How I Launched An App That Charges People If They Don’t Exercise

August 22, 2019

Justin Anyanwu

Founder of Lazyjar

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Please introduce yourself (name, age, country, job before starting a company) and what you are working on

My name is Justin Anyanwu. I am the founder and creator of Lazy Jar. Currently, I work as a software engineer in Raleigh NC.

What’s your backstory and why did you decide to start a business?

I came to the US from Nigeria in 1998. I fell in love with computers during high school. Back then you could find me in the computer lab after school hours browsing the web and maybe trying to create a free webpage of my own.

My fledgling interest in computers led me to study computer engineering in college. It was during my college tenure that I learned the difference between computer engineering and computer science. Computer Engineering focused mainly on the hardware aspects of computing and computer science focused heavily on programming and algorithms. Over time I started gravitating towards the world of programming.

Despite the fact that I got my masters in Memory management systems (Computer Engineering), I got my first job as a programmer. My interest in programming was emboldened by the fact that there were entrepreneurs making a living writing and selling software from the comfort of their bedrooms or dorm rooms. Around this time Facebook and Myspace were the hottest success stories in the world of startups.

So in no time, I started exploring entrepreneurship as a possible means of making a living.

In entrepreneurship, I loved the idea of being in control of your livelihood. The idea of not having to depend on a paycheck was very appealing to me.

I started Lazy Jar while working on another business idea with a friend. While we worked on this other idea, I noticed that I started gaining weight. I quickly noticed that even though I had a gym membership, I wasn’t attending it regularly. And eventually, like all my other previous memberships, I quit. This frustration got me thinking about an app that could hold me accountable for my fitness ambitions. And that’s how Lazy Jar came about.

Describe the process of starting and launching the business.

I already had some experience in launching a business. I currently run an anime clothing brand called Boomslank. Been running it for almost 10 years with my brothers. Starting that brand taught me a lot about starting a business. And it gave me the confidence to do it again.

Getting Lazy Jar developed was a little more challenging. Even though I had some rudimentary software development skills, I simply didn’t have the skills to build a mobile app. While I could have learned how to, I just didn’t have the time to go through the process of learning it well enough to build something worth commercializing.

So I hired a developer from a website called Fiverr. Lazy Jar was designed to work as an accountability platform that charged users any week they failed to workout according to their personal weekly goals. Example Users can commit to the following goals: 50 miles/week 18,000 calories/week

50,000 steps/week, 500 mins/ exercise

For any week they meet these goals, they are not charged. But for any week they don’t, they are charged a penalty amount they set themselves. Lazy Jar tracks all this data via the user’s Apple Watch or Fitbit.

The idea came to me when I realized that never paid attention to how active they were. And my hypothesis was that if people did, they’d be more active.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

We tried a number of things. Our least effective avenue was Facebook Ads. The ROI on that medium was disappointing. Our most effective avenue has been getting featured on major sites like Life Hacker and Tech Crunch. Those two gave a massive boost in our user base.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

We’re currently generating revenue but we’re not profitable as we have to pay for development work and marketing efforts. But we expect to be profitable in about a year.

Lazy Jar is still an ongoing process. We are currently redesigning the app based on feedback from our most active users. Our biggest issue at the moment is convincing users that the accountability service that Lazy Jar provides is worth paying for.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Creating a product or software is the easiest part. The challenging part is convincing people to give you money for your service or product. Be prepared for a lot of rejection. This is part of the process. Recognizing rejections are par for the course will help callus your mind against the many disappointments that bound to crop up.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

Lazy Jar is written in React Native. And hosted on AWS. We use Stripe to handle payments.

What are some sources for learning you would recommend for entrepreneurs who are just starting? I listen to a number of Podcasts. I listen to IndieHackers, Side Hustle School and the SaaS Podcasts. I also recommend reading books. Currently, I highly recommend “Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight.

Advice for professionals who want to get started or are just starting out?

Just do it. Don’t waste a second of your time or a dime of your money on an MBA. Don’t worry about getting your idea funded. Most business ideas can be bootstrapped. At least till the point they need to scale.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

No, I am not at the moment.

Where can we go to learn more about you and your business?

You can check out Lazy Jar at https://lazyjar.com. My handle on twitter is @joanyanw