How I Created a Mobile App To
Give Readers A Long-Lasting Reading Experience
Hi! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi, I’m Bobae Heo and I’m the founder of Readminder, which is located in South Korea.
Readminder is a mobile application service which provides users with a better and long-lasting reading experience. With Readminder, users can track their reading progress and keep their favorite quotes. It also helps customers record their thoughts while reading books.
Currently, I run this business by myself with the occasional help from freelancer developers. Although It has been two months since Readminder was released to the public, we had more than 5,000 downloads so far.
Readminder acts as a reading support app for now, but I am hoping to turn it into a tool that connects book lovers around the world.
What is your personal story and how did you come up with the idea?
For the past 6 years, I have been working in a car industry as an engineer. I still hold that job while simultaneously running my business since I had started Readminder without any investment.
Before Readminder, I tried to run my business just because I didn’t think I’m a good fit in the automobile industry. A colleague suggested a partnership in a pet business. However, due to lack of experience and disagreements with the partner, it was closed in the first six months.
After the failure of this project, I tried to find inspiration for my next business through reading. There were a lot of inspirational phrases I had read, but I realized I forgot most of them. A lot of memories that I had gathered about the books I read were lost as soon as I put them back on the bookshelf.
I wished I could remember my reading history and my thoughts while reading, forever. So, I started to work on developing an application which can bring my idea to life. At first, it was an app designed to assist me with reading, but I realized that many book lovers had the same concerns, so I started this business.
What challenges did you face when creating your product/service?
One of the biggest challenges I had faced was the lack of expertise, since I was required to handle everything related to my business by myself. It can be quite challenging to take care of development, financing, marketing, customer service, etc. None of them are directly within my area of expertise.
So, I had to learn these things by myself and use them based on what I have learned, but it has the disadvantage that it takes a little longer than expected. This problem is solved through proper outsourcing employment, but it is not easy because of budget limitations.
The second main challenge that I faced was to gain more exposure globally. Although Readminder is a great product that may be of interest to book lovers around the world, it would be extremely difficult to find it if it is buried along with numerous apps around the world.
I’m working in a variety of ways to overcome this problem, and I hope to see results in the near future.
Who is your target market?
My target market is every person who is interested in reading books, especially those who constantly read books for a long time. They want to remember the books that they have been deeply impressed with as well as share their thoughts with one another. The more users Readminder has, the higher the value would be of this application.
However, as a small company, it is not easy to target all of them and introduce Readminder. Therefore, I’m targeting each region and age that are more likely to be interested in Readminder and promoting it to them.
How do you market your business and which approaches have been the most successful?
I use Google Ads by means of paid ads and social networking platforms for without payment.Google Ads is definitely an effective way, and you can promote your app to any country, but because it’s paid, there are budget limitations. Although statistics are not completely accurate, about 70% of them receive Readminder through paid advertisements.
Despite this advantage, I prefer marketing through SNS to communicate with customers. Of course, there is the difficulty of managing this every day, but it is beneficial to receive direct feedback.
Product Hunt was the most successful approach. Product Hunt is a website that discovers fresh and new products and exchanges opinions about them. On Product Hunt, around 15 new products are collected and voted on every day, and Readminder was selected as the 2nd product of the day.
Not only did this increase the number of downloads, but I also received valuable feedback from experts in each field, which I had not thought of earlier. Most importantly, it is an opportunity to create global business partners from other countries.
Since you launched, what has worked in not only attracting but retaining customers?
I constantly monitor the customer’s churn rate. Through a number of analytical tools for various mobile application developers, the ratio of the number of customers that had left Readminder is analyzed along with the reasons for this. Additionally, I think one of the keys to running a successful business is to decrease the churn rate by listening to what customers have to say.
I try to update the app to reflect the customer’s opinions as much as possible.
Indeed, feedback from readers who have read books for a long time makes Readminder a more effective reading app, so I feel their opinions are the most valuable.
Of course, I can’t satisfy every customer, but getting the most out of their feedback helps both the customers and myself.
What kind of culture exists in your company, and how did you establish it?
Readminder is currently a one-person company, so there is no particular culture in my company yet. However, I have a personal philosophy in relation to running the company. I hope that Readminder will be a product and company that inspires many people, not just apps for short-term profit. Even if there will be employees in the future, I want to maintain this.
Additionally, I think that the employees who will be working with me should share the same goals and vision that I have, even if they are different in terms of age and nationality.
What software, services or tools do you use within your business?
I made the official homepage of Readminder using WordPress, and I plan to use it in the future as well. It has a very intuitive interface and can apply various plugins and themes to easily implement the functions I want.
I use Adobe Creative Cloud for making promotional images and videos, and recently I have started to use Canva for my posts on social media platforms. With this tool, you can make your promotional posts beautiful but simple anytime, anywhere.
What are the most important lessons have you learned on your business journey?
What I had learned from the failure of my first business is that one should think carefully when they’re looking to start a business with someone. Even if you think that you are a good partner, there may be a lot of conflict that can arise when you start working. I think choosing a business partner should be considered with caution as it is the same as choosing someone to spend the rest of your life with.
The lesson I learned from launching Readminder and running this business is the importance of building a network and getting enough feedback prior to launching the product.
I launched Readminder and only then decided how to promote it. However, after launching it, I felt frustrated that my product was not promoted to anyone, and I began running an SNS account. If I had made various contents in advance and communicated with potential customers in advance, I would have been able to promote Readminder more easily.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
What I love most about being an entrepreneur is that I can experiment with things related to decisions and directions, and that both success and failure are my own responsibility. If I have any creative ideas in mind, then I can implement it right away without the need for a complicated process.
Also, flexibility. I don’t have to work at a fixed time.
The most important thing is getting positive feedback from customers. I feel very proud that I can influence and contribute to someone’s life.
What is your LEAST favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
The tremendous amount of risk and uncertainty as well as leading the business with the fear of failure. This pressure is often good in moderation, but it can lead me to be over anxious, at times. Also, it sometimes feels lonely being an entrepreneur because I have to make every decision with full responsibility.
Additionally, I always have to worry financially since, in terms of budgeting, numbers can hinder the progress of an idea that I intend to implement. In other words, realizing and dealing with the situation as it is would be one of the least favourite aspects of being an entrepreneur.
What books, podcasts or other resources have inspired and influenced your business journey?
There are two books that influenced me. One is The Right It by Alberto Savoia. This book changed my idea in terms of doing business and I started seeing things from a new perspective.
The other one is Lean Mobile App Development by Mike van Drongelen. I learned a lot about the overall mobile app business with this book.
Also, I get tremendous inspiration from TED Talks by listening to lectures from experts in various fields. Even in areas that have nothing to do with business, you may get unexpected ideas.
Where do you see your business 2-3 years from now?
I hope that after 2-3 years from now, Readminder will not be just another mobile application, but more of an essential service for book lovers. As part of that, I also plan on running an online book club and a global reading community.
In addition, we are also planning on creating a paid service scheme for business continuity. Integration to small online bookstores is one of the options.