Startup Stories: Apps for Mission-Driven, Non-Tech Entrepreneurs

Lindsey Witmer Collins, Mobile App Creator & Strategist

Tell us about your entrepreneurial product or service.
My mission is to take the intimidation, the expense and hassle out of mobile app development so that people doing good work, regardless of their prior tech inclinations, feel confident and equipped to create the software of their dreams; and in so doing, to flood the mobile platform with positive and life-affirming software.

What inspired you to launch your business idea?
The average American checks their phone every 6 minutes. That adds up to about 160 glances a day. For many of us, looking at our phones is one of the first things we do when we wake up and one of the last things we do before we fall asleep. In fact, a recent survey of 3,500 American women found that nearly half (48%) of us would rather go without sex for a month than without our smartphone. (WHAT?!)

We’re addicted, but it’s not the accessibility of the web that we’re addicted to, because we spend a mere 20% of our phone time on the web. The other 80%? We’re using apps. We download 7 million apps every day.

I think it’s a safe assumption that the software we’re seeing and interacting with on our phones is affecting who we are and who we’ll become – both as individuals and as a society – in mostly subconscious but significant ways. And if the only entities who can build these apps are well-heeled Silicon Valley start-ups and big corporations, I think that’s a loss.

Further, the mobile space is only 0.01% as crowded as the web, a practical ghost town by comparison, so the visibility and traction we can create for message-driven entrepreneurs, simply by getting them onto this platform, is incredible.

Mobile apps can do for new brands and bold voices what the web can’t anymore.

What problem does your business or organization solve?
Making quality mobile app development easy, fast and affordable for non-tech entrepreneurs; all in an effort to democratize this space so that people doing positive, life-affirming and world-changing work can have apps, tech-y or no.

What has been your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur and how are you working to overcome it?
This business is built entirely on the ashes of past defeat.

Honestly, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, neither “tech entrepreneur” nor “mobile app creator” ever occurred to me as an answer, in part because I was raised in Ohio and only knew Silicon Valley as it existed in Monopoly and in part because this field didn’t exist in its current form until 2008, but mostly because I never considered myself “tech-y”. For starters, I don’t look the part.

However, in 2010 I had an idea for a mobile app that kept me up all night. I spent my entire spring vacation writing the business plan, sat in the hot tub at Costa Del Sol sketching out the screens, and discussed its world-changing potential while assembling half-hearted sand castles. I’d never built a mobile app before, but some cliffs just beg to be jumped off of.

Within a few months, I’d raised the funding I needed. My expectation was that I’d hire a dev agency, shell out about $30K initially, and twiddle my thumbs for 3 months until it went live. LOL.

In the end, I spent nearly 24 months and over three times my planned budget iterating on that app. My rookie status was inescapable: I hired untrustworthy engineers, I listened to the wrong “experts”, and I naively believed that creating intuitive design would be an intuitive process. Eventually I convinced Juhan Sonin, an aesthetic engineer and professor at MIT, to let me learn from him/critique my designs mercilessly, and learn I did: from Juhan, from constant trial and error, and from the series of aforementioned expensive mistakes that dispelled my naive assumptions once and for all.

I emerged from those two years knowing how to make simple software that works – not just on the code level, but on the human one.

When friends of mine expressed interest in building their own apps, I wanted to save them the hassle, so I took care of the hard parts for them. That code and those tools became this business, created for friends and friends I haven’t met yet.

Today, three years later, I’ve designed, and my team has developed, over a dozen and counting cross-platform mobile applications that have earned for my clients as many as 2,000 daily downloads and have accelerated the growth of their marketing lists by as much as 400%.

After MyOmBody launched, I swore that I'd never do software again. It was so hard all the time, so expensive, so precarious. But it perfectly positioned me for the work I'm doing now, and in this I finally feel aligned, I feel a sense of ease, I feel like I'm where I belong.

Defeat makes fertile soil, I guess.

Give us one word that people might use to describe you.
Empathy

How has Project Eve helped you and/or your business?
I love the articles, the mission-drive, the community. You're one my favorite Twitter follows, by far; every day Project Eve at least one or two articles I *have* to read, and I always appreciate both the how-to's and the diverse perspectives.

Give us an insider tip that relates to your industry or startup story.
You can do a killer job of app store optimization in under an hour and with three completely free tools: Straply.com, direct app store search, and a 3-column Excel spreadsheet.

Company: Lindsey Witmer Collins

Website: http://www.lindseywcollins.com

Follow my organization on social media here:
@lindseywcollins
https://www.facebook.com/LWCAppCreation
http://www.linkedin.com/in/lindseywitmer, http://instagram.com/lindseywcollins, https://plus.google.com/u/0/110892878202476488312/posts
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