Shipwreck

The ones that failed

There is a website dedicated to just tracking all of the projects that Google has tried and failed. The website has over 100 projects. I am thinking someone should do something similar for Econet. Their track record seems to be degrading with each passing quarter. Age-X has a few failed projects that we are trying to place in our rear view mirror and forget about.

After putting in the 10,000 hours, pouring in money and making noise about our products, they flopped. These projects may give you insights into how the market is, what works and what would be a waste of time. Let us dive right in.

The Avon Shopping App

Women in Zimbabwe know the Avon struggle. An Avon agent gets two or three magazine catalogues. She then has to share those around with her 20 – 50 clients. The clients pick out the products they need by noting down the product numbers. The Avon lady then processes the orders.

The entire process is inefficient, prone to errors, slow and tends to be a frustration. Then Age-X came to the rescue with an Avon shopping app. The app contained the current month’s catalogue. You could get a new catalogue via WhatsApp each month and open it in the Avon Zimbabwe App.

The process was: you get a new catalogue via WhatsApp, open it in the Avon app, browse the catalogue picking out products you wanted. As you picked out your products, the app would be tallying your cart total. Afterwards, you could send your shopping cart to your agent via WhatsApp. Th entire app was designed to work for people who did not have internet data bundles, but WhatsApp bundles. How could this fail?

What went wrong

The entire Avon experience relies heavily on Avon agents. As we approached Avon agents to get them to start pushing the app to their clients, they were skeptical that we would steal their clients. Without that trust, coupled with our limited marketing budget, the app only gained just 200 downloads in the same time period similar apps gained 2,500. That, in our books was a failure.

We also learnt a valuable lesson from trying to run paid social media Ads. People like social media posts but they do not action. We’d get 3,000 views for a post, 200 likes and only 3 new downloads a day. Rest in peace

The Nail Studio App

This project was one of those that got us super excited. It was a nail studio app. Seems Age-X has a thing for the ladies, the way we churn out products targeted at women. The idea was, a lady would select her skin tone, and try out nail designs within the app. You could even craft your own nail art and apply it. Once done, you could share that image with your beautician, or pick one of ours and get a quote.

The beautician would either come to your home or office, or you would go to her and get your nails done. We managed to partner with over 20 beauticians in our city, developed the product and the hype train was well away. Now comes the tricky part. The product relied heavily on a lot of moving parts and trying to get them together was a challenge.

A local entrepreneur, Alistair Holmes created am almost similar product called Sika App. Check it out on Google Play. He managed to add the secret ingredients and made it work. His app covers beauticians, hair dressers and barbers.

The Essential Oils App

There is no image or logo to go with this one. This project actually got us our first and so far only cease and desist copyright notice. The good times. Well, the app was meant to market a natural oils redistribution line. Instead of just selling you the oils, the app would give you tips and guidelines on how to use the oils. The oils were ordered and the app developed and published to Google Play.

The unfortunate part was that the person we hired to create content for the app plagiarised content from elsewhere. This was 2017, our second year in operation and we didn’t yet have the foresight to do due diligence. The person was also going to head part of the major distribution for the oils. As a tiny little startup, we could find a suitable replacement letting her go for the breach of trust and almost getting us sued into oblivion.

After over 500 downloads, and all the work we had put in, we sadly had to let the project rest in peace.

The Animated Highway Code

This app was set to be our prima donna, our poster boy. Everyone knows the pain of the Which car goes first diagrams. We came up with an awesome idea: what if we could make an animated highway code app? You’d get to watch the cars as they are animated right on your phone. The app had to be small, no videos and that meant real time animations.

The app is still available for download on Google Play and you can download app. The app currently has 5,000 downloads on Google Play. So how is this a failure you ask? For starters, this is by far the most complicated mobile app Age-X has ever created. The development took several months, a lot of testing and several swear words were thrown around the office. The app was launched as a premium app, pay to download. And this was the cause of the failure.

Our target market is Zimbabwe and very few people have credit cards to pay online. Most people offered to pay via Eco Cash, which Google’s terms strictly forbids (we will talk more about this in a future article). After over 6 months, we only got 10 payments for the app in the Play Store. The app was subsequently made a free to download app and we left it at that. Just after it became free, the downloads rose significantly but the app has still failed to perform. better than its companion app. My heart is just broken. Goodnight, I am going to try and sleep it out.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *