Lessons from an App Store Millionaire

April 24, 2015 - 2 minute read -

Have you heard of Allen Wong? I stumbled across him from his Reddit AMA. He taught himself how to code, made a few apps (his most prominent ones were 5-0 radio and Police Scanner+), and is now a millionaire. That’s enough about the guy; you can learn more about him in his autobiography. He released a 1 hour video where he talks about his journey. I was watching bits of this and thought I’d extract some of the more interesting things he said, since it’s locked in this super long video.

Advice from Allen Wong

Be Innovative

There are a lot of ideas out there, and it’s likely that whatever you make someone has already made or is in the process of making. But that likely doesn’t matter as much as you think it does; Minecraft, Angry Birds, Flappy Bird, even Facebook all have their roots in something that someone else had already made. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, you just have to stand out.

How to Grow Your Userbase

FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is a powerful psychological effect that many products have taken advantage of. Both GMail and Facebook were not public when they launched. Make the product work for that small niche then scale outwards, slowly, while maintaining quality.

Don’t show ads

If possible, get users first and don’t worry about making money. Think like a drug dealer: get users hooked before charging or taking away from the product experience.

Get good ratings and review

Users look at ratings for everything before download an app nowadays. Make sure a “Rate It” button is in your app. More importantly, show that button only when the user has already showed interest; ie. people who have opened the app 7 times in a week.

You don’t necessarily want all ratings - just good ratings. You can ask people “Do you like our app?” If they dont, ask for feedback. If they do, send them to write a review in the app store.

Your critics are your biggest friends

The best feedback you can get is from your users. Listen carefully to what they say. Chances are other people have the same complaints but haven’t spoken up.

Word of Mouth

Make your app give users a story to tell. People tell their friends stories around an app. Part of the virality of Flappy Bird were the reaction videos that people were posting. You want to invoke an emotion from users. Appeal to people’s narcissistic side. (This is explored more in a writeup by Eason Wang).


People have short attention spans. Make it stupid simple.