Your app isn't really competing against other productivity apps, it's competing against the fact that an app is not going to be most people's best approach for improving their lives. The process of integrating a tool with life is not fun, it takes work and there's only so much that things like reminders can do for you.
I use two productivity apps on my phone. Reminders and the one I'm building. It's an ongoing experiment in how one can use software to improve life. Right now the only thing I've managed to integrate is spending tracking, and even that took months of back and forth consideration. Do I want to tag individual expenditures? How do I want to categorize them? How do I want to add an expenditure to a category? What should I call the act of spending something and what should I call the category? How do I want my reports to look like? Do I want reports in the database, or should they be generated dynamically? How should I represent common transactions that I do every day in a way that doesn't clutter up the main interface?
The whole exercise has left me unenthused about productivity software as a viable product category. Adding an expenditure now is easy as pie, for me, and only me. All of the work I had to do to figure out how I spend money and how I should build an app to manage it essentially has to be redone for every single person who wants to use software to help them manage their life. The domain seems simple, but it's actually incredibly complicated, because it's different for everyone.
>>> Do I want to tag individual expenditures? How do I want to categorize them?
There are a lot of apps that might be useful but the friction is so high (a lot of manual entry, etc) that it might overwhelm the value provided. Ideally, you want the app to 'just work' and that's the hard part.
(Note, we've had issues with Apple's service as well, so I'm not trying to make a point about Shutterfly's service being better/worse than competitors' services. I'm just using Shutterfly as an example of a mature service creating friction for users.)
It was an act of faith for me to structure the app around manual entry of transactions. I thought for sure that I'd wind up abandoning it after a few months. Didn't happen, I'm still using it, but I remember for a few weeks struggling to eliminate the friction, and I still haven't gotten rid of all of it. That would require implementing some kind of custom keyboard, as well as the aforementioned interface to put in common transactions that have the same amount each time.
There needs to be a streamlined interface for adding these common transactions, because I might have to do it a few times a month.
I'm repeating this entire process for a to-do manager, as Reminders just doesn't eliminate enough friction for all use cases. Now I need to figure out how to get transactions to live on the same page as my agenda.
When I'm finally done with this three years from now, I'll need to write a book and do a bunch of YouTube videos to teach people how to use it productively, either that or I'll need to spend just as much time making the interface discoverable.
What other people will need out of a dashboard is bound to be completely different than what I need out of it. I have a list of transactions for this week, broken down by day, someone else might need the whole month, broken down by category. I don't have automatic recurring transactions show up, someone else might want those. Each of these requires significant design work.
I have tried at various points to interest someone else in helping me develop it. Ha. Ha. Ha. Nobody cares.
People often bring up Ledger because it uses a text file as input, I don't mean to point at that, I mean to point at all the various heuristics people use to extract meaning from their history of transactions.
I developed a mobile manual entry personal finance tracking application as well, stuck with it for two years, but I'm back to manual entry using Ledger because of the pain in the ass it is to enter data on mobile, whereas I can use automation to import my various bank accounts data (e.g. https://github.com/cantino/reckon) with Ledger.
The reporting on the data is the gold, for me, the mobile app didn't really add that much value, so I just gave up.
Of course if you don't have any money problems, and don't need to break bad spending habits, then go ahead and do it that way - I often do as well.
I used to think there was a large enough market of people in between the already organized, like my grandfather, and those who can't organize, period, like my sister. People who, if they just had the right app and could be convinced to put in some minimal amount of effort, could get organized.
Now I realize that software is the wrong tool for the job.
tl;dr: most productivity apps are marketed to disorganized people. I say target the already organized and make their lives easier by automating all the things.
For getting lazy or disorganized people organized, yes, that's going to take more than software. But, there may still be a market for taking the result of the manual process (like the one your grandfather uses with ledger books) and digitizing it. For example, "whitelines link" are notebooks that make it easier to digitize written data cleanly by taking a picture of it. Evernote (or any competent OCR program) could then turn that clean digitized version into text. From there, all the data could be organized, broken down by category, etc. You could automatically generate any number of reports based on that information and, most importantly, it's all backed up in case something unfortunate happens to the physical ledger.
