Charlie Ward: Okay, thank you everyone for joining this, the latest Ramen Club AMA with none other than Matt Callery who's with us now. Matt is the founder of CV Engineer, an iOS app resume builder with 500,000 plus downloads across iOS and Android. And yeah, we're going to have for the first 40 minutes, we'll have a chat between us just, about his journey so far, what he's learned growing into the size and what the future holds and then for the last 20 minutes or so we'll open it up for audience questions from the community. You can ask him anything afterward, we will be sharing this elsewhere, so you'll get the first look at it, but it will eventually be on YouTube podcasts and blog transcripts.

So without further ado Matt, how's it going man?

Matthew Callery: Yeah, not too bad, happy to be here.

Charlie Ward: So yeah, I did a brief intro, just so you know, high level, you know what you're doing with CV Engineer, but can you maybe tell us a little bit more about your, just your general like background and how you got into building products in the first place?

Matthew Callery: Yeah, absolutely. So at the moment, my day job is I'm an Android engineer. And until recently I was working for Epic Games building social media apps. But I recently moved to a startup called Tilt, which is building a new e-commerce. So I actually started my career as a headhunter, I was doing exec search. So mostly hiring senior, tech people for banks in London. And then when companies like Monzo started to launch like CTOs, chief data officers, et cetera. And quickly realized that what they were doing was much more interesting than what I was doing, which was a pretty soulless sales job. I quit went back to university, did a Computer Science Masters and since then have been working on various things in the London tech scene.

But CV engineer came out of that Computer Science Masters. So at the end, we had this like ancient professor who always say everyone in their like final project was to build this Java web app. And I was just like, no one builds Java web apps any more. So can I just build an Android up in Java instead?

And loads of, because I'd worked in recruitment a lot of people on the Master's course were asking me to check their CV cause they were applying for their first software engineering jobs. And I was just giving everyone like the same advice over and over again. So I was like, I'll build an app that helps people build their resume and gives all of the advice and examples that I would normally give them and just packages it into one product.

So yeah, that's how it started. And then, yeah after my Masters, I was like looking for jobs and jumping into things really boring. So I was like, I'll carry on building it and launch it on the Play Store and see if anyone downloads it.

Charlie Ward: Yup, yup. It sounds, they certainly have been. But before we get into a bit more on that, I'm just curious you started as CV Engineer while you're doing your Masters course. But was that the first kind of business you'd made or when you were younger, were you the kids like starting lemonade stands and stuff, or was it started doing that a bit later?

Matthew Callery: Yeah, no, I wasn't one of those kids at all, like the least entrepreneurial Childs. Just yeah.Wholly focused on like playing sport and my academics. Yeah, I don't have any stories about like door to door sales. My kind of first interaction with entrepreneurship was the head sensing firm I joined was like a startup. So I was the first employee, the guy who set it up had been a Senior Director at one of the like major global head hunters and decided to be more interesting, to set up his own company.

So yeah, I guess I got a good look at what, like early stage business looks like not a tech business but still a startup. So like hiring people, unfortunately firing some people yeah. How you manage the cash flow for a business in that early stage. Like how close to the wire you can get, like early on before you have like repeatable revenue coming in.

And yeah. Like head sensing wasn't necessarily the right profession, but the actual like business side of things was really interesting. And yeah, I guess that's why I got like a taste for kind of building my own stuff. Yeah.

Charlie Ward: That's awesome. I actually had a similar experience before I was doing this, when I was joining an early-stage Ad agency and seeing the founders up close, you just get a lot of lessons from that you don't always expect.

Matthew Callery: Yeah, and you also realize that they're not like, they're not necessarily like these unbelievable businesses. Like they're normal people. They just had the balls to go alone and set up their own thing. Like some risk appetite. It's not necessarily that they've got some set of skills that are very difficult to acquire.

Charlie Ward: Yeah, I totally agree. That was my experience as well. And so back to CV Engineer. Thinking about, validation, it sounds like obviously originally you had people like frequently asking you feedback on CVS. And so that it seemed like, there might be an idea for a product there, but were there any kind of after you built it, were there any sort of things that you did to try and understand how like high the potential was for it, whether it was worth like really focusing on it?

