Interview with NoFilter

1. Hello! What’s your background, and what are you working on?

Hello everyone! My name is Broda Noel. I’m a full stack developer expert in mobile — frontend and backend. Together with Daniela Manzotti, a UI/UX/Product Designer, we’re part of a small managing team called NoFilter. As you may imagine, we are both in charge of all the tasks related to the process of getting an app to grow; from validating the idea and defining the MVP to Marketing work.

2. What motivated you to get started?

Everything started 2 years ago. A few months after a trip to Europe, I saw an awesome photo on Instagram. “Where is that amazing place?” I thought to myself. To my surprise, it was just a few blocks from the hotel I was staying at in Rome. I immediately wondered, “How could I have not seen that place?” That was the first time that I realized the need for an app that showcases “the best photo spots or locations nearby.”

From there, I discovered several apps that reveal the best spots but none of it had what I was looking for. So I decided to create my own app.

I had exceptional experience doing mobile apps, and I knew that Daniela was also looking for a good project to start doing UX. We both decided to try to get something working. And here we are!

3. What went into building the initial product?

The MVP definition was made 1 year ago, and I still have them stuck on my apartment’s wall.

We spent a couple of months researching about what people really want and reaching photographers and travellers. We wanted to prove if exploring best photo spots around the world is essential to them, and it turned out that it was!

After a couple of interviews, meetings, and some PostIts, we simplified MVP as an app that:

– Explores spots in a map

– Saves spots in collections

– Marks spots as “visited”

While Daniela’s in charge of the design, I started working on backend.

This mobile app was created for Android and iOS at the same time. React Native (and Expo) made it really easy and simple.

From my point of view, defining the MVP and releasing it was not as hard as I was expecting it to be. It was really pretty simple. The harder part came after publishing it. Marketing the app is a really slow process.

4. How have you attracted users?

We started marketing to Facebook Groups. There are a lot of Facebook Groups where travelers and photographers ask questions along the lines of, ”What should I see in my trip to Xxxx?” We took advantage of that first.

We then shared it to “Product Hunt”. We got promoted in the daily PH email and that started to bring a lot of users to the app.

On the other hand, users on Instagram were likewise sharing stories about NoFilter. We are getting a lot of users through word of mouth.

5. What’s your business model?

Currently, we don’t have one and we’re not expecting to get any money from it.

Since the app saves most of the information in the user’s device, we don’t have that many costs (we have less than 10 dollars per month of costs). Even considering situations with a lot of traffic (when we got promoted in Product Hunt, for example). – confused with this.

But, you know how that works, right?

Unexpectedly, numerous companies sent us emails asking us to open an API so they can consume our data. Some even offered to pay us. On that, I can further say that our business model is going to be: Free app for users, and paid API access for companies. So, it is a B2C2B product, because we bring the product for free to final-customers (photographers and travelers), and a paid service to companies (through the API).

6. What are your goals for the future?

We really want to keep it simple. We don’t want to add too many features to the app, but we want to increase the number of spots that we feature.

Currently, we have 1,500 spots to explore. It’s a lot of work, but our main goal is to expand our coverage globally and increase the number of spots.

7. What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and obstacles you’ve overcome? If you had to start over, what would you do differently?

The biggest challenges would probably come from the Marketing side of the job. Letting the people know about the app is really hard. If I had to start all over again, I believe I would start with ONLY 1 feature in the app — only a map to explore spots, with no “collection” and no “mark as visited” features.

The simpler, the better.

8. Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Communities. All communities really help a product to grow and flourished. This includes people from social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Product Hunt, Reddit who surprisingly offer time in waiting for answers on their queries and share their feedback. 

Without their feedback, it would be very difficult to validate an MVP.

9. What’s your advice for other startups?

Release your product earlier. Test it earlier. And most importantly, release your MVP with ONLY 1 FEATURE!

Another feature that we thought would bring interest is by creating collections and marking spots as visited. Unfortunately, only 5% of all users enjoys it.

Just focus on 1 feature and observe the user’s screams. If your app needs more features, they’ll let you know.

10. Where can we go to learn more?

You can learn more about:

– NoFilter app, at https://getnofilter.com

– Daniela’s work, at https://danielamanzotti.com

– My work, at https://github.com/BrodaNoel/cv

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