Everyone from Chelsea Handler to Jessica Alba seem to be getting into the app game, but they don't do it alone.
Ben Lee, Roostrap Co-Founder, giving a keynote address on app growth at this year’s Stacking Growth Summit.
Meet the guy who helps first-time founders, professional athletes, and the Hollywood elite turn their dream ideas into apps, chatbots, or even emojis.
Yes, you heard right. Ben Lee and his team have built emojis for just about everyone: Snoop Dogg—whose Snoopify app scored over 10 million downloads and roughly $2 million of in-app revenue—Cash Money Records, Die Antwoord, and even Goth Unicorns.
Their award-winning strategy has led to over 250 product launches and three exits last year alone, with their largest coming from FanBread, a local LA startup that raised $3.5 million shortly after participating in Rootstrap's workshop on building a platform to manage content more efficiently.
Lee chatted with us about Roadmapping, sessions to help clients hone in on their app idea, and what it takes to create a successful app.
What makes a good idea? BEN LEE: Removing ego, being willing to pivot, and testing your hypothesis with real data is how we make sure we're building the right app idea the first time.
Often times it’s hard for founders to let go. They've got this idea stuck in their head for years and they've got a lot of yes-men empowering them to build it. That's why people have called us the dream builders and the dream wreckers. Our job is to minimize risk, build the app that people will actually use and engage with. Understanding those core users before building is what will make it a product that succeeds in the marketplace.
Do you accept all projects into development? BL: No, we're pretty selective with the work we take on. We require all our clients to go through a roadmapping session with us prior to engaging in development work, and even with roadmapping we don't accept every client.
As a creative studio, once you get to a certain point, you have to start self-selecting for work that either you're passionate about or that will really reflect well on your brand or give you new opportunities. Otherwise you can spend years doing meaningless work that pays the bills but doesn't really help you grow. And if you’re not growing in that way, it’s pretty hard to move up to the A-list clients.
Do you work with enterprise customers? BL: We've worked with Spotify, Epson, Salesforce, Disney, you name it. We bring a unique, lean startup approach that helps big multinationals innovate like a startup even if they aren’t one. We help them make those difficult decision and stay agile even if they rule the world. Roadmapping is a really effective product for our enterprise clients because it helps them stay agile and lean on a relatively small budget. It's a low-risk way for a large company to workshop a new idea or test a new product offering to see how feasible it is.
We also act as an extension to an internal tech team or even an interim-CTO in some cases. Often, engaging us is cheaper and more efficient than a full-time hire.
Ben Lee and the Rootstrap team making waves.
Do you do growth and marketing too? BL: Yeah we do. We first tried doing growth marketing with a Kickstarter campaign, and we ended up blowing past our funding goal. We reached our $50K funding goal in about an hour and ended up raising $2.5 million, making it the 15th most-funded tech product of all time. That was a big wake up call in terms of "Ok, yeah, we can provide this as a core service offering." Now we're taking on more growth marketing clients and have integrated growth hacking into some of our other offerings as well.
Where do you see yourself in five years? BL: Personally I'm not a big believer in "five-year plans." Things move and change too fast. We live in a turbulent world now, not a laminar one. So, I can't answer that question with specifics, but I'll say that I hope to be solving new problems and creating new kinds of value through my business.
What’s your favorite tool for productivity? BL: Someone recently turned me on to SaneBox and it's literally changed the way I handle e-mails. I get over 150 emails a day so inbox zero is a mission. This tool has taught me new techniques and can do a lot of smart filtering so you can focus on the important stuff.
What should someone do if they want to inquire about your services? BL: We're always open to hearing from new clients. Drop us a line at rootstrap.com/contact.
To schedule a Roadmapping session, or build your next app, visit rootstrap.com.