Matthew Callery: So it was by no means like a new product, like quite a lot of apps existed in that category already and on the play store, you can see like a rough download number that they're on. And some of them were like 10 million-plus downloads. So I guess. And then we're rubbish, but you went on to them and it was like everything, a mobile app. Shouldn't be like ads popping up all over the place, like UI that looked like it was from the 1990s. And so I was like, there's clearly a demand for this kind of product. So you can see it from the download numbers and like these apps on high quality, it's not like you're competing against Snapchat or someone.

Yeah. So I guess that was the kind of the initial validation that it was worth kind of building out and launching it and seeing how I did, yeah.

Charlie Ward: Obviously seeing it grow, it must've made you feel more confident as well.

Matthew Callery: Yeah. Yeah. Grew a lot quicker in the early days than I expected.

I think it took a few months to get up to 10,000 monthly active users. And then maybe in six months, I was up to about 30,000 monthly active users. So yeah, in terms of user acquisition it came a lot easier than I expected. I put quite a lot of work in, into getting those initial downloads.

But at the time I wasn't really treating it as a potential business. I was just using as an example, I had a bigger idea in the recruitment space that I wanted to build and raise venture funding for. And because I'd never worked in tech, I just wanted to build a product where I could go look, I've built this consumer recruitment app.

It's got like 30,000 people a month using it. So I know how to build something people want to use, give me some money so I can build something that actually will like print some cash. So yeah, it wasn't until more recently I started thinking it could potentially be a business of its own.

Charlie Ward: Yeah. That's pretty impressive man. That you weren't even working in the tech industry on the side you had this really popular app kind of thing.

But in terms of like how you were thinking about it in some, how did you think about like at the point you decided this can be a business, think about a Ramen profitable target or revenue goal that you want to hit one day. Do you have something like that in your head that you're working towards?

Matthew Callery: I mean it's difficult. It probably needs to bring in at least like 4,000 a month for yeah, for me to live in London and not have to scale my lifestyle back to yeah. When I was 21 and first moved to London again, which I could do, but I think like 3000 would be the absolute minimum. That would be like a graduate salary.

4,000 would be, yeah, would probably be if I was to quit my job and work full-time.

Charlie Ward: Is that dollars or pounds?

Matthew Callery: Yep.

Charlie Ward: Yep, got you. Yeah. Living in places like London is a bit harder, isn't it? If we all lived in Chiang Mai would be a little bit simpler.

Matthew Callery: Yeah. If I was back up North in Blackpool, I'd probably cut that figure in half.

Charlie Ward: Yeah, yeah exactly. So in terms of like monetization so far if you don't mind being transparent, like what, where are you at so far? Like in monetizing it and like you also, how would you, does it make money?

Matthew Callery: So it makes about a thousand a month in profit at the moment. So it's probably a quarter of the way it's where it needs to be.

The monetization's changed a couple of times since I've built it. So in the early days it was literally just a donation model. If this app helps you find a job, you can make an in-app purchase and send me some money. And it didn't actually work that badly to be fair, but it wasn't. It wasn't that scalable, like a lot of users obviously go just yeah, thanks, but no thanks. So I introduced like more, I changed it from more concrete in a purchase model. There are two, there's basically a premium version and a free version. And the premium version has to see features at the moment which people pay for one is. There's a tool called CV Scan, which scans your resume for common mistakes and tells you how to fix them.

Then the other one is there's a free download. So you get three free downloads of your CV. And then after that you hit a Paywall and have to upgrade. So that kind of increased the amount of revenue coming in from the business. But only in some countries. So like in the US and the UK that works pretty well. In countries like India, like literally no one would pay and I experimented with everything. Like I reduced the price down. So like the minimum in-app purchase price, Google will allow, which was like 11p or something. Like it literally wasn't worth the time, but I just wanted to see will they pay at any price?

And the answer was no. And I was just thinking about it for ages, because I've got loads of users in countries where like making in app purchases, isn't culturally really a thing, or they're like reticence to I ended up stumbling on this blog by Duolingo who obviously have one of the most successful consumer apps.

And one of that Product Managers had written a whole blog post about monetizing in India. So they basically had the same problem I had India was their fastest-growing segment. They couldn't get people to upgrade to that premium subscription. And I was like if Duolingo can't do it, I'm never gonna be able to cause they've got teams of people doing this.

