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A Closer Look into a Young Developer’s Success

Started in 2013 by University of Virginia undergraduate student, Joshua Anton, Drunk Mode has been one of the most innovative, fastest-growing mobile applications on college campuses.

Drunk Mode has driven over 1.3 million app installs, was listed as one of the Top 100 apps multiple times, and engages over 250 thousand daily active users – allowing it to become the number one nightlife and safety app on the market.

How does a young developer like Josh Anton break the barriers of entry and rise to the top of one of the most competitive marketplaces today? Being committed to pursuing new, innovative ways to reach the right audiences, Anton took a huge step in deciding to integrate a mobile SDK into his app.

We sat down with Anton, CEO, and Developer of Drunk Mode, to gain some insights into how the self-started college student turned a swift idea into a successful, scalable business.

8 Questions We Asked Josh

1. Can you tell us a little bit about your app, Drunk Mode?

I wanted to develop an app that helps serve college students to make sure they’re having fun but also getting home safely after a night out.

The app allows you to alert friends and family that you’re home safe with Homebase, stop yourself from drunk dialing certain contacts, and use the Breadcrumbs feature to track where you were the night before.

Most importantly, Find My Drunk makes sure you never lose a friend and helps you find a safe ride home.

2. How did you exponentially grow your user base in the beginning stages?

To go from 0 to 250,000 downloads, we did as much outreach as possible to our relevant audiences.

For example, we posted in college Facebook groups, emailed university students, talked to drunk people on Twitter, pitched to editorials to get featured in everything from MTV, the front page of The Wall Street Journal, BBC Radio and more.

To grow even more from 250,000 to 1.5 million app downloads, we used other growth strategies to drive installs. We partnered with oneAudience, an SDK and mobile intelligence platform, to create a new stream of revenue and to gain insights into who we were targeting.

I also utilized influencer marketing via Trendpie.com to generate installs from $0.20 to $0.50 per CPI, incorporated email marketing campaigns where we sent close to 1.5M emails per month to convert college students into users of Drunk Mode, and launched a campus rep program for six semesters straight through which we mass marketed to 100+ universities.developer

3. What made you decide to integrate an SDK into your app?

I wanted to incorporate an ad-free monetization channel to our growth strategy and find more insightful ways to reach new app users as well.

We also wanted to focus on location monetization of new users on college campuses but we didn’t have the means of reaching real people on their hashed emails and linking them to their mobile device IDs. That’s where the SDK helped fill in the blanks.

4. What was the integration process like?

The integration process was really simple. The SDK easily integrates into the apps that you put on the oneAudience registration screen and runs behind-the-scenes without interrupting your app functionality or experience.

5. How has integrating a mobile SDK benefited you and your app?

The SDK helps us understand who our users are and what their demographics and audience profiles look like. We use that information to offer better features, content, and marketing based on what’s most relevant and helpful for our users.

By being able to associate mobile device IDs and demographic information (age, location, gender, etc.) to all of our app users, we’ve been able to learn more about who our users are and where they’re located to drive app monetization and improve the user experience.

While many monetization efforts display ads in apps that make the app experience a lot more interruptive for users, the SDK doesn’t affect our user experience at all because it runs in the background.

6. What have you learned from working with an SDK partner?

Working with 2-3 honest and close partners that offer really good rates in an otherwise crowded space ensures you are going to get the best bang for your buck from your app monetization data.

Also, having strategic partners who can offer you something in exchange for your data, such as user insights or an additional revenue stream, is the ideal combination.

7. What makes mobile data so valuable to the way marketers reach their audiences?

Mobile is a window for marketers to see who their consumers really are by how they spend, where they go, and how they engage with apps, social media, email, etc.

The true value of mobile is that advertisers can reach users not only when they are online shopping with their desktops at home, but also understand on-the-go and in real-time how they are engaging, behaving, and purchasing in the physical world.

Marketing is becoming more personalized than ever before with the power of mobile insights, providing a great opportunity for developers to engage real, active users through mobile apps.

8. What is a piece of advice you would give to a new developer in the beginning stages of launching his or her app?

Talk to 100 people before spending a dime on building the app and see if they would download it and if they would support your revenue model.

For example, I’ve never had an alcoholic drink in my life but I developed Drunk Mode. I talked to as many people as I could and asked them if they or a friend they knew would download an app to stop them from drunk dialing their friends and if they would pay $1.00 for it.

All of them said yes, and couldn’t name an app that did that off hand. Practicing market validation ensures you don’t waste money building an app that no one wants to use and provides feedback on what people would find most useful and relevant to them.