told us that they became anxious if they couldn’t check their text messages all day long. And text they do! According to the Nielsen Company the “typical” teen sends and receives 3,417 text messages per month. Teen girls top that with nearly 4,000 per month!… but the number one activity in the last hour before sleep is surfing the Internet followed by studying, texting and social networking. Are they simply glued to their laptops? Nope! It is their smartphone that is the cause of much of their sleep debt. Not only is it used instead of a computer, but most teens sleep with it on vibrate or tone and one in four are awakened at night by a text or email that they respond to before attempting to fall back asleep. And most of those activities are done either at the same time or by rapidly switching back and forth. We all multitask — well we are really task switching — and the younger generations do it more but we are all succumbing to the allure of clicking and switching.

    It’s not just the younger generations who are inundated by technology. One in three Gen Xers and one in six Baby Boomers check their devices all the time. They may not be texting as much but they are constantly checking in with websites, email and other cyberactivities.” FROM,,,


    Move Over Mobile Gaming, There’s A New App Sheriff In Town And Its Name Is Social Networking

    Klout and Why the Design of Social Networking Matters : The New Yorker

    This Week’s Must-Have iOS Apps: Klout, Norton Identity Safe, Dark Sky & More [Roundup]

    Offline first, mobile enabled

    Responsive design or a native app?

    The 5 Best Free Social Media and Communication Tools of 2012

    Age, Not Gender, Drives Most Social Media Use

    The rise of Generation-C…and what to do about it

    Common mobile web design mistakes

    Apple’s 27 Guidelines for Mobile User Experience Design

    Why We Shouldn’t Make Separate Mobile Websites

    Social networking ties gaming as #1 mobile activity



  14. Contest Entry

    App name: Curious Cats


    I thought of this game based on other games I’ve enjoyed for the smartphone; Robot Unicorn Attack and Piggy Rush. What these games have in common is that they’re, like my own game, side scrollers that are very easy to understand and come with simple controls and a catchy song in the background.

    I have also played Nyan Cat, but the game started to annoy me soon, because the cat couldn’t jump high at all which left me frustrated as I fell into abyss after abyss. So I wanted to make a game with a cat that could actually JUMP!

    The Game Concept:

    As I’ve stated before my game is a side scroller. The game starts with the text “Follow Your Curiosity”. Then you see this cat running over your screen in a colorful background, jumping from platform to platform. As you jump and run, you can collect Rainbow Coins which fill your Rainbow Bar.

    What does the Rainbow Bar do? Well, if your bar is filled up enough you can build Rainbow Bridges to save your cat from falling into the abyss by sliding a path down your screen. As you create bridges the bar becomes emptier until you’re left with an empty bar and you have to collect coins again.

    As you progress you’ll also encounter robot guard dogs on your way. If you touch these dogs your cat dies. The only way to avoid killing the kitty is to either jump over it, walk over a rainbow or destroying the robot dog with your Ancestor Spirit.

    Ancestor Spirit makes your cat look like a tiger, lion, lynx, etc. and propels you forward, allowing you to smash robot dogs. As you progress there will be more space in between the platforms and some will even move from side to side. This way you’ll be depending more and more on your Rainbow Bridges. If you fail and die, you’ll see the text “Curiosity Killed The Cat” appearing on the screen.

    So in general here are the controls:

    Jump by tapping left

    Ancestor Spirit by tapping right

    Rainbow Bridge by sliding.

    That’s it for the main game. On the side you can achieve items with which you can customize your cat. You can change its color, which also determines what your Ancestor Spirit looks like. You can also change its eyes, fur pattern, and give it ribbons, capes, masks, claws or collars. You achieve these items by running through them during the game. Then you can customize your cat in the “Basket”.

    The free version will have fewer coins so you can use the Rainbow Bridge less often, you won’t be able to get items to customize your cat with and there will be banner adds.

    The paid version will about $0.79 and has more coins, items and it’ll be add free. Not only that but you can pay for more items for your cat.

  15. >>> CONTEST ENTRY<<<


    *So whats your textface?*

    Text face is a simple, clean messaging platform using not only emoticons, but your face.

    1. Simply select your pic,

    2. crop it in the "face slot"

    3. save it to your textface category: HAPPY, SAD, FLIRTY, EXCITED, MAD, SUSPICIOUS, or just .

    4. send your text messages WITH your TextFace


    1. you create your OWN TEXTFACEs. your own emotions. not just some pre-selected emoticon.

    2. just like conversations in iphone posted in facebook, ITS COOLer when you post ur conversations like this:


    If the budget and the technology will allow, paid version will have

    the face moving like a .gif version:

    > Select two textface (face images) then choose “combine” so ur textface will seem like “moving like .gif”. imaging the YM emoticons laughing. thats the idea.

  16. Take the already successful “beat the boss” type game and add the ability to add a picture of the person you want to vent your anger on.

  17. Hi Guys,

    I’m very excited after reading some books (including 4 hour body) and starting a group of Mum’s on the run for getting fit. I think to make it fun, (and true to what was found in the study that people love to measure stuff they’re doing and will be hooked after 5 ‘track-my-runs’ I would like to make an app that tracks my runs, but has an overlay function that tracks (as if on a real GPS tracker) for instance a goal to run the Great Wall of China for instance. Then as an in app upgrade, one could buy other ‘runs’ to aim for such as across route 66, the length of the Nile etc. the map would actually show how far you are as if it had been GPS tracking. As an upgraded version I may introduce cycling versions of the Pyrenees or Tour de France. So many options! Please help me develop this app, I’m so excited!!!!

  18. APP IDEA:

    RealityTVBingo! Watching reality TV is often an exercise in listening to the “characters” say the same things over and over:

    * “He really threw me under the bus.”

    * “I’m not here to make friends.”

    * “I came here to win.”

    Finally, an app that will let you make the most of these mindless cliches! RealityTVBingo gives you a list of tried and true cliches on a Bingo-type board. When you hear a reality TV character utter the phrase, touch the screen to mark the spot. The first person to fill in the board wins.

    * Play by yourself or against friends.

    * Post your results via Twitter and Facebook.

    * Send challenges to your friends and play at the same time or asynchronously.

    * Buy an add-on that turns RealityTVBingo into a drinking game — good for college students blowing off steam on the weekend.

    Pricing: The free app comes with a generic set of cliches, phrases or concepts you can find on most reality TV shows (see above). You can then buy packs of cliches for either a particular show (i.e., Project Runway, Top Chef, any of the Real Housewives shows) or a particular genre of show (food competition shows, Big Brother-type “living in a house together” shows). New shows come out all the time. Buy your favorite show and Bingo away!

    I believe this app will be successful because it combines two extremely successful app concepts: games and social networking. Everyone knows the top 25 apps consist largely of games. It follows that the game category is going to be hard to break into. Social networking is the driving force behind so many apps these days. Everyone wants to share what they’re doing with their friends.

    Three things are with us to stay in the 21st century: smartphone apps, social networking, and reality TV. This app can reach all three markets.

  19. Social tickets

    An app for creating and buying tickets for events.

    I’ve worked with a bunch of smaller organizations and companies. Some of them arrange events (bus tours, choir performances, guided tours in cities, etc) but have a problem selling tickets beforehand. This app would solve that problem.

    Organizers can create events, set prices and get paid (we process the payment). Users can search for events and buy tickets. The only thing that needs to be delivered is a unique hex/code that the organizer can be verified at the event. Naturally, the organizer has acces to a live list of all ticket codes so they can be checked off at the event.

    Free app. Revenue from payment processing.

  20. – X?

    “We have an app for that”.

    – Y?

    “We have an app for that, too”.

    – Z?


    – We need an app to target the ultimate problem – the lack of ideas.

    Hi, I’m a student of neuroscience from Krakow, host of Quantified Self Poland group and a lover of vintage Port wine. As a person particularly intrigued by the augmented reality and brain enhancement strategies, I would like to present you the following idea.

    1. App:

    >> iDeatiON: the ultimate source of your portable creativity. <<

    2. Icon: a neuron in a bulb. A VERY simplified vision:

    3. Brief introduction and contents:

    The future belongs to right-brainers. As we're moving from the Information Age into the Conceptual Age, we become increasingly aware of the fact that when data access and digital outsourcing are common, creativity is the leading core skill. The acts of building associations between seemingly unrelated areas allow us to take control over our surrounding and lead to the exponential growth of modern technologies. No matter if you are aspiring to be an outstanding political figure, devoted physician-scientist or, as me any my friends here, a successful appreneur, possessing the ability to conceptualize our abstract reasoning remains the most important factor in the world of citizen science and open access to information.Unfortunately, our capacity of creating novel solutions may be limited due to the famous GxE – genetic and environmental factors, taking the form of linear thinking, internal criticism, general reluctance or simply a lack of proper training. Although there are more and more books, courses and strategies devoted to improving our possibities of generating unique, sense-making notions, there are no applications based on neurocognitive findings that would support you on all of the stages of "ideation process". This app would do that.

    Theoretical introduction

    I. Ideation science: a practical tutorial in neuroscience of insight, updated to the current research trends.

    II. Detailed biographies of famous inventors and idea-improvers, from Da Vinci to Jobs. Studies on personal treats and habits of creative people.

    Practical tools

    III. Interventions: the most effective strategies of boosting creativity that can be used by individuals and groups, including the possibility of rating and self-tracking:

    – Supplementation

    – Timing

    – Set and setting/ enriched environment

    – Visual stimulation

    – Auditory stimulation

    – Kinesthetic exercises

    – Dedicated daydreaming and goal-oriented meditation assistance

    – Cognitive training targetting working memory, cognitive flexibility, sustained attention, divergent/convergent thinking, judgement of propriety and including traditional, effective exercises in a convenient form.

    They would be summed into the Fast & Complete Modules of boosting creativity, depending on whether you need a quick shot of setting your mind in motion or letting yourself go during a long afternoon of ideation.

    IV. Output: physiological parameters can be combined with Interventions in improving the user's skills by synergistic interactions.

    – Biofeedback (EEG, EDA, HRV, etc.)

    – Stimulation (tDCS: transcranial direct current stimulation) – very promising, safe and available as a future solution, requiring a proper iPhone-compatibile tool

    Using the beauty of current data visualisation, the app would provide the user with a minimalist, brain-friendly interface preventing from the information overload and leading gently through the whole process of ideation. And yes, aesthetics play a huge role.

    Inspirations: Daniel Pink, Jonah Lehrer, Antonio Damasio, Matthew E. May

    Kewords: creativity, metacognition, meta-learning, ideation, concpetualization, neural correlates of insight, brain enhancement

    5. Why should you choose my idea?

    It fills the gap. Really.

    It's extremely congruent with my personal interests and passions, so you can be sure that I will do my best to release the best possible product.

    I am eager to modify and enhance the project at any stage of its development.

    It presents a novel, scientifically-based and synergistic approach toward developing one of the most important skills in your life.

    It gives you a chance to quantify your progress and receive a valuable feedback.

    It is useful as much for everyone, as for the particular groups of interest – as it can be modified to fulfill their specific needs.

    Receiving financing from academic resources for such a project, if not impossible, is extremely difficult in my country. Lateral thinking may be useful… so I need to develop that app even more!

    Our world relies on the genius of individuals: some of them are outstanding inventors, some allow us to communicate freely, some are designing life-saving drugs; this app would be my modest contribution to making their work even more productive and passionate.

    The talent is largely a matter of choice and smart work.

    With best regards / Pozdrawiam serdecznie,


  21. Hi Tim and Chad!

    I hope you love my App as much as I do! There is nothing out there like it, and I am confident it fits into a needed space. See the KeyNote here:


    P.S. EVERYONE who reads this comment should watch my video! Click the link above!

  22. Great article, I got an outdoor app idea thats a real eye opener, I have the icon done but how can I upload it for you to see ?

  23. App submission

    Odd Bird recipes

    Free version comes with several hundred odd yet simple recipes and unexpected food pairings along the lines of balsamic vinaigrette over vanilla ice cream, beer can chicken, or orange slices with red onions.

    Recipes are tagged in basic categories (fruits, grains, meats, breakfast, dessert, etc.) and searchable by ingredients.

    You can also build a shopping list from selected recipes.

    Pay version adds 1000+ recipes and regular updates.

  24. Hi Chad – I submitted my idea yesterday but can’t see the comment here so posting again just in case I miss the end date – apologies if I appear to be flooding whoever moderates these!

    To repeat…

    Hi Chad,

    Thanks for such an inspiring post and a great prize – I’m now full of ideas, but without the necessary funds to invest in the initial development I’ll end up sitting on them for months – I’m keeping my fingers crossed you like what you read below…

    Following your thought process I began scouring the app store charts and noticed a trend within the utilities section for apps that offered functionality one might assume comes as standard on an iPhone. Most of these apps aren’t what I personally desire, however I envisage a subset of users who switch from their old handset to an iPhone – when they discover a certain functionality does not exist they then head to the app store to fulfil their needs.

    Enter… ‘iSpeed-Dial’

    Simply, the core functionality of the app allows users to place icons on the home screen of their device which when pressed immediately dials the number of a chosen contact. Usefulness of the app is extended by allowing users to define the image of each icon from a pre-set or uploading their own (eg. a contacts picture taken from the address book/iPhoto/camera), as well as defining the action that occurs when the button is pressed. I envisage the primary use case to be phone calls, however equally iMessage, email, Skype etc. would be included as well.

    I have sketched out the rough flow here:

    About 15 similar apps already occupy the app store, however they fall short on several counts:

    – Many have not been updated for some time and have low star ratings due to crashes and iOS compatibility problems

    – The majority of those that do work do not function as I have described. Instead, you must open these apps to be presented with your ‘speed dial’ contacts, effectively displaying a cut down version of your address book presented via a different interface. I do not consider this to be a true ‘speed dial’ as by opening an application first the number of gestures required to call a contact is increased.

    I found only one app that actually offered similar functionality to that I describe (which is great, in that I intend to mimic the technical implementation and know it can be done) – however even this app can be improved upon – the user interface is poorly designed and clunky, the resolution of photos used in the icons is poor (it has not been optimised for the retina display) and the extended features such as iMessage, Skype etc. are not included. In addition, the application was clearly not developed by a native English speaker as the app store text does a poor job of communicating benefits or functionality, the screenshots used do not work hard enough to remedy this and to top it off, the icon design is awful!