So eventually they just gave up and kept, they basically, their free version in India is the same as in the UK, except like even more adverts basically. So I switched off the in-app purchases and switched in advertising instead in certain countries. And yeah, it's had, it probably makes about a third of income now from those efforts where previously those countries weren't making anything. So yeah, it has helped.

Charlie Ward: Yeah, that's a really good tip. I've actually heard this about India before. That it's not just about, that there's perhaps less purchasing power than the UK, for example. But there's actually just a resistance to want to pay for certain things, but are there like many other countries you've noticed like that, whilst doing this?

Matthew Callery: Yeah. So it took some time to compile a list. And I started from the top in terms of countries with the most users that just work like the revenue per user was really low and work down from that. Pakistan's another one most. South Africa as well is a lot of users. And then when I translate it into Spanish some countries like Spain and Mexico, like they kept the in-app purchases. But other countries like Colombia and Argentina, just, no one was making. No one was buying it. So I switched on that advertising there. So it on a country-by-country basis. If the user numbers start to grow and I see that no one's paying for it. Then Nigeria would be another one line, large English speaking population. Not really. The often to making up purchases. This is only, I would add at the moment this monetization models only on Android. On iOS, it's just in-app purchases. I have noticed that I'm getting an increasing number of Indian users and even on iOS literally never pay.

So I'll probably have to switch on switch to the same model on iOS as well.

Charlie Ward: Yeah, makes sense. That's super interesting. I hadn't really thought of that as different models, depending on the country sort of thing. And it, I love to talk a bit more about your growth tax. It says you what's the latest number of downloads?

Matthew Callery: So at the moment, let me check, it's going up at the moment. They got stuck on about 68,000. And then the last few weeks it's been going up again. So 79,000 monthly active users over the last month.

Charlie Ward: how many total downloads now?

Matthew Callery: It's probably going up about 60 to 70,000 a month downloads maybe.

Charlie Ward: So you might have, do you reckon you've reached 600,000 yet?

Matthew Callery: No. Yeah, probably towards the end of the month or the start of June, it'll hit 700. So at some point in this year, we'll hit a million downloads, which is a landmark I'm looking forward to you.

Charlie Ward: So I'd love to just hear about what kind of tactics you've used for it, but especially like maybe through the lens of how this changed, as you scaled, because I imagine what you do right at the beginning when you're trying to scrappily get users, maybe is slightly different to later on when you're at a bit more scale sort of thing.

Matthew Callery: Yeah, absolutely. So at the start it's like the apps on the Playh Store they'll have a chicken and egg problem if you have no users, no, one's writing your app and therefore Google and Apple just don't rank you in the organic search results. So people will search for things like CV builder or CV maker, like those kinds of search terms.

Yeah, there are probably like 200 apps that do it. So you're just never going to get found if you're, if you think that people are just gonna search for it and find it. So I did the main thing I did at first was I think because I had no money to spend on it. Cause I just spent a year doing a Masters with no income.

So I had no marketing budget. I went on Reddit and loads of Subreddits related to employment. So the ones like get employed or basically every major city, particularly in the US has like New York jobs or like Chicago jobs. So I just went in all these Subreddits and posted saying I'm a former Executive Recruiter, turned Software Engineer. I build this up to help people find jobs. I will give you free CV advice if you give me product feedback. And that got a lot of people using. Yeah. Like people were pretty generous with writing it. I think because at the time it was completely free with the donation model.

And obviously like I was giving them outside-of-the-app advice on the CV, they built through the app as well. And yeah, that, I think that combination of so this was just the Android app that. Backlinks, obviously Google loves backlinks and index is Reddit pretty highly because I was getting quite a few up votes on these posts.

Like it would be the top posts of the day or most of these job related Subreddits. So I was getting backlinks. Like my user numbers were going up and if your download numbers start to go up, Google starts to rank you higher. And then you start to get more downloads and it starts to go up and basically Google, like eventually works out the level where you should sit in the search results.

And then the ratings as well, like heavily in that it's like getting the more ratings you can get as long as the average rating is good, like the higher they're going to rank key. So that kind of feedback loop meant, I went from nowhere to, for a time in the UK I was like number one for pretty much every search result.

