Lessons From Launching My First App

What I’ve learned about startups, iOS Development, and surviving in the real world.

Alex Ryan
Alex Ryan
Jun 11, 2015 · 5 min read

Evntr — Heard of it?

Probably not.

But, like every other iOS developer out there, I hope one day you do and maybe even download it. But then, I think - “Can I really even call myself an iOS developer?”

Here’s my story and the lessons I learned along the way. I’ll let you decide.

// stereotypical //

I’m a 20 something hitting submit on my first iPhone app. I’ve got the en-vogue undercut haircut, skinny jeans, a brand-new Macbook Pro, a pocket moleskine on my desk, Slack open on my other monitor, all the latest iPhone apps, and I work in a way-too-nice office building attached to one of the wealthiest areas in my city. I just caught up on the latest Stanford Entreprenuer Thought Leader Series podcast and woke up before Tim Cook’s 3:45 am alarm went off (maybe due to a slight technicality). Oh, and guess where I live?


Yeah, I know, the sterotype stops here. I’m not in Silicon Valley. But I’m working on it. Here’s how I got to this point.

// story //

. December 2014

I graduated with a random engineering degree from a so-so school with no real next steps. Sure, I had applied to some graduate schools, but who knows how those will turn out? Like any recent graduate, I wanted a break. I’m sure you could guess how many job offers I had worked hard to line up by now.


But, I did want to do something with my Spring. In the back of my mind was the thought of one day creating my own app to put on the App Store. What tech-inclined 20 something doesn’t wish this?

. January 2015

During my last semester of undergrad, I worked on learning a little bit of iOS development through the truly overwhelming amount of online tutorials out there (I recommend picking up this book). And somehow, the summer before my last semester I had the opportunity to pretend to help out on an iOS project at ThreeWill. It was the most enjoyable internship I’ve had and it allowed me to move beyond tutorials onto an actual project.

Together, this gave me just enough confidence to connect with two founders in the Atlanta area in need of a developer to round out their team. Was I in over my head?

oh… yeah.

Did I commit to the team anyway?

you bet.

Lesson 1: I have no idea what I’m doing.

This has really been the theme of my entire startup experience. As I quickly discovered, it’s not really about what you know but how fast you’re able to learn. It feels like BS-ing your way through — fake it til you make it — but that’s how it has to be done a lot of times. In a weird way, being unqualified can even turn into an advantage — i.e. you’re more likely to not default to the traditional way things are done and think outside the box.

. February 2015

During my first full month of working, I feel like I learned more than during my entire undergraduate education. I split my time between working on the app and picking up more iOS Development skills. I constantly rode the line of being in over my head. But, I found help.

Lesson 2: Stack Overflow saved my life.

Really. Evntr wouldn’t be possible without the support I received on Stack Overflow. Some of the problems that I ran into would have taken twice as long on my own or, perhaps more often, have been insurmountable obstacles. Using Stack Overflow is common sense to any real developer, but like I said: “I have no idea what I’m doing.”

We accomplished a lot this month and the app became to take shape. It looked ugly, yeah, but some of the features started to work. I was actually making something. It was exciting.

Lesson 3: iOS Development is rewarding.

It’s incredible to see something take shape from nothing and to have the power to build whatever you can imagine. I still remember the feeling of running an app I made for the first time — it changed the background color of the screen when you pressed a button. “I did that???”

. March 2015

March taught me a lot about the startup world. Ever since I first understood what it meant when my Dad said he was an entrepreneur, I had been attracted to the idea of working for or building a startup. As one of the original founding members of Evntr, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to get first hand experience of what a startup is all about. Everything from funding to building an MVP to working on a fast paced team. It was thrilling.

Lesson 4: I feel at home in a startup.

It’s not for everyone, but I love working at a startup. Part of it is that I’ve always been really self-motivated, but I also really enjoy putting on a lot of hats and solving problems that I’m really not equipped to solve. And trust me, you have to do a lot of that in the startup world.

Late in the month, we secured an official office in Atlanta in an area called Buckhead. I was stoked to finally get to work out of an office with the rest of the team. However, I learned another lesson quickly.

Lesson 5: Commuting Sucks

I learned this on my first drive home. It took me over an hour and a half from the office. No way I was doing this everyday. In order to keep my sanity, I decided that on the days I went into the office, I was going to beat traffic on the way in (leaving at 5:45am) and on the way out (leaving at 2:30pm). Those early hours in the office before the party rolls in are key to me for getting stuff done.

I’m finally getting into a routine and starting to feel more confident about app development and how to thrive in the startup world. One thing I know for sure though. This feeling won’t last long.

. today

662 hours later and I now have an app being prepared for the app store. I can’t believe how much I’ve learned over the past couple of months. It makes me incredibly excited for the months ahead.

// Next Steps //

With the app on track to being released, we’re now laser focused on our marketing push. Within a month or two, we’re hoping to be in a position to approach VCs again for another round of funding. I can’t wait to have users on our app and to see what they think. We have no idea what’s next.

The startup rollercoaster continues.

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