I'd argue that the effort and workflow used without apps is larger then with them. So if someone can't be bothered to even use the apps, it most certainly isn't doing it "oldschool".
> My grandfather uses ledger books, pen and paper.
Well he had to do it manually before the age of the smartphone (and when people had more patience).Your grandfather would also probably find carrying a point and shoot camera and a map around to make sense.
To your broader point, a number of years back I was looking at software to track consulting activities at our company. One of the things that struck me was that the utility of the software out there depended a lot on the type of activity you wanted to track and how you wanted to share it. Lots of independent and largely discrete events called for a different solution than larger projects with a defined workflow and milestones.
The "productivity" designation is an inadequate one. There a few obvious productivity apps that translate well from processes that people are used to in the real world, like note-taking apps, that don't require much education for the user to understand. It's a notebook. Cool, got it.
Onboarding is such an important facet of this discussion, and you do mention it below:
> I'll need to spend just as much time making the interface discoverable
Unfortunately, developers do get so close to their product that they forget that users often don't know where to start, so I think that having to build an onboarding process is something to be expected. Education is the only way to make one UI for many people. I think the questions that need to be asked are:
1. How long is it going to take to make my users proficient at my app?
2. Can I make it fun for them?
I don't think the moral of the story is "Don't make productivity apps", I think it's "Don't make an app that's hard to explain to its users"
Unless they have an external pressure like:
- In the case of B2B, complying to company policy (Slack)
- In the case of B2C, it's social and everyone is already on it (Facebook)
I wouldn't exactly classify this kind of app as a productivity app by my thinking. I would call it a utility app. I'll try to articulate my rationale.
A productivity app, in order for it to be useful, has to take something people normally do as a routine task in their lives, like make purchases, somehow better / faster / more queryable / whatever. It aims to make everyday life better.
A utility app aims to take something people have already chosen to make a real effort to do, like learn a language, and amplifies their efforts. Once you've chosen to undertake whatever task underlying the app, 90% of the onboarding is already done. Now it's a question of choosing which method or app to help out. Utility apps really do compete with other apps in their space.
This is what separates enterprise expense tracking with what I'm building. Enterprises already have the legal and financial need to be aware of what they're spending, enough so they can hire people and pay them money to make it their quest in life.
Most people, well, don't. They have this amorphous understanding of what's in their bank account and how much they have to spend and what their bills are, seeing this all down in black and white is likely only going to depress them. Even if their corporate job is accounting and they already have the skill to manage accounts, that won't necessarily translate into the need or desire to do it in their home life.
A productivity app, as I've defined them, is categorically interested in changing a person's lifestyle. It's the whole point of the app, without lifestyle change there's nothing. I fully intend the to-do manager I'm building into my personal app to fully overtake how I conduct my work day, my after work time, and weekend time. That's the whole reason I'm building it, the vision in my head of how awesome that would be is so compelling, that it's worth spending 10000x the time I would spend earning the money to buy someone else's app, on building my own.
It is for me, by me, can only work for me, because only I had the thoughts and lifestyle that makes building it worth it. I believe that this kind of integration is the desired end point of all productivity apps, if it doesn't accomplish this, then it's really a waste of time, bound to eventually end up in the dustbin.
I read GTD awhile back and thought it was amazing. But there's a real reason he never really endorsed any software tools or made a software tool a primary component of his system. My to-do component is heavily GTD-influenced, but it is designed to work with other, physical aspects of my life.
Expense management is a challenging market with lots of issues that need to be addressed. For example, there are lots of legal taxation rules concerning the digitisation of receipts and invoices, and each country does it differently.
Now they've built their new app on top of Slack's API. I can't see that going well long term. Haven't people learned already not to build businesses on top of walled gardens?
You need big money development, meaning big money firms. I'd just prefer to let them do it, and move on to some other promising niche. I'll develop my app for me, because no other app will do it the way I need it done, and not try to productize it, it's a waste of time.
In this case, buried among some semi-coherent arguments, we reach the point where one should ask "Was this product compelling compared to other solutions that tackle this pain point?"
