This is a story about oil and water. It’s a story about a couple in their 50’s and their pursuit of a mobile app. It’s a story about their perseverance, in getting the app published in the Google Play Store and the App Store. A story that shows that you’re never too old to get into tech. Here’s our story:
Are you crazy!
Friends and family questioned our sanity when we told them we were taking a big step: we were going to develop a mobile app. Some of them felt that since we were nearing early retirement age we should just take it easy, take up golf, and forget about the working world. Others felt the tech world is for millennials and people who have their faces constantly buried in their devices. They knew knew we fit neither of these archetypes.
Here’s the story ….
My wife and I are both in our mid-to-late 50’s. We’re your prototypical baby boomers. We know how to use Windows and our Android smartphones, so in my mind, at least, this makes us capable of taking on a tech venture. Truth be told, my wife wasn’t so keen at the start but she came along for the ride anyway. Now she is our head of Marketing; something that’s totally out of her comfort zone, and she’s learning daily as our project grows.
When I’m not the face of my tech startup Windshieldink, I am a mining engineer. I have been in the industry for over 30 years and an independent consultant for the last 20 years. I’m also, however, the type of person who likes to learn new things all the time. I’m not afraid to step outside my comfort zone. So when my consulting work goes through periodic lulls, my boredom quickly surges. During a quiet period a few years ago, I wrote a screenplay. Even though I knew the project would likely sit on my hard drive in perpetuity, I felt challenged and compelled to go for it. I feel the same way about our tech venture. Unfortunately for my wife, this one was a much more involved endeavour than the screenplay!
How the idea came about
The idea for the Windshieldink app originally germinated over 20 years ago, long before the days of the smartphone. We were living in Calgary at the time. My wife pulled into a strip mall and parked next to a car with a driver sitting in the driver seat. When she looked at the driver, it was clear that he had passed away. Beyond our immediate concern for this man and his family, this situation also made me realize that we really have no way to contact car owners in times of need.
Many years later, the idea of car owner messaging using license plate numbers resurfaced due to one of many road incidents. I thought to myself, “Someone should invent an app that can allow car owners to make themselves reachable.” Then I thought, “Why does it have to be someone else? Why not me?” At the very least, developing this technology would be a fun and interesting project to take on and who knows where it could lead.
So I got the ball rolling. Beyone the app itself, I realized there was clearly going to be a lot of other work involved. This would include social media marketing, blog writing, newsletter, and all the financial and administrative aspects of running a business. Thankfully my wife was a natural fit for this side of the business. We also knew there was going to be a lot to learn, especially when it came to social media marketing, data analytics, and dealing with software developers.
Where do I start?
Being a baby boomer, I had a certain bias in mind for the design and layout of the app. A bit different than many apps we see today. Would I be able to think like the app developers of today? I’ll be the first one to admit that I had incredibly limited knowledge of the tech industry. We really were starting from the ground up.
I starting attending a lot of tech meetups, and believe me when I say “a lot”! At first I had difficulty attending. I feared being the oldest guy in the room (which 80% of the time I was) and I feared not understanding the tech talk, let alone the tech world as a whole. After continually forcing myself to go I became more and more comfortable and now attend one or two a week.
At these meetups I learned about a variety of things. Software development, marketing or even simply professional networking. In fact, I found the millennials who attended these events to be very helpful and willing to share information. There is a certain camaraderie amongst the attendees whereby everyone wants to see others succeed. They all know they have more to learn and want to learn from the experiences of others. It’s a refreshing attitude and helped me immensely.
The app development process took over a year. It encompassed finding and managing two overseas developers who spoke very little English. We met a Marketing Strategist at a meet up who became our chief advisor and guided us step by step through the design and development of our websites and kick started us into social media posting and publishing content. Neither of us were social media gurus.
Next came the copywriters, graphic designers, online video developer, writing FAQ’s, policies and producing other relevant content. It grew beyond what we had ever imagined.
We eventually and successfully got our app into Google Play and the App Store. Subsequently, we have rolled out three potential monetization business services Fleeter, Alerter and Connects that all work in unision with the app. We hope to continue to expand our offerings as time goes on, but as all tech startup founders know, you need to gauge interest first and see how people respond to the solution put forward.
This project has been a labour of love and learning. Sure, validation would be nice, but my primary goal of getting an app into the app stores was achieved. Now we move on to the marketing side of the project. We are focussed on social media marketing, influencer marketing, or media outreach. Another mountain of a learning curve to climb for both of us.
When our mobile app becomes a household name for all vehicle owners, we’ll know we have conquered the marketing mountain. Right now, we’re just at base camp.
We’re interested in hearing from you. Send your comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.