    Clearly I think I’m on to something, but I’ve looked to substantiate my idea in some hard data. Using the site I was able to gather approx. sales figures for other apps. The similar app referenced above has 35,000 sales, with 2,000 occurring in the last month – other applications in a similar vein with better descriptions but poorer functionality have up to 100,000 sales. Even those apps that no longer work still sell in small numbers! I’ve additionally used Google’s keyword tool and there are approximately 8,000 searches a month for ‘iPhone Speed Dial’ and I also discovered it to be a popular topic for iPhone newbies to raise in the Apple support forums.

    I intend to sell the app for $0.99 and once build is complete I plan to build a web presence using a simple wordpress template optimised for iPhone products and utilise adwords/SEO to capitalise on Google searches. I will also create and maintain a Facebook, Twitter & Linkedin presence for the app to regularly engage with users and to build trust with potential buyers that the app will continue to be supported through iOS releases (I sometimes find the faceless nature of some app developers to put me off purchasing).

    I wholeheartedly believe I can use the investment you’re offering to turn this concept into a reality – taking the profits and using this to follow up with app number 2.

    I would also be interested to know when the winner will be decided! 🙂



  25. Contest Entry Idea:

    I concentrated on the Finance category’s top paid and following the advice of the article looked for something to clone that was pretty steady in it’s performance. I settled on the Finance category’s #4 and #6 top paid apps of this week, My Weekly Budget and Debt Snowball. After trying them out I found that they are both interesting and workable with simple interfaces that would be able to be combined and pared down a little to give the same functionality of both programs.

    After reading the reviews I also decided that adding just three features that neither application had would make a more complete product. The features I settled on the first version based on the comments from users of both applications are:

    1. a remainder function so that you could use to track your bill due dates and pay days

    2. a numerical login that could be disabled for those who don’t need that security add on

    3. and goal setting for savings to give your savings a purpose and being able to track that example: I am saving this money for this in this place whether under a mattress, in a savings account or IRA or whatever place you have it.

    Later updates would be dictated by what the users say would add functionality and some changes to the interface on fairly regular basis to keep the application fresh.

    There would be a free version with the ability to track 2 or 3 bill dates, rent, electric and car note, some ads and a nag screen promoting the paid version and other apps and no login screen and no goal setting for savings. The paid version would have all the features unlocked and ready to go.

    Most of the entries for the calculations that would need to be done would happen in the set up section of this application. The rest of the program would be the graphical representation of that information in the form of bar graphs, pie charts and goal monitors to keep track of one’s money, setting up goals for that money like emergency funds, vacation funds and so on.

    Saving space in the application would be making the categories for entries very simple and streamlined so that one could make sense of the graphs without too much thinking. Most of the help and F.A.Q would be set up on a separate website so that I could track what questions were being asked by my customer base, what was missing and what actually turned out to be fluff.

    The main idea is that for those who are interested in paying down their debt and becoming more conscience of what their money is doing and where it is going this app will keep you on top of it and not having to spread that functionality over two or more applications.

  26. Contest entry:Sports Geek

    My idea is sports geek. Concept is similar to logos quiz which just became number one on the free app market. The concept is simple yet builds on features that are lacking in logos quiz.

    Logos Quiz requires players to guess the actual name of partial professional corporate logos. Point vary and you can use hints which are acquired after correctly guessing logos.

    The concept is simple however, sports trivia will obviously be about various world sports teams, history, etc and players can determine if they want trivia from football, baseball, football etc.

    The free version will consist of a player against a computer answering various questions. Every question answered wrong the player receives a strike, 3 strikes your out. Point are awarded for correct answers. A nag screen will appear to allow players to purchase the paid version to play friends.

    A paid version of the game will be offered allowing players to invite friends. The invitation screen will be similar to words with friends allowing players to invite or find friends. Player 1 will pick a category “College Football” the game will ask player 1 to answer a question. Player 1 will answer the question if they answer correctly or incorrectly it is sent to Player 2. If Player 1 answers correctly and Player 2 doesn’t Player 1 wins the point and the opposite is true if Player 1 answer wrong and Player 2 answers right. If neither player answers correctly the initial player receives the point.

    The game allows players to always be engaged because every round they are allowed to answer questions. The addictive nature of sports in general will entice players to want to play multiple friends at a time.

    The app logo will be a Geek with taped glasses juggling different sports items, a football, a basketball, a baseball, a soccer ball.

  27. Chad, it was good to meet you several weeks ago at the Maverick UG8 event in Washington DC.

    Here is an idea that me and some buddies have been kicking around. To better communicate the idea I made a quick mobile site including screen shots and explanations:

    Fight Club App

    The goal of the Fight Club is an app to build a community of men who improve themselves physically, spiritually, and intellectually. The state of men in today’s world is pretty sad. While there are rock stars, all too many guys are sitting at home gaming and chasing after their computer screens instead of real women. High unemployment in guys 18 to 28 magnifies the problem. Men are struggling to know what it takes to be a man. Women are outdoing men in college educations. Lets face it we have a lot of Homer Simpson types out there. We need to raise up a new generation of real men. Mobile App tech is a great platform to reach them.

    A real man is a whole person made up of the physical, the spiritual, and the intellectual. Too many men are live far below their potential because they have a strong mind, but a weak body, or they have a strong mind and body but they have a tormented soul. The Fight Club App is designed to develop the entire man to bring him to his full potential by giving him challenging assignments and creating a community connect to other like spirited people to strive for the next level.

    Thanks for putting the contest together.

  28. My app idea:

    The most helpfull app for hghschool students, on the market!

    My goal is to help middle aged students (~ 14 – 19 ) learn by playing small challenges. They can then compare their challenge scores with friends and unlock different backgrounds. This will give them a stimulation to learn and thereby get better scores in challenges or grades in school! wich will stimulate them even more.

    some usefull information:

    I deliver the content to the programmers

    Target market: parents, high school teachers and curious kids

    Target device: iphone / ipad

    Goal: interactive app of learning mathematics, chemistry and other school subjects

    Way of distribution: everything in one app

    pricing: free version with limited options (just 1 challenge can be done and just 1 chapter of every subject can be viewed ) upgradable for $1,99 ( removes adds, unlocks every chapter and challenge)

    I put quiet some work in wireframing the app:

    Kind regards,

    S.v. Driessel

  29. Hey Tim and Chad, this idea is awesome. Thanks for the opportunity to open up this competition. This week I was busy with thinking and designing an app and just before the deadline, I’m finally finished. Here it goes:

    Voice Fun!

    Voice Fun! Is an app that enables users to record, modify and share sounds. These sounds can be used for voicemails, prank calls, ringtones or simply for shit and giggles. Users can upload their recorded sounds to a central database from which sounds can be downloaded by all users.

    In the amusement category apps like talking tom are standard high achievers and high earners. Thus there is a market for voice modulation. Existing apps that fill this niche lack a database and good sharing capability. The comments on these apps express that clearly. The most popular of these apps, Voice Changer(plus) , has approximately 3200 ratings (angry birds has 20000 ratings). But Voice Changer(plus) lacks the sharing features to satisfy all demands of the consumer.

    This app will ensure that people who love to share and the people who love sounds will get their fix. No longer will the cool sound of a fighter jet flying over, the stupid stuff a teacher said or that funny joke your best friend told will be lost to you. Your friends will be able to hear it, share it and download it. People don’t fall for your prank phone calls because they recognize your voice? No longer, with Voice Fun! You can simply download a great prank call recorded by your fellow voice funners.

    Monetization will be done via the freemium model of advertisements in the app, which can be removed via an in app purchase of the full version. The premium version will be priced at $0.99, which undercuts Voice Changer(plus) that is priced at $1.59. The premium user will also have the ability to create 5 minute sound bites instead of the regular 2 minutes. They will also be able to customize their stream entries, for maximum exposure and visibility. Furthermore they will also be able to customize their profile for a personal feel. The initial users will be acquired via guerrilla marketing through a video produced by the people of and facebook targeted adds.

    Advanced features: Voice Fun! can start recording for the first 10 seconds immediately when you launch it instead of when you press the record button. Voice Fun! will save it if you press record within this timeframe of 10 seconds, if you do not do this Voice Fun! will automatically throw this data away. Another advanced feature is that users will be enabled to create their own lists of their favorite sounds.

    For a general idea of the final implementation please take a look at the following presentation:

  30. Contest Entry (with just an hour to go before it closes!)

    The app I’d like to create is a Data Dashboard. To display data captured by all of the various iPhone / iPad sensors and display them all in one beautiful UI. It would be the Swiss army knife of apps!

    These devices are registering this data all of the time. Why not capture & display it in a useful way!

    It would have a freemium model, where limited data points are shown on a basic background. Unlock the app and have access to all of the inputs with interchangeable background skins (Steampunk submarine, airplane cockpit, Spacecraft, F1 racing car)

    In the paid version of the app users can either have a live feed updating or press ‘capture’ to start recording a stream of data. These data points can then be saved, shared & e-mailed and be used in experiments, graphs, research etc.


    Measuring/monitoring in the home (audio level, plumb line, spirit level)

    Driving (Speed, Pitch, Roll, Yaw)

    Hiking (navigation, co-ordinates, elevation, altimeter)

    Sports (Timing, pedometer, balance)

    Rollercoasters (Gforce, acceleration)

    Why would this be popular?

    Improves upon existing apps, combines several into one.

    Static designs will give a beautiful UI & rich user experience

    Useful & would be regularly used to solve a problem.

    Designed to be popular long term.

    Existing individual measuring apps are ranked highly & feature throughout the top 100

    Feature in the Productivity category – ideal for an initial app to gain traction

    Allows users to compare different data points at the same time

    Appeals to the general market (great for building an initial user base)

    Lots of potential uses, enables users to innovate.

    Educational & great for those interested in self tracking, measuring & monitoring.

    I’ve got a short & long term plan to develop a handful of app ideas that build upon the success of the last. This competition would allow me to get my first app developed and enable me to build my own app empire!

    Background Info

    I’ve been working towards app development for the past 8 months.

    Long term I would like to develop a treasure map style game once I have learned lessons through smaller app releases & have an established user base. Example level image :-

    I’ve done a huge amount of research into app charts, popularity of genres and following the rise (and fall) of all kinds of apps – to see why they fail. I’ve deconstructed which important key points need to be hit correctly in order to release a popular app that lasts long term.

    (Icon, genre, monetization method, keyword choice, description, launch plan, update strategy)

    If any of these are forgotten it’s so easy for an app to sink without trace.

    I’ve even bought a 2nd hand Mac mini as it’s the cheapest method of jumping into the app development environment. Getting a good understanding of how small changes affect the entire structure of the app, using the interface builder & getting to grips with Objective C programming!

    It’s a hard thing to find a niche with enough competition to make your app popular but not too much that users can’t find your app. This has caused me to refine & re-work many of my ideas. The next step is to put one into production.

    I’d love to be able to see my first app, live in the app store & to document the whole process & share the insights!


    For those considering their own apps, here are a few other points that are important to consider at the start of your app development!

    Keep the app size under 20mb so that it can be downloaded via 3G. Anything over 20mb requires a wifi connection. This means you lose out on a lot of people trying it on impulse.

    Does your app require an internet connection? Consider online vs offline apps. ‘Online’ apps (where users have login accounts and interact with other players etc) are highly complex and need backend databases to store interactions. Often simplifying apps to make them ‘offline’ and self contained improves the usability.

    Good luck everyone!

  31. App Idea: Auto-Recolor

    Recolor your favorite photos simply by selecting the areas you want to change with a single tap!

    // Research:

    I noticed that Color Splash – #65 Top Paid iPhone Apps, #5 in Photography – is a long-standing and successful photo app. This app allows you to subtract color from a photo, but does not allow you to add new colors. Also, you must paint the color on or off manually by zooming in and ensuring you do not color outside the area that you want to select. The reviews of this app complain about the limited ability to simply subtract the colors already appearing in the photo. Many users want to add new colors not originally appearing in the photo.

    There are some other apps that do permit the user to add in new colors (e.g., Color effects pro #33 in Photography), but these still require you to paint them on by zooming in to get the required definition.

    In addition, I also noticed that Sketch Me (#37 in Photography) is relatively successful at creating an outline of a photo – which can also then be recolored.

    // Concept:

    The app would create a “Sketch Me”-type outline of your photo. The outline would be shown as a translucent, highlighter blue line which glows and overlays the photo. The areas in between where the outline intersects would create regions over the photo that the user can select. Users could adjust the definition of the areas highlighted by the outline using a slider, so, for example, a person’s hair would represent one region rather than many different regions that would otherwise be created by the changes in color and contrast if the outline was too detailed.

    The user could then recolor the photo by selecting a color from a drop-down color-palette and simply tapping one of the regions they have created. This would be far easier than zooming in to repaint the photo and would be more accurate.

    The user could then have the option of sharing the photo – twitter, Facebook, email, copying to iPhone photo library etc.

    // Sketches:

    My rough sketches of the design of the app are here:

    // Monetization:

    Color Splash and Sketch Me are paid apps. The functionality of this app could also justify a paid version, however I would also issue a free version that allows the user to recolour up to 5 photos and have limited color palette before being prompted by a nag screen to pay for the full version. The free version would also have ads. In-app purchases could include the ability to purchase additional palettes – such a palette that contains pantone reference colors.



  32. _Contest Entry_

    Note: sorry for the typo’s, I am not an English native speaker, and due to time constraints I could not download an English spell check. I know, I am a sinner, I should burn in eternal fire and make brownies for the devil (or just create a food fight!), but before I do that, here is my entry!

    I tried to look for some loopholes in this competition just like Tim did with Chinese kickboxing and one of the loopholes is that analyzing the competition is a lot easier when you know almost all the entries.

    Title: Wind Hockey

    Type: Game

    Description: Wind Hockey is an air hockey game, but without a paddle. Instead of that it replaces the ubiquitous paddle with a wind blow. Thus allowing the player to manipulate the strength of their return stroke by holding and influence the direction by swiping.

    I used the template of Tim Ferriss his blog post, because it will be easier to measure for you guys to what extent I understood your content and how I implemented it in my idea.

    _Step 1: Get a Feel for the Market_

    Among the 25 best earning apps, a large percentage are games, as follows games are a very interesting market. Air hockey games have been in the top ten a few times, with the last air hockey game being #2 on 22 March (ipad). This means that there is a market for it.

    The first 4 days, I wanted to emulate the game and improve it. However, there was one air hockey game which was really good and it could be improved upon but I doubt if $5000 could make it. The game is called Touch Hockey 2 and uses 3D graphics, which presumably are quite expensive to make.