Obviously not, but don't expect the company to smell the coffee. In their opinion, their "few competitor apps" didn't matter, but they lasted longer, so they probably did. Oh, but of course "they weren’t doing it as well."
Take a look at the comments rolling in here, some of which note that the product didn't seem like compelling standalone option but that would have done well as part of a larger solution. Others inquire why certain features were left out that would have adequately addressed the entire pain point, but left the product feeling incomplete otherwise.
Of course, these potential customers were all wrong, because "other apps felt heavy and complicated."
Founders considering mobile, don't make the same mistake(s) this company is making. Rather than write some clickbait Mediun post after the fact, remember that a great UIX, onboarding and maybe even a mascot might be necessary for mobile success, but they definitely aren't sufficient. Nothing beats product market fit, and if a mobile app is necessary for said fit, you better not only bother with mobile, you should embrace it...objectively.
Or even, as might be the case here, "is this even a pain point that needs a product?"
The new approach as a Slack bot addresses that issue precisely. Lots of useful things aren't a compelling standalone solution. Slack bots and other in-messenger apps mean this kind of software can become part of a larger overall experience.
Don't know if Birdly will make it but their argument here is onto something.
I don't think I would be compelled to use a Slack bot to do the same thing, even though we use dozens of other Slack integrations.
The questions are right, the answers are wrong. The app did not (judging by the text, I never heard of it before) add the value they thought. Maybe it did not even work as well as they thought. Actually, I doubt that.
I won't argue too much into it, instead I will give you counterexamples:
1. I should be on the target audience, and I have never heard of the app before.
2. Concur seems to be doing really fine, working on the same problem - so they have either a better marketing or a better solution.
Bottomline: don't shy people away of doing anything because you failed.
Hang on, this should be the number 1 point of your entire blog post. Honestly, if your post was titled the obvious "Don't make mobile apps only for one region" then you'd be getting a lot of comments saying "Well, obviously".
Seriously your problem here is not that you made a mobile app. Your problem is very clearly that you excluded 99% of your user base. Any chance you can explain the reasoning behind this..? I can't even begin to understand it. Outside of government required tax applications, I cannot think of a single successful single-region productivity app ever.
But I can assure you that regarding anything finance-wise, it's simply impossible to launch an app that that complies with local laws everywhere at the same time, especially without proper funding. Take Quickbooks, it exists for 5-10 years, and they're still postponing their launch in the French market. We've gone global since then, and we've grown in 10 weeks way faster than we did in 1 year.
Before that no one on earth will even care about your product enough to sue you.
On top of that it's quite expensive to go to France and sue you there as a foreigner.
These policies are reasonable and by following them you will rarely get into trouble in Western countries.
Of course some other country might object, then the app might be modified by me for this country or removed.
How many apps or website would exist today if checking every law everywhere would be the standard procedure? Probably around 100 websites and 25 apps in total would exist because only big corps can afford this.
Aside from that I don't understand what point you are trying to make here.
Are you suggesting that a developer should not release apps without first making sure that the app doesn't comply with any laws of any country?
And it's not something you casually forget to mention in your postmortem (ctrl+f for "France" and "French" in the original article).
You do a few manually, then put together scripts to automate each user with the correct sheet format, cover pages, currencies, categories, etc. by using the manual ones as a template.
Charge them a fee (maybe a flat fee for each report, say $40) and ask them if they'd like you to include that charge in the report from now on.
This is a tech solution for a services problem, imho.
Expecting someone to create and file their expense reports entirely on a phone is absurd. Most workers would prefer to do this kind of thing at a computer, being on a phone will simply slow you down: lack of a real keyboard, tiny screen, poor multitasking, etc. There's no reason to prefer a mobile app for this task over a desktop version.
Mobile productivity apps are generally best served as companions to existing web/desktop apps. Either to provide access to your data when you're not at a computer (not really relevant for this app), or to improve the workflow of something that would normally require a computer. For example, you might consider it a pain to have to save your receipts so you can later scan them into your computer and import them into your expense tool. A mobile app can improve this workflow by allowing you to immediately take a photo of the receipt when you get it, and having that receipt automatically synced into your expense tool.
