June 16th, 2011 Jeremy Jeremy

Screen shot 2011-06-16 at 9.59.01 AM

Throw your mind all the way back across the eons to 2010. In May of that year Jeremy and I began to brew up Grades 2. Nine months, forty days, and forty sleepless nights later, we launched Grades 2 with great ballyhoo and fanfare. SXSW had been good to us, giving us contacts with lots of great folks and eminent bloggists. We also had lots of great connections from the Grades 1 launch.

Hence, when Grades 2 first launched, lots of great people Tweeted up the story. We were featured on blogs such as MacStories, HackCollege, and AppAdvice. The synergy of these blog posts and tweets, combined with the newsletter we sent to our users, launched Grades 2 into the top 100 education apps. Our goal: to be featured by Apple on “New and Noteworthy.” Our thought: Apple helps those who help themselves—you need critical mass to get the nuclear explosion of being featured by Apple.

Our machinations worked. On the Thursday of our second week Apple featured us on “New and Noteworthy,” keeping Grades 2 up for two weeks. This made us the top app in Education for over a week and blasted us into the top 200 free apps overall. Our goal: 100,000.

Over the month of May, we accrued over 90,000 downloads. We wormed our way in front of several television cameras (the local Fox and NBC affiliates), as well as getting into the Charlotte Observer, a Japanese higher education magazine, and several student newspapers. But we still hadn’t reached that elusive 100,000.

Jeremy decided to go to San Francisco for WWDC (winning a student scholarship helped in that decision). It just so happened that, at the Apple Design Awards, Apple invited Jer onstage and gave him a glowing cube. We had won an ADA in the student category. Craziness.

Press coverage came in thick and fast. We found ourselves on the New York Times, Consumer ReportsZDNet, Mac Rumors, PC World, TUAW, and MacStories, to name a few. Jeremy also did an interview with MacWorld.

And as if that wasn’t enough, Apple put us on the front page of the App Store, along with the “Apps of the Week.” Downloads soared. And that’s how we reached 100,000 (107,270 as of today, to be exact).


So we’ve come a long way. We’ve learned how to design a delightful app. We’ve also learned how to market said app. Our next project, which we will be blogging about over the coming months, is to learn how take full advantage of the freemium model. So far with Grades 2, ads and in-app purchases have brought in a measly $1000. We think we can do better. We also are turning our hobby into a legit business and have some pretty amazing opportunities pouring in. So stay tuned for the next part of the story.


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7 Responses to “100,000”

  1. Sergio says:

    Keep the good work on!

  2. Jeremy says:

    Thanks Sergio!

  3. Maximilian says:

    Wait. You both worked 40 days, were featured by Apple and received an Apple Design Award. And you just earned $1000 with your app? There must be something wrong. Was Grades 2 always free at it is now? If not, how much did it cost for how long?

    How do you plan to earn some money? I think it would be difficult to get money from existing customers. Paid upgrades are not possible. You could only add more InApp-Purchase features. But that didn’t seem to work in the past. If it had you would have more than $1000 now.

  4. Jeremy Olson says:

    Hey Max, yeah we are just talking about Grades 2 but you hit the nail on the head: there is something wrong here. We made a lot more on Grades 1 by selling it for 99 cents (it too was featured by Apple on multiple occasions).

    So basically the monetization strategy for Grades 2 was an experiment that failed. We’ve still gotten probably hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of value through Grades 2 simply because of all the opportunities it has given us and all the connections we’ve made through it but as an end in itself, it made practically nothing.

    So our plan: I disagree that we can’t make money off of existing customers. As long as users are using it, we have opportunity to make money off of them. iAd didn’t cut it but there is also potential there which I can’t talk about now. But beyond that, with over 100k users there are definitely people who are willing to pay more than a generic iAd to get in front of the coveted college student market, especially if we do it in creative ways. More on that later, though.

  5. Maximilian says:

    Thanks for your reply, Jeremy. Despite the fact that it did not work as you have expected it was a very interesting strategy. I kept an eye on your projects since early 2010 and will do so in the future. I am eager to here more about your future plans. I wish you all the best.

  6. Jeremy Olson says:

    Thanks Maximilian! Should be a fun next few months!

  7. Boon says:

    Jeremy, good work with Grades 2 and thank you for sharing your experience. It’s both encouraging and inspiring for all indie developers. Even though Grades 2 hasn’t brought in a lot of revenue for you yet, all the things surrounding it (ADA, etc.) have created a lot of energy for your brand (Tapity), some of which will be transformed into the form of Federal Reserve notes later. Keep up the good work.