“We’re the twins in the black AppViz shirts,” was the message received from Dustin as I was en route to our meeting. Sometimes interviews can take a little time to get the conversation flowing, but not with twin entrepreneurs Dylan and Dustin Bruzenak.
I quickly realized these two were some of the most passionate startup founders I’ve ever met, and it shows in AppViz — a software application for developers to monitor their iOS and Mac product sales from the Apple/Mac App Store.
Both Dustin and Dylan came from Adobe, and AppViz started when Dylan’s contract was up in late 2007. He decided to try writing his first iPhone app, but when he published it, realized that there was no way to track sales.
AppViz was then created in response and began as the classic case of the minimum viable product, with a mere two sales in the first month. Dustin recalls pushing his brother to Dylan to “just ship something.”
“The first version was bad,” they admit, “…and I basically just tweeted it and told my friends about it. Luckily, one of the most popular tech blogger in Ireland picked it up,” says Dylan, “which was enough for us to continue.”
From a mere two sales, Dylan received valuable feedback, which was incorporated in a weeks time. That’s when sales really took off. What started at $29 product, is now a $49 product, which includes family and site licenses. “People still constantly tell us to charge more, because we have a lot of millionaires who check AppViz first thing in the morning every day,” said Dylan.
A few other things really helped sales including a Retweet from Craig Hockenberry’s account, as well as being written up in his iOS book in the section of ‘What to do after you ship your app’, which included a pointer to their invention.
Meanwhile, Dustin was still working full time at Adobe as the data management lead for Lightroom, a position he eventually left in August of 2010 because Dylan was swamped with keeping up with the ever changing Apple App Store. “We talk to Apple’s website since it doesn’t have an API,” said Dylan. “I needed help keeping up with the constant change of Apple’s website.” That’s when Dustin made his own move to join IdeaSwarm full time, the parent company of AppViz.
Passionate users are important to a successful product, and at the 2010 WWDC the Bruzenaks were greeted by many AppViz users. One particular passionate user a hugged Dylan, validating their work and important role in the Apple world.
AppViz does about half of its business outside of the United States and supports some of the best in class developers around the world. “We have relationships with most of the developers that have written great Apple stuff,” said Dustin. “And we are constantly amazed with the new apps these developers come out with and we’re thrilled that they continue to trust us in supporting their sales.”
Because of the iOS development ecosystem, everyone who’s an influencer in development industry follows each other, and much of their success in these circles can be attributed to staying on top of their own development needs. “Our marketing budget is tiny,” he says, talking about the time when they gave away free licenses at a Cocoa Heads meeting, although a lot of the attendees already had purchased AppViz. “That was nice to hear, but it didn’t really help our campaign,” joked Dylan.
“We like to say that day was the best year of sales for AppViz,” said Dylan, reflecting on 2010, when AppViz 2 was released. Marketing efforts included sending a $25 upgrade coupon to people who purchased version 1 of AppViz. They were a little hesitant with the worry of it being considered spam, but everyone loved it. “I think we got a single ‘unsubscribe’ email out of thousands of emails,” added Dustin.
One way they decide what features to build next comes from users publishing hacks for pulling information from its database. “We look at the cool ones and eventually incorporate some of them,” said Dustin.
As the AppViz product continues to grow, it will eventually include web services that will perform analysis and tracking that cannot be done with a desktop app, such as tracking Top Downloaded App rankings overtime. The web services will enable them to charge a subscription model, creating recurring revenue and helping the twins push towards the ultimate goal: being the de facto sales statistics tool for app developers of all types of platforms. “That, and world domination of course,” they admit in unison.
(photo by Jessica Christie )