And so a year later they changed the algorithm, which we can get in and see, but like for a year I was the number one ranked CV maker. Yeah, in the UK, I'm doing pretty well in the US as well.

Charlie Ward: Yeah. That's awesome. Where did you learn about to get backlinks from Reddit and obviously the ratings was there, like any resources you'd saw or advice you got?

Matthew Callery: I'd read a load of, I've read a lot of the like, standard type business books at a university. I can't remember. I think possibly there was one that was literally called something stupid, like how to build a billion-dollar app. And it was written by a guy who'd been one of the founders at Halo, which was like an early version of Uber, basically like an Uber competitor that at some point reached unicorn status.

And he was basically like, here are all the steps we went through to build Halo and here's what you could do. So do the same for your app. And I think there was a section on like generating backlinks for your app and getting ranked in the Play store. So yeah, I think that's where the idea came from.

Charlie Ward: That's pretty interesting. Did you think much about app store optimization at that point as well?

Matthew Callery: No not early on. I didn't really know much about it other than at the time I knew that Play store ranked backlinks quite heavily. I think they've decreased. It still helps, but I think they've decreased their reliance on that. So it was just focused on those things. Two things early on like app store optimization came later. Yeah.

Charlie Ward: Gotcha, all right. So yeah. So you started off posting on Reddit, focusing on getting ratings backlinks. So that kind of got you off the ground. But how did things evolve growth wise since then?

Matthew Callery: So for that first year, it reached about 30,000 monthly active users. And then I left it to work on the other recruitment cycle idea I was working on so occasionally, like I would update libraries and stuff but basically just left it. And then one week I looked at my analytics and just my user numbers had crashed like down from 30,000. So I think they eventually hit like 8,000 a month. A quick Google revealed that they changed the Play store algorithm they'd done like that biggest ever update to it. And like loads of developers just overnight had lost by a massive chunk of user base. And anyway, it was so bad that Google actually had to reveal some of the changes that they've made, which they don't usually do.

Some guy like the Product Manager for the Play store, did this talk, he was like, we've been running some AB tests on our side and we basically discovered that these three factors are the most important, like more than backlinks, more than ratings. It was crashed. User retention and daily active user engagements, they were like those three things. And now what we're most heavily ranking on. And my wasn't terribly buggy, but it wasn't like perfect either. So like the crash rate could have been better and is now much better. But yeah, I like those three factors. I was clearly doing worse than some of my competitors. And yeah, just completely tanked the user base for a while.

And it wasn't until I started working on it and maybe a year and a half ago that started to turn around when I've so I had to ditch the recruitment business. I was trying to build when the pandemic hit VCs weren't keen to invest in recruitment businesses like recruitment businesses when nobody was hiring.

So I started working for Epic Games as a Mobile Engineer, and then I was basically using the app. Upscale in my spare time. And I started to like work on the crash rate and work on increasing retention and daily active user engagement, et cetera. So yeah, I think. It's now the case that like, you really do need to look at your apps, like health metrics.

So like my crash rates now that I think it's like 99.9% of sessions, a crash rate application not responding rate, which is when your like freezes for certain number of frames, got that right down. And I guess it makes sense because obviously if like your app crashes, a couple of times, someone's just going to delete it.

So then you're not going to retain that user, but also if that, if it crashes, they're probably not going to pay for it either. So it affects the revenue. And also the, Google did this study where crash rate is directly linked to average rating. So the most common reason for one-star review is the app keeps crashing or the apps, buggy, et cetera.

So they were right, but it was incredibly painful to see I just know two thirds of, It wasn't bringing in a huge amount of money at the time, but like the money was useful. Yeah. So say two-thirds that just despair over night was a shock to the system. And it's one of the reasons why, like my life, if I was to focus on this, full-time my level of Ramen profitability might be a bit higher than other people is because I know for a fact that Google could just take some of that away, like literally overnight.

Charlie Ward: Wow. That's crazy. So it sounds like the Google algorithm is maybe more of a concern than the iOS one.

Matthew Callery: Yeah, potentially, but it could always do the same. I think that just less prone to mess around with it. Probably because they make more money out of it. So they've got more to lose by changing it.

But yeah, I think. To be fair since then, I haven't noticed any major algorithm changes that have just suddenly collapsed my user numbers. Yeah, but you can never say never.

