Bootstrapping Gowhee App w/ Female Founder Maud Maciak – Ep. 26

Mar 15, 2021 | Entrepreneurship, Mindset, Podcast, Travel

Continuing our celebration of Women’s Month, this week we have Maud Maciak on the show, a French immigrant, mom of a 4-year-old boy, and world traveler. Maud is the founder of Gowhee App, a travel app designed for parents traveling with their little ones. She built her app with no money, no funding, no inside connections, no tech background, and advocates for safe travel experiences for all families. Tune in to hear the ins and outs of developing an app from the ground up and maybe you’ll be inspired to create your own!

In this episode, we cover what the Gowhee App is (03:01), how Maud found her team to help create the app (08:12), as well as the monetization process (13:01).

 

 

 

Hello, my loves! Welcome back to The Wanderlover Podcast. This week, we have our first female app founder on the show, and I can’t wait to explore with you the ins and outs of this whole industry.

(46s):
Welcome to the show Maud! Hi, thanks for having me. I’m super excited to be here and to share. We are so happy to have you too. This is amazing because we connected on Clubhouse, which is a new app that I just started using, I have a podcast episode about that too. But very serendipitous. I was like, Oh my God, how cool she has an app. We were in the same room together. And what I love about how you approached apps in general, we had a conversation and you made it seem super accessible. You know, like at least I had this impression that if you found an app, it’s going to be like going through Silicon Valley.

(1m 27s):
It’s almost like so inaccessible to the common room User. Yeah, it’s so true. What you’re saying, you know, when I had the app idea during my trip, the first thought in my head was, I, I surely cannot do this, right? I’m an interior designer. I mean, I know how to do a website, but like, that was pretty much the extent of my technology knowledge. And just as you mentioned, I thought, you know, app creation was reserved to a very specific group of people, you know, most likely in a silicone Valley. And what I actually discover is that the hardest part of developing a nap is not so much the technology, the technology is hard and I’m actually not doing it.

(2m 14s):
I have an amazing developer working with me on the project, but you can find technology founders or technology technology professional that can help you develop the technology part. The hardest part of developing an app is the marketing is selling your app because you are encountering a market that is saturated with app. Even if have, might be unique, you still, you know, people see up and use app every day and all day. And so, so in order to appear in people’s mind and show that your app is the right app to download on their phone is what the real work is when the real work begins.

(3m 0s):
Yeah. So I’d love to hear what your app does and also how you’ve been marketing it so far. Yeah, so I, the asset of lipids is a travel app for parents. So think of a mom, Facebook group, TripAdvisor and Pinterest got all made an app and that’s pretty much what we’re kind of in the, so it’s bringing the community of parents traveling together. It’s offering a very quick resource to find all the kid friendly places you want in the world. And then also it serves as an inspiration platform because you kind of a zoom in and out of the map, the world map, the way you wanted and kind of like book virtually book your next vacation directly in the app.

(3m 51s):
So that’s pretty cool. What I did might not be what everybody is doing in terms of marketing, but this is what I could do financially because my husband and I started this app project was barely $500 in a bank account for it. And so, you know, I didn’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars to throw at marketing. So I just decided to do a grassroots system and go fetch each and every one member, user and community member in general, myself. So yeah, I started an Insta about six months prior to the launch dates and I connected, I was on Instagram probably six to seven hours a day.

(4m 42s):
This was my work day. And I just, you know, talk to people and be like, Hey, I’m developing this app. Do you like it? Do you want to part of it somehow, can you help me, you know, showcases, you know, and that, and about a year later here we are. I love that. I love how you’re so transparent about the work that it took you, you know, cause some people think if you create an app, that’s the hardest part. And then the app store will automatically promote it for you. And that’s not how it works. How did you come up with the idea? So we were on a sort of a Europe tour with my husband in an RV with my son who was two and a half at the time.

(5m 28s):
And, you know, we just went in with a couple of booking in place and we booked our RV. You know, we rented it and we didn’t have really much of a plan beside that. So when we started to actually live through the trip, we encountered all those issues, you know, like finding a babysitter for quick, the ignite or, you know, goo good to a playground and then realized that my potty training child is needing to go to the potty like right now. And there’s no toilet nearby, you know, things like that. The reality behind the scene of traveling was a kid.