    _Step 2: Align Your Ideas with Successful Apps_

    -The Six questions-

    1. People are purchasing games like these, because it’s fun and because it lets you kill time while waiting on something (iphone) and because the screen is big enough to play on it (ipad).

    2. What I can do to take this to another level is by altering the game. This allows me to be a first mover on that specific type of game, while still staying close to the air hockey games. The reason for why this work is because Angry Birds did this as well, meaning games a lot like Angry Birds already existed. Therefore, the same approach could work for Wind Hockey.

    3. Other ideas my target market would like are other arcade games which are fun.

    4 & 5. According to 62 other apps are on the search query “air hockey”, of which 3 are ranked and 59 are unranked. Probably due to too much imitation and/or unsuccesful marketing (I haven’t researched that part).

    6. All of the succesful air hockey games use the freemium model. Most of the succesful air hockey games use paid versions only to improve aesthetic elements of the game, the exception is Touch Hockey 2.

    -Why Emulate an Air Hockey Game?-

    I play the game Touch Hockey and Glow Hockey. So I know what I find irritating and what could be improved from my own point of view. Furthermore, only Touch Hockey 2 and Glow Hockey had 4 or more stars, the other air hockey games which we researched didn’t. There were air hockey games with lower ratings which were really popular (e.g. Touch Hockey).

    _Step 3: Design Your App’s Experience_

    I explain the apps experience with a wireframe in a pdf file

    Note that not every functionality is wireframed, because some functionalites are fairly simple. However, some of them are wireframed because they could be easier to understand this way.

    Important note: the first page of the wireframe is linked! And the “Back To First Page” on every top right of the pdf as well.

    Some functionalities that I didn’t wireframe are:

    multiplayer capabilities

    the ability to warp a puck and slingshot it (see the free version of touch hockey)

    record your matches

    online score rankings

    faster load time (this is a small problem in Touch Hockey 2)

    bullet time

    multiple pucks

    a fun graphic designed theme

    I did wireframe:

    Smaller field (and why this is important)

    The concept of a windblow

    The settings menu (how it could look like)

    In game purchases

    upload a puck or field picture (change field or puck)

    An idea of how the logo could look like

  33. App Idea:

    My application idea is for kids and grownups alike. It’s a photo app tentatively called “Clickety Boo!” that uses the camera to take portrait styled photographs of friends and family; it then replaces the body of the person photographed with a variety of funny caricatures while keeping the original face from the photograph and thereby giving very funny results. This is not a novel idea in the least but my presentation is what will make it stand out; make it fun, easy to use, and engaging for the whole family.


    Clickety Boo! Loads up almost like a cartoon would, with cartoon style graphics, music, and sound effects in the interface. The typeface would be bold, simple to read, and cartoony with primary colors. Basic instructions would be spoken out in funny voices and the predominant function would be to take a photograph of somebody. The app would show where to adjust someone’s face so that it fills up the active area. It would be great to have face recognition at the back end to sound off a “Click Now! Click Now!” voice command when a face fills up the active area. Upon clicking there is a fanfare sound and graphic along with a “That’s great!” or “Well done!” voice.

    Effects/User Interface:

    The application quickly displays several thumbnails across the screen (scrollable) of that face with various funny illustrated cartoon bodies and clothing. The user will tap on any one thumbnail to enlarge it. The rendered picture is then shown enlarged and accompanied with a cartoon sound effect and funny cartoon styled laughter, the user can then scroll sideways to review all the various bodies and every time a new picture slides in there is a sound effect and funny laughter. These sound effects and laughter styles will rotate from an internal library of several files so as to keep the experience fresh. The results can then be posted to a variety of social networks and services, saved on the device, or printed into a fun poster.

    Market Research:

    My experience in the App Store suggests that photo apps generally do well since they cater to the broadest demographic. Also, billion-dollar applications such as Instagram confirm that cameras and related applications on mobile devices are only gaining in popularity and value. Added to that, kids love apps and they love to laugh; parents are always searching for apps to entertain kids with.


    Clickety Boo! is so easy, even a 4-yr old could use it. That is what makes it unique. There are no complex controls to learn, no resizing and positioning, no confusing navigation to understand, no sophisticated adjustments to make: its just click and go! Moreover, the stylized sound, music, and graphics will make it more fun than anything else out there.


    Clickety Boo! Will be a “freemium” application; free to download initially but there will be an option to get additional body styles for a fee. These can then be themed to include styles such as vocation themes (nurse, doctor, farmer, etc.), Halloween themes, Christmas themes, animal themes, baby themes, etc. Later on if the app does very well we could try for the licensing of branded themes.

    So, in conclusion the combination of the resulting pictures accompanied by the stylized sound, music, and graphics will ensure that children and grownups will be trying out this app on just about everybody to see, share, and print the hilarious results!

    To see very basic image results of my trials follow this link:

  34. Contest Entry (Kevin Caldwell)

    [I don’t believe my earlier attempt to send this proposal to the comment section was successful, so I’m trying again. I apologize if it was already received.]

    Overview: I’m proposing an app that will provide a vast market — parents of school-aged children — to be successful during meetings with their son or daughter’s teachers. This app will fill a void in the market.

    Detailed Version: There are over 65 million school-aged children in the US alone…and naturally, even more parents. No matter the school—public, charter, religious-based, private- – about 89% of their parents and guardians meet with their children’s teachers (US Census Bureau data). Unfortunately, these meetings often cause anxiety or confusion: most parents aren’t sure what to ask, how to get the information that they want or how to say it. As a result, many parents sit quietly, listening to what the teacher has to say and end up not having the conversation that they really wanted.

    Currently, there isn’t an app to address this need for this enormous population. There are apps to schedule parent-teacher interviews, apps about parenting and apps to assist teachers with their job. But there isn’t an app that provides parents with the immediate, tailored and reliable support that they could use during a meeting with a teacher.

    With over 15 years of educational experience and hundreds of parent meetings (…and mostly positive, in case you were wondering!), I have been compiling the content for such an app. What I don’t have is the money or the skill to make this app on my own.

    Users would purchase the app that suits their child’s grade level : elementary, middle or secondary. After entering the child’s gender and first name, they would navigate to the questions that they want to ask, for example : a generic academic inquiry (e.g. too much/too little homework), a specific academic concern (e.g. why their child is struggling in a particular subject area) or social skill question (e.g. interpersonal conflicts). Within a few moments, the user has a selection of clear, concise and effective questions ready to read: “I’m concerned about how Chad is doing in Reading. Where do you think he’s having the most difficulty? / What strategies have been successful with him in the classroom? / What can I do with him at home to improve his reading?”

    Obvious questions? Perhaps they might seem that way, but they are rarely asked. Parents are often at a loss for words or are worried that it might come out wrong. No one wants to offend their child’s teacher, bring up a sensitive topic or sound stupid. Now parents can focus on the answers instead of sweating over the questions. They’ll have the appropriate and intelligent questions that they want right in front of them.

    Nothing is more important to parents than their children. This app would empower parents, no matter where they are, to advocate on behalf of their kids and ultimately give them a better education and future.

    And as a result, I believe this app will be successful.

    Thank you for your consideration, Chad and Tim.

  35. Hi Tim and Chad!

    Here’s my idea:

    TimeBank is a time tracking app that charts exactly how you use your time. Each day, you open the app and input all your activities as you go about your regular routine. For example, I wake up in the morning and enter the time. I commute to work and enter the time, work out, watch TV, play Angry Birds, and so on. Every time you finish an activity, you punch in how much time was spent doing so. After each 24 period (you choose the start and end time of the period) it creates a pie chart of how you’ve spent your time for that day. You can view how you’ve spent your time in each of the last 7 days, along with a cumulative weekly and monthly chart.

    It would be colorful, fun and addictive. How many people spend 25 hours a week just commuting to work and would then realize it may not be worth the job? Or how many people complain that they don’t have any time to exercise but then realize they cumulatively play Angry Birds 3 hours a day?

    The app would also feature a Pomodoro button to use the Pomodoro Technique whenever you absolutely need to get something done and need that extra push. There are also Twitter and Facebook buttons to brag to your followers/friends that you’ve worked out for 8.3% of your day, for example.

    Currently, I can only find one app that is somewhat similar which sells for $4.99 called ClockedIn 2, but it’s very dry and boring. Other time tracking apps are essentially punch clocks used for employees or freelancers. TimeBank would be addictive and fun, and would be used by productivity hackers (4 hour readers of course), students, health nuts, and anyone looking to see exactly how they spend their time.

    Speaking of time, I’m submitting this at 7:50 AM East coast time so please include me!!

    Good luck everyone!

  36. Thanks for all the great information in this post Chad, it’s golden!

    My idea for an app means to utilize the emerging technology of 3D Printing which I think is going to really take off in the next 24 months. This app in particular will use children and babies feet and hands on the iPhone or iPad screen to create ornaments made of clay and plaster with a foot/handprint that parents and grandparents love.

    I think this app will work because once you ‘scan’ the child’s hand or foot, you send it to your own personal 3D printer (such as this one by Solidoodle: or send it to a 3rd party which does 3D printing and by the end of it, you’ll have something physical and real which families will want to keep. Plus, you’ll be able to have more than one to send as gifts to other relatives all over the world.

    This is one of the big trends we should be expecting to see as shown in the yearly report by JWT Intelligence (slide numbers 53, 59 & 83):

    If we promoted this through the millions of ‘mommy bloggers’ there are online, it could create quite a buzz and following. In addition, parents will be able to use it over and over again to either print more of the same model out, or to take new scans as the child grows up.

    There is nothing like this available and the app can generate revenue either from app sales or from commissions form in-app purchases. This app’s target demographic may also like any other ‘memorabilia’ which can be reproduced from their child’s hand/foot like stickers, t-shirts, coasters and frisbees etc.

    The app will look a lot like the Camera+ app on iTunes found here: This would allow many options for customization, editing and sharing facilities.

    I’m excited to pursue this new project as I think it’ll be a fun process and will add some value to people’s lives. Thanks for your time Chad!

  37. This is my 3rd attempt to post before the 9:00 AM cut-off. :.(

    Hi Tim,

    Yes, ditto to the above comments for bringing Chat in on this subject.

    Hi Chad,

    Thanks for your time in the write up, because if I win this contest or not, I just was presented with the fuel I need to make my idea come to life. But up until Monday, I didn’t know it was going to be an app. :.)

    My 11th Hour Entry – DietOrb

    After reading the post on creating apps Monday, I just got the biggest slap in the face ever. It was exactly what needed to figure out how to channel what Tim may call my “body hacking” idea into a mobile app.

    If chosen as the winner, I will detail how I will make this one happen below Chad & Team.

    My Background:

    First, let me say I have NO previous experience in anything mobile, much less app creation. I live pay check to pay check like many others today, and maybe my only advantage coming into this particular effort was my side job of creating web sites for friends and family to make ends meet. This gave me the ability to throw together an entire web site around my contest entry, and to hopefully* present my idea to the fullest.

    For the last few years, I have been toying with body hacking ( I stole Tim’s term from the 4HB ) by using safe electronic frequencies that our bodies operate on daily from brain to organs. Something even the likes of Tesla have tinkered with. Now, also combining Isochronic tones, which are body beats that enhance whatever your designed sound is aimed towards, and voila, I had the sound the human body was looking for to lose weight on the particulars I was using.

    After tests with friends and family with success, I have also wondered how to distribute to the masses who could use this virtual exercise in order to boost metabolism, and thus encouraging weight loss. Without going all scientific here in my statement of entry, the website provides much more explanation on this niche blend of tech and science for any curiosity seekers out there.

    Back to the app idea – considering sound sessions were what I needed to get in the hands of the masses, and no matter where those sessions were held, then a smartphone makes for the perfect spot – through an app of course.

    My Slap:

    After reading Chad’s article, it hit me quickly, so quickly I registered the domain name for the app the same day (Monday) You can even check the WHOIS records for anyone wary of the long nights I have pulled this week. After the domain, I had the hosting, and a hack job website up and going before even knowing how I was going to make this happen, I just knew somehow it was on.

    Now, I know part of the rules, I can’t list my URL here, and respectfully so. Considering how active I have been, you can now just Google the term “DietOrb” and be presented info on material I have put out so far. But easier, just head to www DietOrb (dot) com

    In 1 week I have built and described what I would turn the app into. As I build the site, I envisioned what I want the app to be in the coming months. I have built a social following, a custom video and distributed through YouTube and Vimeo, and already caused a breakout discussion around the app’s focus in a forum that generated 20 responses in a matter of minutes, cluing me to further research that I was heading in the right direction.

    Everything you will see on the site has been built this week alone. I had no clue or indication of this whatsoever Monday when I started, but following Chad’s advise above, it simply flowed from my mind into a complete idea.

    Working 3-4 hours each night until my eyes were burning, I have busted to get this site up and a way to express what my app would consume and the benefits it will provide.

    Some nights were design, some nights were content writing, some nights were researching competitors, and the more research I did, the more I got excited that nothing like this really exists in an app. The diet industry is huge, and just a little experimentation in this concept and hitting mainstream on Dr. Oz – then DietOrb could be a brand overnight. Chad says build the next Instagram – and I took that to be “lose a gram in an instant” considering my weight loss focus.

    Done so far:

    Secured domain

    Named App

    App icon design

    Website design

    Website content & sales copy

    Elected for iPhone and Android both

    Secured social branding

    Tested concept to 40 people, with a 92% buy/yes rate

    Research competition

    Found a PR service for apps

    Bid my idea out to Odesk for development

    Built primitive UI mockups

    Custom video and distribution

    Selected a charity for 20% of sales (my very first task)

    Basic SEO of the site

    If selected as a winner, it was important for me to have how I would give back and keep the positive momentum going. That was done by selecting Kids Against Hunger, who help resolve child hunger in the US and around the world. I committed to 20% of all app purchases going to this cause.

    How I would monetize:

    The app would be free for the first 500 downloads, then moving to a paid model of .99 cents for further testing. Depending on popularity and volume, it could move to a free version that is ad supported.

    However, I would like to build a SaaS eventually, enabling users to upload their data and track and discuss among each other privately, so the app could very well stay at the .99 price point as additional value and features will be provided. All known after the testing Chad has recommended.

    How I would use the budget:

    2300.00 – iPhone App Development

    1400.00 – Android App Development

    1000.00 – 20% as committed to Kids Against Hunger

    160.00 – Press Release To App Sites

    100.00 – Apple Developer Account For Submission

    25.00 – Google Play Developer Account For Submission

    15.00 – Chad’s App Book to learn more

    Total = $5000

    How I would use my 1 hour of time with Chad:

    First, I would ask if I could break up into 2, 30 minute sessions. :.)

