BeenVerified CEO talks about bringing controversial Background Check app to Android

Jul 8, 2011
Tech

JL: The mobile space is developing at a rapid pace and we are confident that there is no better place for our services than right in the palm of your hand. However, as developers, we must also acknowledge that the space is still in its infancy. We know our advantage in mobile is a tremendous asset for us, but monetizing may take some time. Right now, users are not used to paying for mobile services (excluding games), but everyday that’s changing. It’s certainly tough to quantify but our users want it, so it’s a bet we’re willing to make.

APPO: Like many users, the first time I tried searching for myself via the iPhone app (and online), I couldn’t find any information. Why, and how do you plan to address coverage issues like this moving forward?

JL: Yup, this one is a biggie. No one feels the pain more than our team does on this. We have our big TV in the office with the reviews up there. We love the ones that 5 star us but the ones that say we didn’t have such and such information are the ones we’re working on daily. The important thing to remember is that we do not create this data, we simply make it easy for users to view. So if it’s not out there or we can’t legally access it, we don’t show it.

Having said that, we’re actually in the process of loading updates to over 3100 counties of criminal records data as well as constantly adding more data. We’ve got a couple additional big updates in the pipeline. The service you see today is just the beginning.

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APPO: Are you seeing different trends in terms of how Android users are finding the app relative to iOS?

JL: Now this is where iOS shines. There is nothing better than the App Store for being discovered. iOS users enjoy the thrill of discovering apps and the App Store ecosystem builds on that curiosity. The Android Market at the moment leaves a lot to be desired. However, we’re seeing roughly equal traction from our website to downloads. With Android doing 500K+ daily activations, when they get their app store right it’s going to be interesting.

APPO: Talk about marketing efforts and how you drive downloads on each platform.

JL: At the moment, it’s almost entirely organic. Beyond the app stores, we rely almost entirely on our current BeenVerified users and BeenVerified.com traffic.

APPO: What are the three biggest things about the mobile media space that keep you up at night. Why?

JL: Ha! This is a good one…

– 1. Not being able to iterate/fail fast enough. If we fail, we like to fail fast in order make things better quickly. A/B testing has gone a long way on the web and is now standard practice. But it is not so easy on mobile. Is one free check a week the optimal approach? One a month? If only we can do quick tests and respond to users instantly, but at this point, it’s not that simple – Android is a little better but still it’s just not the web. Not being able to put our changes live instantly is painful.

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– 2. Delivering a great product at a price point that makes sense for mobile. Building our service and getting access to good data is not cheap. Yet, it’s our job to figure out how to make it work.

– 3. Working within the limited confines of the mobile screen real estate. For some apps, this might not be an issue, but for us and thinking about how to display a lot of data on limited space is a challenge. For the moment we’ve opted to go with a “lighter” version of our reports on the phone but we don’t plan to do that for long.

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Brad Spirrison

Brad Spirrison is the managing editor of appoLearning and Appolicious Inc. In this capacity, he has sampled and evaluated thousands of iOS and Android applications. He also holds an M.A. in Education and Media Ecology from New York University.

Spirrison worked in concert with appoLearning Expert and Instructional Technology Specialist Leslie Morris while curating and evaluating educational applications.

A longtime media and technology commentator and executive, Spirrison is also a regular contributor to ABC News, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Bloomberg West and The Christopher Gabriel Program.

Spirrison is married and lives with his wife and young son in Chicago. As his son was born just weeks before the debut of the iPad, Spirrison takes his work home with him and regularly samples and enjoys a variety of educational applications for young children.

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