Steven Cravotta is the self-taught creator and developer of the original Wordle app, a word-based puzzle app he uploaded to the Apple’s App Store when he was 18. He eventually abandoned the entire project because it averaged merely one or two downloads per day in the four years since he uploaded the app.
Fast forward to last December; after checking the app’s stats, he shockingly noticed it had 500,000 downloads in just five days! After investigating the source of the spike in downloads, he realized that thousands of people looking for the web-only game “Wordle,” created by software engineer Josh Wardle, were downloading his app by mistake.
“I was doing one-two downloads a day, and then all of a sudden, a couple of weeks ago, I checked my developer dashboard, and the graph just went vertical, and I was getting 50,000 downloads every day,” Cravotta told ABC News.
Instead of keeping all the proceeds for himself, Cravotta reached out to Wardle and offered to team up with him to impact the world positively. Cravotta decided to donate $50,000 of the app’s revenue to Boost West Oakland – an organisation that provides free tutoring and mentorship for children in Oakland, Calif.
MoneyCentral Magazine recently caught up with Steven to discuss his journey in the industry, and here’s what went down:
What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your app?
Currently, I am marketing Puff Count on TikTok. I make videos educating viewers on the dangers of smoking nicotine and then offer a solution to help them quit. You can check out my TikTok account here: www.tiktok.com/@puffcount.
What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?
TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube are all platforms I utilize to increase Puff Count’s awareness. TikTok has been the most successful platform thus far.
What is your experience with paid advertising, like PPC or sponsored content campaigns? Does it work?
In my opinion, paid advertising is getting less and less effective every year. Apple’s new privacy updates have made tracking users exponentially harder, which is a great thing for privacy, but bad news for paid ad platforms.
What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware of your app and engaging your customers? How did your app stand out?
My main tactic is posting as much content as I can on TikTok. Creating TikToks costs me virtually nothing but my time, so my customer acquisition cost is $0. Puff Count stands out from the crowd because, unlike other quit smoking apps, it will guide you through the process of reducing your usage to make quitting more achievable.
What form of marketing has worked well for your app throughout the years?
Organic marketing has worked well for all of my mobile apps. Because the margins on mobile apps are slim, you have to get creative in the way you market.
What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?
Removing the paywall from Puff Count. I want to make quitting nicotine accessible for anyone and everyone who wants to, and that requires me to make Puff Count a completely free application.
What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?
There are no mistakes, only lessons. I learned that your product would never be perfect; you just have to keep moving fast and listening to customer feedback.
What new app would you love to start?
Something in the Web3 / Metaverse space.
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?
I would post even more on TikTok in the early days when it was easier to go viral.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Bet on yourself.
What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first app?
App development can be expensive. Try to set up an MVP and get initial user feedback before investing all of your time and money into an idea.