Charlie Ward: Okay. So to summarize so it just sounds like your main, like source is just making sure that the Google and iOS algorithms are playing nice for people searching for resume builders. Do you ever use anything like a paid acquisition or create content as well, or is it that the main focus, just to make sure that you're filling, fulfilling those metrics that they look for?

Matthew Callery: Yeah. So it's predominantly been a focus on organic acquisition. So I actually had a call at some point I think it was end of last year with is it Graham?

Charlie Ward: Yeah. He's on the call actually.

Matthew Callery: Yeah. He walked me through the app store optimization steps that he's taken and following, I think over the last six months, I tell you things have taken the up from 20 thousands users or wherever it was to 70. And one of them was translating into other languages. But particularly Spanish has had a massive effect. Like I think Mexico is now my fourth highest country by using numbers. And the other was like a bigger focus on app store optimization. So using an ASL, so upgrade or to update my, the like descriptions so that I get like more results from, or more users from long-tail searches in the app store and Play store.

And then running AB tests on the app icon and on the app, screenshots had a major effect as well, like a 30% increase in users from designing new assets for the app store.

Charlie Ward: 30% percent conversion increase?

Matthew Callery: Yeah.

Charlie Ward: Wow. I remember you shared this before. You just updated the logo, it's crazy.

Matthew Callery: Yeah. It was something like 38% increase in conversion rate just from changing the logo. Yeah. And then like a bigger focus on promising users in up for ratings to boost those numbers as well.

Charlie Ward: That's awesome. No, that's really comprehensive, thanks. Yeah. I love hearing how it kind of changes. Different stages as well. And what would you say is, what's it been like the sort of lowest point so far in, in building CV Engineer and how did you get out of it? Or was it that Android update?

Matthew Callery: Yeah, that was the worst point. Yeah, there's not been anything. I'm trying to think if there's been anything else, but Yeah, that was definitely the worst point, just like a complete collapse. And when I built back, it wasn't the same for quite a while in terms of. When the user started coming back, they were predominantly outside the UK and US for a while. I think the algorithm change made it a lot more competitive in the most lucrative market.

So it's taken a lot of work to get back up there. In terms of paid user acquisition. I only do it when Google send me like a voucher, basically. So I do it and then I stopped my campaign and then they send me like 400 pounds free. If you'd like to start your campaign again. And then I do 400 pounds of bpaid advertising and then switch it off.

So it's not really a like repeatable strategy. I'm not the right person to talk to about payback position.

Charlie Ward: Sure. That's thrifty. I like it.

Matthew Callery: Yeah. And then, yeah, content, I haven't really tried over largely because of it's such a competitive market, like I'd be competing against Indeed, Monster and LinkedIn. There are so many recruitment related websites, some of the biggest websites in the world. So writing content about like how to write your CV, like it's useful in the app to help guide people through the process, but I've not tried it as an SEO tactic because I'd have to go for like the longest of long-tail content to get any kind of traction, I think.

Charlie Ward: Yeah, no, that, that makes sense. That's a, it's a tough market. But on the other hand, I do think it's an interesting learning because Indie Hackers I believe always have a tendency to try and always do something like this completely brand new and hasn't been done. Whereas you, you created an app in like an already crowded market.

That's still got like lots of traction. You're doing it your own way and it probably will get you to your Ramen profitability target at some point. And I do think that, more people should consider just trying to do something like a little bit different or better just in an already validated market.

Matthew Callery: Yeah. That's the advantage of people are already looking for an app like that. If you create something completely new, then you might have to educate the market or you're going to get a small number of users in a certain Subreddit, but it's going to be hard to grow.

The advantage is that if it takes off, then it's really gonna take off because you're going to be the number one from the get-go. But it probably is easier to build it in a market where, that's the mountains, but the existing products are pretty, pretty awful.

Charlie Ward: Yeah, for sure. And is there anything you would have done very differently if you could start again now?

Matthew Callery: I'd be a lot more aggressive on pricing out there, I think if I was to build an app again, if it was the kind of same like global consumer I would just go for advertising from the get-go in certain markets where I know people I'm going to.

