Today we’re talking with Ryan Peters. Ryan tells me he’s always been a tech nerd. In middle school, he was into BASIC, some scripting languages, and building websites with basic HTML. His first love is music, so he went to college to pursue a degree in Jazz Studies. After earning his degree, he moved to the music-rich Kansas City and has found success with his band Musivo Live. By day, he worked as a paraeducator, building websites and tinkering with coding in his spare time. In 2012, he got his first smartphone, an iPhone 4S, which prompted him to learn Objective-C and build a basic app, TriviaBrain. From there he created bigger and wider-selling apps. He founded a company called Savvy Edge Technologies, Inc. which does app development and tech support.
Ryan’s favorite of his own apps is On Task. He comes from a family of educators. A couple years ago, Ryan’s dad asked him to build him an app that would allow him to track students’ behavior reliably and without introducing the negative bias which is so easy to let infiltrate your own observations. So that’s exactly what Ryan did. It provides an easy-to-use interface to track student’s behaviors, including adding customizable cues about the teaching environment. After you’re finished, you can view the data in several different fashions. He gets the most positive feedback over the “Timeline” view, which allows the user to draw conclusions about what kind of triggers cause certain behaviors to occur, and opens up correlations that are hard to see otherwise.
Ryan focuses on making apps that he personally wants to see on the market, rather than trying to create the “next big thing.” For example, when his wife became pregnant, they wanted to learn about proper food choices during pregnancy. On a whim, he decided to make an app that helps to sort that out. Now, that app has helped nearly 20,000 pregnant women make smarter dietary choices.
Ryan shared his own home screen and most-used apps. Google Photos is a big one for him. He and his wife share an account so they can share photos without any manual syncing. On the Mac, he’s a big fan of Hazel to automate a lot of his workflow.
As an independent developer, his largest obstacle is budgetary. He doesn’t have the funds like the big app studios to outsource design or development work. Ryan creates each iOS app himself in its entirety, including marketing. He’s accomplished a great deal by investing his own time rather than money. Getting On Task to its current success involved quite a bit of personal communication with educators and behaviorists across the country, encouraging social media shares, contests, and more. It doesn’t hurt that he has a wealth of educators amongst his circle of family and friends that talk about it and promote it as well.
Another obstacle Ryan deals with quite a bit is people’s perception of the value of an app. While people will drop $5 for a cup of coffee they’ll drink in 20 minutes, they struggle with the idea of spending $.99 on an app they’ll use for months. He encourages people to consider that independent developers may spend months building an app, and then continue to provide support, bug fixes, and patches while only asking for a buck or two.
By developing apps that fill some need in his own life, he’s hoping that his apps are truly helping everyday people out in their day-to-day lives. Isn’t that the ultimate goal?