Struggling with Sales (May 2018)

I’m getting a lot of acquisitions since I changed Safe Vision app to freemium model:

(Acquisition means that a parent installed the app and signed up for an account.)

However as many people warned me, I’m struggling with converting users from free to paid. Here are recent sales figures:

As you can see I’m getting about 3-4 sales per week.

I added free 7-day trial of the premium subscription in version 24. I can see from analytics that people are starting trial but don’t rush to purchase 1-year premium ($23.49) after it expires:

Number of people that started premium trial, day by day.

I have two options now: either go back to the paid model with free trial or figure out a way to motivate people to buy. One idea is to add daily time limit. It could work like this:

Jimmy is 6 years old. His mother Ann installs Safe Vision on his Amazon Fire tablet. Jimmy watches videos for an hour. After 1 hour he sees Time’s Up screen:

Jimmy asks his mother to let him watch more videos. Ann switches to the parent mode and opens Daily Time Limit screen:

Changing time limit to more than 1 hour requires premium subscription. Ann decides that 1 hour per day is enough.

Few weeks pass. Jimmy is watching videos for 1 hour every day. One day Ann needs time to cook dinner. She needs to keep Jimmy busy. She decided that the app works for her and her son and subscribes for 1 year. Then she changes daily time limit to 2 hours.

Results of Freemium Experiment

I changed the Safe Vision app to be free in the end of March. After speaking to an expert on I decided to let people to watch videos in pre-approved channels for free. If the parent wants to add a channel for their child that requires premium subscription of $23.49 per year.

Results so far have been quite dramatic:

  • Acquisition – a parent installed the app and signed up for an account.
  • Activation – child watched at least 10 videos on the same or the next day after parent installed the app.
  • Retention – child watched at least 5 videos 2 or 3 days after parent installed the app.

Immediately the number of people that install the app and register for an account (acquisitions) jumped up.

What about the sales?

The week starting March 19 had a record number of sales: 13. After that sales dropped to about 4 per week.

I’m a bit at loss why did this happen. One clue is that 5 out of those 13 parents that paid on that week signed up before March 15. Also I tried to let parents to unlock one channel for free but then I reverted that change.

I noticed that many parents would install the app, search for some channel, try to unlock it and hit the Paywall screen. On that screen the app asked them to purchase premium subscription in order to unlock the channel. A lot of parents would not continue using the app and move on after that.

Cut-down version of Safe Vision app for iOS

I have created a cut-down version of Safe Vision app for iOS. This version has these limitations:

  • It works on iPhone only, not on iPad.
  • Parents are unable to sign up for a new account from the app. They can sign up from website or Android app only.
  • Parents are unable to purchase app subscription.

Basically it has parental controls only:

It is mostly useless but the good news is Apple has accepted it to its App Store! Here is the link: Safe Vision app on the App Store.

My plan is to gradually bring back missing features until I have fully functioning app available for iPhone and iPad. Also, Apple allows selling app subscription using their in-app purchase mechanism only. No PayPal, no credit card – they want their 30% cut of the profit!

I keep improving the app itself. I made the Home screen to look better on tablets:

Previously it was one-column list with a lot of wasted screen space.

Key Metrics July – October 2017

Here are key metrics from past 4 months (click for a larger image):

Most of the downloads are from Amazon App Store. I figured out how to rank high enough when people search for ‘YouTube kids’ there. Right now Safe Vision app is number 12 in search results.

Right now I’m working on improving activation rate. Currently around 30% of people that install the app watch at least 10 videos on the same or the next day. This means that many people decide that the app is not good enough and do not let their children to use it to watch YouTube videos.

I did some user testing and it looks like many parents get stuck during setup. They try to use search, see that all results are locked but don’t know how to unlock them. I’m going to improve initial user experience and make it easy to unlock channels.

Pricing Change

I changed the app price from $1.99 one-time purchase to $15 per year subscription. I just couldn’t see how to make it work with such a low price and me working on the app on the side. The app is free to install now with 7-day free trial.

I’m happy to report that 13 people purchased the app since September 12, 2017! On average I get 3 sales per week.

What’s interesting is all purchases are from Kindle Fire tablet owners so I’m going to concentrate on this market segment from now on.

Here are my key metrics from past few weeks:

Acquisition – number of people that installed the app on a give week.
Activation – watched at least 10 videos on the same or the next day when installed the app.
Retention – watched at least 5 videos day after installed or the next day.