    The first session would cover final insight before submitting the app for development.

    The second session would cover insight after the first week on the app stores to evaluate.

    So now that I have gotten past the should I or should I not, here is my entry and 2 cents. Now hoping for the 98 other cents to make it happen.

    Thank you for the information and ignition! Head over to dietorb (dot) com to see the plan.

    Best of luck to all the entries, some great ideas I have read above!


    Ab Workout Trainer is an app that teaches the user to do abdominal exercises. It can string the exercises together into workouts and records the user’s growth and progress.

    It would use the best feature of the existing app “Ab Workout”: video of a real trainer performing the exercise. The video loops the exercise so you can learn how to perform it with correct technique.

    My app is similar to existing apps, but will have some improvements:

    – include voice commands for beginning the workout, pausing, and resuming.

    – some of the existing apps show you the exercises right as the workout begins. My app will show you a quick summary and then you can place the iPhone on the floor and say “begin” so that you don’t waste any time on the timer.

    – saves user data, creates graphs of reps performed and progress in each exercise. These are shareable via Facebook/Twitter to expose other users to the app

    – exercises on the other apps make the user perform a set number of reps. You can’t measure your progress this way. From my experience with fitness I think a better approach is to let the user enter how many reps they just completed in the allotted time so that they can measure their progress.

    – streamlined UI compared to the other apps (see images) and adds progress bar to the loading screen


    main menu:

    records screen:

    workout screen:

    pause screen:

    exercise finished screen:

    workout finished screen:


    I’ll have to discuss voice controls with the programmer since I’m not sure how they work on iOS apps. I’ll have to find a trainer who can submit exercise descriptions and video clips for looping within the app.


    – The free version includes ads and the progress/graph sharing feature to help expose users to the app

    – The paid version removes ads, adds additional workouts and exercises, and allows you to program your own workouts by creating playlists of exercises.

    Perhaps most importantly, the app follows your strategy of a “skinnable” app. I can pay a trainer for more video clips and create Cardio Workout Trainer, Yoga Workout Trainer, Butt Workout Trainer, and more. Then within each app I can promote all the others. This strategy has already been successfully employed and shows in the top fitness charts in the App Store.


    There are some existing apps in this space which are consistently successful.

    See these apps:

    As of right now both of these apps, Ab Workout and Ab Workouts, are in the top 50 free in the Fitness category and are holding steady in the paid category as well according to TopAppCharts.

    Thanks in advance for the opportunity to help me achieve my lifestyle goals, Chad! It was great of you to answer a question I had on Twitter (@retrothomas) and I’ve been researching, reading your book, watching your videos, and working nonstop on starting an app business since I read this article.

  39. Hey guys, thanks for putting all this together. I put this app proposal together based on idea I had a while ago. I’m glad for the encouragement to bring it to life.

    Date Night: Movie Edition

    This is a simple app to be used by couples or individuals planning to watch a movie. By asking some fun and silly questions, the app will recommend appropriate movies for you to watch. It will be fun to work through the questions with your date and avoid a lot of the common friction that can arise when you’re going through Netflix or at the movie rental place.

    The App’s appeal will be its attractive design and quirky sense of humor beyond its functionality of delivering great movie recommendations.

    Here are some visuals to give you an idea:

    App structure and logic:

    The app will behave like a 20-questions app. Using a solid database of films, we’ll assign a variety of characteristics (tags) to each entry in the database. The questions will allow us to sort and eliminate movies that don’t fit in the criteria.

    There will also be a few fun questions in each set of queries that hold very little weight to the final choice of movie. Example: Who would you rather be godfather of your child? Liam Neeson from Taken or Liam Neeson as Aslan of Narnia? These are intended to make the make the app even more entertaining to the users (they don’t know that it does not heavily affect the final recommendation).

    Finally, users will be prompted to give feedback on the films they do end up watching as a result of using the app. Using a star rating system, we’ll be able to track users’ preferences and use that data to help select better movies.


    Currently, ‘dating’ apps are all over the app market (Eharmony, Dating DNA, DateHookup Dating) but ‘date companion’ or ‘date reference’ apps are very few. Some apps, like 301 Date Ideas, do well in the rankings but have very few ratings. Additionally, in the Entertainment section there are very few date/relationship related apps.

    In terms of just movie recommendations, Netflix and IMDB’s recommendations are unreliable and certainly not fun to browse. Their mobile offerings for those features are abysmal. We’re improving on a normal recommendation algorithm by turning it into a fun activity beyond just its final output.

    Monetization Strategies:

    I’ll sell the app on the marketplace for either .99 or 1.99 but there will be two additional methods of revenue generating. First, we plan to make a few different ‘date companion’ apps which means we’ll be able to cross-promote them to one another. Users who enjoy Date Night: Movie Edition might enjoy Date Night: Eat at my place or Date Night: Adventure Dates.

    Additionally, I’m currently investigating referral links for Netflix or Amazon. When a user selects a recommendation we can promote any of the variety of online streaming offerings or referral programs. This might even allow us to go ‘Free’ as traffic grows or we look to promote other new apps.

    About Me:

    I’m currently travelling the world and running my web design company ( Though we’ve had clients ask us to work with them on apps, we’ve usually pressed them toward mobile site development. This will be a great opportunity to build a marketable product instead of providing an ongoing service.


  40. First thank you both for sharing your insight; especially Tim for helping me losse 45/50 lbs. Chad to business, people don’t actively think about it but their buying decisions on apps are tied to stuff that ads value and like you say explanation emulating is the way to go. My app idea like one guy here is to emulate officejerk 7463 ratings and over 20 millions downloads and also appzilla 1128 ratings and over 3 million downloads . In basic the app will include 5 characters in 5 different scenarios a mechanic, a hair dresser, a dinner cook, a police officer and painter; more scernarios, characters and stuff to trow can be downloaded by buying coins. Ohh the name Jerkzilla, why buy one jerk when you can take with you many for the same buck, like in Cotsco and Sams more is better. Also in the monetizing I personally think that if you include the ad in the scenario you have more impressions an add value to the nag screens, as example a Tv in the hair dresser salon, in-app purchases like more items to trow and more characters also translate the items in the scenario and jerk language to country of download to better target the app users. Hope you don’t like but love this idea.

  41. APP ENTRY BY SANJAY : <<>>

    I have noticed a lot of these app ideas submitted are too niche or would be too expensive to create. I submitted my entry as late as possible to avoid app cloners, I hope you are reading this Chad because my entry is simple to make, simple to use, for the mass market and most importantly fun ! – kinda like your apps. Hope you see the winner in it.

    IDEA: Your Personal Siri That Replies The Way You Want It Too.

    Category: Entertainment. Business Model: Freemium.

    Since the launch of Siri the world has gone ga ga over it. A lot of users bought the iPhone 4S just for it, but here’s the thing. People like using Siri more for the novelty of it than the function, need proof ? Search for “shit siri says”. And so the idea was born …


    1) Siri is not coming out for the older devices, it didn’t come out for the new iPad and its very likely its not coming out for the new iPod touch either. That has not stopped people from jailbreaking their iDevices just to use it. There is definitely a huge market as apps like Evi, Voice Assistant, Voice Actions etc. have done outstandingly well in sales in spite of having poor reviews.

    As of writing there are 3+ apps on the top 200 worldwide that does the “Siri clone” but does not do the novelty part of it at all.

    2) “Do you have more proof that people want to use a Siri like app for novelty ?”

    Yup, I do. I made a Image rendition of how I want the app to look with stock entries. I told people to ask my iPod touch a question and then show them the stock answer which made them laugh (yeah I will get to how it works later with the pic – hang in there). Out of a personal research of 15 people 9 told me they would buy it for $0.99 and 15 on 15 told me they would try it for free. Real people have told me the like this app concept. And they genuinely laughed which confirmed the fun part of this app. Shit siri says is just further proof.

    3) “Impressive anything else to add ?”

    Yes Google trends. Google trend is an excellent way to analyze the interest level of the audience and more people search for siri than they do for angry birds. Keeping this in mind we have a huge market interested already. Go on look into it.

    4) Kids grow up and seek for something new: We have an immense market, Its been ~3 years since “talking apps” rules the market. The kids who have used it are now grown up and are very likely to try an app like ours for the fun of it.


    The app works quite like those talking apps in a way. People click on the illuminated robot icon and ask it a question (the robot icon records the conversation), the robot icon then flashes and displays either a stock reply like yes, no, maybe (with voice) or a custom reply that a person can make with a $0.99 dlc ie. you record your voice or your favorite characters voice for a personalized reply. The user can also set specific replies as per his/her wish.

    In simple terms, you ask a question -> the robot answers with a random or custom reply -> People get a laugh out of it -> Profit.

    People can use this at bars, for comedy routines, for magic tricks and general entertainment. etc. The same way your app didn’t exactly scan and secure phones the same way this app is like a personalized siri robot without the billion dollar AI.

    In fact why don’t we try it right now ?

    *Ask bot do you think I will will this competition ?*

    Ask bot’s reply:


    The best apps are the apps that spread via word of mouth. Ask bot in my opinion is just that. Its an app that would follow suit of other great novelty apps like iFart, iBeer, Finger security pro, talking apps, 8ball, etc.

    The marketing would be 1) Askbot pro version and 2) Askbot a free version with upgradable in app purchases.

    Since websites love talking about siri and siri-like apps (the other apps I mentioned got A LOT of free publicity from the web) this app should get should get people talking.

    The cool thing about this concept i can either create multiple characters, repackage (with different voices) or add multiple in app purchases like color, voices, custom responses, characters etc.

    Since I can add plenty of stock responses even to the free app I should get regular users and a constant stream of downloads.

    The Secret:

    Alright so you a little more than the basic idea of this app.There is nothing stopping you from making a copy of your own … or is there ?

    I have quite a bit of secrets left in my arsenal. I have researched this for quite some time and have come up with keywords, marketing strategies and concepts to make this app incredibly popular and profitable. Ofcourse I can’t spill everything on this site.

    So here is my entry I hope you read it, I’m sure you will see the potential in it. I would love to partner with you for this idea and make this app the next best thing – the poster child of novelty apps. I know the contest states that full revenues will go to the creator but yeah you can change the rules you set. Do get back to me 🙂

    P.S: If anyone else is also interested in making this app please click on my name and contact me and lets get the baby going.

    P.P.S: Sorry in advance for the typos.

  42. I love this post and the details given about the process. This has definitely help jumpstart my motivation to build an app. Also, there are a lot of great ideas in the comments. Here’s hoping everyone works hard to create their apps.

    There are many successful apps that are based around changing the appearance of someone’s portrait photo. Whether it’s turning the face fat, old, or into a caricature, these apps are lots of fun at any gathering of friends.

    My idea for an app would be to 3-4 photos taken of a person’s head (front, left side, right side, and potentially rear), and turn it into a foldable figure popularized by cubeecraft ( ). After the photos are taken, the user can design the rest of the figure’s body using a variety of pre-selected options. Advanced options can be purchased later using a freemium model. When finished, a PDF of the final product can be emailed or sent to a printer so that the user can print and fold their latest cubeecraft!

  43. Contest Entry.

    An App to Organize You tax purpose receipts.

    How The App Will work simplistic view.

    Any work receipt or tax purpose receipt you receive, you simply snap a picture of it from the app and it will automatically file it for you or send it to your email or even store it in the app itself. I

    I would of course have to think about app crash, hence sending it to your email and filing it there.

    So you would have the receipts categorized such as fuel, flights, car, tools, or whatever you may need to use to claim on tax.

    The lack of information is due to me working on my 1hour work week so I apologize for that.

    Ok Good luck to everyone that entered

    Thanks Chad and TIm

    P.s I know i’m a few hours late… let me in.. let me in!!!

  44. Hi Chad

    First off THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart to you and Tim! If we ever get a chance to talk, I’ll tell you why. But, since you have about 375 comments to read I’ll get right to my idea.

    I bought your ebook on kobo right away and so decided to present my idea by answering all the questions you tell us to ask ourselves in the book.

    Although, I had a lot of great ideas, following your lead I wanted to emulate and create a simple app for my first idea.

    The app I’am emulating is the “Ugly Meter” which has been ranked (according to

    #1 in Entertainment (iPhone) on Apr 30, 2012

    #2 in Entertainment (iPad) on Mar 30, 2012

    #4 in Top Apps (iPhone) on Mar 29, 2012

    #31 in Top Apps (iPad) on Mar 26, 2012

    has over 5,000,000 users see here

    and has been featured by Howard Stern, Leno, Fox, ABC, NBC, Today Show, Daily Mail, and the Mike O’meara Show.

    My idea the Love-Oh-Meter

    See the screenshots I made up in photoshop here

    NOTE* I am not attached to the name or the artwork (I plan to do much better artwork that is much more engaging and fun) this is just to give you a rough idea of how the app will work.

    When I was a kid all the malls had these electronic booths where a couple would places there hands on the machine and the machine would tell them how “IN LOVE” they were. And people would be lined up for this thing (it was also in Moe’s bar on The SImpsons). My app would be the iPhone version of this. The fun begins when you picture teens and college students (my main demographic but I see this applying to even adults who are part of team or work together) running around and seeing who they’re most in love with.

    Here is my reasoning derived from your book (thank you)

    * Ugly Meter app is successful because it’s interactive and makes people laugh (most common review had to due with app’s funny factor)

    I will hire a professional writer to write comedic responses (slide 4) so that the app’s responses are hilarious. Along with a colorful and animated “scanning” process (slide 3)

    * Ugly meter is simple and easy to use – i hope my screenshots do a good enough job of illustrating this

    * Engaging and Addictive

    picture this

    – people using the app to see if they’re significant other is truly in love with them ( of course its a novelty app but everyone is insecure about their relationships at some level and the sheer curiosity of what the app will say is alluring – impulse buy)

    – teens running around school seeing which of they’re in love with and vice versa and then friends posting on facebook their love scores between friends

    – guys using the app as an ice breaker to pick-up women at a bar

    – people used the ugly meter to scan pictures of zombies (people were using it in ways the developers probably never attended) – people could use this app to see if there’s any attraction between them and a member of the same sex.

    – the repeat value of this app is that you can use it again and again with every person the know.

