Life as an Indie Developer

As I’m sitting here writing this blog post I think back to when Edwin and I started our grand adventure in forming our company and becoming indie developers. I can remember thinking to myself “man I can’t wait to make a game!”. But you have to learn to walk before you can run, right? So we started out with our first app, SleepLab (available on iOS and Android).

As Edwin and I discovered making our first app was very challenging and not as easy as it sounds. We both had to become familiar with new programming languages and each platform’s respective SDKs. Doing so took quite a bit of time, but it was very rewarding.

We’ve seen many people want to get into making apps/games thinking that it would make them a lot of money immediately. However this is rarely the case. It seems as if you’ll either become an indie superstar or fall by the wayside and all of your apps are “failures”.

Failure is a GOOD thing believe it or not! Failure can teach you lessons that no success will ever teach you. We at Bromance Labs truly believe in our ability to take these risks,“fail” and learn that will result in the innovations that the mobile development industry needs in order to grow.

New indies coming into this need to know the realities of this business. Therefore I want to present a constructive and honest view of the indie mobile development business from what I’ve learned over the last 3 years.

Wearing Many Hats

Indie development is different than working for a traditional company. Indie developers have to be good at a little of everything as we are constantly learning. Edwin and I had to do much more than just program. We’ve had to become knowledgeable in areas such as:  social media, marketing, artwork, forming a business, etc. It’s amazing to think that so much of your time can potentially get taken up by each of these “jobs”.

I’d estimate about 30% of your time is spent during development while the other 70% is spent doing all of the above “jobs”.

We don’t know what the future holds, what the major OS platforms will be in the next 2-5 years, or how technology will change. These are things that we figure as we go along on this journey.

We’re also prepared to change direction quickly as things come up. There have been countless apps/ideas that we’d had along the years that we scrapped because….(insert reason here)

Making Money

It’s often been quoted that most businesses don’t see a profit in the first 3-5 years! (and that’s just the average). If you aren’t in it for the long haul you most likely will fail.

Each app/game you make is a huge gamble. There are very few people whose first app/game will make them a lot of money. However even if you do make a lot of money you’ll often want to re-invest the money into the business to make it grow.

Edwin and I have talked at length about the following topics: getting our apps/games onto as many platforms as possible, having our apps be seen by more people on the different app stores, and travelling to different development conferences. There’s also the following expenses that you have to be aware of: marketing, software, hardware, and whatever else it takes to get the business to the next level. All of this costs a lot of money and your wages will be the last thing you will want to pay.

Luckily today there are several ways today in which you can try and accomplish this: getting investors, grants, taking out a small business loan, running a Kickstarter, or just doing it in your spare time.

Making a Reputation

The mobile development world of today is so much different than when we first set out to do this. Before there weren’t nearly as many mobile app developers as there are now and the app stores weren’t as saturated. Today there are literally thousands of apps released on a daily basis so it’s very hard to get noticed. So in short – NO ONE KNOWS WHO YOU ARE! There are 2 sides to this:

  1. The bad news: You have to build your reputation from nothing and do a lot to grab people’s attention. It may sound silly but getting someone to drop 99 cents on an app takes a lot of time and effort. You want to give your customers something to care about and an experience that they’ll want to share with other people.
  2. The good news: FREEDOM! (insert Braveheart audio clip here)….As an indie developer you have the freedom to try out many different ideas. So feel free to experiment and learn to see if your ideas get noticed by other people. If no one likes your idea and your app “fails” then it won’t be noticed by the masses.

Being Your Own Best Boss

In any industry you’re going to see people working so much that they are drained all of the time. This impacts their relationships and they are always stressed. Or you may see people who have forgotten why they started out doing their job in the first place. They end up chasing money rather than their dreams. In the end they feel like they sold out.

Edwin and I established some rules from the start:

  • “Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life” – Dolly Parton
  • Work with people who understand you and have the same values
  • Don’t compromise your values

If you are running your own company it’s your responsibility to create an environment that YOU enjoy working in. It needs to be an environment where you can learn and innovate, and enjoy your life. You need to believe in your purpose. Even if you never plan on getting any future employees, the culture of your company and the way you work is entirely up to you to establish.