(6m 8s):
And so I basically went back one day and I told my husband, you know, they should really do enough for that to help parents find stuff on the fly because that’s what we need. And after joking around for a couple of weeks, I decided to stop joking around and do it. That’s all Awesome. I love it. So you experienced the need that you are now creating and sharing with the world. How awesome. Thanks. How did you go about finding an app designer and really creating this and bringing it to life? So the first thing I wanted to kind of point out is there’s multiple skills or people you’re going to need to kind of find along the way of developing your app, do technology.

(6m 57s):
When we say technology, it’s like coding, you know, the app itself, that’s one of them. There’s also the user experience design and that’s very different. I was lucky enough to have experienced my problem for his hand to be a, also a travel family. So I kind of knew what the app wanted to look like. It looked like, but I did a lot of research to understand, you know, the color of the button. How is that going to affect emotionally the response of my users? You know, things like this. So even if you find a great developer, just make sure that the developer is either qualified to also provide your user experience, or if you don’t feel like, you know, they can handle that.

(7m 52s):
Maybe either train yourself to do it. It’s, it’s very doable. Everything is doable. You can go on YouTube, you can read blogs about it, but yeah, you, you gonna have to have to cover the multiple facet of creating the app and, and, and, and having the right people is extremely key in the success of your app. I can imagine. And they must share the same values, understand like what you want to create. Right. How did you find your team? Yeah. I actually find my developer on Reddit. I pitched, but I did pitch to about 30, 20 to 30 developers before I chose him.

(8m 36s):
So you have, like you just said, you have to have a feeling it has to feel right. You’re essentially getting married to your Knology developer or a group. Right. So you really have to have the same vision, the same patients for things, because there’s a lot of things that I wanted, but he told me, you know, no, you can’t basically. And I have to be okay with that. You know, it’s the, there’s a lot of flexibility and compromises just like in a marriage that comes into place when you prayed a company, especially when you develop a nap and you trust that baby to another person.

(9m 21s):
Yeah. Essentially creating a baby. So yes. How much, if you don’t mind me asking, does it cost more or less, or maybe a range to develop, to find your team all in to get it to the app store? This is an impossible question there in all honesty, because it all depends. It all depends on the app. You creating, there is very simple app functions that you could actually almost create yourself through a web design, a type of app that can be almost free. And there is apps that cost, you know, maybe in the hundreds of thousands because they create a special coding.

(10m 5s):
So it really all depends. The average up, I would say is about 15 to $30,000 for like a minimal user experience kind of up. But that’s, if you, you know, send it to a company that is to develop it for you. I never recommend that to be honest. And that’s also something that you need to ask yourself, are you ready to give part of your company so equity to the person that develops the app with you? Because when you develop an app, it’s just a beginning, right? So every time you need to update every time you need to make some fixes and, you know, develop and keep growing your app was your community.

(10m 50s):
You’re going to encounter more money to throw out the project, but also maybe some pushback or your team might not be found. You know, if you’re going off shore, especially. So there’s a lot of self-reflect that needs to happen before you go get your team and wonder, Hey, I might completely open to develop this thing no matter what it costs. And no matter how much equity I need to give up, or do I want to spend money knowing that my budget is my explode, am I flexible on my features? Or am I not? Do I have unlimited budget? Or I don’t, you know, so yeah, A lot of factors to consider.

(11m 32s):
That’s interesting. And to even think about giving part of your company away, just to have it developed, and it makes total sense. Cause you know, I update all my apps all the time and you always see a constant improvements and bug fixes. And I guess I just never put myself in that perspective where I’m like, Oh my God, if you have an app, you have to work with a company to that for you. Yeah. It’s not a one-time done deal. And I would even say that, you know, you, you really have to understand your user, how they want your app to be received. Right. When you sign up for an app, you want something that is going to grow with you.

(12m 16s):
So just to quit, for example, Facebook didn’t start the way Facebook is now, right? So you have to keep that in mind. It depends. If you just want to throw enough out there or if you want to actually start a project that grows with you. And in that case, having someone that is with you on your team is better for the equity part. I would, I always had this mindset that I rather have, you know, 10% of something that makes millions instead of a hundred percent on some things that make $0. Right? So giving equity up is not necessarily a bad thing if it makes your project successful.

