Self-Taught Digital Nomads: The Story and Team Behind the Video App Builder VidApp (and how its success can help your membership site)

Here at MemberPress, we love to share clients’ successes stories. Today we spotlight VidApp, a SaaS solution for video membership sites to create and manage native mobile and TV apps.

Vice president of sales and marketing for VidApp, Rory Hancock, says VidApp is like a “Squarespace for building and managing native mobile apps that are specifically designed for video courses and programs,” and that they excel “as a powerful solution for membership sites to better reach and engage their audience, reduce churn, and grow their revenue.” And because we think that’s pretty cool, we thought you might, too.

VidApp’s Beginning

VidApp was founded by Dave Hancock (CEO and co-founder) and Hannah Curd (CTO and co-founder) as they were traveling through Europe in 2013. Although the two had limited coding knowledge, they felt there was an opportunity in mobile video apps.

Dave and Hannah met in Sydney previous to Europe, whereas Dave knew Rory, well, from birth. The brothers were born in a small town in New Zealand known for hobbits and gorgeous scenery, but perhaps in the near future when we think of New Zealand, we’ll also think of VidApp, because it’s where the company is now headquartered.

What first sparked the idea for what would become VidApp was that in 2013 (the year of iPhone 4 and before app stores became mainstream), Dave was asked to turn a few DVDs into video apps to sell in the app stores. At the time, mobile video made up only 10 percent of the market as native apps were (and still are) complex and expensive to develop and maintain.

Native apps are those developed in a specific coding language that offers the most powerful performance, reliability, and features compared to a hybrid or web app. They’re more expensive and complex to develop because Apple and Android require constant software updates and because of the vast number of different smartphones and tablets on the market. Even today, the average native iOS app takes five months to develop and costs over $25k—and that doesn’t include the $5k a year to maintain it!  

But Dave was driven by the move toward smartphones and his passion for helping small businesses gain access to a technology that allowed them to be part of an exciting, emerging marketplace (the app stores). Dave envisioned an easy-to-use tool just about anyone—not just businesses with big budgets—could use to develop and launch their own native apps.

But as mentioned, Dave and Hannah initially had limited coding experience and a limited budget, so they decided to do what great entrepreneurs do: build the solution themselves. These digital nomads taught themselves to code as they traveled through Europe, and the result is a SaaS platform now known as VidApp, which enables all types of businesses to create and manage their own video apps. That may be our favorite part of the story.

As VidApp continued to evolve, Dave became the lead front-end and Android developer, while Hannah headed up iOS. Although their coding was self-taught, Dave has an MBA from Cambridge and majored in software engineering; he also has a background as a technical project manager at IBM.

Hannah has a degree in Mathematics and technical skills from her time as a marketing-data analyst for major Australian banks. Once Dave and Hannah developed the technology and were ready to start sales and marketing in 2016, Rory joined the team, bringing with him his experience in sales and an educational background in finance and international business. To date, VidApp has raised a seed round of investment and grown to a full staff of ten.

Why Apps Are Becoming Critical for Membership Sites

VidApp is entering the business world at an exceptionally opportune time. In today’s world, video rules: it’s engaging, exciting, and faster to glean information from than any other type of content.

We live in an on-demand world—one where, Rory tells us, it’s “no longer enough to just offer your audience a good quality web experience because they’re now no longer just on their computer; to truly succeed in today’s digital world, you have to give your audience an omnichannel experience.”

You have to reach and convert them wherever they are, whether laptop, smartphone, or connected TV (Apple TV, Roku, etc.). You may or may not be aware of the following statistics: by 2021, more than 80 percent of all global internet traffic will be video. By 2023, 80 percent of all mobile-data traffic will be video.

This not only highlights the world’s demand for video but for mobile video. The key user behaviors and preferences driving the demand for mobile apps and reinforcing why they’re becoming a crucial offering for any membership site are:

  • 60 percent of online videos are now watched on a mobile device.
  • 85 percent of all people prefer to use an app over a mobile website.
  • US consumers spend five hours a day on their mobile devices; 90 percent of that time is spent in apps.

People’s preference for apps is simply due to better user experience. Video apps offer faster loading times; in-app, user-created playlists; and video downloads.

