The business behind building an app

Taking a look behind the scenes at Tiimo and why it costs so much money to develop an app.

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May 7, 2021

Tiimo member

May 7, 2021
Helene Lassen Nørlem
Co-founder & CEO of Tiimo

Here at Tiimo, we genuinely care about being as transparent with our users as possible. We have previously written a blogpost covering “Why Tiimo isn’t free” and have elaborated on why we chose the subscription-based business model that we did. Now, we are ready to take the next step and invite you behind the scenes of Tiimo. So if you have ever wondered what the business behind Tiimo looks like or why it costs so much money to develop an app, do read on!

Our company mission

We have spent about 4 years building Tiimo, while raising a little over $1 million from investors along the way. These funds go into the development and maintenance of the app, marketing, and building partnerships with neurodivergent creators and organizations, as we work to make the world more neuroinclusive.

We have never been more excited about Tiimo as a product and a company than we are today. Both our reach and social impact have grown exponentially over the past year. We work with some amazing partners and creators, we have been a featured app in the App Store in over 40 countries in Europe and Southeast Asia, we were mentioned in an important New York Times article, and we are growing in both our new downloads and free trial users each month. Not everyone becomes a paying subscriber of Tiimo, and that is totally okay, but every day we receive the most amazing reviews from people who let us know that our tiny app has helped change their life for the better and it’s honestly the best feeling in the world!

In many ways, we have never been better positioned to succeed. But how do you define success? For us it’s really clear! Our goal is to build a sustainable company, so that we can continue to serve all of you, improve the app as best as we can, and make a real and long lasting positive impact in this world.

We also constantly hear from you, our users, with amazing ideas and feedback on how to improve Tiimo. You want more and better features, more customization, more flexibility, more icons, more routine inspiration in the app, more platforms supported. And we want to give it to you! To do that we need money - first to maintain what’s already there and then to invest more in improving, changing, and growing. We need the support of our investors, but we can’t go on raising more capital without showing that eventually Tiimo can become a sustainable business. At the moment, Tiimo is still using funds from investors to continue to survive, although we are slowly getting closer to becoming a sustainable company.

As we have discussed previously, that means that we have to charge for Tiimo. Most apps that are free actually fund themselves by either selling ad space within the app or by selling user’s data to other organisations. We know that the types of organisations that would want to pay for either the ad space or user data may not have our users’ best interests at heart, which ethically rules it out for us. Adverts, by their very nature, distract attention which makes them completely unsuitable for us to place in our app which is there to help people focus. We know that finance is a barrier to a lot of people who would find Tiimo helpful, and for a team like ours who aim to remove structural barriers, this does not sit well with us. We are hoping that after our next fundraising round, we will be in a position to offer a free version of the app, and are exploring what that could look like.

Why does app development continue to cost money?

Did you know that we have actually developed four apps? Two iOS apps (one for iPhones and one for Apple Watches) and two Android apps (one for Android phones and one for WearOS watches)? When you start to look at it in this way, you can start to also see potential challenges - making sure that notification reminders are sent on time and at the right time when clocks spring forward or fall back, or that scheduled plans are synchronized across devices. The team have to consider how to develop the new features without negatively affecting features that are already within the app, for example, how will importing external calendar activities into the app from a third party app affect someone’s established schedule? What happens when a new policy like GDPR or Apple’s new AppTrackingTransparency framework is introduced? And while our users have great suggestions for how to improve the app to fit their needs, our team need to prioritise the wishlist against what is possible considering time, resources and impact.

A look behind the scenes

We’re a group of passionate, ambitious and hard-working people who are dedicated to deliver the best and most beautiful experience to our users, while making sure we provide real utility every single day to everyone who can benefit from Tiimo. You’ll find most of us at our office in Copenhagen (though some of us are remote and based internationally).

People are often shocked to find out that we are such a small team working on the app. In total, we are a team of just 12 people - 8 full time and 4 part time. On our team we have software engineers working on our iOS apps and Android apps that run on smartphones, smartwatches and tablets. We have our CTO and backend engineer who builds and maintains infrastructure and handles our data. Then we have our product owners and UI/UX designers, who decide what to build next based on your feedback, and who design the experience and test the app. Then there is the marketing team, who do App Store optimization, talk to the media, establish partnerships with amazing neurodivergent talent and organizations, create content for the blog, and build our community across social media. And it might surprise you the most that we don’t have an external customer support team - if you have a query or question, whether you ask in app or email us, it is most likely to be handled by me or Thomas, our COO.

Other than checking up on bug statuses and replying to emails, as CEO, I also work to keep the whole team aligned and motivated, make sure the bills are paid on time, that we are sticking to our budget, that our accountant is happy (that’s important!) and that our investors are updated.

Besides salaries, we have to pay our accountant, our lawyer, the neurodivergent creators we work with, the translators for the international versions of Tiimo, our office space, lunch, supplies, software licences, hardware and other equipment and search ads so that people can find out about us. A proportion of each subscription also goes to Apple and Google for hosting the app within the App and Play stores.

You probably get the picture. Even what seems like a tiny and simple app can be costly to develop and maintain, and promote to the world. If we had the resources we could easily employ a dozen more people to accomplish everything that we want to see happen, and make it happen even faster. When you subscribe to Tiimo, it helps enable our entire team to build you a (hopefully) useful and impactful app for your everyday life. And we wholeheartedly thank you for that!



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The future is bright

We are extremely excited about the future of Tiimo and we have some amazing updates coming out over the course of this year, which we can’t wait to share with you all. We plan to be around for many years to come and we genuinely thank you all for being part of our journey so far! We hope that we can continue to serve you in the years to come.

Hopefully you have enjoyed reading this and have now learned a little bit more about Tiimo and the business behind building an app. If you have any questions about the app, our business model, our team, or something else, then please reach out. We’d love to hear from you!

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