ExploreHere: 8 months later

4 Min

I launched ExploreHere to the iOS app store in March of 2020, right at the start of the COVID 19 pandemic. I monetized version one with a pro upgrade via an in app purchase (IAP), which unlocked some key features like continuous tracking, saving your viewing history, liking markers, push notifications, a catalogue view, etc. Upon launch I priced the upgrade at $1.99 and made it appear as if the price was part of a ‘launch sale’ marked down from the normal price of $4.99.

Downloads & Stats

The first week, I got about 50 downloads and about 10 conversions to the Pro version, most of these were friends and family. The editor of HMDB agreed to put a little add showing they have their own iOS app, right on their homepage. In peak season, the website gets about 200k hits / month, so I thought that would be pretty awesome. In these 8 months, ExploreHere has been downloaded 5,353 times, and generated $2,439 in sales, fed entirely from the HMDB website.

It’s a start!

I’m starting to notice, which in hindsight makes sense, downloads and interest in ExploreHere is tied to the seasons. I guess travel, and exploring the world is more of a summer, than winter activity.


When I first launched ExploreHere, I was basing almost all my decisions off a power user, specifically someone who contributed to HMDB almost every day. When we connected, he was ecstatic about a mobile app version of HMDB, and gave me all sorts of directional feedback about what features he would want in the app, what he thought users would pay for, and so on. The app wouldn’t have been nearly as good as it is without his critical insight.

Other than this amazing power user, the only way I was receiving feedback was via my email at the bottom of the settings page. Essentially, I wasn’t receiving any feedback from my users.

It didn’t take me too long to realize I needed a better feedback loop for finding bugs and figuring out what to code, features to focus on, etc.

Although there’s a bunch of chat and feedback companies, I settled on integrating Freshchat, as they had a free tier, it integrated well with react native and had an intuitive API that allowed me to setup automatic messages when a user had an issue and I’ve really enjoyed it! It’s a lot cheaper than intercom.

Since the app is completely offline, no login required and I don’t collect emails, I cant reach out to my users proactively for feedback. This is an ongoing issue that I’m hoping to fix in the next major release when I add the option for users to login.


When I launched ExploreHere, I didn’t know how I was going to go about getting App Store reviews, which are an important aspect of growing an app. One of the earliest things I added to the app was a popup, that asked if the user’s liked the app and if so to rate it on the app store. I had this coded so it popped up only after a set amount of activity in the app, allowing enough time to become acquainted and have an opinion (and to prevent annoying the user and getting 1 stars out of frustration).

This strategy has worked, ExploreHere has received 130 reviews and averages a 4.9 stars out of 5. It always makes my day when a user writes a nice review!

One thing I didn’t expect the conversion of users to reviews to be lower than my conversion of free users to paid users.

The next phase

I have a lot of plans on where I’d like to take ExploreHere, I’ve been debating on growing the app and putting more historical data into a single unified app, vs, breaking each type of historical data into its own app with a shared base. Both have their pros/cons, but I’m leaning on a unified app, as I’d like there to be a social & cross sell aspect.

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Wesley Vance

I spend my time helping small businesses, validate, design, develop and code their wildest ideas. I spend my time helping small businesses, validate, design, develop and code their wildest ideas.

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