Creating an app can be a risky venture. After all, there are 2.2 million apps in Apple’s app store, and 2.8 million apps in Google Play. It’s hard to know whether an app will succeed and take off — or whether it will get lost in the noise of all those other apps that are out there. However, if you’re unsure about whether it’s worth it to create an app or not, the following stories may inspire you. These app success stories include tales of people who weren’t sure they were going to succeed (or who had never succeeded before), but ended up finding great success by creating a mobile app.

Jan Kourn and WhatsApp

WhatsApp is the popular mobile messaging and calling app that is popular worldwide. WhatsApp can use WiFi and doesn’t require cell data to work. The story behind WhatsApp’s creation is pretty inspirational. The app was created by a man name Jan Koum. Koum moved from Ukraine to the US in the early 1990s. His family was extremely poor and they lived on food stamps and welfare checks. Koum swept the floor of local stores to help make ends meet. Koum first attended San Jose State University but eventually dropped out. He got a job at Yahoo as the Operations Engineer but eventually left. He lived off savings and applied to work at Facebook but he was rejected. In 2009, Koum came up with the idea for WhatsApp, and he incorporated the company and started to build the app, which slowly evolved into a free messaging service that worked internationally. By version 2.0 of his app, he had 250,000 active users, and by 2013, the number of users had grown to 200 million. In 2014, Facebook bought WhatsApp from Koum and his co-founders for $16 billion, creating a life for Koum that was very different than what he had experienced growing up.

Nick D’Aloisio and Summly

Nick D’Aloisio was only a teenager when created Summly, a news summarisation app that made digesting and understanding news easier for mobile users. D’Aloisio coded the Summly app after he had the idea that it might be useful to people to present news in a more succinct and engaging manner. He found summarisation technology that already existed (and bought it in exchange for equity in his company), and created an app that seemed to successfully summarise article in a way that people responded to. The company first gained exposure when he got an article in TechCrunch about it, which helped him get angel investors. While the app didn’t gather many users while D’Aloisio was in charge, it did something even more impressive: it caught the eye of Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, who ended up buying Summly (the technology, app and team) for $30 million. D’Aloisio was only 17 at the time of Yahoo’s acquisition, which means that he officially became a teenage millionaire — all because he decided to create an app.

Ethan Nicholas and iShoot

Ethan Nicholas was a programmer at Sun Microsystems. While he was there, he decided to learn the iOS programming language — in his spare time. Once he knew the language, he developed an app called iShoot. iShoot was a mobile tank artillery game, that he decided to sell in Apple’s app store for $1.99. iShoot was released and it quickly became popular, shooting up to the number-one spot in the Apple Store. The first day that iShoot reached the top spot, Nicholas made $37,000 (in just one day!) He also able to bring in more than $600,000 in just one month. Nicholas taught himself the programming language and he was able to build the app on his own without needing to hire professional developers. Nicholas’ story is an inspiring one because a very low cost endeavour (building his app) ending up paying off big time for him.

George Weiss and Dabble

You don’t have to be young or born with an iPhone in your hand to make it as a successful app developer. 84-year-old George Weiss is the perfect example of why: he created a mobile app called Dabble that is now available on Apple devices. Dabble is a word game where people spell words as quickly as possible using 20 letters stacked in a pyramid shape. Weiss hired a team of designers and developers to create his game, and when it was released, he became the oldest app creator in the history of the Apple app store. Weiss registered his first patent 53 years before his app was released, and his app is for sale in the app store for $1.99. He is an inspiration because he proves two things: it’s never too late to create an app that will sell, and you don’t have to have a deep technical knowledge to create a mobile app that works.

App development can be a tough and competitive world, but there are some success stories that are both inspiring and reaffirming. By creating a mobile app, it’s not only possible to create a change in a person (or organisation’s) life, but also in the world at large.

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