Product sales have never been better for my company AppPresser. We launched in January of this year with a product that helps people make a mobile app out of their WordPress website.
It was pretty successful right out of the gate, we did $18K in the first 3 weeks, and that has grown to about $30K/month in less than a year. I figure if we pushed hard at marketing and new features we could do 500K next year.
Our product is one of the highest priced in the WordPress industry, with our most popular package selling for $499. While there are businesses that do similar things, we haven’t had any direct competitors emerge in our little niche.
I would attribute most of our success to having a unique product that met a need. It’s much different than my first business, which was a theme company. Everybody and their brother is making themes, so it’s really hard to stand out. But if you are doing something different, people take notice.
But instead of doing more of what we are doing now, we are going to change everything up.
Your product can always be better
You’ll never be happy with the first version of your product.
This is true in almost every tech business, because the only constant in technology is change. From the time you build your product to the time people are using it, the landscape has already changed.
New technology is available, your skills are better, your team is bigger, and you’ve learned a ton.
This was certainly true for us over the past year. As people start to use your product, you see how it can be better, and you work towards that. We relentlessly pursued a better experience for our customers and their app users.
We realized that we could make everything better in a big way, but it would require big changes.
In our case, it meant starting over.
The glass ceiling
I also think we were getting close to a glass ceiling in monthly revenue.
Only so many people use WordPress and need mobile apps, so there is a saturation point. That combined with inevitable competition emerging means that I don’t think we would ever be a multi-million dollar company.
Gravity Forms is a multi-million dollar company because people make repeat purchases (devs for clients), and almost everyone needs a form on their site. We haven’t seen a lot of repeat purchases because we offer multiple apps in our packages. Also, not everyone needs a mobile app.
Of course, WordPress is still growing, so some revenue growth is inevitable, but eventually that growth will slow.
Why we built a whole new product
It was our original intention to just keep iterating on our current product to improve it.
We found out that due to the technical aspects of our first product, it wouldn’t be possible to create important features like offline mode without starting over. This led us to Reactor.
Moving to a SaaS model is scary and exciting
Reactor is a hosted mobile app builder, as opposed to a downloadable product like we sell now.
We moved to this model because the experience of building an app will be 10X better and there will be less bugs. Sure, some people want everything on their own servers, but sometimes that’s not the best decision.
We didn’t move to a SaaS model because it’s better business for us, we did it because our customers will benefit the most.
Moving to a SaaS model is scary because the challenges involved are very different from our current model. You have cancellations and churn, customer onboarding, less revenue in the beginning, and hosting headaches. Now you also have 2 products: your hosted app builder, and the apps themselves. There’s a lot to think about.
But it’s also exciting because we can provide an incredible experience for our customers, and we don’t have to deal with 3rd party server problems, plugin/theme conflicts, or things outside of our control. The app building experience is already so good in Reactor, and it can only get better from here.
You also have a snowball of revenue that can slowly get bigger and bigger, which removes the glass ceiling I mentioned earlier. I’ve always heard that recurring revenue is the best way to grow a business, I guess I’ll find out!
Was this the right decision?
You always second guess yourself.
“What if this fails? What if we would have been better off without changing anything? What if people don’t like it?”
It’s possible that this could fail and we may have been better off the way things were. Maybe we won’t be any good at running a SaaS business. Maybe revenue will be less than it would have been. Maybe nobody will like it.
That’s a risk I’m willing to take.
I believe in our new product so strongly, that if it fails, I still think I would have made the same decisions again. It will be a great learning experience, and I’m excited to share what I learn with you as we go.
P.S. – If you want to try out Reactor, I’d love to hear what you think.
P.P.S. – To our current customers: we are not abandoning our current products, we are still fully supporting and maintaining them.