My First Product

Coding is one thing, but making an app all the way from scratch and selling it is another. I am a backend/website dev by profession, staying in B’lore, India. I wanted to explore what goes through in creating a product. I always saw some bad products and some good products around me and wondered why people made those shitty stuff and wondered how they made money with it. I, being technical, the way the product works and appears to the end user (design) is a priority. So, I thought why not give a try to business side of stuff and explore. I found a few interesting things along the way which I thought would be worth sharing.


I learnt Java in my final year of engineering and with that we had somehow made an android app (in retrospect, it’s the most shitty code I have ever written) as a final year project. This was the beginning of me getting into android. Later I got recruited and started working on Drupal for a year. So, for one year I was totally out of contact with Java.


A friend of mine came to me with an idea to solve a problem that his parent’s business was facing. Even now in most parts of India, small businessmen (wholesale/traders) use books to keep track of the money they lent/owed. This was a niche problem to solve and also the solution followed 3/4th of the toothbrush philosophy (except 1/4th part i.e “used by most of the people”), for me it was a nice thing to begin with. The next thing was to check if some sort of solution already existed, to our surprise there were a lot of such solutions. However the problem was, some were too complex to use, some had pathetic UX, some would work only online and few others had a lot of bloated features which were not at all useful. Next, we thought a lot about what platform to build this product in. Creating a web app was a bad idea because it again requires internet always, it also requires users to own a computer and elder people into business don’t know how to use the computers. A desktop application also had a similar problem. A cell phone application was a better solution, IOS was again a bad platform because we were targeting Indian small/medium businesses. So, Android it was. To begin with, we didn’t have a monetisation plan. We thought we can first make a tiny product, do some beta testing and then think of a way to monetise if possible. There were three reason to not use our own backend. One, there was no monetisation plan, so we probably would end up paying for the servers even when we were not earning from the app, bad business. Two, would people accept the app if we kept their accounting info in the cloud? Three, there are a lot of internet issues in towns, villages and even cities in India. In most of the cities in India there is limited or no internet connectivity and people who have connectivity don’t use it because it costs them money. Keeping these things in mind we started.

The start

The start was good, I enjoyed making the schema, views, click handlers, etc. There was no much hard part except feeling a bit frustrated when encountered with a java null pointer exception, but again that was only in the beginning. We decided to name it as Hisaab (which in Hindi means keeping track). We recently renamed it to Simple Accounting for a better SEO.


I had no particular experience in designing the ui or ux, but I knew that a good ux is very important. There were no wire frames or blueprint whatsoever. I started off with the basic components of android. Took some inspiration from clean Google apps like gmail, drive, Play music, etc.

As a kid I wondered why the shopkeepers have those huge ass calculators while the calculators we used at schools were so tiny. The answer was convenience. We see most of the professionals prefer a separate large sized keyboard and mouse over tiny laptop keyboard and keypad, this is to avoid mistakes and to easily and clearly see the things you do. Hence, I created the two huge ass buttons and made my custom icons to indicate the credits and debits. I found that contrasting color and unique way to indicate the things will help get a better user experience than normal sized and mono color buttons. Users loved this idea, the app looks simple and to the point. I have receieved several mails by users saying they love the experience. Since the whole app revolves just around two buttons, a credit and a debit.

Happy Moments

We completed the first round of features and gave it to some traders/wholesale businessmen, I would like to call this as beta testing. Felt good to hear some positive feedbacks. Felt even great when people who couldn’t speak good English also made an attempt to write a mail to me saying how much they liked the app. When we released the app to market I saw very good reviews on the play store and got a lot of mails from various people all over the world. It feels really awesome to see the analytics chart, seeing people use something I have built sitting at my desk, everyday for some serious business, is a great feeling.

We saw the app being used by many other countries. That’s when we decided to change the name to Simple Accounting. This was a great moment for us. What we thought would serve the people of India was also serving the people of other nations.

Sad Moments

The excitement got over after a while when the download count plateaued. Lack of marketing skills and solely depending on organic reach of the customers was slow and boring. Lack of monetisation also decreased the motivation. We tried placing advertisements in the app, but the money we made was too less to be motivated. There were times in the beginning when I wanted to leave everything and work only on this and then later there were times when I started doubting if I should really do it, because there was hardly any money in it. It is frustrating to work on a new feature when you know you are not going to make any money with it but had initially expected to make money with it.

Things I learnt

Caring deeply about your product helps. People will love the effort put in making the product. Do not compromise the quality by developing a substandard product. You may argue with me by saying that I contradict the “Lean Startup” and “Agile” philosophy, but for me caring deep and making a good product has helped.

Selling software in India is not easy. People won’t readily accept the product and won’t come out of their conventional ways of doing things. Although there is some younger population who understand the advantages and adopt.

Always have a good monetisation strategy to not lose motivation. You need not implement it in the first iteration, but it’s better to have one and add it as soon as you start getting less motivated. Now, I have started working on the pro version of my app after I received some amazing reviews on play store recently, but I am not sure how many people will actually buy it. I am doing it anyways to not fail and keep trying.

It was an amazing experience brainstorming, developing and seeing my product being used.

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