250k App Downloads in High School

Rodney Gainous Jr
Feb 26, 2019 · 3 min read
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Google Play Developer Console.

After making $200,000 when I was 16 I took the money to help clear my families debt, take my family to Disney World, and invest in myself. Unfortunately that project had stopped. But I had grown an addiction to code and I would spend all night all through high school working on projects.

Because of my experience with learning Java, Android wasn’t a challenge to me. I used my own HTC Evo to test small apps I made in my spare time. I began to think about how I wanted my follower ratio to be. There was a problem. It was always important to have a low following amount and a high follower amount. But I didn’t have that ratio and manually following and unfollowing 100s of accounts was not an option. I built Follow for myself initially and realized that I should publish it in the store. Someone’s got to like it? Well… I published Follow in the Play Store back in February 2012. Between then and my graduation from high school, it ballooned to 20k downloads. Here’s the catch though: I had no idea.

I began studying at Wayne State University after graduating from Farmington Hills Harrison High School. I was so focused on school I never checked on Follow. Summer, Fall, and Winter semesters passed with me completely unaware of how insanely fast my app was growing.

During my time at Wayne State I began to talk with a very good friend of mine D’Andre about starting a business together. We had so many ideas between the two of us, we ended up starting our own version of a startup incubator. We called it Puricode, and shortly after we brought in another high school friend of mine (Jordan Coin Jackson) along with a mutual friend named Noah, the most talented software developer we know.

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Charts Climbing 2012

Starting Puricode and working on thinking about startups and products to push made me think about Follow. One day I just decided to check. My reaction when I saw the traction that Follow had picked up… amazed would be an understatement. At that time, Follow had 70k downloads and around 20k active users. I immediately told D’Andre. How could I not? Something amazing was happening.

Follow continued to grow and grow as I worked on my other projects.

It was a tool for myself when I first built it, but who knew after just 3 years it would receive over 250,000 downloads. This app took me from hacker, working apart of a team, to getting back to the essentials of what I love. Coding. At 24 years old now, I reflect on what made the app so popular, and why it’s still being downloaded by hundreds, and viewed by thousands of people a day.

We learned a valuable lesson from Follow: The key to mass adoption of any product or service is to have it solve a problem. It has to solve a problem that others have failed to resolve. If you can do that, you put yourself in a position to gain immediate traction. The reason Follow has garnered so much attention is because of the problem it solves for Twitter users. That, and its simplicity has made it incredibly popular in an admittedly over-crowed app market.

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Weekly Store Visitors

I’ve decided to take this lesson and run with it. Unfortunately I lost the code signing key, so I’m unable to update the app anymore. However, I have plans to create a new version of Follow for iOS and Android. I’m going to keep moving forward, never forgetting how I started out.

Follow currently stands at ~250k downloads, 1.3k reviews, and 5k visits / week. Not bad for a high school project.

#FirstQuarter #PlayerNumberOne #TwentyTwenty

Credits: Jordan Coin Jackson


RJ /// Rodney Gainous Jr /// @RG2 /// (424) 334–8004

Life is a game.

S/O to Lincoln W Daniel.


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