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3 Growth Hacks That Catapulted a 'Drunk-Dialing' App to Sober Success

3 Growth Hacks That Catapulted a 'Drunk-Dialing' App to Sober Success
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One of the most popular industries for entrepreneurs to focus on is mobile apps; mobile's popularization has inspired an overflow of apps available to today's smartphone users.

Related: A Beginner's Guide to Starting and Marketing an App

And, what an overflow: At this point, there are apps that focus on every niche you can think of, making it harder than ever for new entrants to stand out from the crowd.

For the app Drunk Mode, however, honing in on the specific problem it solved was a major key to its success.

Drunk Mode is used by college students across the country to party in a safer manner. The app's founder, Joshua Anton, developed the concept after his friend drunk-dialed him at 2 a.m. Anton realized that drunk-dialing was a major problem college students faced, so he and his team set out to stop it -- and help students look out for themselves and one another.

Since the app's initial launch in April 2013, Drunk Mode has had over 1.2 million installs, with 70 percent of downloads occurring in the last year alone. If you too have an app that you’re trying to grow, the following growth hacks that Drunk Mode's creators used could be a key to your success, too:

1. Figure out who your customers are before you start building.

When Anton started building Drunk Mode, he and his team had no investors. They had time and a motivated, hard-working team who were passionate about changing the lives of college students. But that was about it.

Before recruiting a tech team, Anton leveraged his marketing ability, interviewing his target audience of college students. Within the first month of starting, Anton had talked to 100 college students at the University of Virginia, asking one specific question, “Would you or someone you know download and use an app that stops you from drunk dialing?”.

Some 95 percent of these 100 students either said they would use an app like that or that they knew someone who would.

This validated the problem, allowing Anton to focus on finding a team to build out the app.

2. Don’t just get users. Develop retention.

When Drunk Mode first started, the company's main focus was on acquiring users. This is a must for every app, but the Drunk Mode team soon realized that attaining users wasn’t enough.

Instead, the team's focus shifted from acquisition to retention, as staffers realized that users who came back were more likely to share the app with their friends. To solve this problem, the company turned to key UI and UX blogs.

When evaluating a app, it is important to measure the daily active users, and not just the number of downloads. This enables an app to harness word-of-mouth growth.

Related: Why Your Small Business Needs a Mobile App 

3. Get your users involved.

The final step to launching Drunk Mode to over a million installs was leveraging its user base to find campus reps. With these campus reps, the company could distribute Drunk Mode swag, like t-shirts, to college campuses all over the United States.

The key success Drunk Mode’s campus rep program contributed was ascertaining what worked, to quickly entice users and ways in which to scale this. The most efficient part the rep program played was getting reps to add all their friends to Drunk Mode, wear the swag and let fraternities and sororities know about the app.

By the end of the last semester of the 2015-16 school year, Drunk Mode had a team of more than 600 reps at universities across the country.

The road to one million users is not easy, and few apps reach this point. With that said, if you have a driven team and focus on an addressable problem, chances are you can reach over one million users, too.

Related: Getting Started with Small Business App Development

By then, you’ll have other problems to focus on, like monetization and retention.Though developing a mobile app in a crowded space is challenging, there is no reason you can’t succeed.