Hitting 2M downloads without funding, employees, or learning to code — Ania Wysocka, Rootd

On this episode: the one small tweak that increased revenue 5X, growing an app organically, and how hiring an ASO consultant actually tanked downloads.

Hitting 2M downloads without funding, employees, or learning to code — Ania Wysocka, Rootd
David Barnard

David Barnard

PublishedLast updated

If you can’t code, and you don’t have an advertising budget or outside investment, you might think your app is dead in the water.

But what if you’re wrong? 

In this episode of the Sub Club podcast, Rootd founder Ania Wysocka shares the secrets of how she managed to take her panic attack and anxiety relief app to over two million downloads with no outside capital and without hiring a single employee.

While initially offered a $40,000 bid, Ania quickly realized it wasn’t going to be enough, and set about devising alternative ways to grow — without knowing a lick of code. Working with a student developer in the app’s early days helped establish a pattern of piecemeal contracting ever since, as and when required. 

More money is rarely the answer…

The bootstrapped ethic has served Ania in more ways than one. She knows that throwing more money at a problem isn’t always the solution.

In fact, Ania hit a snag when paying a contractor for her ASO strategy. All keyword experimentation takes some tinkering, but higher traffic keywords with less relevance for your app can do much more harm than good. In the worst-case scenario and as Ania experienced, this strategy might even tank downloads. Instead, Ania found that the sweet spot was opting for highly relevant keywords with lower search volumes: The early users who discovered Rootd were at least partially responsible for its rapid growth.

So look to organic channels

Without an advertising budget, Ania sought low-budget strategies for this early growth. Tapping into local journalists’ passion for small business success stories meant she could promote her app organically. On top of this, Ania could meaningfully tie in important dates and national events to tell a more impactful story. This has been a key driver of continued growth with a year of monthly press releases and product feature announcements mapped out and spanning a season.

And when it came to getting featured by Apple’s Editor’s Choice, Ania found that trying and trying again was the ticket to success. After 15  submissions, she was told to prepare artwork because she may well be imminently featured. When you’re not doing paid advertising, this acts as a huge boost: Rootd sees a direct, correlatable increase in browse installs when featured.

…And tell a good story

When you tell a good story, people want to help spread that story. New features are great stories to tell, and even if press placement is tough, persistence matters. Once you witness bumps from hitting on a winner through trial-and-error, “keep on doing it over and over again until those bumps become the norm, because you’re doing it well and you’re doing it often,” Ania says.

On the podcast, Ania Wysocka shares how one small tweak increased revenue 5X, the best way to organically grow an app, and what best signals retention.

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