Heigh on Appiness

Shlomo Zalman Heigh comes by the 'cast to discusses his popular app "Be Happy!", what it's like to make apps as a youngin', gives some great tips on how to be happy, the potential of iOS and Android's Magazine Stands, as well as best ways to use Tap Joy to scale installs of your app.

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Shlomo is the Founder of Heigh Tech LLC and the creator of the Be Happy! App on Android and iOS. You can follow Heigh Tech on Twitter @HeighTechLLC and on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/HeighTechLLC.

Video Transcription

Eric: Hello, and welcome to Tap Your App. I'm your host, Eric Dyck, co-
founder of Tap for App, the free tap exchange for mobile app promotion.
Today we're here with Shlomo Zalman Heigh, the founder and president of
Heigh-Tech.com–with a great pun in the name; I always appreciate that.
He's also the creator of Be Happy, an app for making people happier in the
world. Well, there's nothing wrong with that! So welcome to the show today,
Shlomo! How're you doin'?
 
Shlomo: Good, how are you?
 
Eric: Very well. So, first of all, you're a young developer. How old are
you?
 
Shlomo: I'm 15 years old right now.
 
Eric: You're 15 years old. And how long have you been developing apps for?
 
Shlomo: Well, I started programming when I was 12, but I first started
making mobile apps in the past year or two.
 
Eric: Great. Tell me about the apps that you've developed.
 
Shlomo: Okay, so the only app I've built so far is Be Happy. It's available
on Android and iOS; and it's basically a self-help app with tips on how to
increase your happiness.
 
Eric: Cool. And about how many installs would you say you've got from that?
 
Shlomo: Well, there's two versions: the free version and the paid version.
On Android there's a free version, on iOS it's just paid. I have a little
over ten thousand downloads on the free version, and on the paid version a
total on Android and iOS of about a hundred or so.
 
Eric: Okay, cool.
 
Shlomo: I'm trying to increase that, but..
 
Eric: How long did it take you to make that app?
 
Shlomo: It didn't take so long to make in the first place, but I've been
doing a lot of little updates as we go along.
 
Eric: Cool.
 
Shlomo: So I have to get it out there first and then do incremental
updates.
 
Eric: And it's definitely been worth it for you, I imagine? It's definitely
made a little, has it made any money for you? I guess the paid version has
made a little.
 
Shlomo: Yeah, it has made a little bit, also from ads a little bit. But,
also, I really enjoy it. I really enjoy developing, especially for an app
like this where I can make an impact on people's lives, hopefully.
 
Eric: Nice. Now, have you had any really positive feedback from people that
you've actually sort of brightened their day and whatnot?
 
Shlomo: Yeah, I really like it when I see a review that someone says "I was
sad and this made my day." I really enjoy it. It really, really makes my
day, also, when I see reviews like that. So I got a few reviews like that
on Android.
 
Eric: Nice. Can you give me an example of some of the tips in the app? Do
you know any off by heart?
 
Shlomo: Yeah, sure.
 
Eric: So I'm feeling crappy today. What do I gotta do, Shlomo?
 
Shlomo: Okay, first thing is to think what are the positive aspects of your
situation?
 
Eric: Okay.
 
Shlomo: Also, try to think of the things you can be thankful for.
 
Eric: Gotcha.
 
Shlomo: Another powerful one is act like you're happy. That actually
increases happiness. They did a study where they had people, I don't
remember where this was, but they had people take a pencil and put it on
their lip in a way where it would force them to frown and had others put it
in a position where it would force them to smile and people who were forced
to smile ended up happier at the end.
 
Eric: That's interesting. So just going through the motions can actually
help you be happier?
 
Shlomo: Yeah, it works.
 
Eric: Well, that's good to know. My wife always gets mad at me whenever we
have photos because with photos I have trouble with instant smiling so I
always have to make myself laugh. I have to say "ha, ha, ha" and then I
smile, but maybe I'll try the pencil trick. I'll just take all of my photos
with a pencil over my mouth. I think that'll work. Cool. So that sounds
like a really good app for making the world a slightly better place, and
that's always important. Cool. So what're your plans with app development?
Do you want to sort of keep supporting this one and helping it grow, and
are you working on any other ones as well?
 
