We recently had a chance to catch-up with John Ngoi, founder of Decimal Software, LLC and creator of the popular iOS app, Smart Shopping List. John’s apps are designed to make the daily grocery shopping experience easier, and are a great example of how the app ecosystem is providing utility to consumers to improve and simplify their everyday lives.
Here’s a transcript of our conversation with John:
Millennial Media: How long have you been developing for mobile?
Decimal Software: I have been developing for mobile for about two years now. The reason I dove into mobile development is also the founding story of Decimal Software, LLC. My first app, Smart Shopping List, was developed due to my frustration with paper grocery lists from my wife. Lists would typically end up in the trash can after a single use, or worse, in the washer with my pants. Not to mention the many times that I brought the wrong items home (which actually inspired the picture featured in the shopping app).
I tried some of the shopping apps available in the App Store, but did not find one that suited my needs. I made a decision that day to build my own shopping app. I set out to pick up my first MacBook Pro 13 inch (my first Mac ever), and paid for the Developer Program. The first version of Smart Shopping List was written in 10 days. My focus has always been on delivering an awesome user experience. This has led to enhancements of the app, including features such as Budget Manager, Expiration Manager, Cloud Manager, and the ability to add photos to the shopping list.
The app has now been featured in What’s Hot, Top Paid, and Top Free in Productivity (US Store) for both iPhone and iPad. Of course, we have our customers to thank for their support and suggestions.
MM: How have you seen the mobile landscape change over the last few years? Has this impacted your app?
DS: The world is becoming increasingly mobile. Users are becoming more demanding for information, services and utility – expecting access whenever they please and from wherever they are. Mobile devices provide them with that solution. To me, the fluidity of information is one of the most amazing results of the mobile age. If you look at where grocery shopping was five years ago, most folks were carrying a pen and paper for their lists. Now, you see some of them on their mobile devices, checking things off their mobile list. People are realizing that mobile devices provide a solution far superior to pen and paper.
MM: Are there any trends in mobile you are really excited about?
DS: The one mobile trend I am really excited about is the movement towards making your mobile phone the only thing you carry in your pocket, eventually replacing your wallet.
MM: What should developers be thinking about when deciding on a monetization strategy?
DS: This is a tricky question that even large social networking companies have yet to really solve. Monetization strategies are critical to start-ups and companies. It helps them keep their lights on and pay their employees. From a business perspective, focus on shipping your idea out first. Only when you have gained positive traction, can you begin to monetize your apps and services. Partnering with a mobile ad provider is one great way to monetize your app.
MM: Do you have any tips for other developers looking to acquire users and grow their app?
DS: Focus on products, listen to your users, and continue to reinvest the revenue received back into product development. This is core to a start-up that is bootstrapped. If you have funding, set aside a reasonable marketing budget for the users you wish to acquire and be specific on the demographics you are targeting.