    (I had an idea to make funny youtube videos to promote the app)

    * The Value just as the Ugly Meter will be in it’s comedic factor

    * Cross Cultural – what’s more cross cultural than love

    * Graphics and Sounds will be emulating the old school love meters with their cheesy hearts and all the bells and whistles as if it’s working really hard to do the calculation

    * Viral – just as the Ugly Meter went viral because of its comedic factor and the fact that you can scan your friends and family, I hope to do the same with the Love-Oh-Meter

    Now, love meters have been introduced to the market before without much success. However, I found that none of them engaged the user – they all asked for names or birthdays. This app will be a lot more fun because it takes two people to activate it and will feel as if it’s calculating the physical energy of LOVE between two people. Of course what they were lacking was the funny factor.

    Finally, the time is perfect now as people are using and searching the Ugly Meter after hearing it in the media (we can use the advantage of “Meter” as a keyword for search). Plus we have all the marketing they’ve done as a guide for icon design and marketing copy.

    I have some ideas for the pricing structure and pro version apps that would be even more engaging. But, if you think of the ugly meter, I’m pretty sure you can guess where we can go with this.

    Thanks for your time and good luck to everyone.

    Thanks Chad and Tim.

  45. Here is my official contest entry.

    I found your post to be very inspiring and it has re-light me desire to be a successful “apppreneur”.

    My research and personal use of the iPhone/iPad market has shown me that:

    1) Currently 13/20 top paid apps are Games

    2) Currently 12/20 top free apps are Games

    Games that fell into both categories were Angry Birds and Draw Something, both highly successful games that rely on simple finger motion to play (similar results found @

    Draw Something is based around playing with friends, with options of differentiated difficulty, to make it a funner and more social experience.

    Angry Birds is a classic unlock new levels as you go, similar to Plants vs Zombies (PVZ), which is also in the Top 10 for Paid Apps, which both have highly addictive game play.

    My Idea draws on:

    – Mimicking Angry Birds and PVZ with a Level-by-Level addictive game play

    – Mimicking Draw Something in bringing friends into the game

    My Game Idea is:

    – Simple, a basic memory game which looks and feels like Draw Something, but which increases in difficulty as you go

    – You are rated on how many images of famous places/cute pets/people’s faces etc you can remember with your friend – you then both get a score, which you can post on Facebook and also have leaderboards with your friends and overall for the application.

    Imagine the following images:



    – Ex: You pick a series of photos and send to your friend who gets to preview them for a few seconds, and then has to pick out the photos in order, if they get them correct they then send back a selection of photos for you to remember and pick out…the better you get the more photos you can remember and the higher your rank

    Once again, thank you for everything!

  46. App Contest:


    Ever wondered what your child may look like? Just upload your and your partner’s photos and see your child from baby through to a teenager! Try your pic with your favourite celebrity, your latest crush, or existing parents can see if the app gets it right!

    – Share or save the results

    – Shows ages 6mths, 2 yrs, 4 yrs, 8 yrs & 16yrs old

    – Your ‘child’ will speak to you with age related phrases (“dada / mama” –> “Can you lend me some money to go shopping” etc)

    Unlike any other similar apps in the market place it shows snapshots through different ages and uses superior photo merging/morphing to identify actual physical traits that may be passed on to your offspring.

    – Modern icon

    – clean, contemporary look and interface

    – Ebay app pic style crop to face

    – Quality software to produce the most realistic result

    – Ability to save most frequently uploaded pics (ie pic of yourself to test with other potential suitors)

    – Possible facebook integration for ease of uploading your friends pics to test for baby cuteness!

    Monetized through ads for the free version, and upgrade to pro version for 99c to stop ads and unlock more phrases for your child to speak.

    Few rudimentary sketches for the app here:

    I’ve got loads of ideas for new apps and existing apps that could be improved, but very limited on funds and how to get started – I’ve ordered your book so looking forward to seeing if I’ve got what it takes to make it in apps – thanks for sharing your story!

    Cheers, Rich

  47. (This is my second attempt at trying to post this. For some reason my post yesterday was not approved)

    Great post guys! I read it on Monday and decided that I wanted to really test out these principles with a fresh app idea and then go through the rigor of following the process you laid out here Chad.

    It was a great learning experience for me because it helped me go through the process from start to finish. Instead of submitting an app that I’ve been working on for a while, I wanted to come up with something new. I am half way through the development of a business app for my company (@ExumaTech). But I wanted to start fresh and see what transpired as I went through the process you have laid out here.

    In addition I decided to track the time expended on this effort since I know how much Tim loves time management. I wanted to test how long it would take while maintaining a reasonable level of quality. Regardless of the outcome of the contest, this was a fun and rewarding learning experience.

    Here’s the break down on time:

    1. Market Analysis (5.75 hours)

    2. Idea Alignment with Successful Apps (1.25 hours)

    3. App Design (2.5 hours)

    So the entire process took me 9.5 hours. (An additional 3 hours went into creating the video and posting the idea here).

    Here’s the app idea:

    StitchaVid is a video and photography app that allows people to “stitch” together a video using photos in their iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad gallery. You not only can choose the photos you want to use, but the app gives you a number of background music choices, the ability to add scrolling text and various filters, as well (and this is the differentiator!) the ability to add voice annotations and snippets.

    It is a FREE app. Revenue is generated by in-app purchases of extended snippet capabilities, voice filters, image filters, branded images (e.g. rock bands or sports teams) and copyrighted music.

    This app merges together great concepts found in Viddy (the #1 FREE app), SocialCam and Animoto. The video of the app mockup can be found at (Yes – I bought the domain after reading the post). There is a link to all the research, including screenshots and statistics below the video.

    Thanks Chad for giving me the motivation to help step up my game!

  48. First thank you both for sharing your insight; especially Tim for helping me losse 45/50 lbs. Chad to business, people don’t actively think about it but their buying decisions on apps are tied to stuff that ads value and like you say explanation emulating is the way to go. My app idea like one guy here is to emulate officejerk 7463 ratings and over 20 millions downloads and also appzilla 1128 ratings and over 3 million downloads . In basic the app will include 5 characters in 5 different scenarios a mechanic, a hair dresser, a dinner cook, a police officer and painter; more scernarios, characters and stuff to trow can be downloaded by buying coins. Ohh the name Jerkzilla, why buy one jerk when you can take with you many for the same buck, like in Cotsco and Sams more is better. Also in the monetizing I personally think that if you include the ad in the scenario you have more impressions an add value to the nag screens, as example a Tv in the hair dresser salon, in-app purchaseslike more items to trow and more characters also translate the items in the scenario and jerk language to country of download to better target the app users. Hope you don’t like but love this idea.

    double post I got an error the first time I posted

  49. Thank you so much for this opportunity. I had such an unsettling feeling when in a similar post I found someone else with a similar idea but then it made me realize that great minds think alike. Then it made me certain that his would be a fantastic idea!! Perhaps if either of us are selected we can work together?

    Otherwise, bring it on. My idea is an event APP that is simple and easy to use.

    I’ve put together a video with the same descriptive content as well as some illustrations of how I’d like the site to look, you can find it on my youtube channel: LadyShindigg (up by 9am EST) as well as some links to the festivals I’ve attended around the world and my obsession for travel!

    Again, I really want to focus on simplicity and ease of use with this app.

    This App for me is about exploring and finding local events and these are two things I am so enthusiastic about. So I’ll keep to an outline to stay on point.1. Background, 2 .Content, 3. Where does the money come in and 5. Why this idea is a winner!!


    This App will answer the question, “hey, I wonder what’s going on around me tonight?” I’ve been sitting on this idea since 2010 when I went on my first mini-retirement with my boyfriend starting in Malaysia, through Brunei, East Timor, Indonesia and ending with a hitchike through the outback of OZ on the back of road trains and back to LA. Since it was a long trip, we needed to decide on places to go to first and my boyfriend and I had a bit of a paralysis of choice considering we had not time constraints. What an absolutely lovely predicament! So, when we had a choice between flying into Darwin, Australia one week or staying a week longer in Dili, East Timor and flying next week, what had helped us decide besides a coin toss? Festivals and local events. My boyfriend and I looked for common interests and since we both share a love of festivals, we would often plan our itineraries based on getting to festivals or events happening in the area. We also hit major snags in terms of incorrect or misinformation posted on the web and getting us into a place too late or too early (happened to us for the Bali Spirit Festival)..

    Some of my most memorable travel memories have been attending festivals where they have been truly fantastic opportunities to find out about what’s important enough for a community to celebrate, eat local food, meet local people and party!! This winter we had a trip including Spain and Morocco. In Spain, we explored San Sebastian during La Tamborrada. Lot’s of info on this on the web and had a superb time watching people dressed up as chefs and soldiers beat on drums in a rain soaked city for 24 hours!

    So many times, festivals go unannounced as well. While we were travelling in Morocco this year, we were in search of an Almond Blossom festival we read about online. As the Almond Blossoms bloomed seasonally and nature never has a precise date, we couldn’t get information on the day of the festival. We scoured the internet to find conflicting and imprecise information and even called local hotels and no one gave us information. We posted on lonely planet as well as couchsurfing and found no definitive answers. We decided to travel in that direction anyway and by accident, one night on a long bus ride through several Moroccan villages, we were greeted by this friendly Chinese-Parisian on the bus who latched onto me as the only other Asian looking person on the bus. He was a great bloke that informed us about a festival happening that weekend in a little village we would be passing on the way to our destination. We risked not finding accommodation, as it was a tiny village and missing the Almond Blossoms but we tossed a coin and went for it!.

    It ended up being one of my best and most AUTHENTIC Moroccan experiences we had, dancing with locals, invited into a home, open discussion with staunch Muslims about 9/11 and even seeing the end product of camels being slaughtered (that was unique but not a favorite experience). Going to that festival was so much of what turns me on about travel – it completely opened my mind and exposed me to an incredibly new, exotic and unique experience. I want everyone to have an awesome experience like that, even without the help of a new Chinese-Parisian friend. I was so thankful for this advice from my new friend and if I hadn’t looked like a “tourist” or got on a later bus I would have never gone to this festival…So I want to enable others to seek out the best experiences they can with the resources of an EVENT APP.

    And now BRING ON THE APP, Drumroll:


    “Shindigg”, you digging up local events around you. It’s objective is to answer the question, “I wonder what’s going on around me.” It’s format will highlight simplicity. Yelp’s website, unlike the App, has an events tab which I have fallen in love with. Unfortunately, it is not part of their mobile APP. The events tab is one of my favorite yelp uses that I want to bring to the mobile app world. In 2010, Yelp’s APP reported 1.4 million unique users within the month. In 2011, yelp reported 50 million unique visitors in April. This idea definitely has the appeal and as a result I will be standing on yelp’s shoulders creating a very easy and fun APP to use to find Events near you, inspired by the ease of use of other successful APPS like yelp and twitter.

    To start, the user clicks on a fun party hat icon to open the app. The first screen will go directly to a page designed like calendar page where it generates three events within a within a 20 mile radius (according to GPS location) 1. a sponsored event (in a different font and background) and then 2. the top rated event (rated by members) as well as the 3. top free event. There will be an option in the lower right had corner to expand the radius to any number desired. Rating system will be a total number of thumbs up or thumbs down provided by members, Thumbs up means it’s happening and the information is correct, Thumbs down means something is wrong with the information. Thumbs down does not mean I wouldn’t want to go. There will be a plus icon next to it if any members rating the event are within a 2o mile radius of the event in an effort to show that someone within the area can verify this event is happening.

    If the user clicks on the calendar icon (most likely the number in a box located in the upper left corner) a list of categories will appear as well as the search bar. For ease of use I’ve included five categories: festivals, culture, recreation, food and beverage, and family. Finally there will be two icons at the bottom to free events and the other icon as an I’m feeling lucky button.

    The user has the option of using the icons or the search function to find specific events. Once an icon is clicked or a search is typed in, the information screen detailing the event will appear. For ease of use, I’ve opted to limit the amount of characters used in each descriptor to approximately 100 characters. The fields to describe the event will be Name, Location, Dates, Cost, Essentials (including comments). Members can upload photos of the event and the photo stream will appear once the main photo of the event is clicked. Again, I imagine a user who needs some that’s quick and simple and gets to the point. So many times I’ve been frustrated with scrolling through the yelp page to get information for events. I also want to make it really easy for others to input data to the app and I think limiting the character numbers will help improve ease of use, timing and efficiency (following the twitter model). Other members can update the entries in the update section of the page.


    The market is smartphone users interested in discovering events happening around them. There will be a community formed and members can bookmark certain other members, clicking on a members icon will provide access to all the events that member’s profile visible. The user profile page will feature a description under 50 characters about that person, favorite event and a list of months that calendar year. Once the Months are clicked the App will direct the user to all events the user has listed for that month, each event will also have a check mark if that members has stated he or she has gone to that event. A click on the book mark will show the year(s) that member went to that event..

    Finally once the user selects this event, there will be an I’m there column with profile pictures of every member attending. The next screen pop up will be a direct link to text contacts about this event, email contacts about attending the event or post it to facebook, twitter, digg, foursquare or other social media detected by the phone. The text will be automatic saying “x wants you to check out “name of event” on Shindig happening on (numerical date) in (city).” The text sent to a friend or contact will be directly linked back to the APP on their smartphone. If they do not have have the app only the name date and city will appear as part of the information, for complete information they have to use the app.


    Users will generate the content because the events will be posted by members. Like others have said, user generated content gives users a sense of personalization and credibility. So often, I would not find up to date information about festivals online or posted by people who were not in the area but the famous “arm-chair travelers.”

    Members would generate content and if someone wants to advertise and promote their event and have themselves pop up in the sponsored events, they would pay a fee. Ratings would be a thumbs up or thumbs down. If multiple events are sponsored then the top spot will go to an event with the most “thumbs up” so there will be a competition amongst sponsors to advertise and get more ratings. Members can provide an extra rating (plus or party hat symbol) if they are within a 20 mile radius of an event. This is so the more ratings it has the more likely it is that the members have actually gone or are going to the event and can verify that it’s happening.

    As yelp has events, I hope that one day Shindig will have it’s own sponsored events where stuff is given away for free! Who doesn’t love free?

    This weekend, I had a chance survey 127 different people about Shindigg, an event app locating “shindiggs” around you. Of the people surveyed, 90 had smartphones and 88 of them said they would use that APP if it was free. Of the 88, 72 said they would use this APP it a monetary charge of less than $2 per month. I surveyed a wide range of ages, from about 12-82 from my local area. Ideally, I want to keep this APP free and generate funds from sponsored links, affiliate links directing users to websites or purchases, perhaps monetization in colloboration with,, etc…

    At the beginning I hope to feed content into the site through sites like yelp, local newspapers and Radio Stations calendar of events (in my Los Angeles example, LA weekly or Public Radio) as well as As the APP grows, users will generate most of the content. There are so many resources to find events this would be a great filter. Since many event venues and promoters would want to be featured, this site would generate instant advertising for them and would be extremely attractive to promoters and people seeking events.

