While recovering from his accident in hospital and in excruciating pain, doctors told him that it was a miracle he survived, but his dominant arm would need to be amputated. In my mind, at that moment, there was no reason to live — I had lost everything. So, I took the package along with me on my trip. The day of my accident, in Charlotte, I saw a Best Buy , and it was a spur of the moment decision.
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This was the case for Chad Mureta, a former real estate developer who was in the market during the housing bubble crash. As an overworked business owner, Chad took a night out with friends and was involved in a near fatal car accident when a deer jumped in front of his car.
While laying in his hospital bed with hundreds of thousands in debt, a friend introduced him to the world of apps. That moment spurred Chad to borrow money from his family to develop his first app which turned out to be a success. Since then, Chad has launched over 65 apps and has become a self-made multi-millionaire in doing so. Tell us a little about your background… I always had a dream to get away from the rat race.
No one really had this type of entrepreneurial mindset. I realized a lot of problems people had in relationships was due to money. I went to college thinking that if I jumped into business management it would give me the tools I needed. So I started that journey by basically running an eBay business out of my dorm room and doing different random things to make money. Eventually, I got into real estate and started flipping houses. That really motivated me and inspired me. I was in my early 20s so I felt like I had the whole world ahead of me.
At that time, I thought I was opening up a real estate company down in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, which was where I went to college. How did your real estate company do? In it was growing and really transient by nature so I took all the money that I had and invested it in this company. However, it was the worst possible time to invest and start a real estate company because the market was just about to crash.
I watched all this money that I just made and all the effort that I put in basically go down the tubes. I was struggling to keep my team alive, keep things happy, and I was just working these crazy hour days, seven days a week, and I was just consumed.
I think most people were basically just giving up but I had a blue print in my mind. You went through a near life ending event. Tell us what happened. I have to actually take some time to relax a little bit and take a breath. I met Michael Jordan who was my biggest idol growing up. They relax, they get entertained. What can I do? A deer ran out in front of me in the interstate and I hit the deer. I ended up swerving back and forth and smashing to a tree and my truck flipped over four times.
Everything changed for me in that moment, everything. Fortunately you made it out alive but what was the outcome of your accident? I was realizing this business that I started needed me around all the time so if was out of the picture then this thing was going to go down the tubes because everyone was listing their properties with me. Seeing that I had hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills was a lot to take in. How did it come to you?
This was in January of and I had just got an iPhone. Why am I even wasting my time with this stuff? Look at me. It was these two guys who had no tech experience at all but had started up this business and came up with a few app ideas.
I can do it too. I can anticipate the change of the market. Internet is here. Online is pretty strong. I feel like I can make it work. I started drafting the app and somehow wired money to India and hired this guy. Long story short, I had my first app in the store two months later and it started generating revenue. It was absolutely incredible. What was your first app? It was basically a fingerprint security app. I understand the demographic and what they would want so I made it with good sounds and really good graphics.
If you left the screen open and someone grabbed your phone and tried to scan their fingerprint, it was set up so only I could trigger it to unlock it for me. It looked real and had intent of going through the fingerprints. It had a secret unlock button on the top right that no one can see. The app had to be open and so you can basically close the screen. If they opened up, it would be in the fingerprint app. You mentioned you outsourced your entire app to a programmer in India.
How did you find them? That sounds great. This was obviously during a time when apps were relatively new to consumers and developers. How were you able to ensure your development went smoothly? There were tons of obstacles. There was no book resource so most of it was just falling on my face and kind of learning how to deal with it, but it was nothing like I expected.
I was basically stuck basically trying to get my arm to work again so I was pretty present during the process which is key for an app. As long as I communicate properly and I really give them the expectations, I should figure this out somehow.
I tried to make it as good as I possibly could and then I faxed it to myself, turned it to PDF and I just emailed it to them. I went over how I wanted to look in sequence and stuff like that.
They started sending me three different examples. Send me three different examples. The first one, I was fortunate because it was an actual team that had designers and programmers but as I started doing more apps with them, I saw a hole. I saw that things were a lot more expensive. They started charging more because they had value. I did four or five apps with them and I moved on to a different team.
I was constantly doing that — doing a few apps, learning, moving on to somebody else until I kind of found the sweet spot. I hate the word perfect. The standards have changed for Apple so before you could basically throw a bunch of stuff out there and make quite a bit of money. It should be good quality as far as design, and I say good quality meaning it works and aesthetically as pleasing. Once you have kind of that base, I really believe in getting anything in the store because without that, you have nothing.
What revenue model did you choose between free, paid, or freemium? What was your game plan in terms of upkeep and tweaks? I did tweaks but it lasted for about two months and then it slowly started going down. It made me realize there are certain clues of the business, certain things I needed to do. I started really tweaking my icon and my screenshots.
I started making them more story based so they could understand all the features and benefits. I started playing around with colors. I tried different blues and different greens to see if that would convert more. I just started getting more systematized with it. How did you expand your empire of apps? My whole theory was if you spend all this time and effort to know a target demographic, why not keep giving them information, right?
A customer is usually worth seven times what they originally paid for something, and I knew that. I did different alarms like a chimpanzee screaming, a screaming voice, or weird noises. Initially, I was emotional about it.
People are mad. There is a lot of value here. I was cognizant of making sure that the people that did love it and were pranking other people, that I was giving them as much value as possible. What was your first day of downloads like and then the forthcoming weeks? My first day was about 90 downloads and then it went from 90 to to to and it kept going up.
It stayed right around I think like downloads for a little while until it started coming back down and then I was really able to increase it at that point. I did a couple of things and just started growing my network. I was able to push traffic to it. What kind of marketing did you do to get traffic and publicity? I had no idea again what would work and I come from a traditional marketing background.
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