Shlomo: Yeah, I do want to continue supporting this one. I also have a few
ideas for other apps. I had an idea for a game but I tried out game
development a few times on different platforms and it's really not my cup
of tea, so I got a really good idea, but I just don't really enjoy game
development. But I have a few other ideas of apps I'm thinking of creating
so I'll see what happens.
 
Eric: Cool. I'll tell ya, I was interviewing someone earlier today,
actually, and they were mentioning that they're sort of building a business
around magazines on mobile devices. They were talking about, using HTML5,
all the different ways you can build these real dynamic magazines for the
Newstand, for instance, on Apple and what a growing, emerging market that
that is right now and how there's way less competition in this magazine
space. Especially for apps that are sort of content-based as yours is, it
might be a really good option for you to be able to explore, being able to
produce a magazine sort of about positive thinking and stuff like that and
you might be able to find a niche there as well.
 
Shlomo: Yeah, I should look into that as well like Google Play with
magazines has also added, and I'm a big Google fan so, once Google gets
into a market, I know it's probably going to get bigger.
 
Eric: Yeah, check that out. So you're an Android guy moreso than iOS?
 
Shlomo: Yeah, I don't have any iOS devices. I just use an emulator. This is
not as common but I started out my app on Android originally, and I later
bought a Mac and moved on to iOS development but originally I was Android.
I have an Android tablet sitting right next to me that I use all the time.
If I don't have a phone, I just use my tablet and a Bluetooth and I use
Google Voice with this app, GrooVe IP, which allows me to make calls and
there's WiFi everywhere, so I just do that instead. I'm a big Google fan.
 
Eric: Cool, nice. So your business right now is sort of basically this app–
where do you want to take Heigh-Tech–which, again, good idea with the pun
there; I think that works well for ya–where do you want to take your
business?
 
Shlomo: Well, I'm thinking of maybe possibly creating more apps. I also
have a Windows program, it's an internet accelerator. It was my first
commercial product. I did some open-source contributions before I started
my company and then I made this internet accelerator which is when my
uncle, a lawyer, told me I should create a legal business for liability
protection. So that was my first product and then I went on to mobile
development, so I did that also and now, with Windows 8 out, I have to
consider that because they won't accept that app into the stores since it
affects different system settings and stuff so I have to kind of re-
evaluate where I am with that and stuff like that.
 
Eric: Okay. When it came to Be Happy, your app, did you try anything in
terms of marketing it?
 
Shlomo: Yeah. Well, first of all I use Tap For Tap, but I also found
another start-up calling Vungle, V-U-N-G-L-E, that's a video ad exchange. I
started doing that and I also used TapJoy–rewarded installs–on iOS. I
just started it on iOS for the paid version of my app just because on iOS,
users are more willing to pay for apps and I'm starting with that. And I'm
really not a marketing guy so I'm working on it. Sitting right next to me
is Marketing for Dummies that I just took out but that's one area where I
need to improve on.
 
Eric: So when you're using TapJoy, you're using it for your paid app–which
is $1.99–is that the price point?
 
Shlomo: Yes.
 
Eric: Then how does that work with TapJoy? You set a price point that's
lower than that and then you sort of put it up and see what you get?
 
Shlomo: Yeah, and then hopefully I'll get some, hopefully besides some
money off the profit margin, I'll also get engaged users and loyal users
who will refer their friends and stuff like that.
 
Eric: Nice. Now, these users you'll be getting from TapJoy, will they be
incentivized users? To download your app, will they be getting hammers in
another game or something like that?
 
Shlomo: Yeah, they will be. They'll be getting some sort of reward there.
So that's why I'm a little concerned they may not be such loyal users and
that's why, until I see a little bit of outcome, I'm not willing yet to do
this for the free version because I think they could just go and uninstall
the app right away. I mean, I play games fairly often and I sometimes
download apps from TapJoy. Sometimes I like them and keep playing them but,
most of the time, I don't and I just uninstall them.
 
Eric: But you've already got your bounty, so–
 
Shlomo: Yeah, so we'll just see how this works out. I'll see how many loyal
users I really get.
 