(12m 59s):
And that works for everybody. That’s so true. Yeah. And speaking of Facebook, I guess I’m very familiar with monetization on that platform, but in terms of your app, is it a membership or do you have ads? What are the different channels to monetize with an app? Yeah, so that’s actually an interesting question because we got a lot of backlash from our early adopters. You know, we backlash in a good way, meaning we send out, you know, polls and everybody was like, Hey, why don’t you make it free? And there is a thing to remember, there’s nothing free in the world. So when you sign up for a free app, know that your data, your content, anything that you share with that app is poverty being resilient, resold in any way, shape or form can be ads can be either partnership where, you know, people sell that data to.

(13m 57s):
So I decided as a mom, I felt very uncomfortable to develop a nap where, you know, we would talk about kids and where we would promote kid-friendly stuff. And then my dad, I would have had to be exported in some way, shape or form because I needed to make money to sustain the yeah. So we decided to make it clean and to have a $29 a year membership, which is, Well, yeah, not a lot at all. And then just provide everything and keep developing the app and built a safe community. Because when you charge something for an app, you eliminate a lot of trolls.

(14m 39s):
So, you know, things, things like that. So for safety purposes, for comfort also, because now you have an app that doesn’t have ads, right? So like you, you are a you’re on the fly. You need find a changing table right now. You don’t have time to look for 1530 second ad just to get to your location. And for me, I did not this up with me and mine because I was like, if I don’t like it, most parents will not like it. I think so. So 29 bucks a year, but that convenience in the safety aspect, I felt very comfortable to ask that.

(15m 21s):
Yeah, I think it’s priced very reasonably and I don’t have kids. And, but I can imagine, you know, like when you are traveling, especially, there’s so many more things that you don’t think of as a solo traveler, or even if you’re just traveling with a partner, like when you have a child, they have vastly different needs. And a lot of them are like time sensitive. Like I have to go now. No, no, no, yes. Just had that last weekend. A little potty problem. It was, it was no or never. How has it been, how have you found promoting this app during the pandemic?

(16m 2s):
So, because we started, the app was almost zero founding funding and a lot of sweat equity, we lucked out in that way because when COVID hit, it was literally when we were launching. Right. So our launch date was April in April, 2020. We had the whole product build up and everything and in March, the whole thing, you know, hit us. And I was like, okay, we’ll do it anyway. You know, it’s, it’s okay. We’ll just put it out there. I mean, we have nothing to lose at this point. It’s already developed and ready to go, but because of a dependent make, we decided to hold on on major advertisement. So we had all this like stuff planned out and I set up a little budget on the side to promote the app.

(16m 48s):
And you know, it kind of like got put in a stall, but we are doing things now slowly because I’m extremely optimistic that by maybe the summer people are going to start to travel more because there’s a lot of vaccines being distributed and then businesses and airlines and, you know, countries are reopening even because they’ve put all their concept and system in place for covered safety. We actually have had in new release a few months back that has a mask and a social distancing filters.

(17m 30s):
So now families can kind of choose that place. Yeah. I love the, yeah. So we are thinking about launching our ads. We have a mainstream ads, TV ads planned out very soon. So that’s exciting. Yeah. In America. Yeah. So it’s on a streaming device. Okay. A TV streaming device. I’m not going to say the name. That’s so exciting. I hope I get targeted. I know because it will be parents. Oh, that’s so cool. I can’t wait to see it.

(18m 11s):
And I guess struggles outside of Covid. How about in the industry in general? Because at least in my mind, you know, I’ve said before that in the app industry, all I picture are Silicon Valley male, Do you find that it’s male dominated? You’re not so wrong. And, and even if without the gender factor is just connection, right? So I’m French. So I started my life in us at 22. I didn’t went to a fancy college. I was not in a tech world until last year. So I had zero connection.

(18m 51s):
And this is, I think one of the biggest hurdle when you start a business with no funding as well, is that you do when you don’t have the connection, it’s really hard to get heard by anybody really. So it takes a lot of work, I think a lot more work than if I was a men from the Silicon Valley, but it’s also so much more rewarding because every score I get for go wee is, you know, a hard, you know, sweat equity type score. It’s like, I, I worked really my a-hole up for it.

