The Big Idea
This blog is a true story of how one of our first clients turned a $2000 investment in a Shopify app, into a full-time business. In fact, its repurposed from his blog published a few years back. With his consent, of course!
Back in the day, Bjorn Forsberg was leading the Product Management team of a bank, with little or no time to get into full-time product development, writing code or providing support for a an app. He had commissioned us for a princely sum of $2000, to develop a Shopify app called OrderlyPrint. He did his research thoroughly and came up with the idea of building a Shopify app for printing address labels and invoices in bulk. And he wanted a scalable Shopify app without having to invest too much time from his busy work schedule.
He set about designing the app, the mock-ups and a fully written spec, because that’s what he did at his day job. So it came naturally to him, and he enjoyed the process more, since it’s his own venture. Having shared his vision and the brief with us, he eagerly awaited the first version of the Shopify app.
OrderlyPrint was launched in early 2012, with a basic version but had signed up its first customer on day one. That was a good start for Bjorn and OrderlyPrint. Customers trickled in and Bjorn got some positive feedback. The app needed minimal effort from him in terms of the customer support. And it was priced at $4.99 initially, with a few iterations in terms of pricing to strike a good balance.
We continued to add more features such as bulk fulfilment – an idea that Bjorn got from the forums, which allowed him to increase the subscription fees. He continued to invest the revenues generated from the app into building new features. By the end of 2012, nine months into the launch, OrderlyPrint had 392 customers generating $1900 a month, with no marketing spends or promotions. The only promotions were customer reviews on the app store.
2013, the second year into the app, Bjorn believed it was time for an upgrade with new features, in fact a completely new version with enhanced features. 6 months and $15,000 later the new app was ready. By then the first version was clocking $4100 per month in revenues. However, the new version had all the bells and whistles that the client wanted.
But did it work better that the first? If he had a chance, would Bjorn do it all over again? No! Like they say, if ain’t broke don’t fix it!
A few users moved to the new app, but many stayed with the original app. So Bjorn had two apps to run now! The new app saw a few improvements since, but the simplicity of the older app made it the popular choice even in 2014.
The new Shopify app needed more time to be invested in terms of support, marketing and promotions, which required more than one person doing it part-time.
Competition arrived with Shopify releasing a free Order Printer app and another copycat app that had every feature we built. It’s healthy competition at the end of the day, but one needs to work that much harder to get the app noticed. Bjorn did re-targeting ads and few AdWords.
Over the years Bjorn learnt to code by himself. He built the Order Printer Templates app all by himself. And Voila! The app made its first sale the day it was published! The app creates beautifully customised documents for use in Shopify’s app. Customers can create great looking documents for a one-time charge of $29 per template. So now Bjorn leverages the competition to his advantage! In the first couple of months it generated $1000 per month.
If you have a great idea, some spare time to invest in support, you should take a stab at building the product. Ofcourse one needs a good partner eco-system like the Shopify partners team that helps Bjorn feature new apps and get them off the ground. We at Idyllic are glad we could help Bjorn build his first OrderlyPrint app that continues to generate substantial revenues. Bjorn’s is an incredible success story of how an enterprising idea with a product mindset and the right partners can help you build a great business. Here’s to more such entrepreneurs and great products! If you have a product or app idea, we are always willing to help you along the startup journey.