I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Janeece Keller, Bound Round’s founder, to update their progress since Claudia met with her half way through last year. You can read Claudia’s original case study on Bound Round as part of the AppInstruct Course.
Hi Janeece, I know Bound Round was recently fortunate enough to be featured in the App Store, so was wondering how important that had been for you?
I’d have to say it’s critical for a consumer app such as ours. It has certainly been the single largest contributor to downloads since we launched – we were featured in the Australian App Store and those of a couple of Middle Eastern countries – and it’s just so important to get in front of people at that time when they’re actively engaged looking for apps.
Our user base numbers grew quickly in the countries we were featured in – confirming that the App Store feature was the cause of the growth.
Now, I know you were in the middle of new product development when you spoke with Claudia, how’s that going?
Great! We’ve actually had the new App approved by Apple and it launches today in the App Store! We’ve greatly expanded on the destinations we feature within the app, with 45 cities now listed, including Melbourne and Sydney.
We’ve a strong content pipeline in place now, so many new destinations will be added regularly over 2014.
The new app has also been redesigned from a user experience perspective, with significant improvements and some beautiful touches.
When you spoke with Claudia last year, you were thinking of dropping a native application and moving to a responsive mobile website, what changed your thinking?
The crucial driver was the need for the app to work whilst users are in the offline environment of airplanes. We initially thought we could achieve this with caching in the browser, but the restriction we found with that is it requires too much preplanning. Whereas, once the native app is installed, all the data is there on the device and can be accessed by the user without the need for a data connection.
Another factor is being a travel app, children are often using it outside of their home countries, where they may not have a data connection, or if roaming, will be subject to expensive data costs. Naturally, parents are resistant to such data roaming fees, and again, the native app greatly reduces these by having most of the content pre-installed.
Bound Round has a young audience, what have you discovered about device usage amongst this future generation?
A lot of children from the ages of 10 and up now have their own smartphones, with graduating to high school seemingly being the parental threshold. This being said, lots of children under 10 are using iPod Touches and have access to iPads.
We’ve also begun to notice a much more even split between Apple and Android devices – with Android tablet adoption in particular catching up. Android tablets are significantly cheaper and manufacturers are launching versions specifically marketed to kids.
Whilst being focused on Apple is still ok in Australia, it definitely changes on a region-by-region basis, with Android being huge in Asia.
What’s the roadmap for the year?
Well, we’re heading to SxSWedu in March, which I am really excited about. I went last year, and the positive atmosphere, openness to new ideas and ambition to get things done is fantastic.
Indeed, attending last year was something of a breakthrough for the product, as it was whilst there that I met Chris, who is now my technical co-founder and leads the development of the product. So, fingers crossed this year leads to further breakthroughs.
Our education advisor is attending with me and we’ll be pitching Bound Round as a children’s education product – allowing teachers to develop itinerary’s ahead of excursions, allowing children to interact with those plans either whilst there or when they return to the class room after the field trip.
We’re also two-thirds complete on raising our angel round of investment, which I hope to close on our return from SxSW.
One final question, your biggest learning last year was in bringing Chris on board as a technical co-founder and how important that was. What’s been your biggest learning in the last 6 months?
The interplay between design, technology and content – the need to manage these 3 components of our product together as part of an ‘agile’ development process. We initially, tried to manage them in separate streams, but it quickly became apparent, that measuring the effect of a change with any one, on the other two in a fluid and iterative process is critical to developing the best possible product.
We recommend you check out Janeece’s and her team’s hard work, by downloading the new Bound Round app from the App Store today.
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