Interview with the creator of the Motiday app: how to break through for beginners and make a cool product

We interviewed the founder of the largest mobile application in the field of motivation Motiday, Stepan Sergeev. It will encourage you to move on – whether it’s in your personal life or developing your mobile brainchild.

1. How did you get into mobile development? Was this facilitated by specialized education, primary hype around stores, or some other reasons?

As usual, everything happened by accident – a specialized news site, a forum, “what if we do …” and a few simple concepts.

I became interested in this area in 2015. At that moment it was really a field for experiments. There were a small number of developers on the market and a huge number of unrealized ideas. All this created flexible opportunities to spin in the TOP.

The feeling that in two clicks you are uploading something to a huge audience that will appear on people’s phones is a magical feeling.

2. Tell us about the setbacks that you had to go through professionally on the way to creating Motiday? What conclusions did you draw?

The idea of ​​creating Motiday arose almost simultaneously with my interest in the app store and further pursued me in the background for the last 10 years. We went through a series of complexities: name changes, hundreds of installations and incremental improvements.

And the main conclusion that can be drawn here is extremely banal – if you do something new, then you must make a mistake dozens of times before reaching the final.

3. How did you come up with the idea for Motiday? Is this some kind of personal request for you or did you rely on observing the people around you?

It all started in 2013-2016, when there was a flourishing of motivational communities on Vkontakte, and, in general, this topic. There was multi-million dollar traffic that focused on being inspired. But there was a problem that it all very quickly turned into a garbage can. I wanted to fix this, and the idea came to me to bring the authors together and tailor their content, giving it out in the right amount at the user’s convenience.

Much later, the idea began to grow into a framework: an amazing graphical support for the latest guidelines in the form of Motinet – our ultimate product that allows each person to be this very inspiration.

4. In your articles and interviews, you often talk about the fact that mobile development is going through difficult times – budget wars, store rules, etc. It is difficult for young developers to remain self-motivated in such conditions. How do you motivate yourself to get up in the morning and keep working?

The mobile development industry has been around for over 15 years, and of course, any “gaps” for novice developers quickly closed. Millions of budgets appeared, cool teams, the need for store owners to increase profits. Now the most seasoned specialists remain in the market.

Despite the presence of competitors, we managed to occupy a niche in time and acquire a financial cushion. There is no particular secret here.

5. What development potential does Motiday hold? What fundamental innovations do you plan for the next year or two years?

We plan to reach the million MAU level from next year. The key to scaling is Motinet.

We plan to create a kind of Mindset in the App Store: motivation, burnout, overcoming difficulties, life hacks, meditation, etc. Only in the form of applications in our store there will be not programs, but real people who have something to say.

Last year, after reading Brandon Stanton’s book Humans, I realized that even small sketches of the life of ordinary people on the street, and not Unicorns from the Valley, can blow you up from the inside. It’s just a matter of getting it right.

6. You recently launched a new product, Motinet. In fact, we are talking about a motivational social network? Are there any results, conclusions after the start?

(See previous question)

The first results will be after the release, by the beginning of July. But already now, based on the results of closed beta testing, we understand that we managed to wrap the whole story in such a way that it:

  • creates virality, that is, it has a social effect
  • properly packaged and gives emotion

I think a new stack multiplied by 10 will be added to the dozens of our current features.

7. Do you have your own inspirational story to post on Motinet? Tell about her.

I have a great story about how my left leg was paralyzed in the suburbs of Brazil, and there was not a single soul for 20 km, but I will leave it for Motinet.

8. How long, on average, does one user keep Motiday on their smartphone? Why is he leaving? What retention techniques do you use?

We have a good Retention, classic for such applications, when after a week more than 60% of users remain in the application.

Our main problem before was the lack of social impact, and advanced content flow settings. Users always want to feel the feedback, and for this we need to be more interactive and closer to them. In addition, there is a standard problem in algorithm tuning, people sometimes want to read more and sometimes watch other content.

As you understand, our new update solves all these problems.

9. Are there any retention hypotheses that you have tested and discarded? What and why?

The whole life of a mobile development team consists of A / B tests and hypotheses for them.

For example, a week ago we realized that a banner for the 6th day with a request to allow sending push notifications can be tied to the types of materials, and show it exactly after reading the material that, according to our statistics, is the most inciting to action.

10. Let’s be honest, Motiday is not the most complex application in the world, and it is quite possible to repeat it. How do you feel in a competitive space and how do you maintain the uniqueness of the product?

It can be repeated, but no one has repeated it. Approximately similar story for developers who repeated Clash of Clans. Since its launch, and this is 15 years ago, hundreds of similar medieval farms have passed through the mouth of the stores.

