My name is Tom, and I am the founder of Church Notes! Church Notes is a Bible Note-Taking app that simplifies your walk with God. It allows people to take notes at Church or on the go whilst easily inserting any bible verse into a note. You can also use our devotion templates, bible reader and verse of the day features to learn more about the bible. Church Notes is available on iOS, Android & Web.
I had the idea for Church Notes about 5 years ago and have never done any app developer work, it was hard to do anything with the idea. But going into a Global Pandemic, and straight into a lockdown in Australia, in March 2020 got me thinking— “I should challenge myself with a project”. So I started learning Swift and launched Church Notes on IOS in October 2020, seven months later from a beginner coder to launching a product on the App Store.
Fast-forwarding to February 2022, over that time we have launched on Android and Web, and overall had great success with growth. We have over 10,000 users with an average engagement time of 1 hour 15 minutes. The high engagement time shows us that people are really spending time in our app whilst at Church.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
The idea came from being in Church every Sunday and struggling to stay engaged with the sermon. As a young 20 year old, I was constantly distracted from either my phone or what was happening in the room. And from that, when I did take notes they were never good or worth re-reading. I had a thought —-“What if I had a note-taking App that allowed me to insert the bible just by typing a verse out”.
I downloaded XCode 4 years ago, did one tutorial, and thought “No this isn’t for me”. Fast forward 2 years, I re-download XCode in 2020 and it instantly became more natural for me and ignited a great passion to create tech, with no turning back.
Due to the world being in a Global Pandemic, most things shut down and my busy life became the opposite, so I had all the time to throw myself into my new project and passion project. In the beginning, I wasn’t thinking “Ahh I really could make this something huge”, it was me wanting to help people in this area. I always said, “If this helps one person, or even just myself then it’s totally worth it.” My passion is to see people engaged with God, and church, and so it will always have a free element to my App.
When I launched in October 2020, I put a message on a Christian Facebook group and it was huge! I had 400 likes in the first 24 hours and most of them converted to downloads. From that moment, I was committed to keeping this project going and to keep expanding the already great features many had expressed were going to be so beneficial.
As of February 2022, we have launched our Premium product within our app. Church Notes Premium allows users to engage further at Church by having the ability to use multiple Bible Translations and follow exactly what the Pastor is preaching. Being in our first few weeks going to market with Church Notes Premium, we have had great buy-in from our already committed users.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
My background is in Graphic Design, I studied it at school and went on to do various creative roles for agencies. So the look and feel of our App were a huge deal to me. I wanted the app to be clean, with no unnecessary noise, and definitely a great palette that engages the user right away.
I spent weeks in Adobe XD mapping out the UI & User Experience as I knew how much of a big deal this is in modern tech. I used sites like dribble and google search to gather inspiration for the app and test it out within XD.
After this, I spent about 4 months developing the app to get it to a point where I could beta test it with friends and family. Having only done Web Development before, learning a new language was a challenge at the beginning, with lots of YouTube & Medium tutorials! After a couple of months the process of learning came a bit more natural and the app was starting to take form. I built the initial app in Swift and as soon as we launched I got an email saying “When is this coming to Android”, so then I had to do the whole process again ha! Learned Flutter & Dart and built the app we now see today.
Describe the process of launching the business.
I remember calling a close friend of mine, who back then owned and ran a huge tech company here in Australia, and telling him about Church Notes. His first comment to me was “Launch, launch right now”. I was honestly taken back by this but it was honestly the best advice I got. Launch as quickly as you can and get your idea validated!
Don’t compare where you’re at to any other company and if you’re passionate about what you’re doing, don't give up!
I had absolutely no idea how to market strategy worked when we first launched, I was more shocked I had an app on the app store. Now I have a lot more strategy when we launch a new feature or product, and I like how as the company has grown so has my knowledge about the Tech Industry. It’s grown me as a person, my skills and I love it.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
From a marketing strategy point of view, we have had to develop one over time. We know that word of mouth is a huge promoter for an app like ours. We mainly focus our time on Facebook Groups & LinkedIn.
LinkedIn has been amazing at connecting with Pastors around the world to tell them about Church Notes. Commenting on posts or groups has also helped us grow.
Google Search has been another great avenue for users to find our app. From my background and experience, I knew doing simple edits on our website would allow us to rank high on our targeted keywords. FAQ’s, content and product pages have been the big focus for us to grow our Organic reach.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
The future is looking great for Church Notes. Having only just launched Premium a couple of weeks back, we are still in the early phase of financial growth. Being a bootstrap company, we still have a long way to go till we can turn a profit but with our upcoming features and product launches, we know we can get there soon.
Short-term goals are currently focused on customer growth, we plan to triple our user base by the end of 2022. We are currently on the path to hitting this goal and have strategies to grow our share of voice.
Long Term Goals, we plan on expanding our product portfolio to help people grow closer to Christ and be more connected in the Bible.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I’ve learned so much in this time! My favorite saying is “If you go and lay a brick day by day, every day, you will eventually get a wall”. And that has been my focus. If I just complete this one ticket or task today, that will get me closer to our goal.
Your company will only grow as fast as you’re willing to let it grow. Meaning, if you’re doing this as your side hustle, it’s totally fine if new features or products take months to launch. Don’t compare yourself to other companies, just run your own race.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Marketing - We use Semrush and later to do our organic marketing.
Customer Success - Fresh Chat.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Don’t do this alone. That doesn’t mean going out and finding a business partner, but having people around you that can validate or critique your ideas. You can always pivot as a company to where you see the market going, having people to bounce those ideas off is crucial.
Keep pushing, your win will come! Don’t compare where you’re at to any other company and if you’re passionate about what you’re doing, don't give up!
Where can we go to learn more?
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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