    Where does the money come in:

    1. Advertising at the very bottom of the APP that in no ways intrudes with function

    2. Fee for event promoters to appear as the sponsored event on the top of list.

    3. Affiliate commissions when any ticket is purchased with a link from the app

    Why this idea is a winner?

    Because I am a winner and so excited about Shindigg. Okay joking aside, I have so much enthusiasm for this idea because I want everyone to have access to the best events going on, especially FESTIVALS AND FREE EVENTS. I really want to enhance people’s experiences, whether they are traveling or re-discovering there hometown. Searching for local events has helped me uncover so many great things about LA when I moved back here, most recently free movies in state of the art theatres on the lots of Paramount, Warner Bros, tickets to free concerts, lectures at Cal Tech, Dance nights around the city, Gallery openings, etc. When I tell people about my weekly schedule, I’m often asked, “Where do you find out about these event?” Now, I want to answer, “on Shindigg.” I am a student right now and have dreamed about a way to generate automatic income and as Tim so appropriately put it “escape the 9 to 5” I’m so SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS APP!! This is without a doubt a winner.

  50. We recently had the wonderful opportunity of participating in the University of Houston’s first ever 3 Day Startup event. The premise of this event is for a group of talented individuals from varied disciplines in the University to come together and work towards creating a technology/software company.

    Our team worked on a project we are calling FeedMe. It is going to be an app that visually shows you the nutritional value of your food. Over the course of the three days, we refined our idea, did App Store research, market validation and built a prototype based on the feedback we received.

    But we knew that our prototype wasn’t going to go anywhere without funding, so we could not believe our luck when one of us who checks the 4 Hour Work Week blog religiously happened upon Chad Mureta’s extremely informative blog post about how to envision and go about developing top grossing apps. The cherry on top was definitely the opportunity to get our app funded for development.

    So we went back to the drawing board and further refined our idea to what we think can actually improve people’s lives. It is our sincere hope that you will see just as much potential in our idea as we do.

    Thank you for this awesome opportunity!


    Carlos V. Estrada

    Rishikesh Sohoni

    & the FeedMe Team

    1. There seems to be some confusion about where to enter the contest entry URL, please notice that if you click on our name “Carlos V. Estrada” it will take you to our Scribd presentation.

      Once again, thank you for the opportunity.

      Carlos V. Estrada

  51. What a great article at great timing. My idea for an app is a food discovery app that takes in information from different food network shows ao that when a person is in an area and they want to go to a restaurant, food stand or truck – that might have been on a tv show ( like man vs food) food nation, Anthony Bourdain, it will give them the list of the closest ones ( and reviews) as well as possible food challenges that they can do. It could expand to include food fairs, street fairs, etc. The app image could be a fork and knife crossed over eachother like an X. I did see anything specifically out there for an app like this – and I do a lot of traveling and usually go to 2 different apps to find placed – this could capture and intrigue a huge segment. I look forward to hearing your thoughts!!!

  52. App idea: Glomatic

    Photoblogging, reinvented.

    I’m a BIG fan of Instagram, but feel that an app to make searching for people to follow based on location, occupation and interests would be great.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –


    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Import images from Camera Roll

    Follow people by location, occupation and interest

    Share via Twitter and Facebook

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    What we don’t do (for now)

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Photo editing – there are enough apps right now on the market that can do this

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –


    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –


    1. Pictureshow  

    2. Snapspeed

    3. picfx

    4. Blender

    5. Magichour

    6. Pixlromatic

    7. Pictureshow

    8. PhotoStudio

    9. Camera+

    10. Instagram 🙂

    Instagram gives you the option to follow people that you know from “other” social network… But that doesn’t always mean that you have a connection on Instagram. How they interact on Facebook or Twitter is completely different from how they interact through the medium of photography.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    How to make $$

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    *cough* The Instagram model – build something awesome, get traction/market fit, and…

    Website with sketches and branding can be found here:

    Thanks for the opportunity, and good luck to all.

  53. Here’s my lovely idea:

    The App is called “Kiss Scanner”

    Its a funnny App that compares your Lipscan to a Lipscan of your loved one, or a future boyfriend.

    The App imitates the very successful fingerprint security Apps.

    How does it work ?

    You just press your mouth on the screen and the App does a scanning animation, after that you get a score which you can compare to your friends … so you can find out who kisses better, has a better kissing score ..and so on.

    You can also send a kiss print to your girl / boyfriend or see how others compare to your kissing IQ (Kissing IQ is set before. You can have multiple profiles in which you save your Kiss IQ’s)

    How much will it cost:

    Ive made some research and it will roughly be about 1500 – 2000 € for development cost. Ive already placed offers on odesk and on other (german based) services to see how much it will cost in the end…

    I will do the designs and psd files for the App myself (cause im a designer myself) so this part is already covered and we could cut costs here 🙂

    Why its gonna be succesful?

    When you look at Apps like the Fingerprint Scanner, or other Semi-Security Apps, you can see that people really dig those kinda Apps. Its fun, it costs nothing and its veeeeeeeeeery funny to use the Kiss App in a Party Environment …

    Just imagine your going to a party, and you use this as your Opener with Hot Girls… “Hey Ladys… i would really love to see how good your kiss IQ is…”

    It will work almost as good as the breathalyzers,…when used at partys…everyone goes wild and wants to compare their scores to one another..”

    Here’s the first very rough concept i just made in 2 Hours with Photoshop:

    Kisses to you for this Awesome Post Tim 😉

  54. Adding to my kiss scanner:

    Ive just noticed that there’s already a kiss scanner…which looks like crap.

    I will design a much better one, as you can see from the initial sketches.


  55. Hi Chad,

    I’ve been a bit skeptical about publishing my idea here (just as many others in this forum), but at the end I decided to give it a try. In any case, I’m only posting here the main idea, but I still keep a few aces up my sleeve, so in case anyone tries to copy I’d still be way ahead 😉

    So, here it is:

    PROBLEM: One of the worst enemies of achieving our goals is Procrastination. We all know that, and yet with still struggle with it continously. We keep promissing we’ll do better, but it never happens and then we feel guilty.

    SOLUTION: the app consists on setting deadlines (that can’t be modified) and using people (friends, family, etc) to help us achieve our goals. In other words, to use guilt on our side to push us do things.

    You also choose your own penalty (in case you fail to accomplish your goal) and your rewards (in case you do).

    RESEARCH: I checked all applications in both Google Play Store and iTunes, and there’s not such an app yet. All the apps related with procrastination consist either of hypnosis, books or timers. So yes, I’m taking the risk of going in with an innovative idea rather than improving other’s 🙂

    SKETCH: I do have a sketch of the application, as well as all the concept studied and written down from a to z. However, for the time being, it’s all hand-written in spanish (my mother tongue). I’ll be more than willing to translate it to english and to discuss it with you in case I’m the winner of the contest, or at least a nominee (fingers crossed :D)

    Thank you so much for putting this contest up, as it is a great way to motivate people and stop procrastination! 😉



  56. Hi Chad and Tim,

    Thanks for the great post. Here’s my app entry:

    I call it Healthify. I watched Tim’s presentation at the Next conference,, and the idea of loss aversion got me thinking to build something based on my skill sets and interests. Here we go.

    The customer-base would initially draw from RunKeeper and Nike+ users (two of the largest running/activity monitoring apps on both the iOS and Android markets). Here’s a step by step user flow (didn’t have time to develop a mock-up):

    1. Users downloads Healthify

    2. User looks at an example screen to learn more about the app and get a general experience of the look and feel. They’re asked to continue

    3. User is instructed to take a “before” shot of themselves with their phone’s camera (before as in “before and after”).

    4. User is asked to either sign-in using their Nike+ or Runkeeper account

    5. Users are then asked to set their goal for how many miles they want to run, walk or cycle in the next month

    1. They then enter their mobile number; and

    2. Credit card information

    6. User tracks activity using the Runkeeper, Nike+ or the Healthify’s own dashboard activity tracker.

    7. By connecting with friends, the user can also view others’ activity goals and $$ (gained/lost…however you want to look at it).

    The app is free to download.

    The premise of Healthify is that every month, Healthify will hold $100 of a users money. Every time the user tracks an activity, they get $10*. If you run/walk/cycle 10 times, your activities are free. Whatever is left in the account, Healthify keeps. If at the end of the month the user has not reached their goal, Healthify will release the “before” photo of the user on its tumblr (maybe even Reddit) to shame the user to get back on schedule. Tough love, I guess.

    To not seem like total meanies, we might want to donate 1% of revenues to a charity of some sort ( or another health-realted cause).

    Some people are doing this type of application in web form (not a free-standing app yet) like and While the above concept is being lifted from Tim’s Next conference competition, the app is unique in many ways.

    This app is a perfect intersection of my work and training. I am trained as a health economist and did my master’s thesis on behavioral economics and choice theory in health care. Over the last 3-4 years I have been working extensively in the mobile health arena. Because of my deep experience and knowledge of the space, it’s important to make the data meaningful to users.

    In the back-end, I’d like to use an open architecture called which is a new software architecture that makes sense of mobile health data with tools for analysis and visualization (what’s also neat about this app is that you can take the data to make unique inferences about an individual’s or population’s health).

    In order for people to take action with their activity and health we have to present data in a way that’s meaningful to them like so:

    Would love to bounce around some ideas with either you Chad or Tim to discuss this further (even if it doesn’t win).

    I believe this app has the potential to help many lives.

    * Not sure if a $100 price point is too high or low. Would like to take the time through this competition to explore that.

  57. Intro

    I. Want. A. Frigging. Tattoo.

    I have been OCD researching what I want my first tattoo to be and so tattoo designs have been a non-stop obsession for me for the last half year. Reading this inspirational post kicked me into high gear and for the last 2 days I’ve been designing and planning my tattoo app. Thanks for the push Chad & team. Here are the visual mockups if you want to follow along:

    and here is my app idea:


    Tattoos – The Best Ink is the premiere app for finding the most amazing tattoo artwork internationally.

    Only the best designs are showcased. Each tattoo is hand-picked by our team of artists and designers.

    Learn about the artist behind the tattoo. Each design is linked back to the artist, giving you easy access to contacting them to do your next piece.

    Extensive sorting. Sort by category, style, or body position.

    Save, share and expand your collection. Save your favorites to your Camera Roll, share the coolest designs with your friends via Facebook and Twitter, and expand your collection with the latest updates by downloading more designs via Wifi/3G.

    Tattoos – The Best Ink is an invaluable resource to inspire you for your next tattoo.

    Current Competition

    9 Tattoo apps exist which display images of tattoos, none of which have more than 2.5 stars.

    One of these apps is the #1 app in the Catalogues category (“Tattoos Catalog”), and the other is 12th in Lifestyle (“Tattoo!”).

    They suffer from the following weaknesses:

    o Ugly tattoo designs

    o No information about the tattoo

    o Weak or no categorization

    o No social sharing

    Detailed market research info has been done and can be sent. I downloaded and played with every app with the word ‘Tattoo’ in it. 🙂

    Competitive Advantage

    Vetted Designs

    Most of the low reviews come from either the app crashing, or because the designs themselves are mostly ugly or extremely generic. None of the other top apps boast a handpicked selection of tattoos. Our designs are individually chosen by hand and each one is beautiful and original.

    Tattoo info is provided and each tattoo is connected to the artist.

    None of the other apps realize that when choosing a tattoo, choosing an artist is just as important, if not more, than choosing a design. In our app, tattoos are linked back to the artists who drew them, allowing users to set up an appointment with an artist right away.

    Sort by Categories, Style, and Position

    Only one of the apps that exist on the results for ‘Tattoo’ are organized. Our designs are organized by categories (Dragons/Tribal/Flowers), styles (Japanese/Lettering), and position (Upper-arm/Lower-back).

    Social Sharing.

    We will be one of the only apps out there that will offer social sharing of the tattoos.

    It’s going to look freaking great.

    All the other apps, I mean, ALL the other apps, have disgusting design. Our app’s interface will reflect the care and talent that the artists put in the tattoos that we showcase. Visuals aren’t necessarily important for all apps, but it’s definitely important in this one.

    Pricing Strategy

    Target A: Impulse Buy

    Target B: Careful purchase due to bad experience with the top-ranked tattoo app.

    Free version / Trial version:

    Small offline catalogue with nag screen to pick up full version.

    $1.99 Full version

    Slightly more expensive than competition to reflect premium quality.

    Marketing Strategy

    Keywords are all aligned with existing apps. In the beginning, it is key to target users who are disappointed with the existing top apps.

    Focusing on ‘Lifestyle’ and ‘Catalogue’ Categories. Easily, the weakest paid categories, we will aim to be #1 on Lifestyle and Catalogue in at least 5 countries.

    Viral through sharing. Whenever a tattoo image is shared (through Facebook/Twitter/etc) it is done-so with a Tattoo – The Best Ink watermark, like Instagram, to encourage other people to use the app as well. Only selecting good work will result in high praise and word-of-mouth recommendations.

    Viral through artists and enthusiasts. Artists who have their work showcased will promote the app within their circles.

    Background on me

    – McGill grad in Evolutionary Biology and Philosophy

    – Designer and Project Manager at a design-heavy web firm for 4 years. Never done an app project before.

    – Currently in Thailand telecommuting while travelling the world, inspired by 4HWW; and will get demolished at my first Muay Thai lesson tomorrow.

    Why this will succeed

    I have extensive experience in UI design, usability design, keyword marketing, and graphic design. I also have extensive experience managing and working with developers – I understand how to manage them and make sure that projects are delivered on time without bugs.

    The visuals will be designed by me; hence, the majority of the funds will be directed towards backend development, ensuring that the app works flawlessly (many of the other apps crash regularly).

    I have been researching tattoos for personal reasons and have put together a database already of works and artists that I can put to use for this app.

    The market is proven.

    The current competition is extremely weak.

    Why this idea is better than all the other entries:

    – Does not require a critical mass audience to succeed

    – Definitely programmable for under $5000

    – Emulating existing but faulty apps on a proven market

    – Straight forward functionality and ease of project management

    Mockup Images (same as the link at the top)

    Ending Comments

    Thank you to Chad and the team for taking all the time to swim through all these submissions. I tried to read as many of them as possible and the task, though exciting, was exhausting. Thanks for all the energy!


