• This on the back of Danielle Bernstein from we were launching Moe, which is an assistant/productivity tool for influencers. Jenny from Margo and Me is launching a social shopping app. Look, it makes sense. One of the great things about technology is, there's no sizing. You don't have to worry about skin. It's not like a foundation where you worry about skin tone, you don't have to worry if someone's allergic to it.

    You can make money while you sleep. You don't have to ship it. There are no returns. Technology is a beautiful thing if you can get it right. I applaud Jenny and Danielle for going out and trying to do something different. Running a technology company, being seven years into this is certainly a difficult thing. I was interested to talk to someone else who had run a technology company as an influencer because, well, for me what is interesting about this isn't that they're launching these new apps. That's great and wish them the best of luck. What's interesting is that when Danielle launched swimwear, we talked about that and that made total sense. She posts about swimwear a lot. She's had a good relationship with that brand. She designed something for herself so that it did incredibly well. Awesome. I'm interested in people moving into technology because, while the tools they build are helping or made for influencers or made for social. It's not exactly a one for one in the same way that designing a capsule collection of clothing is. Instead of me pontificating about why someone would do this, I wanted to talk to Tezza, who had been running the Tezza app for a little over a year now.

    She just hit two million downloads on that app. I thought it would be a good time to bring her in and ask her what it's like to run a technology company. Let's cut to her. You guys know I am always looking for an excuse to drag Tezza into the office, found another one. You just hit two million downloads on your app. Congratulations.

    James: Two million downloads on the app. Absolutely incredible. What we're talking about, as I mentioned, is influencers creating and launching digital products. You were one of the first that I remember that had an app that has now become quite successful. We'd love to hear a year in, some of the things that you've learned in creating digital products.

    Tezza: Yes, for sure. I mean, I think, one who was our first digital product and we definitely didn't set out like, I think some other people I know who hire a team and really go through all of these things you need to do before you launch, we just were like, this sounds fun-

    James: You didn't raise money.

    Tezza: We didn't raise money.

    James: You didn’t hire a team

    Tezza: We didn't hire a team.

    James: Cole did the development.

    Tezza: Yes, and for like a year of building it, we almost gave up probably 100 times, it was really hard. We had no expertise in this specific area. It was shooting in the dark and I think the first thing we learned was, I mean, one the coolest part about being an influencer and having an app is that you get immediate feedback. People are just going to tell you what they think, whether you like it or not. In that case, I think we marketed in our heads building the app to a specific customer when we launched and we quickly learned that that was not our customer.

    James: Who did you think it was you were launching for?

    Tezza: We were really going for like the premium people that already were using our presets and really wanted to be able to also use the app and go Asian-- on the go not for like, every single person, but people felt like, I was literally pulling their wallet out of their pocket and taking money from them because I was like charging them for this app and we actually did a whole price restructure and we changed the whole goal of the app. I think probably two months in, we were already like re-working on the new plan.

    James: You felt like customers said, wait, sorry. You felt like initially, you got pricing wrong?

    Tezza: Pricing wrong, and customer wrong.

    James: What was wrong about the pricing? It was too expensive?

    Tezza: Too expensive. I mean, it's-- People don't understand that when you build an app, I mean, it was a full-time job for every single night, we'd stay up till 2:00 AM, whereas we have another job and-

    James: Quite a few jobs honestly.

    Tezza: Quite a few jobs and people just expect like apps to be free. That's like the mentality of apps. The second you charge people are obviously going to care but that's okay. Like I was prepared for that. I've done other products, but I just think that was the quickest learning group. The second we really did just pay attention to what people were saying, we thought, "Okay, let's just involve them in this process," and so we were open about it, our mistakes and everything.

    James: How did you do that? Was it going out and saying like, “Hey, I want feedback”, were you emailing customers, was that happening mostly in your Instagram?

    Tezza: Mostly on Instagram. The hardest part about apps, you don't necessarily capture someone's email unless you're doing a login and that whole thing and even still, you have to be careful about how you're using those emails. It's not like my email list where I'm just blasting and I can talk to people, so mostly over Instagram. Truthfully, if it wasn't for like the App Store reviews, I would have never known how bad it was because in the reviews, people just went like, it was like a YouTube channel where people just say what it was like, I like literally, I never get like that much negative feedback. I was like, “Oh, my gosh, like what have we done?” We're like, “Cancel the app, it's over”.

    James: Pull it from the app store.

    Tezza: Yes. We quickly just changed everything and we responded to every single review, we were like, “Hey, thanks for your feedback, we've actually now changed it please let us know what you think.” Quickly, that really started to build our community because they felt like she listened to what I was saying and so, they really became our biggest users of the app in the beginning.