Off the top of my head I can name two companies (Expensify and Shoeboxed) that provide this ability. That these guys dismissed their competitors as "heavy and complicated" seems to have missed the point.
Taking this experience and concluding that you shouldn't build a mobile app is simply throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
I was surprised there was no mention of Expensify - which I suspect is the business they were looking to disrupt - their UI is not awesome. BUT the UX is great. Take a picture of you receipt and done, email receipts handled, etc. but I use it mostly on desktop to submit reports - and use my mobile to take pictures of receipts.
Anyhow - your last line is a bit of a doozy. Are you suggesting that someone who wrote 2000 word post about their pivot to a better solution (this slack idea is great IMO) should just shut up because it might dissuade others from making the same mistakes he did? Based on your "counter examples" - I think he did the right thing. I hope OP keeps sharing his learnings - because it encourages me to keep trying different approaches. AND I'm going to install his slack bot for my whole company (giving them distribution). I hope you can hide under a rock so you don't get dissuaded from doing something. Sharing is caring, even if they failed.
> The mobile app was doing something really cool: you only had to take a snap of a receipt, and tap a button to export all the data into a beautiful Excel expense report.
That's a feature not a business. That feature already exists in all of the major expense tracking SAAS products that I'm familiar with.
So who is the target market? The sliver of people that have enough of a problem to want to buy a solution but not enough of a problem to buy the major existing solution is just not that big.
The other issue is that if, like me, you travel a lot then a large number of your receipts will be in emails or PDFs (I book airfare and hotels online, and take Uber instead of cabs), so taking pictures of paper receipts and tracking driving miles would only get me half-way to completion.
Yet when the sales guys are putting in their expense reports every month (because it's too much money to ignore it for longer than a month) you could save them time with something like this, and guess what, they can expense the cost too, but only if you give them a report that is ready to send in the format they need it.
This is completely useless for me, it was as an app and even more so as a slack bot - I work in the sales department of a large co (as will the most profitable segment for this kind of app) and here's the things you would need for anyone at my workplace to use it:
- Concur integration of some kind, otherwise your "beautiful" PDF Is useless, because my expense department will not pay anything without the proper cover sheet.
- As you said, you want to give me some kind of email address* that I can forward an uber, air or hotel booking to and it will automagically add it to my expense report.
- Slack-only rules out the entire big co space as it doesn't run behind corporate firewall, so it's not allowed. If you want to integrate with a chat solution, go for Chatter, Yammer or Lync... or better yet, use email.
* Why email? because it's standard, and it's the way sales people are used to send tickets to salesforce.
Literally, this article is nothing but an advertising for a refreshed product, with some wanna-be-viral-marketing attempt at sparking discussion by somewhat controversial statement of "not on app store". (Uh, sorry for being cynical here, but seriously...)
 Not a full list.
And if I had to squeeze down the article, that'd be : "if you app doesn't imply repeated use, doesn't leverage context, takes room in your phone, if you don't have the necessary resources to develop it and update it on all platforms, and if it has to be integrated to a professional workflow for many users at once, don't go for it"
There are some services which would be more convenient as a bot on a chat platform than a "portal" site or a mobile app. Some issues with service-specific site / apps:
- password that's perpetually forgotten (unless the site plays well with the password manager)
- proprietary, doesn't explicitely support integrations unless the authors implement them
- yet another set of notifications to deal with.
We need a general purpose application that can be used for 80% of all use cases. When you think about it, all apps pretty much re-introduce the exact same features. Preferences, contacts, notifications, authentication, sharing, etc.
I want to use the exact same interface and language to order a package from China to my house, or to hail a cab to move me from work to home. I want the estimated ETA and cost prediction to be displayed the same. Tracking a package or the real-time location of a cab should be done through the same interface. I want to be notified the same way, whether it's my package or my cab that's late and/or has arrived. I want to pay for the package and cab ride the exact same way. Reviewing the received product and reviewing the cab driver, should be identical processes. I think the same should apply to pretty much any interaction, be it to ask my coffee machine to brew a cup, to be notified that my colleague will be late to a meeting, to pay for a meal, to review a movie, to schedule an appointment, to locate a friend.