  58. My app would be titled Art Star. You can take your favorite photo or take a new photo then turn it into the art style of the master of your choosing. Your photograph would transform into a work of art and you would be the star.

    You would be given the option when you first start the app to load a photo or take a photo. From there you would be given the different art genres with example images on a new menu page. The options would be: Andy Warhol’s pop art, Vincent Van Gogh’s impressionism, Pissaro’s pointillism, Pablo Picasso’s cubism, Monet’s impressionism, Roy Lichetenstein’s comic book art, etc. The potential outputs could be different varying on how many genres are wanted on art star. There could be a base model that only gives you 6 models, but if you upgrade you can get 6 or more different artistic options.

    After the user chooses an artist to transform their photograph into, the app outputs the image on a background that looks like the wall of the Louvre or the Musee d’Orsay. The picture appears in an ornate frame (this also could be customizable). You could post the image on whatever social media you would like or you can send the photo to a snapfish account, flicker account, etc. to print your new work of art.

  59. Thank you so much for this opportunity:

    The success in the game and entertainment space has always interested me.

    The games that have succeeded have the following characteristics

    1. The can be played in short spurts but can also be played often

    2. The scores and other game content can be shared

    3. They are fun and quirky in some way.

    Here is my App Idea

    A game called – Botfish

    1.The User is given tiny – fun and quirky robot fish to navigate through sea mazes.(they acquire points for successful missions)

    2. They can post and spend those point to buy the fish they used and keep it in an aquarium – this they can share with their friends AND the fish can spawn and make young – Baby-Botfish that they can use in game play

    3. one they have enough cumulative points they cab open a lab to make their own Botfish and sell them in exchange for point from their fellow players

    That’s it – I would love to create the media/3d/2d assets for this game that the programmer can use

    I created a video that outlines the concept and look and feel of the art work in the link below:

    I also outlined the menus here:

  60. APP: CANOE, it’s KAYAK plus MORE!

    Background: I’m a student studying abroad in London. In my travels here, I’ve traveled with well known airlines, received complimentary wine and a free food, and had a really comfortable ride; I’ve all so flown with cheap airlines dealt with obnoxious sales pitches the entire flight, crowded seating, and unhelpful attendants. Crazy thing was, both these cost me almost the same amount of money at the end of my trips. Based on the description, the choice seems easy, but it’s not so simple when the advertised prices are usually almost half the price for the cheap air fare provider.

    Goal: Provide fair and accurate travel expenses allowing the consumer to judge what is the better value.

    How this is done: In my time looking at these “cheap flight providers.” I’ve noticed a few major areas where they exclude cost to make their airfare seem cheaper: airport to city travel, baggage charges, admin fees.

    App would ask:

    1. Departure and destination( to add cost of air port transport)

    2. baggage( + baggage cost)

    3. How will you pay? (to + admin fees)

    This app would then search all airfares in a way similar to skyscaner or kayak and add in the costs listed above. This would then give you a final result list with more accurate travel expenses and allow you to compare airlines in a more accurate manner.

    I want to be the next KAYAK. help me out!

  61. Tim & Chad,

    Thanks for the great post! My iPhone/iPad app idea is WhatsFun, a location aware information app targeted to busy working moms. It pinpoints family-friendly events, activities, dining and shopping in the local area.

    Here’s a link to a video with an overview of our app mockups and market overview:

    Good luck to everyone!

  62. I’m a strong believer in open innovation. After spending a week learning how to use Sony Vegas and creating my contest entry video, I was hit with a better app idea this morning. Please excuse me for not having a video or a sketch for my idea.

    My idea emulates and improves the game Draw Something.

    App idea: Build Something

    Rather than drawing the image, the user must “build” it using a variety of shapes. The user can choose the color of the shape to be just the border, or to fill in with color. Each player will have 1 minute to build the image. While player 1 builds the image, player 2 must try to guess the image before time runs out. If player 2 guesses correctly before time is finished, both players get a coin. Similar to Draw Something, more coins can be won by completing harder topics.

    Potential for Success & Monetization

    The game could potentially be worth millions since the acquisition of Draw Something by Zynga for Build Something will target the 50 million Draw Something users. Build Something is better than Draw Something because it is timed and competitive. The use of shapes also makes it more difficult to cheat since many users simply write out the answer which ruins the game Draw Something. The app is also based on a popular board game known as Squint, which emulates Pictionary. Squint has a customer rating of 4.4/5 stars on .

    Build Something will be monetized through advertisements in a free version and also through sales of an ad-free version priced at $1.99. Like Draw Something, players will be able to buy more words, colors, and shapes with their coins. More coins will be available to purchase on the App Store as well. Build Something will also allow the sharing of art work which will serve as marketing for the app.

  63. Hi Chad, I’ve had US app developers say I shouldn’t do business with people overseas in this space as they are not civilly bound by law as the US citizens are. Does this matter or is this just a sales/scare tactic?

    Thanks for the great post, you had me taking action immediately.

    Thank you…

  64. Hello Tim and Chad,

    Hope I’m not too late to enter, I’ve just found out about the deadline two days ago.

    The Idea:

    A Game ” Battle Fish” or Fish with a Barrel”…

    The setting is a Fishtank and the objective is to get past multiple increasing waves of enemy fish. At the end of each of these onslaughts is a “Boss Fish”, which you’ll have to take on to move to the next level or “Tank”. Once you win and move on, you’re dumped in another tank with a new group of fish and who knows what they could be…fresh water, slat water also surprises!

    Various weapons can be found and used, keeping with the War theme. Bazookas, machine guns, grenades, etc.

    The enemy fish when hit – loose helmets, fall apart, lose fins, but may limp to try and fight or finally fall into pieces at the bottom of the tank. The water is also apart of the game as it tells you through the stages of red within the water. From the fresh blue water to light pink and ending up to an almost burgundy color with fish pieces floating about!This helps indicate how far you’ve gotten.

    All enemies can use various ways of battling you, like riding sea horses, hiding in clams shells and shooting from within those always present castles!

    To mix up the intense attacks and get a breather…periodically a human hand dips in a net to try and catch you and take you out of the tank…you must avoid capture to keep your mission on track. As you do, you can rescue your captured men to help fight onward as you will need them in defeating the last powerful fish foe!

    Please have a look at my quick Photoshop rendering for a glance at the characters:

    Thanks for your time and good luck to everyone!!!!!!!!


  65. My app idea is an attempt to improve upon already created ASTROLOGY apps. People like astrology because its focus is on them, and they enjoy hearing about themselves. Most of apps out there are centered around Horoscopes, which don’t provide any truly useful information, and they tend to be just for fun. Others complicate it by adding in Chinese astrology, or are way too in depth about planets, stars, etc and make no sense unless you are an astrologer.

    I happen to know more about zodiac signs than the average person, and whenever I talk to people about it, they are always intrigued to know more. I am able to explain it to skeptics in a simple way that they understand without sounding too wacky. I want to create an app that allows you to calculate your entire birth chart and gives explanations in a way that sounds interesting, funny and real life. It needs to be very user friendly and interesting to the people who aren’t usually into astrology.

    I want it to include:

    How to make this info useful in the business world, such as aiding in hiring, business partnerships, selling to clients, etc.

    simple but clear diagrams showing the elements of the zodiac: earth, air, water, fire and how they relate

    pictures that show physical traits of each signs

    lists showing a thumbs up for the positive traits and thumbs down for negative traits

    a birth chart calculator

    descriptions of the signs in each setting, sun, moon, ascendant, etc and a “how to spot” reference for them

    romantic compatibility for 2 peoples’ entire birth charts, not just for the sun sign which is typical of every single astrology app or webpage.

    how each sign is in other areas of life: employee/boss relationship, parent/child, friend, etc.

    a reference for hobbies, careers, activities, movies, music, sports in which you learn which signs you will typically find in which careers, or doing which activities.

    common quotes, sayings, statements by each sign.. such as Virgo Says, or Virgo’s Favorite Words

    Each of the following current apps had small bits and pieces of what I consider useful:

    Brainscape Astrology: had flashcards for memorizing traits of each sign

    Moonit: Focused on romantic compatibility in a fun way

    Natal Charts: Gave a birth chart calculator

    Astrolome Inc.: The intro screen is simple to enter in all information but charges for each piece of advice

  66. Hi guys,

    I enter my comment around 5:31am PST, but I’m afraid it might be too long as it still reads that my entry is awaiting moderation and I see other entries with dates later than mine posted.

    y video is on my youtube page:

    Here’s another copy of my description, just in case my last entry was too short

    BRING ON THE APP, Drumroll:


    “Shindigg”, you digging up local events around you. It’s objective is to answer the question, “I wonder what’s going on around me.” It’s format will highlight simplicity. Yelp’s website, unlike the App, has an events tab which I have fallen in love with. Unfortunately, it is not part of their mobile APP. The events tab is one of my favorite yelp uses that I want to bring to the mobile app world. In 2010, Yelp’s APP reported 1.4 million unique users within the month. In 2011, yelp reported 50 million unique visitors in April. This idea definitely has the appeal and as a result I will be standing on yelp’s shoulders creating a very easy and fun APP to use to find Events near you, inspired by the ease of use of other successful APPS like yelp and twitter.

    To start, the user clicks on a fun party hat icon to open the app. The first screen will go directly to a page designed like calendar page where it generates three events within a within a 20 mile radius (according to GPS location) 1. a sponsored event (in a different font and background) and then 2. the top rated event (rated by members) as well as the 3. top free event. There will be an option in the lower right had corner to expand the radius to any number desired. Rating system will be a total number of thumbs up or thumbs down provided by members, Thumbs up means it’s happening and the information is correct, Thumbs down means something is wrong with the information. Thumbs down does not mean I wouldn’t want to go. There will be a plus icon next to it if any members rating the event are within a 2o mile radius of the event in an effort to show that someone within the area can verify this event is happening.

    If the user clicks on the calendar icon (most likely the number in a box located in the upper left corner) a list of categories will appear as well as the search bar. For ease of use I’ve included five categories: festivals, culture, recreation, food and beverage, and family. Finally there will be two icons at the bottom to free events and the other icon as an I’m feeling lucky button.

    The user has the option of using the icons or the search function to find specific events. Once an icon is clicked or a search is typed in, the information screen detailing the event will appear. For ease of use, I’ve opted to limit the amount of characters used in each descriptor to approximately 100 characters. The fields to describe the event will be Name, Location, Dates, Cost, Essentials (including comments). Members can upload photos of the event and the photo stream will appear once the main photo of the event is clicked. Again, I imagine a user who needs some that’s quick and simple and gets to the point. So many times I’ve been frustrated with scrolling through the yelp page to get information for events. I also want to make it really easy for others to input data to the app and I think limiting the character numbers will help improve ease of use, timing and efficiency (following the twitter model). Other members can update the entries in the update section of the page.


    The market is smartphone users interested in discovering events happening around them. There will be a community formed and members can bookmark certain other members, clicking on a members icon will provide access to all the events that member’s profile visible. The user profile page will feature a description under 50 characters about that person, favorite event and a list of months that calendar year. Once the Months are clicked the App will direct the user to all events the user has listed for that month, each event will also have a check mark if that members has stated he or she has gone to that event. A click on the book mark will show the year(s) that member went to that event..

    Finally once the user selects this event, there will be an I’m there column with profile pictures of every member attending. The next screen pop up will be a direct link to text contacts about this event, email contacts about attending the event or post it to facebook, twitter, digg, foursquare or other social media detected by the phone. The text will be automatic saying “x wants you to check out “name of event” on Shindig happening on (numerical date) in (city).” The text sent to a friend or contact will be directly linked back to the APP on their smartphone. If they do not have have the app only the name date and city will appear as part of the information, for complete information they have to use the app.


    Users will generate the content because the events will be posted by members. Like others have said, user generated content gives users a sense of personalization and credibility. So often, I would not find up to date information about festivals online or posted by people who were not in the area but the famous “arm-chair travelers.”

    Members would generate content and if someone wants to advertise and promote their event and have themselves pop up in the sponsored events, they would pay a fee. Ratings would be a thumbs up or thumbs down. If multiple events are sponsored then the top spot will go to an event with the most “thumbs up” so there will be a competition amongst sponsors to advertise and get more ratings. Members can provide an extra rating (plus or party hat symbol) if they are within a 20 mile radius of an event. This is so the more ratings it has the more likely it is that the members have actually gone or are going to the event and can verify that it’s happening.

    As yelp has events, I hope that one day Shindig will have it’s own sponsored events where stuff is given away for free! Who doesn’t love free?

    This weekend, I had a chance survey 127 different people about Shindigg, an event app locating “shindiggs” around you. Of the people surveyed, 90 had smartphones and 88 of them said they would use that APP if it was free. Of the 88, 72 said they would use this APP it a monetary charge of less than $2 per month. I surveyed a wide range of ages, from about 12-82 from my local area. Ideally, I want to keep this APP free and generate funds from sponsored links, affiliate links directing users to websites or purchases, perhaps monetization in colloboration with,, etc…

    At the beginning I hope to feed content into the site through sites like yelp, local newspapers and Radio Stations calendar of events (in my Los Angeles example, LA weekly or Public Radio) as well as As the APP grows, users will generate most of the content. There are so many resources to find events this would be a great filter. Since many event venues and promoters would want to be featured, this site would generate instant advertising for them and would be extremely attractive to promoters and people seeking events.

    Where does the money come in:

    1. Advertising at the very bottom of the APP that in no ways intrudes with function

    2. Fee for event promoters to appear as the sponsored event on the top of list.

    3. Affiliate commissions when any ticket is purchased with a link from the app

    Why this idea is a winner?

    Because I am a winner and so excited about Shindigg. Okay joking aside, I have so much enthusiasm for this idea because I want everyone to have access to the best events going on, especially FESTIVALS AND FREE EVENTS. I really want to enhance people’s experiences, whether they are traveling or re-discovering there hometown. Searching for local events has helped me uncover so many great things about LA when I moved back here, most recently free movies in state of the art theatres on the lots of Paramount, Warner Bros, tickets to free concerts, lectures at Cal Tech, Dance nights around the city, Gallery openings, etc. When I tell people about my weekly schedule, I’m often asked, “Where do you find out about these event?” Now, I want to answer, “on Shindigg.” I am a student right now and have dreamed about a way to generate automatic income and as Tim so appropriately put it “escape the 9 to 5? I’m so SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS APP!! This is without a doubt a winner.