I wouldn't bother like trying to experiment with pricing in those countries. I don't think it's worthwhile. And then I think I can still be more aggressive with pricing. Like a few weeks ago moved my prices up by 30% and my revenue just immediately went up by 30%. There was no, I should probably do it again. Yeah. Be more aggressive with we've testing different pricing models because like most people aren't going to pay for the app. So those that, do you want to make as much money out of them as possible. I think because it was a side because I just thought of it as a side project. I wasn't really thinking about it within a ruthlessness in terms of trying to monetize it, thinking oh, people use my app because there are no adverts. So I don't want to introduce that. But whereas users in those countries are used to it, because it's basically the only way to make money. And yeah, probably being too thirsty and pursuing to users over revenue like it'd be better to have 20,000 users by making lots of money than to have a hundred thousand. But that can be 1p each or something.

Charlie Ward: Yeah. I'm sure other people listening with side projects and day jobs. We'd love to know how do you approach balancing having a busy day job with a project like this?

Matthew Callery: Yeah, it can be difficult. It's quite slow, like slow pace of movement. Typically I'm either working on it in the evenings or like one day over the weekend, for example. Yeah, I do sometimes think I'd love to have just two weeks where I could focus on it at the expense of everything else. But yeah, that's the kind of balance you've got to find some weeks I do nothing on it. And then some weeks I'll do quite a lot. It depends like what my social life is like.

But yeah, it's obviously that my rate of development isn't as quick as people in the group who've quit that job and come full-time and stuff. I guess that depends on your risk profile. If you're willing to take a plunge that night, obviously your development is going to be quicker, but I guess I'm not like, I'm not a hundred percent certain that this business come might make enough money for me to live off. But I'm confident that it can make enough money, that it will be a very useful side stream of revenue.

If I do carry on working as a Software Engineer during the day then, I guess the dream would be that it makes enough money that I can either work on it full-time or it affords me the time to work on a bigger project. That's got more obvious monitorization prospects.

Charlie Ward: Yeah. Yeah. That's really interesting scenario.

And one of the last questions from me before we start opening up or audience questions is where, what do you see is the future CV Engineer, do you have a kind of vision for it, or, just try and make a nice enough side revenue that you can have a bit more freedom?

Matthew Callery: Yeah, I think my thinking is basically that to get it to a point where it's making enough money to be useful either that I could afford to work full time for myself or it's making enough money that I can save up to work for a period by myself to build something new that makes more money. I think it's probably capped in of itself in terms of how large it could be because it's a really competitive market. But as a generalization people looking for jobs, not necessarily the most lucrative target market but quite a lot of the people that use it are unemployed or they're students looking for their first job or they using it because they've been out of work for a while and they like need the advice and examples to help them put together a CV that can get them into.Yeah, it's not like selling to software engineers or it's not a lucrative target market.

Charlie Ward: Got you. Got you. Do you have any early ideas for, if you did decide to pursue a more high potential revenue idea, are there any early ideas for that or you're still thinking about it?

Matthew Callery: There's one in the executive search space, basically selling software to exec search companies. I think it would be lucrative. It's just, I don't know if that's what I want to do anymore. That's what I was trying to see before the Pandemic. Because obviously, that's where my background was. No one really builds software for that market because the kind of narrative for the last 10 years has been the software is going to kill the recruitment industry.

So what's the point of building software for the recruitment industry if it's going to die. But I think it's pretty obvious now that it's not going anywhere. Like people need recruiters. But yeah, the problem with working for Epic Games, as you see, like all the cool stuff that you can do with tech. And so yeah, I don't know at the moment I've got a few ideas, but nothing.

Charlie Ward: Awesome. We are looking forward to seeing how you progress with things and yeah, thanks very much, Matt. So now I think we can open up to questions from the community. So if anyone, if you just fancy posting or question in the chats and then I would just read it out just so it's easier for listeners to know what's going on.

So first question from Ostap. How you doing Ostap? So Matt, have you tried an alternative Android apps store such as Fjoyed? I'm not sure if you're familiar with that one?

Matthew Callery: I'm not actually, I'm aware there are alternative ones. To be honest I don't really know much about them.

I don't know how easy it is to make money. All of my money is handled through the app store and Play store in-app purchase mechanics, which like whilst they take an annoyingly high cut of your revenue are very easy to use. Yeah, I dunno what the monetization mechanics would be on something like Fjoyed.

