InstaB leverages on a rather straightforward business model, with a paid version of the app priced at US$0.99, offering users more skin options as well as the option to remove logos and custom captions.
“There are other ways to monetise in our pipeline, but we are not there yet – such as implementing brand overlay skin/filter and video advertisements,” Tang says.
For the postcard printing service the app offers, the team is working with Sincerely, a US-based gifting network.
“We are still looking for a good reliable local printing company as we are looking forward to providing custom printing service such as baby tees, calendars, canvas photos and other products,” says Tang.
In the coming months, the InstaB team plans to release an Android version of the app; enable cloud-based storage to give users the option to store their content on InstaB’s servers; and to introduce more features such as stickers.
In addition, there are plans to organise more photo contests to create traction with users and better market InstaB to the consumer segment.
“Marketing the app is a challenge, as it normally requires a huge budget for advertising. Currently, we are using a low-cost marketing strategy such as SNS, finding sponsors for our photo contests, and working closely with an online baby store.
“It’s quite effective so far, but the coverage is not wide enough,” says Tang, adding that the team hopes to have 100,000 users by the end of the year.
Icon Mobi Solution remains a fully self-funded business, thanks largely to its ‘day job’ of developing custom mobile applications for corporate clients, with the consumer app game being new territory for the team.
“The main difference between consumer apps and enterprise apps is that [for the former] you get validation straight from your users. If they like it, they will buy it and give positive feedback.
“With enterprise apps, you don’t get the feedback from your real users but from higher management,” says Tang.
The team’s toughest challenge is the race against time, with Tang admitting that technology changes very fast and the app space gets more competitive every day.
“I always think that, to test the market, we need to move in fast, fail, learn and improve. Build the app first, then only build the market. InstaB is not our first product and will not be our last,” he says.
When asked what keeps him motivated when treading the long, rocky road of entrepreneurship, Tang says it all boils down to passion.
“You need to like what you do every day, and that will be the best motivation. I love developing consumer mobile apps because there is more freedom compared with developing an enterprise app, where everything … well, most of the things … are restricted,” he says.
“At the end of the day, when you get a ‘thank you’ note via a comment or email from your user, you know that you did the right thing and it motivates you to do better,” he adds.
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