  67. Great post!

    Emulating successful apps is a great idea. I have been looking at a lot of fitness applications and have started to work on designing something that addresses all the important points of fitness while focusing more on the personal aspect of it.

    There are plenty of good fitness apps out there but I believe there needs to be an app out there that makes people feel more personally connected. Offering ways to socially connect with community members and local personal trainers (reviews could be posted on these trainers).

    People often don’t need to see a personal trainer on a daily basis or even multiple times a week because it can be so expensive. Sometimes all they need is someone to answer simple questions and hold them accountable.

    Other cool features could include a way to rank community members and have a system of competition as extra motivation (multiple categories for people of all different fitness backgrounds).



  68. I submitted this last night but it doesn’t seem to be showing up.

    Thanks for getting us thinking. TrailTalk is a concept that we pulled together after reading this post. TrailTalk is an app that let’s you, your friends, and the world discover new hiking and running trails by way of user reviews and user reports. Below is a link to our presentation.

  69. Foodies. They’re overtaking your Facebook newsfeed, the blog world, TV shows, newspapers, social media outlets and more. We all love to eat and it is becoming increasingly popular to take a photo of what you are eating. And then share it with the world. “Food photography- the ultimate social media status update” claims several articles. What you are eating has now become a type of badge, symbol and bragging right. (See folder labeled RESEARCH/THE MARKET)

    The purpose of this app is to capture the hearts of the food-obsessed and give them a place to stream, share, and compete with each other simply utilizing the camera on their phone and a live feed. Similar to facebook newsfeed, path, and twitter but for photos of food. The challenge is to tell your story through what you have eaten, show off to your friends and earn “badges” by completing food related lists/challenges. Essentially it is a streaming feed of food photos with links to the recipe or restaurant i.e. yelp/blog/recipe website (See folder labeled MOBILE APP ESSENTIALS/QUESTS&GAMES)

    The Market

    Self proclaimed “foodies” ranging from the ages of 0-99

    Those who post photos of food on twitter, facebook, path, etc

    See “research” file for more information


    BRAGGING RIGHTS- especially those who complete “100 ___ to eat/try before you die” facebook applications

    food bloggers and their followers

    becomes an easy ‘reader’ for simply looking at the photos and then clicking the link

    App Components

    Account Log In- via personal/fb/google +

    photo capturing

    can auto archive (into albums which you set)

    can editphotos (via filters, etc) before sending them to a live mobile app feed and a website


    ability to tag photos with LINKS restaurant location (yelp), recipe link (i.e. blog post, etc) or web address

    ability to tag photos with preset CATEGORIES (i.e. breakfast, dinner, sweet. salty , savory etc)

    ability to ‘free’ tag photos with anything you want

    auto-tag location

    option to have photos automatically feed to other social media websites as a regular post

    sends to a feed similar to newsfeed/path with short description, tagging and option to comment/like/heart/share/pin for all of your friends to see

    # of “badges” or ranking (depending on completed ‘challenges’)appears in the corner and also in the corner of your icon so your friends can see

    tabs at bottom for

    badge progression

    auto archived albums




    can pull up random/most recent posts or search according to categories

    search function

    More information available via a Google folder if there is interest. Thank you!

  70. App Idea:

    Tag: A social photo game. Either a generated person/place/thing or player generated person/place/thing that the opposite player has to take a photo of.

  71. My app idea is pretty simple – notebook apps have become increasingly popular and probably will continue this trend as people continue to “go green.”

    This notebook app allows people to pick their paper style – wide ruled, college ruled, graph paper. It allows them to switch the paper style in the notebook they are working from ( you can have wide ruled on one page then switch to a page of graph paper). This app will also allow the user to write with a stylus or type notes and have the option of changing the font colors. This app will allow for the user to activate a voice recognition option so they can speak their notes if their hand is tired. The notebooks can be stored on the cloud of their choice and accessible across different devices.

    That’s just a brief overview.

  72. Hi guys, I know it’s a bit past the deadline, but I posted yesterday and it sat in a “pending review” status for a couple of hours, and now I’m on a different computer and it’s not showing up. Maybe the links to screenshots made it look like spam. Anyway, I wanted to repost without the links to research or sketches – hope it’s not too late:

    Here’s what I came up with.

    First I thought about the types of apps that most people are likely to spend $0.99 on on an impulse buy. For under $5000 in development costs I thought a game might be a little too demanding, especially researching what’s in the top charts right now. Nearly all of the games in the “Top 50 Paid” category are from companies with a lot of money behind them, a little less so with the free apps, but I thought for a first project it’s better to stick with something simple.

    In the development price range we’re looking at, the best category seems to be entertainment. In checking out 6 of the top 10 are apps which alter or modify a picture that you’ve taken in some way. These are simple apps like Fat Booth, Oldify, Ugly Meter, etc. In addition, most of these apps have a pretty good track record in terms of their sales over time. Most of them have stayed pretty consistently at the 10 in the entertainment category and in the Top 100 overall.

    So with this research I recognized that people like a simple app that they can screw around with their friends with for a cheap laugh, and in downloading the apps I found that they all have a simple and easy to understand interface, mostly with about 2-3 clicks from start to finish.

    Since people love to see altered versions of themselves, and they also love to hear about themselves and their future, I came up with the idea of Fortune Booth.

    Fortune Booth would be a simple app much along the lines of Fat Booth and Oldify, but with a variation – it “predicts” the subjects future in Money, Health, or Love.

    When the subject’s picture is taken, their picture is then morphed to show them as a wildcard of rich or poor, lucky in love or lonely, or fat or healthy at the beach. The picture could then be shared out via e-mail, twitter, or facebook to share with friends as a great marketing tool.

    For a $0.99 upgrade, the app owner could “choose” the fortune of their subject, instead of leaving it to random chance.

    This app would be a great way to play a prank on your friend, have an ice-breaker at a party, or pick up a new girl or boy. It also lends itself to further expansion in the future with a wider variety of “fortunes” such as travel, potential jobs, etc.

    Thanks for your time!

  73. So i already submitted one idea already but here is another one. I think this could be the next Draw Something. It could be called “Findme”. The game is you take a picture of yourself and cut out a picture of your body or face and place it some where in a gigapixel image where you can zoom in on even far away locations. The objective is to have your opponent find you as quick as possible. Based on how quick you are found the better your score is. It would be a modern day mobile Hide and Seek.

  74. I’m hoping that just because you guys haven’t moderated my comment yet the entry still counts, as it was submitted yesterday… 🙂 keeping fingers crossed!

  75. The app is simply based upon the mac successful software

    self-control. This app is hugely popular among college students to help block certain websites and programs for a decided amount of time to help them focus on their homework.

    I want to build an app that is similar in the sense that for the given time the app will block all internet connections, calls etc, almost like airplane mode.

    Furthermore it will darken down your screen to black during this duration.

    The app will be straightforward and simple to use

  76. ***App Contest***

    My app idea is pretty simple – notebook apps seem to be getting increasingly popular and will probably continue this trend as more people “go green.” There are a few notebook apps out there but none seem to do it all.

    My notebook app

    – users can use a stylus to write, the keyboard to type, or voice recognition to speak notes

    – allows users to choose paper style – college ruled, wide ruled, graph (scientific), and even the penmanship sheets that kids learn to write on. They can change paper styles within the same notebook (so they can have wide ruled on one page, switch to a graph on the next page, then back to the wide ruled. They can also add portions of graph paper onto another page (helpful for students taking math or science).

    – users can change font styles and colors at will

    – notebooks will be compatible with cloud storage of users choice and will be accessible across multiple devices

    – make notebooks compatible and be able to convert into word format (microsoft office products)

    That’s just a brief overview.

  77. Hi Chad,

    Please find our idea in the blog address above.

    The idea takes on various aspects of popular games already demonstrating success and brings it into a feasible project given the limitations of the budget for this competition.

    A game of skill, frustration, progress and most of all empathy to your new friend Marty the Mole…

    Holey Moley!

  78. Please find our idea at the blog address mentioned above…

    The idea takes on various aspects of popular games already demonstrating success and brings it into a feasible project given the limitations of the budget for this competition.

    A game of skill, frustration, progress and most of all empathy to your new friend Marty the Mole…

    Holey Moley!

  79. Imagine walking into a restaurant and your mobile phone using geolocation gets the restaurant’s menu and alerts you which dishes are diabetic friendly (or whatever symptom you have) and which are not. This mobile app is great for people who have a restricted diet due their present medical condition.

  80. Posted my submission earlier this morning, but it hasn’t been approved yet (assuming because it has a URL in it):

    Thank you again for the article, you’ve really inspired me:

    I made a presentation and put together a short Youtube clip of my app submission: (just add the http)

    Summary: Remind Me Nearby, a feature packed location-based reminder App unlike anything currently on the market. The App addresses the batter consumption that has plagued many GPS based app through an intuitive notification system, fully-configurable by the user. In addition, rather than selecting one location to a reminder as what most current apps allow, the App enables users the ability to select multiple addresses or better, select a category allowing Google Places to dynamically return locations that satisfy their reminder. Finally, what good is a reminder that does not account for distance or time? Through Google Maps, users specify when and how far away they are from a reminder, assuring they will never be late again. Remind Me Nearby, reminding you, when it matters most.

  81. Any chance the submission date will be extended?

    This was a great and inspiring article but I’m just finding it today. I would love to be able to submit my idea for consideration.

  82. Sorry, I hope I’m not too late!

    My app idea is a barcode scanner app that tracks calories, exercise, and tells you what foods are healthy or unhealthy and full of nasty additives.

    Most people don’t track their calorie consumption and exercise. It is too difficult for them to do so because a lot of time is required, and it’s simply too easy for you to forget what you ate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

    It’s also too hard to keep track of what is and isn’t a healthy food.

    Instead of asking the user to remember everything he or she ate at the end of the day, mine would use the UPC database ( combined with the fat secret API: (

    Data about the food would be retrieved (calories, additives [from etc) and the user would simply scan the barcodes. Each time a barcode is scanned, basic information would show up.

    The food’s information would then be compared to the USDA guidelines and i preservatives info to see if the food is healthy.

    Restaurant information from restaurant APIs would be included as well.

    The user would simply be able to press a “choose this food” button if he or she decides to buy the food, and it would be added to the virtual menu.

    When it’s time for the user to eat, then they would simply select their food and portion size (with a graphic to help the user compare). Daily calorie info would be logged.

    The pedometer would be active to track the number of steps that the user takes to determine calorie burn.

    Why is this unique?

    It makes it easier to tell whether or not a food is healthy and the user is losing weight. Two things constantly on people’s minds.

    From google:

    What foods are healthy – 1,200,000 monthly volume

    Calorie calculator – 450,000 monthly volume

    Calorie burn – 550,000 monthly volume

    Keywords are obviously suggesting that calories burn apps are well-desired.

    Why else?

    I have always wanted a simple way of being able to know what foods are healthy and what foods aren’t. So has a family friend who is a retired registered nurse.

    Thanks for reading!

  83. Hi Chad,

    My apps function is to spy on your neighbors. It was inspired by the interest in people in knowing what goes behind the closed doors of people (reality TV shows)

    I sent attachments of the app design to your email.


  84. Hi Chad,

    Thanks for the article – it was a very interesting read! My idea for an app is as follows:

    It’s a Facebook viewer app. The twist is, you can setup a theme for the viewer. So as you browse Facebook, you can see a background & pictures of what you love.

    For example, you might be a big Justin Bieber fan – this app will allow you to set the background of the Facebook viewer app to Bieber pictures. So when you’re checking Facebook you can always see pictures & backgrounds of Bieber as you are messaging your friends.. Or you might be a big Twilight fan – again you could upload pictures as your background.

    There is a toolbar at which currently allows you to do this with Facebook when you are on your desktop computer computer. It’s a big hit and has 3.1M users (see screenshot from Google ad planner here –

    There are 618 million global searches a month on Mobile devices for Facebook. Out of these, there are 450,000 Mobile searches a month for “facebook app” showing that there is demand to be tapped into, and a way to grow an initial user base by targeting people on mobile search outside of the app store if needs be. Here are screenshots of these numbers (

    The unofficial Facebook apps that exist on the app store also have a massive following showing that this market is not just using Facebook’s official app.

    Thanks for your consideration,


  85. Thanks for the great, inspiring article. I’ve been thinking about app ideas for at least a year and this contest was the impetus to put something down on paper. So, thank you!

    App Name: Wine Tasting

    App Function: Find and Share Good Wine

    Find Function: Snap a photo of a wine label and search results will provide information about the wine: winery, varietal, year, tasting notes, pairing suggestions, etc. (Image based wine search) This would be so convenient as you hunt through the thousands of wine bottles in the wine aisle because not all wines have shelf talkers and its very difficult to know the details of every wine to choose from.

    Once a wine has been searched for and identified, it can be saved to a “Cellar Wishlist.” This is a great way to remember all the wines you’d like to try, have tried, want to remember, etc.

    The app’s “Find” function would also be able to search for retail stores or restaurants where that particular wine is located in a geographically selected region.

    Share Function: The Share function would allow the user to share the wine photo, info, with comments to their social media properties (Facebook + Twitter). It’s a great way for people to share info about great wines they’ve tried and would recommend with their social networks.

  86. For those that don’t win the contest or don’t have the ability to execute their idea. My buddy worked with a group call…They selected his idea and he gets a cut of the proceeds.

    Pretty cool…check it out….

  87. App idea –

    Simple word game built to increase reaction time and possibly learn new words.

    Basic Build – Select 12 random letters, 3 to 6 must be vowels. Show these 12 letters to the user and give them 30 seconds to create the biggest word or one with the most points.

    Catch – Now the part that will be tough is deciding whether or not the user will want to risk wasting time thinking of a larger word or picking a shorter word to gain more points based on time spent on creating the word.

    Timing – Time is key, even if you have a small word but you create it within a few second you will most likely get more points than someone who spent 25 second on an 8 letter word.

    Points – Points are giving from the letters used ( like scrabble ) but also their is an algorithm for every second, the word is mulitplied by more. For example, a word is submitted withing 6 seconds – multiply the words total value by 24 because they had 24 seconds left to create the word. This is just an example, because every second will count! So the calculation for words created within a second or two need to give a lot more points!

    The game would be for friends to play friends, or random opponents. Also will have a challenge mode for those wanting to challenge themselves.

    This is my idea, thank you very much thank you for such an amazing article!