Tech Chat: Jason Allen, CEO Of Appeer
Welcome to the first in a new series here on iTechTriad. Where we sit down for an hour or so with a developer, designer, CEO or other person of interest in the tech world. Starting us off on this journey we have Jason Allen, CEO of Texas based Android company Appeer.
In their words “Appeer helps you find apps you want. We combine what we know about you with what we know about who you follow to deliver automated, word of mouth style recommendations.” Simply put Appeer is an app that recommends you apps based on apps that you already have installed.
After using it for the last few months I have to say I am really enjoying it. I feel I should put out a little disclaimer here, I am a member of their beta community and have seen have seen it go through a few hurdles. Now they have been worked out Appeer has seen it’s biggest update we decided to have a chat with their CEO to find out a little more about them. Please note that the following has had a little editing for clarity and to flow better.
Robert Best: Well first things first. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to sit down for a few mins and answer a few questions for me.
Jason Allen: Anytime. Thanks for thinking enough of me to want to do the interview.
RB: Well I like your app and when we started to talk about bringing this new feature to the site we decided to first apps and developers that we like first and foremost.
JA: I am glad you like the app. We are working hard on it and hoping to continue to improve it.
RB: First can you tells us a little about you and your background. If you were to describe yourself to someone in a few lines how would you go about it?
JA: I would say I am a problem solver. I enjoy learning about the process people use to create new products and solve issues. I feel like I am good and taking something that works in one industry, tweaking it and applying it to another industry. As for my background. I have been an algebra teacher, a one man accounting team and also a system administrator.
RB: An algebra teacher. Not something I imagine many CEO’s have done in the past.
JA: Coming out of college i spent the summer traveling with a friend. When i got back i needed a job and started substitute teaching for algebra. I ended up being picked up for the rest of the year.
RB: Interesting. You are here today because of Appeer. How did that work out? What brought you to the Android eco-system and want to create Appeer?
JA: I was one of the early people to try the @MagicRecs on Twitter when it first launched. I found it to be an ingenious way to recommend people to follow. One day I got a direct message recommendation for the twitter account of Carousel, dropbox’s photo app. It hit me then that the formula used for recommending people to follow may be a great formula for recommending apps to people. I set out to figure out how it could be done. I spoke to developers for both Android and iOS. It became clear very quickly that getting the full app inventory of an iOS device was almost impossible and without that Appeer would not work. I had people telling me I had to build for iOS first but it was (not) feasible. I was glad about that because I have been an Android user since the Nexus One.
RB: Do you ever see Appeer coming to iOS? Or do the limitations that Apple place on developers rule that out currently?
JA: So we figured out a way to get the app inventory for iOS users. It is not pretty and probably only for power users. The problem is it looks like Apple is making it harder and harder to see what is happening on their devices. Which means it would be harder and harder to be sure we knew when a new app was installed or uninstalled. I would say as of right now we wouldn’t build for iOS unless we felt we could 100% reliably capture app inventory changes
RB: That makes a lot of sense. Wanting to make sure your users get the best experience at all times.
JA: Yes definitely
RB: I have noticed that you are very hands on when it comes to interacting with users. The feeling comes across that you care about providing a level of service that they should expect. Not wanting to launch for iOS unless you get it just right is another example of what I have seen in the Google+ Community. You work with users fixing their problems.
JA: Definitely. It actually hurts when Appeer gets a bad review or we get a support email and somebody has had problems. I know it is not realistic but I want everyone to have a great experience.
RB: Now that I want to ask about, your Play Store rating. I am not quite sure why it is so low. I think right now it is around 3.2 on average. I showed the app to a friend of mine last week and his response to me was was I sure he should give it a try. That was because of the rating. It is a good app, well designed and does pretty much what it says on the tin. To me something is not adding up here.
JA: Our rating is absolutely lower than I want it to be. I think we have a 4.3-4.5 star app right now. But we made a major mistake when we launched. We severely underestimated the amount of server capacity we would need. It was so bad that we went days with outages. It took us way too long to correct too. If you look at the reviews and ratings almost all those low scores are from the first week and specifically because the user could not create an account or had some sort of server issue. It’s really disappointing. We now have the server issues fixed and can handle significantly more users than we have now. But we lost a vital chance to impress people at launch and now we must climb out of that.
RB: I agree that you should at least hitting that sort of level. And my friend did leave a 5 star rating after he tried it.
JA: Awesome! I need to make sure I have thanked him
RB: I noticed on your website that both your developers are women. Not only that, but you are not shy about it. We are all aware that the tech industry is not that forthcoming when it comes to women in important roles. What is your take on this? Has having two women lead the development caused any issues for you? Also how you talk them up is wonderful “2 badass female developers”. In a small way it seems a little challenging which made me smile.
JA: I don’t think Appeer would be as good as it is without Allie and Komra. Both of them are top notch developers with great work ethic and great attitudes. I personally have had better luck with female developers. I don’t know why but it just has worked out that way. This has been the smoothest build I have ever done. I am confident we will continue to get better as a team
RB: One final question. What would you say to someone looking at your app for the first time who was not sure if they should give it a go or not.
JA: I would tell them if they are on the fence to take the plunge and check us out. We will help you find apps you want. We also will allow you to follow your friends so you can get app recommendations from apps your friends install. We are unobtrusive and most people interact with the app without ever opening it. They just expand the notification and go to the Play Store to check out the recommendation. I would also tell them to be sure to tell me if they have any issues or want any features added. We currently are working on a feature that was suggested recently by a user. It was such a great suggestion we pushed it to the top of the stack.
RB: That is great Jason. I want to thank you for taking an hour, and a bit, out to sit down and chat with me. I do appreciate it. I know I enjoy using the app and we all look forward to seeing what you and the team bring to the table next.
JA: Thanks Robert. Have a great day!
So if you are sitting on the fence take the plunger as Jason suggests and give Appeer a try. While you are there feel free to follow me @ankh0137, if you are brave enough. For more information about Appeer check out their Google+ Community where Jason is always on hand to chat if you have any questions and click the box below to head to the Play Store to give the app a go.
Finally if you are a developer, themer, designer, or personality inside the tech industry and you would like sit down with us for a chat let us know. Or if you are just a loyal reader and would like to see us talk to someone let us know down in the comments and we will see what we can do. Contact the site directly or through your social network of choice. Alternatively you can also reach out to me directly on Google+.