The problem is that it is easy to repeat the present and extremely difficult to repeat the future. Behind the project, first of all, there are people, not an idea, and it is extremely difficult to calculate their future actions to improve the core idea of ​​the product.

11. Does Motilab have plans to create groundbreaking applications? In what area?

We only focus on consulting and making our clients’ current application concepts in the TOP.

In this sense, Motiday is a picture for the Hermitage, on which I make a complete focus. I don’t like the blur concept.

12. How difficult is it now to find funding for development, if there are not enough own funds for the entire cycle? How did the availability of investments in the mobile market change in your memory?

It sounds strange, but a common problem for mobile developers is positioning themselves as mobile developers.

By seeking funding, we mean seeking venture capital. Investors, in turn, are looking not for mobile applications, but for markets with a bold check that can be mastered by teams of people with extraordinary brains.

You need to sell the market, yourself and the primary statistics, but not the shell. In this case, you will have Seed for 10 million, and not a bank loan for 500k at 8%.

13. What tools are currently used to automate development and how much do they save the project budget (for example, by reducing the time to create an MVP or a finished application)?

Here you need to clearly understand that so far only primitive implementations or separate narrow sections can be automated.

Of course, there is no robot in which you make 2 clicks, write 10 words and the miracle of the neural network gives out an application.

In fact, there are 3 main fields for automation:

  • packing the current template product into a mobile one (mobile site of the company – into the application / desktop site – into the application)
  • cross-platform, when an iOS application is cut for Android
  • testing, when algorithms look for the most primitive bugs in development

14. PWAs are more and more often seen in the lists of the latest mobile development trends – they are easier to develop, do not require installation, and work better during communication outages. But for some reason, all developers do not switch to them. Do you use this technology at Motilab and what disadvantages do you see in it?

As I said, application implementations in PWA are quite primitive and have a huge number of restrictions.

A good case for application is only in Iran, which was sanctioned.

Now no one can correctly adapt PWA to the phone’s battery, some of the functions will fall off either from the start or in the process. In terms of code, development is strongly tied to the browser.

15. How do you generally assess the prospects for P2P mobile applications? Can an aspiring studio shoot in this niche if it finds a good idea for a certain category? How quickly, if successful, will this niche be burned out by competitors?

P2P will always be a very niche product. And, even if the concept responds in market fit, it has a number of technological limitations, primarily in terms of the possibility of developing this very P2P.

16. Do you think that in the foreseeable future there will be a trend towards the need to integrate applications with popular metaverses? What implications will this have for the industry?

Here, first of all, we need to talk not about the consequences, but about the current monopoly of the stores.

In fact, there are 2 players. Obviously these 2 players have their own plans for the metaverse.

Formally, Roblox hangs in the App Store, which is already a metaverse.

Problems start when some similar Roblox has a desire:

  • make a more open financial system inside the game (we step on the payment interests of store owners)
  • fully integrate augmented reality headsets (we attack the hardware interests of store owners)
  • integrate existing applications within the framework of some open source (we step on the shop interests of store owners)

The consequences will be grandiose only if the appetite for monopoly is severely curtailed.

Otherwise, we will slide into a hypertrophied space, within which it will not be possible to build normal universes.

17. What changes do you expect from the adoption of laws in the US and the EU that limit the power of stores over applications published there? What is Motilab planning in this regard?

At the moment, we have taken a wait-and-see attitude, since we do not yet know which package will be adopted in the US, whether it will really affect stores.

We can expect a decrease in the number of features. Everyone knows for sure that the frequency of featuring is affected by the cache that the application brings to the store owner. And features that have now become a system story can still provide up to 10-20% of traffic.

That is, cut off the lion’s share of the costs of the application author for the purchase of traffic.

18. Will the new rules defined by law encourage more active implementation of the blockchain in mobile applications?

I hope that yes. However, as far as I understand, store owners will still have a large springboard to remove applications that are actively implementing the blockchain.

For example, if the administration receives a critical mass of notifications from users that they have lost money inside the application due to hacking, ignorance of the functionality, or other reasons.

19. What are the most important global trends in mobile in your opinion? How do you prepare for their arrival?

We are not personally tied directly to trends, so I would rather single out 3 global ones:

1) 5G, which will give:

  • New opportunities for AR and VR
  • New features without sacrificing application performance.
  • Faster, more secure mobile payments.

2) Development of already mentioned web applications. That is, PWA is a hybrid of web pages and native applications. Over time, the algorithms will improve and the development will touch on more complex concepts.

3) IoT-oriented mobile applications. That is, the connection of technical means into ecosystems. Leading corporations are constantly developing new devices to introduce them into everyday life, so mobile applications that help you keep in touch with these things will become very popular.


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