Behind-the-screen note: Rory didn’t dare say “video downloads” at first, but he took that dare on and conquered it! Why was that scary? Because every digital business’s worst nightmare is to wake up and find out someone has copied and pirated their content. The sweat, blood, and tears poured into creating the value that is their video content and information could be stolen just like that.

But that’s the single most important reason a mobile app is so valuable—it gives a membership site the ability to offer its audience downloadable videos for offline viewing in a way that prevents copying or sharing. (There’s a reason why Netflix offers downloads on their apps but not on their site.)

Combined with a superior user experience and mobile push notifications to combat dropping email-open rates, it’s no wonder why offering members an app is proven to reduce subscription churn by as much as 30 percent. If that doesn’t get your attention, we don’t know what will.

One final note about the importance of apps: The App Stores are now the world’s biggest digital marketplaces. And they’re no longer solely about games. In fact, education and lifestyle apps now make up close to 10 percent of all apps in the app stores, with entertainment apps making up a further 6 percent.

Health and fitness apps have experienced a 70-percent growth rate from year to year, with in-app subscriptions up 58 percent in 2017. Consumers will go from spending $90 billion to $190 billion on in-app subscriptions by 2021, which makes them a marketplace opportunity that can no longer be overlooked.

Enter VidApp!

Say hello to your new best friend in launching your own branded membership or subscription video app at a fraction of the time and cost of traditional developers. Their mission is to help online video businesses and membership sites to reach, engage, and delight their audience on any device.

Rather than high up-front costs, VidApp makes it affordable with a low setup fee and ongoing-monthly-support plan. Additionally, once they’ve developed your app, you don’t have to rely on their developers because you can customize and manage your apps from within the VidApp platform (a combination of a CMS and Video App Builder).

Although you will find generic app builders on the market, you most likely won’t get the specific video functionality or specialty integrations a lot of membership sites need and which the experts at VidApp offer.

With one look at their customer demographic, you’ll understand how much and how well they serve the business community. While they are based in New Zealand, the majority of their customers are from the U.S., Canada, and the UK.

The first clients were mainly businesses like sports and fitness companies whose audiences tend to watch videos at the gym, while commuting, or offline. But as we’ve seen, all audiences are demanding video now, and VidApp’s clients also include companies in the entertainment, educational, and instructional industries.

Here's a quick peek at VidApp in action:

A few more awesome facts about VidApp:

  • Specific video-app functionality gives your audience an experience they’ll love
  • Publish apps to iOS/Android/Apple TV/Roku
  • In-app transactions that integrate with your site to sell your memberships in the app stores
  • Specialist integrations (like MemberPress and Vimeo)
  • A low setup fee and ongoing support plan based on the number of paying app users a site has, so it works no matter your size or scale

And here are a few reasons why developing an app with VidApp is a far better solution than custom development:

  • It keeps and maintains your apps live across all app stores
  • It releases software-app updates whenever Apple, Google, or Roku require
  • It offers feature and design upgrades every four months
  • It handles all app user-related technical support

Oh, and one more thing: they offer a trial run for MemberPress sites where they’ll build a test app at no cost!

MemberPress client Katie Austin is also a VidApp client, who says, “I tried other development options which cost tens of thousands and failed—simply because it’s hard to find good people that know what they’re doing. VidApp knew exactly what I needed for my app. They understood my brand, my subscription service and my app needs.”

You really have nothing to lose by trying them out. We like to think they’re offering this to you, our clients, because we’ve been able to provide them with a product they can recommend. We don’t mind sharing that Rory says MemberPress is their go-to because it’s “really been great to work with technically and one of the most robust plugins we’ve integrated with.” Thanks, VidApp!

Learn more about VidApp and take them up on their free trial by hitting up their website or finding them on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Special thanks to Rory Hancock for the information and statistics about apps, video content and about VidApp’s history.

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About Lindsay Flanagan

Lindsay Flanagan is a senior editor and project and social media manager at Eschler Editing. She earned her Master of Arts in English and Creative Writing and spent over a decade working in higher education before joining the Eschler team. She and her husband are the proud parents of two brilliant daughters and make their home in Heber, Utah.