My thesis is that all communication problems (which are what apps solve) are difference instances of the same one.
An app is not any tool. It's a language. We need to implement a general purpose language, and then all use it to interact with different agents/services.
We need emacs mobile!
This is the vision of SIRI. Now you know the goal. Please deliver.
I disagree with it, but it's still interesting :)
The binary equivalent is Akinator . It's big on Tinder too.
Basically, you want a language that lets you point at things you don't like. This gets converted to a need, which is then communicated to an array of agents whose job is to come up with solutions. Then enters the flow where you pick a solution (most of which come with conditions, such as completion time or cost), which then becomes a contract that feeds the timeline/calendar/task management system that drives your day to day actions. There's not a lot more to it.
In their case, it's centered around messaging but can cover a wide range of uses.
I'm not a big fan of the way it's implemented (it's like nested web-based mini-apps), but it's much better than anything we have here in the West.
The challenge is the UI. We need some kind of AI that understands the context and user's preference in order to dynamically generate the best interface, taking into account both data consumption and input.
E.g. the industry currently has FreeBase/Wikidata (public) and Google/Facebook/Microsoft semantic graphs (private). Would client endpoints arbitrate between these non-intersecting graphs?
I have not given any thought about the co-existence of public and private graph segments.
In any case, users will decide.
- I can't sell stuff on Facebook.
- I can't hail a cab on Facebook.
- I can't unlock my doors on Facebook.
- I can't turn the lights on on Facebook.
- I can't play a song on Facebook.
- I can't pay for my parking spot on Facebook.
- I can't reserve a table at a restaurant on Facebook.
- I can't manage tasks on Facebook.
- I can't review products on Facebook.
- I can't track my sleep on Facebook.
Unless you consider Status/Messages/Comments as an interface to all these things. In which case we could all use IRC and live happily ever after. Which doesn't work because IRC is text, and text is an poor medium.
Back to apps and my claim, Facebook directly provides email, messaging, phone calls, group activities, meetup, games, and so on. Hence, the claim their model is to do much of what people need in one app good enough for convenience to ensure a win. No single app is going to do all on your list because users would reject it outside maybe South Korea where such a mixed bag is common. People always look for a better app with better interface, integration, price, whatever. No incentive whatsoever to build an app with your exact combination of features if 99+% of people prefer to have a set of apps best for that and aren't vendor loyal at all.
Not to mention, what startup is going to build that app for $1 or so in an app store? The functionality you describe could cost hundreds of thousands to millions to develop. With no expectation of a return. Not happening any time soon.
Once you nail the UX algorithm, you don't need to manually craft unique user interfaces for all possible use cases. It is all done automatically.
Also, I don't understand where this need to discuss cost or revenue comes from. Projects that have the largest impact are not motivated by self-interest or money of any kind. What I'm describing will be entirely free, open source, decentralized, etc.
It's closer to "English" or "The Internet" than it is to "Instagram" or "Amazon".
Interesting enough, inspired by Siri and AI craze, Facebook is developing a human-assisted AI that might fit the bill. I read about it recently:
Watson might be able to pull it off, too. But most people underestimate how hard this stuff is. My stuff long ago used a Tcl variant with restricted use of English verbs and grammar. It was still difficult, slower, and so on. New stuff uses deep NN's, GPU's, etc. You might get your app in next 10 years if they keep progressing as they do.
I'm talking about creating a completely new language, that looks nothing like English, French or Esperanto.
The plan is to introduce this language to kids through a smartphone app. Once they're hooked, the world will change forever.
WaveApps is great for invoicing, but their expense reporting module is ludicrously bad (it does OCR on the receipt images, but then doesn't include them in a nice report, so you have to download the images separately and convert them to a PDF manually).
I would have used Birdly if I had known about it. Anyone know about another Expensify competitor, preferably one who doesn't charge for single users?
