January 2, 2020

Reached 890k installs and $21k/mo after 4yrs

Peter Vu @Petervu

Hello everyone, I'm super duper excited to share about this huge milestone of Habitify!

Since I'm a little bit emotional right now, I want to share my story.

I'm an iOS developer who was offered a $2k/mo job at a great company. In Vietnam, at that time, for that job, $2k is a HUGE number. But I declined it. I wanted to start a project on my own. And so I set out to make Habitify. (https://habitify.me)

At first, I made Habitify mainly for the purpose of the donation. For each purchase, I'll spend $1 to donate for African children. There were only 3 of us: one developer (me), one designer and one marketer.

That model couldn't sustain us. It was also rejected by Apple anyway.

We struggled to get by without any salary (even me) for the first 6 months. Finding the first 100 users was hard, finding the first paid user was even harder.

It was not until Habitify got featured by Apple that the whole team was rescued. Revenue started to stream in, and boy oh boy, the "feature wave" continued to happen in the following months.

Then, all my co-founders left me for a more lucrative job. There was me, all alone.

It was hard, doing everything by myself. As the app got featured in more countries, there were more support tickets to be solved. It was overwhelming and depressing.

In late 2018, I made a game-changing decision: To change the subscription model from one-time freemium to subscription (still with a one-time package). Of course, there was a massive wave of complaints, 1-star, and negative social media talkings.

But the clouds started to clear up. The subscription model kept my business going sustainably. I hired a growth lead, expand Habitify to Android and web, specialized the support team, and even invested in content marketing (which burns a lot but slowly gives some positive ROI).

But the most important thing is finally, I had a family of my own, with people around me. We had parties, hangouts, hiking trips throughout the year.


Yesterday, my growth lead came to me and said we've reached 890k total installs. I was astonished by how fast the product grew. We set a goal to reach 1 million users this year, which is 3 years after I started the whole project. We didn't reach it, but it made me realize how far the product has gone.

If there's any lesson about this, it's not about the money or the niche we're in. I think it's about consistency. Not that I'm trying to promote my own product (which helps you form sticky habits, btw :D) but that's what got me today. The product is just a reflection of my vision, and the people - the lovely and courageous colleagues who dared to join me on this uncertain project - are a reflection of the rightness of what I believe in.

Hard work and luck paid off. Always believe in your own project.

Apple reached out to us and met us in person, that's the fruit that I got to harvest after all. I never dreamed of a day like that, but it was David, the regional manager, who shook my hand and told me exactly: "We noticed you a long time ago, and today we wanted to reach out to you in honor of your marketing and development effort."

Yes, that's exactly what he said. And I never forgot that day.

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