As you can see the number of acquisitions is trending down. I’m going to work on bringing them back to previous level bu my main challenge is getting feedback on the app. My goal is talk to them on Skype or phone, based on advice from Dan Martell. I tried sending emails to parents that installed the app but got almost no replies.

Here’s the link to the app, if you’re curious: Safe Vision: filter YouTube for kids

Tracking Key Metrics

I made 22 sales total of Safe Vision app on Amazon App Store between July 12 and September 12, 2017. After that I changed the app to require paid subscription of $15 per year with free 7 day trial. I also offer free 1-year subscription if parent helps the project with classifying videos:

So far nobody purchased the subscription and one person received free 1-year subscription (someone from Poland).

I decided to start tracking key metrics for my business: acquisition, activation and retention. I’m going to track them based on weekly age cohort (click for bigger image):

The chart shows that for example in the week starting September 18:

  • 90 people installed the app (acquisitions)
  • out of those people 23 watched at least 10 videos on the same day or the next day (activations)
  • 11 people watched at least 5 videos a day after installing the app (retention)

My plan moving forward is to start inbound marketing by making guest blog posts. Please let me know if you have ideas on topics that would be interesting for parents of kids 5-7 years old.

Also I’m going to ask parents that installed the app recently to give me feedback on why they decided not to use it.


First sale!

I’ve made the first sale of the Safe Vision app! I’ve changed the price of the app on Amazon App store from free to $1.69 on July 12 and someone from Russia purchased the app! I increase the price to $1.99 after that.

So it looks like I was right about Kindle Fire users being underserved: many people there are looking for YouTube Kids app there but it’s not available. I’ve sold 14 copies total so far.

My strategy moving forward is to increase the number of sales on Amazon App store. I ran advertising campaign there but the results were disappointing: the ads were displayed 158,323 times (impressions) and only 2 people installed the app (2 conversions). As it turns out, one of those installation was by child done without parent permission.

I think my best be is to get my app to rank high when people search for ‘YouTube kids’ on Amazon App store somehow. I learned that Amazon ranks apps based on number of recent sales so this presents chicken and egg problem: in order to rank high I need a large number of sales and in order to get sales I need the app to rank high. Please let me know if you have any ideas.

I noticed that children stop using my app after some time. Out of 3 children that signed up on the week starting July 17 nobody opened the app last week. So my retention rate is poor. I’m going to improve it by making the app more engaging. I realized that children actually don’t know what they want to watch so the app should offer a large variety of videos.

My Experience with the Founder Institute

I enrolled in Founder Institute in September 2016. Founder Institute is incubator/accelerator with chapters in many cities.

At that time I had an idea for a parental control app for YouTube. I had few pre-orders – 12 people paid me money upfront for free lifetime access to the service once I build it.

Founder Institute course is a 3-month program. It is very intensive. It includes program sessions every week where local entrepreneurs teach us various aspects of company building but the bulk of the learning is done through doing homework assignments. Each week we were getting about 10 assignments.

I learned a lot about company building. The main benefit for me was learning how to clearly articulate my idea by pitching it to potential investors, customers and hires.

Also I met a lot of local entrepreneurs and worked together with fellow founders in a small group.

Overall I think Founder Institute is great. It pushed me outside my comfort zone many times. I significantly upgraded my vision for my company as result of going through the program. Founder Institute helped me to move forward quickly with my idea.

Thank you Adeo Ressi for creating The Founder Institute and thank you Ian Hopkinson and James Kyd for leading Melbourne Chapter in 2016!

What is Wrong with JSON Viewer on Codeplex

JSON Viewer for Windows (hosted on Codeplex) is a great tool, I use it at least once a week. However it hasn’t been updated since 2011:

Here is the list of issues with version 1.2 of JSON Viewer.

1. When you open a large JSON file (more than 10 MB) the viewer freezes for 2-3 minutes, sometimes longer. You have to kill it with Task Manager.

2. When you edit JSON the cursor always jumps to the beginning of the file – very annoying. Making any changes to JSON is essentially impossible.

3. The URLs in JSON look like hyperlinks but clicking on them does nothing:

4. When you press Ctrl+V in the search field the text gets pasted to the JSON document instead, usually making it invalid!

Did I miss anything?