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What I learnt validating my MVP and promoting my app for free

In October 2015 I developed Xtegos - Voices for Whatsapp as a weekend project. Xtegos is a mobile app to read messages with funny foreign accents and share them on Whatsapp as voice messages.

After launching the MVP for Android, I wanted to test the following assumptions:
  • 1) People like sharing voice messages with someone else's voice on Whatsapp groups.
  • 2) People prefer that voice to have a funny foreign accent.
  • 3) This app will grow organically after some initial marketing effort.

In order to achieve some customer base, I implemented the following marketing strategies:
  • A) Create a website, Facebook page and a Twitter account (renamed one with 5k followers).
  • B) Share the app with my personal contacts on social media.
  • C) Share funny voice messages created with Xtegos on my Whatsapp groups.
  • D) Promote Xtegos on Facebook groups with keyword "Whatsapp" with a big lie in the post: "Xtegos, the app to share voices on Whatsapp that is revolutionizing the Internet. Selected as one of the top 10 free apps in 2015".
  • E) Email some app bloggers to review and feature Xtegos.
Strategies A, B and C were quite successful during the first few days, and helped Xtegos get its first 100 users, with many 5-star reviews (most from friends of mine). Some Whatsapp groups I am part of started sharing voice messages and the organic growth worked smoothly. However, after a week or so, the illusion was over. Xtegos was not sticky nor viral.

I went back to the lab, improved the UX, added new voices and launched the iOS and Windows Phone versions with Phonegap (as requested by some users). Then I used strategy D with mixed results: I got a few hundreds of new installations but 70% of them uninstalled the app immediately, and some of them gave Xtegos a bad review. Nobody likes lies, and if you say "Selected as one of the top 10 free apps in 2015" they would expect something ground-breaking, which was not the case.

In view of the results, I decided not to proceed with strategy E. I'll use that silver bullet once I have fixed the problems I have observed. The least thing I want right now is a bad review in a specialized blog.


What I learnt from this experience:
  • Assumption 1: validated.
  • Assumption 2: not validated. Many users chose the voice with their own accent.
  • Assumption 3: not validated. The app is not sticky nor viral.
  • Don't trust feedback from your friends, but their installations and reviews are welcome.
  • Don't lie to your users. "Fake it till you make it" is a dangerous game.
  • Don't waste your time developing the app for other platforms or languages before you have validated your value proposition.
  • Don't do any PR before you have validated your value proposition.
As a consequence, I am going back to the lab and implement a new version with the outcome of this learning experience.

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