Eric: What's your price point you've set on TapJoy right now?
 
Shlomo: I'm not gonna release that right now, sorry.
 
Eric: That's okay. Cool. Alright, what's your favorite app?
 
Shlomo: Besides for mine, I would have to say Pocket. Do you know what
Pocket is?
 
Eric: No. No, I don't.
 
Shlomo: It's sort of like Instapaper but I think it's kind of like that.
You save articles–I save articles as a Google Chrome extension, so I save
them from my computer or from my Android tablet and it'll download them for
me to read them offline on my Android tablet and it's very helpful. I use
it all the time.
 
Eric: Cool. What about game? What about your favorite game? Mobile game.
 
Shlomo: I think Triple Town. And that's interesting because I found that
one from an ad from Vungle. I was looking at my own app and I had a Vungle
video ad and it's a very fun game.
 
Eric: It's called Triple Pound?
 
Shlomo: Triple Town, T-O-W-N.
 
Eric: Cool. So what's the idea with that game?
 
Shlomo: It's sort of a puzzle game but it's a little like the games where
you have to connect three objects, sort of like Bejeweled; but basically–
let's say you have grass. You place three squares of grass next to each
other and it creates a bush or you have three bushes together and it
creates a tree and it goes up with different elements and you go until you
fill up the whole board and then you basically create a little town out of
it. But in a way it's also a little bit like a puzzle game and I like that.
 
Eric: Nice. So what grade are you in?
 
Shlomo: I'm homeschooled right now. The reason I'm homeschooled is I could
be in different grade levels in different subjects. So I'm 15, so–I call
it my base level grade–is tenth but I wanted to take psychology and they
don't offer psychology on a–this is before I created this app, I wanted to
take psychology–they don't offer psychology very much in high school
courses so I had to take a college course, for just one example. But I can
be different grade levels in different things. In computers, I'm obviously
higher than a tenth grade level but, in math, I might be in a tenth grade
level. I don't fit into the common stereotype that programmers are
mathematicians, so–
 
Eric: Oh, okay. Nice. You're a programmer-slash-psychologist. That's a
pretty deadly combination.
 
Shlomo: Yeah. I guess so.
 
Eric: Nice. You mentioned in the little pre-interview there that you've got
a big update coming out for Be Happy? What can users expect with that?
 
Shlomo: Okay, so I work with a designer because anybody who tries out my
app will see that I'm definitely not a visual person. So first and
foremost, I've revamped the user interface, it's totally different.
Hopefully, it's a lot nicer; I think it looks a lot nicer. Also, I have a
few other things–I'll be adding more tips and a few other things like
that. Not everything's final yet, but those are some of the things, for
sure, coming. More tips–I think I want to have more tips. Beside full
tips, I want to have quotes that are short things you can read quickly.
 
Eric: Cool, and when will you have that update out?
 
Shlomo: I'm hoping sometime in the next two weeks. That's what my plan is,
so we'll see how that goes.
 
Eric: Nice. What sort of resources did you tap for your design work?
 
Shlomo: Well, it was funny–first, I went on Olark, oDesk–Olark is the
chat-thing on my website so users can contact me, but oDesk to find a
freelance designer and, for some reason, I couldn't find anybody. So I went
on Craigslist and I just posted it in the Cincinnati area because that's
where I am and I got someone who I work with online. It was kind of ironic
that, of all places, Craigslist had who I was looking for when I checked
places like oDesk; and I thought they would for sure but they didn't so I
got somebody on Craigslist and it worked very well. Basically, he gave me
the design, we worked totally online, and he sent me the files and I would
integrate them.
 
Eric: Nice, and you got a good price.
 
Shlomo: Yeah.
 
Eric: Which is always important.
 
Shlomo: Which is probably why on oDesk I couldn't do it because i put a
certain price and they probably wanted a higher price, maybe. I don't know.
 
Eric: Gotcha. Okay, cool. Well, I want to thank you for coming on the show
today and I wish you the best of luck with future updates and making the
world a happier place!
 
Shlomo: Thank you for having me.
 
Eric: Okay, see you later, Shlomo.
 
Shlomo: Okay, bye!