    James: I mean, I think that like something that is overlooked and it's hard as an influencer, you already have this big audience. You feel like everything you put out has to be perfect. You're a perfectionist. I know, I’ve seen your photos, I know how long you spend editing them. If you guys haven't heard A Drink for James episode, you should. A long time. To put something out into the world that wasn't perfect, when you released it, were you like, “This is God's gift to apps,” or were you like, “This is pretty rough, let's see how this goes?”

    Tezza: I wouldn't say I felt like it was rough, but I definitely didn't-- We had so many plans were like the App would just constantly be like, we'll release updates with new features and all this stuff, so I knew it was always going to be growing and changing but I didn't think it was as rough as it was. One thing I did not really understand about technology is that, the amount of bugs that happen. People would be like, "I saved my photo three times, re-imported it, did this." I'm like, "Why would you even do that?" It's crashing. I'm like, "Oh my gosh." We're trying to figure out all these bugs.

    James: I'll put a 200-megabyte TIFF file into it and I won't edit it. What's going on?

    Tezza: Yes. I was just like, "This is crazy." That was why we were able to make it better quicker, I would say.

    James: Looking back on it now, two million downloads later over a year after, if you could go back in time, would you have waited two more months and polished it or would you have launched it as is? Would you have launched it even earlier? To everyone watching who's maybe thinking about an app idea or a business idea, should they be trying to just get it out in the world as quick as possible?

    Tezza: I would say, if I did it again, I might find some people and have them help do testing with me. Involve people in the process that I know would be using it. I guess, really, when we did it, we just thought, this is a cool idea. Let's see if we can do it. Once we did it, we were like, "Let's put it out there." But I would probably do more testing and talk to people. I'm now becoming more business-minded but I would say, I'm really good at creating stuff and that's my jam. I'm not the best of the business or I'm getting better at it but I think you're going to learn so much as you launch anyway.

    I think most apps from what Coulson's school teaches me all the app stuff, guys but like most things break. That's just the nature of tech. You have to just constantly be updating it. I wouldn't say I would have done it sooner, yes, if I could have but definitely, now, it evolves so much. It's been one year. It feels like it's been five.

    James: I guess that's the fun part about technology is every week, every day, you can make changes. I think that, for those of you who are not as in this world, there is something called an MVP, which is the minimum viable product. The idea is to get something as barebones enough to test the idea. Do people care about this idea before you invest a hundred grand into building this very complex thing or six months of your life into it? The key is, I think, what you've learned and maybe what you would do differently is that that MVP has to work.
    Scale it back. The design doesn't have to be perfect, doesn't have to have every feature you want but getting bug testing, making sure it actually operates in the way it should will keep people from being too upset and then just asking for more features. I hear that's when you know you have product market fit is people are asking you for new features all the time. I'm sure you get people constantly that are like, "Can I get this? I wish I had this. I love the app but I wish it did this."

    Again, I feel like in the last month, you have had skincare, you've had sunglasses, you've hit a million downloads on the app, then two million on the app. You have a lot going on. How do you see technology fitting into the overall stack of what Tezza Inc. is putting out into the world?

    Tezza: It's a good question. I think it's something like we're currently trying to figure out, is it something that's completing our full circle in the long run or is it a separate thing? Because the app, I always thought it would be people I knew using the app but now, it's gone beyond me and it's actually bigger in Indonesia than the US. I don't even know why. Love you out there?

    James: Do you know have a big Indonesia shirt yet?

    Tezza: No. I'm going to get one. I just think, overall, I would probably, for me, the tech aspect is so exciting because the overhead is just so much easier than products and if that's something-- The future of that, I think, there's so much potential. I think you can always combine fashion and tech. I think we're learning that so much. So many people are trying to do that, so I see potential there for the future. You can have so many ideas for one little thing but you also don't want to over-cram something that's working. That's the balance we're trying to figure out.

    James: Last question. I think technology is really intimidating for a lot of people that aren't technically savvy. I run a technology company. I can't write a single line of code. There's this idea that if you don't understand technology, you can't run a technology company. Any word or advice to non-technical people watching this who have an idea for an app or a website about launching?

    Tezza: Yes. I would just say, find somebody and have a conversation. For example, I know nothing about coding but I'm always talking about the functionality, the way things move and that's a huge part of tech, even just visually, the way, if things are animated in the app, and I feel like we're all creative-minded. That's something we're all always thinking about. I think there's so many people entering the tech space.

    Young people looking for a job. It's one of the best things you can have for a career right now. I would just find somebody that's also looking to team up and build the product because it can get expensive to hire a developer. If you can actually just find someone that you're teaming up with, that might be a better solution.

    James: Yes. I think it's a great way to frame it is like, if you looked at the world's best designers, I bet they couldn't make their designs. They could never sit at a sewing machine and actually make those probably. You don't have to be the executor of your vision. To have vision, you don't have to understand technology to tell someone how you want your app to work.

    Tezza: Exactly. Such a good point.
    Episode #169
    - Instagram App Updates, Investing in Digital Products, Brand Roles