As for Birdly, good luck with the Slack pivot, which looks clever.
Yep, you're right. It's hard to get to your target market from the app store. Yep, they forget about your app. Yep, Yep, Yep.
Oh look, there's a link at the bottom to the new Birdly! Let's see what their new approach is!
It's a.....slack bot? Wut?
Just being honest here: I think that's one of the stupidest pivots I've ever seen.
No UI...is the New UI.
It provides value (B) with no friction (A), so pretty much a no-brainer.
B) Nobody said they needed an app for this
C) I'm not really sure how pulling up the calculator app and punching in numbers is any easier than pulling up the mileage app and punching in numbers
D) If you use your imagination very slightly, you can come up with other obvious features such an app would provide, such as tracking average miles driven per day/month/year, average MPG per day/month/year, gas prices over time, service records (when was the last oil change/tire rotation/brake job), etc.
E) I also explicitly talked about another feature it provides (reminders), so I don't get the impression you actually read my comment before replying
* API that accepts the scanned images, parses and returns the receipt data.
* API (that does the above and) stores the data to allow later exporting of
receipt data in Quickbooks, Excel, and other formats.
* IOS and Android Libraries that integrate with the API.
* Birdly app build on top of the library and API.
Also if there was a solo API plan, I would probably consider something like this for some personal expense tracking software I've been thinking about writing for myself.
This strategy only works if you have a single blessed version of a client, and it's really only because of security by obscurity. For the mentioned business model, it would not work unless you created a single authoritative server that acted as a proxy to the other API or consumed data from that API without giving the app a key.
Snapchat may or may not have used this strategy. (The external client emails were real; as for the detection strategy, who knows.)
One thing they could have tried is human support. Like let's give them a human who takes care of things or helps out or is always available to give training.
Whenever there's an update pending, I ask myself, "have I opened this app since the last update?" If no, then I delete it.
Plus if I'm looking for something, having another app there is just another app I have to look through before I get to whatever I'm looking for. Either that or it's not on my home screen in which case I get convinced I'm never going to use it so I just remove it.
This is not helped by the fact I find the Android home and apps screen to be horrendous.
The right answer is to get those receipts into a digital format some other way, not with the camera.
I would have deleted this app after I tried wasting 30 seconds taking a nice little picture of a $20 receipt the first time.
I use JotNot Pro on my iPhone to track receipts. As soon as I get a receipt - say at a restaurant - I immediately snap a photo of it. JotNot takes a black and white contrast-enhancing picture of the cropped receipt that's as good as what comes out of a scanner and adds that image to my ongoing collection of receipts for that business trip.
At the end of my trip JotNot allows me to email a PDF of the collected receipts (or upload it to my DropBox).
I never lose receipts. I never have to deal with receipts that have rapidly faded because a little restaurant grease got on them (looking at you, Jimmy Johns). I never have to worry about finding a scanner and how to place each receipt on the scanner bed.
When I show co-travelers my process, they normally immediately download JotNot or find some alternative on Android since JotNot is iPhone only afaik.
I would be really sad if I had to go back to holding on to paper receipts and scanning them in via some other method.
Then I throw away the receipts and fill in the expense report later in whatever system I'm told to use.
I can't imagine an easier way to digitize a receipt, short of a receipt that's emailed to you from the get-go.
For me, it ends up being sticking them in a wallet/envelope and then scanning then in bulk when I get back. If I had a phone app that integrated with a back-end expenses system, I could probably be persuaded to use it because it would largely eliminate the manual process of creating an expense report. However, as it is, something like Expensify trades a one-time batch operation for a bunch more fiddling at the point of spending.
Try it out!
For my banking app, you can take a picture of a check to deposit it. Instead of needing to frame, focus and snap the picture (which is how it used to work a few updates ago), a frame appears on the phone screen - you merely line up the check inside the frame, and when it's lined up sufficiently the shutter clicks and takes the picture for you. It's quite nice actually.
I do it every time I deposit a physical check into my bank account with my BofA app it's pretty awesome, it even recognizes the deposit amount.
When you get back to your office - it's available in an excel sheet.