Charlie Ward: Cool. Thanks for that question. Any other questions from the audience? So question from Graham did you think to create a web version to eventually leverage web search?

Matthew Callery: Yeah. Yeah. I do think about it quite a lot. I think the obviousl advantages that are like most, a lot of people when they're putting together their resume, they don't think I'll use my mobile phone for obviously use Microsoft word or Google docs on their laptop.

I guess there are two things holding me back. One, I know nothing about web development, so that'd be a learning curve. And to, I guess my thinking has always been, can I make enough money from the mobile apps that it makes sense to build a web version so make even more money? Because I think probably could make more money from a web version.

Like typically web products charge a home. Which I think is what Graham has just said. Yeah, avoid the cut and it will probably be better for cash flow as well because Google and Apple just pay you once a month. And they usually, I think apple has 45 day payments. So it takes ages to get the cash in the bank from those purchases.Whereas on web you'd be getting it like every week from Stripe, but yeah, I think if I can get the mobile app to a point where I think the revenue from that is interesting, then I probably will build a web version. Yeah. It would make a lot of sense.

Charlie Ward: Out of interest, a question for me. What is the take rate for the Play store versus the iOS?

Matthew Callery: So it changed actually largely because my former employer, Epic Games sued both of them for the take rate was so it was, it used to be 30% which is crazy. Apple and Google did something really clever where, because obviously every in the mobile developer in the world, got behind Epic suing them about this because they were losing, everyone was losing loads of money.

They said, if you make less than a million dollars a year on the app store unplaced or like separately we'll reduce that to 15%. So it's now 15% for me because I'm making less than a million on both. But they make 90% of that revenue from the companies that are making more than a million a year.

So it doesn't help companies like Spotify or Epic or et cetera, but it kind of took most of the Indie developers. Out of the equation. Yeah, cause if the 15% isn't terrible, like the best you can get on any platforms, probably like 10%. On any equivalent, like Epicon, even like the Epic online store is 10%, I think so 15 centers.

And if I ever make more than like a million dollars on one of the platform a year, then I'm not going to be worried about losing, like going up to 30% now.

Charlie Ward: Yeah, too busy drinking Pina Coladas in Miami to worry about that.

Matthew Callery: Yeah I'll be on a beach.

Charlie Ward: Good question. Most stop. So what technology stack do you have for it?

Matthew Callery:  So both apps are completely native. So the Android that was originally Java. And then when I got my job at Epic this is going on YouTube, isn't it. I basically lied and said, I knew how to write code. I knew how to write in college.

Like I, I started to learn, but I didn't really, so like my first month at Epic all day I was writing and coding Kotlin and then all night I was rebuilding my Android app in Kotlin. So learn as fast as I could then it was during one of the like major lockdowns. So there wasn't anything else to be doing.

So I rebuild the Android app in Kotlin, which has made it much, it's not much faster to develop it. And then the iOS app is Swift. I think if I was to build again. So when I was at Epic, I was an iOS and Android engineer. So I worked across both. And that tech stack was, they use something called Kotlin multi-platform for the business logic, which means you only have to write it in Kotlin and then it can be used by both your iOS app and your Android app. And then you write the you write the UI code natively in Kotlin on Swift, depending on the platform. So it's like the best of both worlds. 50% of your codes. You only have to write one, but you still get all of the advantages of having native UI versus using something like React native.

So yeah, if I was going to build a new app, I'd probably build a Kotlin multi-platform app.

Charlie Ward: Yep. Makes sense. So question from Alex I guess it's about your like roadmap and how it evolved over time. So how much did the MVP change from the current version? So did it have all the features at the beginning? How did you progressively approach adding them at a high level?

Matthew Callery: I guess the basic version was just, it was a form, it was various forms. You fill them in and it spits out a PDF that would be formatted. And that was like, that was one template that it would output. So it was basically, if you didn't mind that CV template, you, weren't going to use the app. And then I added a field, I ended up buttons every screen on the app, which was how could we improve this app? And it opened up a little text form and then I'd get an email from them. And obviously because it was a consumer, you'd get lots of ones, like lol this app is shit. And but you get some useful stuff through and I just kept a spreadsheet of feature requests.