(19m 32s):
So, so I think as a, as a personal, you know, achievements, it will be just sweeter. Yeah. And I can totally see the passion and the drive and the ambition. And I love how, you know, you don’t get thrown off, you don’t get intimidated by this industry. It motivates you to push through. Right. And I think that’s why also you’re such a successful founder. You know, like even though you don’t have the connections, you make it work and there is a way, so I find that super inspiring. So for all you listeners, if you have an idea and you think that you don’t have the connections, you think that you don’t have X, Y, and Z, that is a limiting belief.

(20m 15s):
Yes, exactly. I actually just came up with this. Awesome. Could, I mean, awesome. I like it. It’s saying that a dream is just an objective without a plan. So you can definitely do anything that you dream of. If you start to plan correctly and start doing it. Right. So I I’m, I had this dream that I should make an app. I didn’t have, you know, funding, or I didn’t have connection, but I had a plan and my plan was to connect with my community and to find the appropriate people, to help me develop the product.

(21m 1s):
And so giving up equity, encountering a pandemic, you know, being shut down by major courts for partnership or anything. Cause they didn’t know me, all this things were just, you know, dust around my plan. So Yeah. Wow. And being able to carry through and hold that dream, you know, like you have that dream, you have all the steps. So everything else that comes in the layer just like, Nope, I’m off on this path. Right. And are you still like doing interior, designing on the side for fun? What is your day to day?

(21m 45s):
Like, No, I there’s not enough time in my day. Right. So now I had to give up the answer design, which I felt it was okay. I was completely fine with that decision. It was natural to do that. This was a baby that needed my, a lot of my health to grow. So I knew other side project and you know, I raised my son in the middle of the pandemic, like every other moms out there. So you know, it, it’s a, it’s a little bit ectatic once in a while, but I’m fortunate that, you know, I have an amazing partner by my side. I have amazing support. So I, I’m not complaining at all. But yeah, my, my date is hectic.

(22m 27s):
7:00 AM in the morning, all the way to 2:00 AM at night. It’s not stuff. Wow. Yeah. Moms do not sleep. No. And it’s fun because of the newborn phase. It’s because then your brain kicks in. How have you been marketing during the pandemic? I have not. We’ve just, you know, we stopped, we stopped a project of the marketing. We’re just slowly relaunching. Now we kind of put our toes in the water in terms of Facebook ads. It’s just not what we wanted to be. I think there’s a lot of, you know, indecision on people’s part.

(23m 8s):
Like, should they travel? Should they not? So we, for now we are in a process of nurturing and helping our community, the best we can, they’ve been supporting us and making it worthwhile. So we’re giving back with, you know, inspiration that comes through tips, you know, anything we can and when the time is right, you know, they’ll know that the app is here, ready to go. We still develop. We’re going to release in a couple of weeks. Now two new filters that are absolutely amazing. I am extremely excited about them because it’s now touching the, of the app, which is helping families and families that are not represented in the travel industry.

(23m 54s):
So we have a filter for the LGBTQ family, you know, safety and a call, or I shouldn’t say it travel responsible filter, which will help parents that care to select places that give back to the local community and care for the environment. So I’m very excited about that. Thoughtful and I love how it integrates your personal values into your business. And it just like created this beautiful app. So on the app store, it’s go. We G O w H E. Is that where the audience can find your app?

(24m 37s):
Right? Right. Is it also on Android? Yes. Oh, cool. So who’s gonna pay, yeah. What are the different avenues for marketing or for like hosting an app to call them hosts like on the app on Google play. So the hosting is, is internal. You choose where you want to host your app. Right? So that’s actually what my husband does in the company. He takes care of the safety and the hosting and the servers, it’s all in house. And, and you cannot also decide to, you know, do a third party, but for safety purposes, for pictures and all that we need to do in house.

(25m 20s):
But the you’re talking about the sailing, right. Selling the app. Yeah. You can do the, the two. So you can go, other ways you could do a, not that is web app. So basically what it would do is you would go to a website and the website would allow the person to download the link. And it would look like an app icon. And it would be in a form of like a web hosting app. It sounds complicated, but it’s actually the cheapest way to do it. But for us, we felt like it was not the right move because there’s data sharing and we needed to make sure our users trusted us.