I'm not following your argument...
Trying to get individual users to adopt a workflow is going to be much harder.
The target audience for the mobile app might not be the users themselves, but their managers.
Also, your workflow of using Slack to enter expenses, which looks awesome btw, might actually be easier for people to use than stopping midstream to use a mobile app.
Maybe this isn't really the right place to say this, but the moment the world will realize how crazy this whole startups thing is getting..
There are all kinds of companies that basically help you save time doing what you hate: Premium Pickup Laundry Services, On-demand Valets, On-demand cars. When was the last time you said "fuck it I'm going to take a taxi because I don't want to learn this new UBER app"?
Companies reimburse BILLIONS of dollars to employees every year.
I've found this thought experiment to be useful when evaluating new product ideas: People will buy your product for sure if a) there is a law saying they must, otherwise go to jail or b) by doing so they straight away save a significant amount of money vs something they were already doing/buying. If your product isn't close to either of these cases, you are likely to fail.
If there is even a 20% chance the app cannot recognize the total amount (ignoring taxes and tips), then suddenly I am manually reconciling unrecognizable receipts.
So, if I'm always manually reconciling expense reports, then why bother with an app... I'll just continue taking pictures and forwarding them to my email for manual expense reporting. 100% of the task can be done in one sitting.
That being said, I SINCERELY HOPE somebody WILL develop the machine learning algorithms necessary to get 99% OCR accuracy in this space.
This was similar to TripIt which organized your trip based on parsing confirmations. At the end of the day, it was a great feature, but struggled to grow beyond a certain point as a product.
Love the idea behind Birdly... but I think it belongs in other apps/tools used for more frequent and broader business needs. (i.e., here's hoping for a great acquisition and adoption for you!)
And "Don't bother creating a mobile app" is terrible advice. But if you are going to create a mobile app, you have to really try an understand if it makes sense, how people are going to find it, if it's compelling enough, if it takes advantage of "mobile-ness". Etc.
Neither would I find it again, if looking for that "receipt scan app I installed last month".
I tend to forget what apps I have installed, what they do, and their names, and anything else than a really descriptive name, such as "RunKeeper", would not get used much in the long run.
Those categories they listed are apps you'd use on a daily basis, or that have some kind of notifications (read: dopamine hits) built in. They build up a habit loop by making the app fun to use, and emitting notifications to keep the users coming back during that formative early usage period.
Monthly expense reporting (or monthly anything, really) seems like a rough road for building habits.
If you start with a flawed idea there's no saving you, no matter how hard you try.
Anyone have a good, established workflow for this?
I guess I don't really understand the shift of ONLY creating a mobile app for productivity or business type stuff. Seems like these types of apps can more easily be monetized with a web app and "maybe" complimented with a mobile app.
idea: an app that helps people find shops with offers nearby
how people use it: users look up offers while they are already in the shop (nearly always inside big supermarkets.)
idea: vegan restaurant finder
how people use it: users look up pics of food of that restaurant while they already sat down in the restaurant (but as Instagram has more pics, they always switch to Instagram)
idea: apartments for rent app with awesome "find apartments nearby" feature
how people use it: to look up the newest apartment in the city while in the metro home
i believe it will take a few years more until we get mobile more right than wrong, until then be prepared to question your product hypothesis! (and best do it while you are running around, stressed, on your way to work or during business travel, you know, while you actually are "mobile" / or at home at your couch (also a mobile scenario) ... not while in the office in front of your mac book pro)
Ultimately - I believe in Expensify's VISION - which is to GET RID OF EXPENSE REPORTS!
That's why I'll stick with Expensify - and I'm now at my third company that I am bringing it into....that is how software expands its footprint. By excited users bringing it into new businesses.
FYI - your mobile navigation isn't working.
How do you know what I'm building (if anything) and if it falls in a category that might benefit from being a native app and the distribution that comes with it?
What worked or did not work for you need not apply to every other business.
User had set up an app that they care about just once a month, and that's a long time, so reminders are actually helpful - from end-user perspective. I have an app that I run about just once in a few months, and I'm actually grateful that it does ping me.