And then That was basically like my product prioritization was the most requested feature. I build it. So I'm not at the point where the most requested feature is more templates, like better templates basically. Yeah, I need to sit down and put some time into that probably, but I think that's also probably the next way that I'm going to try and make more money off the app is premium templates as reading as there's an Indie Hacker who, I don't think actually built the original business, but you bought it for basically nothing.

A company called Visual CV, which was like a web version of CV Engineer effectively. He wrote a blog post about taking it from nothing to. I think him and his co-founder were making like tens of thousands a month. Yeah, they were like the main reasons to upgrade to that premium subscription was premium templates and they're like, it's a well-known monetization path.

That's how Canva makes money, et cetera. Yeah, that's probably the next feature and that's the next way that I'm going to try and make more money.

Charlie Ward: Yep. Makes sense. So question from Jack, how did you persuade Epic to sue Apple?

Matthew Callery: Tim Sweeney didn't need any persuading, a very litigious man. Yeah, I think they'd started that lawsuit before I joined it just reached the stage where it got to court in the US while I was there.

Yeah, every month, all like company-wide meeting the general council would give us an update. And it was the US legal is stupid, but that was one day where they were arguing, Apple's lawyers were arguing that Peely the banana that's like the icon of Fortnite was sexual because it's naked. And the Epic lawyer was like it's a banana. Why would a banana wear clothes? And they mocked up this banana wearing like a full suit, basically, just to take the piss. But yeah, it was an interesting lawsuit. Epic actually lost largely because that lawsuit wasn't, it was that it's a monopoly, but iOS and Android as a monopoly and the judge was like, it can't be a monopoly because there's two of them. So it's a duopoly at best. But the lawyer did say in his like, judgment that if, instead of going after the monopoly argument you'd gone after 30% is like too high attacks on the internet, then I would have been much more interested. So I think now Spotify are taking them to court on that basis. 30% is too high, which is way too high. It's crazy.

Charlie Ward: Yeah. It's a lot. It's a lot. And I can't even imagine the number of lawyers fees spen on a case like that as well.

Matthew Callery: The biggest cost was, Fornite was the biggest was the iOS app in terms of revenue when it got. So when it reached court Fortnite from the app store and it's still banned from that store. Yeah, I can't remember what information is privileged. It was honestly an insane percentage of app store revenue was Fortnite like double digit. So yeah, it costs Apple and Epic, tens of millions, hundreds of millions probably. Just they not still faced nevermind legal fees.

Charlie Ward: And so now I have a question from Alex. So we may have touched on some of this earlier, but aside from the Subreddits, you mentioned, how did you reach your target users, whether any other channels? So I guess apart from like obviously the app store itself and Subreddits, were there any other sources apart from those?

Matthew Callery: I don't know if this counts, but one of the main ones that I focused on was getting people to share the app. So making it really prominent, it's actually something I'm working on right now. It's on the main menu, but as the main menus got longer, like the share button and moves further and further down I was doing some digging into my like revenue data the other day. A surprisingly high percentage of revenue came from people who have the app shared with them. So like direct rather than searching through the place. I guess it's because it's come recommended by someone else. So there's probably a higher level of trust and therefore they're more likely to pay.

So yeah, I put a big emphasis on sharing the app I think, I don't know, but I would guess that Google rank that favorably. If you've got people sharing your app and that download, they get directly, then obviously you're getting more downloads. You're getting more revenue, more ratings, which helps with your organic search.

I'm trying to think if there were any like actual marketing channels, but I honestly don't think, I think one thing that would help that I've not tried is getting backlinks from major news sites, like a few medium sized publications without any effort from me have written about Here are the top like five CV builders on Android or something.

But yeah, but a backlink from like a major news website I think would help the ranking. It would be less volatile. But I have no idea how to do that. So if anyone does know how to do that message.

Charlie Ward: Matt thank you so much for taking the time to talk for your story, your journey. So far with us, super interesting, thanks everyone for joining and for asking such a thoughtful questions. As I mentioned, this will be shared in a few places, so I'll let you know when the recording and transcript is up and running, but yeah, everyone enjoy your weekends and thanks a lot, man.

Matthew Callery: Yeah, any more questions just ping me in the Slack. Happy to answer.

Charlie Ward: Absolutely. Thanks. Very much, man. Appreciated.

Let's get ramen Profitable

Join Ramen Club
30 day Money back guarantee