(26m 2s):
And since we were not known, we wanted to offer them a platform that they know has a kind of like a safety feature. So Apple and Google have all the specification for you to follow as an app owner. And they basically like, you know, refuse your app if you don’t meet those. So when you submit your app, the user knows that the submission is kind of like regulated. And so there is a trust factor that comes with posting on Apple and on iOS and Google play. But it does come with a cost.

(26m 43s):
They take a yes, they take. So they used to take 30% and because there are helping now small businesses, if your app makes under a million dollar or something, you can do 15%, I believe. Oh, wow. Oh my God, wait, I didn’t know. It’s like a third. Yeah, Yeah, yeah. That’s why, again, what I’m saying is there’s nothing free. Even the free apps, as soon as you have managed generation it’s. Yeah. Yeah. And I’m wondering, like, do you find traffic on the app store? You know, when I want to download an app, I search for the name. It’s not like Amazon where they suggest, or, you know, I rarely download, suggested apps.

(27m 27s):
I usually go in and search for it and then it comes up. But with all the users on Apple and Google, do you find that they help boost your app visibility At all? I would say in order to get to that point, you would have to have a huge download very fast. So they recommend when you on to not to already have your mailing lists ready and to have all that ready since we started with zero funding and then not have the numbers sufficient to appear in their top or in their proposed lists. So now every traffic that comes through is pretty much driven by us.

(28m 7s):
Yeah. Okay. It sounds similar to podcasting, you know, they have like the top charts and I don’t ever, like, I don’t think I get my listeners through the charts, But it’s the same thing. Actually, if you developed a podcast before, you’re very familiar too, with the system that Apple has. I mean, obviously the safety and the features are different, but it’s the same concept. Yeah. Yeah. It’s very familiar. So it’s really cool to see that they just have so many different avenues. Yeah, they do. And you can, you can generate avenues revenue from different perspective, but you also have to remind yourself that you, you know, what a user would want to see.

(28m 53s):
Right. So I think the more transparent you are, the better, I just feel like a membership is great because it’s a flat fee. And does the user knows, you know, they’re paying this and that sit. They’re not going to have to sit through apps. They’re not going to have to pay extra to get the bonus of this info and that info. So we do a free trial. So again, transparency try the app. If you don’t like it on, come on. It’s okay. No hard feelings you think you’re gonna like it. So once the person tried to try it for free in the head, a little run around on it, they can just keep Duke subscription and that’s it.

(29m 36s):
Yep. Yeah. I definitely have subscribed to many apps after the free trial because you want to really test out and see if you can like see you using it in your daily life. So that’s really cool. And I love how, you know, one flat fee for the entire year. No questions. Correct. That’s it? Yeah. That was our motto. Like transparency is huge feds. That is so awesome. And I just love being a part of this journey and being able to share your story because honestly, like I knew nothing about apps before meeting and now I’m like, Oh my God, you are so inspiring. Thank you so much. So, you know, happy to help anyone.

(30m 19s):
I think developing an app can be really intimidating. I can see that. And it does take work. It’s not easy, but it’s doable. Even if you don’t have an idea of what to start Background in interior design now, Well raising a two year old while moving and being in the back of a van During a pandemic. Right, Right, right. So if I did it, everybody can do it, I think. Wow. Well, thank you so much for sharing your story. And for being on the show, I’m going to link your app, going to link all of your socials in the show notes. So everyone, please find it on the app store.

(31m 1s):
If you have kids, it’s a great travel companion. And would you want to share any last words before we end this episode? Yeah. So I guess part of the entrepreneurial journey is to be able to pack up and go every time you encounter it, you know, a big setback. So I would say if you’re already an entrepreneur, or if you’re a parent, you pretty much already have that in you. So developing an app will be pretty easy ish, because you already made the work.

(31m 43s):
You know, the, the mental work on yourself. And the other thing is just do your homework. You know, the homework is everything. The business plan is needed. Don’t, don’t skim on the homework. Like spend some times looking around. Yeah. Just apply everything from motherhood to entrepreneurship because you’ve trained that muscle. Correct. You’re very right about that. Thank you so much, Danielle. Thank you So much. It was a pleasure having you on the show and I’ll see all of you guys next week.

 

 

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