It’s the journey that is the most important thing, not the destination. You can aspire to have a successful app/game, but if you don’t enjoy getting there then it’s not worth it.

Development Sucks, like a Roomba and Hoover had a baby

You may think you know how hard this is journey is, but it’ll end up harder than what you think it will be. No matter how prepared you think you are, you can’t prepare for every outcome.

This all takes a tremendous amount of time – A LOT longer than you expected.

It’s the most scary, stressful, exciting, fun, fulfilling ride of our lives and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

You’ll have to dig deep and find ways of pushing through all of the bad that you come across during this journey because you may end up quitting and it will have all been for nothing.

Do This Because You Love It

Don’t do this for the money and success. You have to have faith that by continuing to hone your craft that you’ll get better and it will all pay off in the end.

All anyone can ever do it get started at something. Just keep practicing and don’t be afraid to try new things. You will get better. Just believe that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. The ones who succeed are the ones that never give up!

Good luck future developers!

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The iPhone 6 is the best smartphone ever made. Period.

iPhone 6The iPhone 6 is the best smartphone ever made.

You’re only here for two reasons. Admit it. You either agree with that statement or you hate everything about it and you’re here to give me grief. Well, truth be told – I don’t even own one yet. I haven’t held it’s beautiful space gray body in my hands or caressed it’s lovely retina face with my fingers… But it doesn’t matter. It’s the greatest phone ever made, hands down. And not because I’m a self proclaimed Apple Fanboy.

In the beginning…

While I won’t go back to the history of mobile phones, handheld devices, or even companies such as Apple, Google and Microsoft, I think it’s an important part of the conversation to discuss how in the mid -2000s things got interesting really really fast. The Mac vs PC commercials are still fresh in our heads today. I think about how Apple was very deliberate in brining down the home market share of personal computing with those ads and how they were continuously poking fun at PC companies or their big target: Microsoft Windows (XP/Vista). They were doing their darndest to make people believe that Macs were better for every day life.

Ring ring ring

Then in 2007, Apple dove headfirst in the phone market by releasing the iPhone. What a complete 180 did they decide to do with this from a marketing perspective. I cannot recall one ad that contained anything negative about the competitors. That being said, every keynote by Jobs or Cook since has contained a jab or two at either BlackBerry or Android. This strategy seemed to permeate right through to iPad as well. The ads for iPhone and iPad became about what you could do and how you could use it instead of attack ads. I found that suspiciously fascinating.


I love Android. Make no mistake about it. Without Android OR Apple we wouldn’t continue to strive for innovation and push for the best possible technology out there. Without getting overly geeky – that A8 chip on the iPhone 6 might have never been if it weren’t for competition. I relish it. I welcome it. That’s why we build apps for both at Bromance Labs. As long as people are using the devices, we’ll keep writing software for them. And we like it that way! The tables have seemed to turn to Apple’s competition however, from a marketing perspective. Look at this new ad from Samsung mocking the iPhone 6 and 6+ release.

While I think that Samsung’s tactics are a little more deliberate and sound a bit whiny in contrast to the comedic Mac vs PC – I can’t blame them! Apple has reported 4 million units of the iPhone 6 preorders in the first 24 hours alone. They are consistently outselling Samsung quietly and therefore have no reason to make ads that target their competition. That would be in very poor taste.

The Apple Slant and Phone Wars

While I understand that this might read as a pro-Apple article, I wanted to write it for a specific reason: to get people to stop whining about how awesome their phone is. If you’re happy with your Galaxy, Nexus, iPhone, Note, BlackBerry, Lumia, or Palm Pilot that’s great. I’d rather know about how you use your phone on a daily basis and why you like your phone. Not a “my phone did that first” or “but my phone does it better” story – leave the advertising to the marketing cannibals at Apple and Samsung and Google, etc. PS: I don’t really think it’s the best phone every made, but it sure keeps people pushing for better tech; I’m all for that!

What phone do you have? Do you love it or hate it? What phone do you want and why? Let us know!

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Understanding the Mind of a Programmer

Consider the following programmer-themed comic (go on, I’ll wait):

Jason Heeris 2013

I think this sums up a lot about how most programmers feel when they are interrupted. When I think about how to explain to a non-developer the cost of interrupting a developer while they are knee-deep in coding, I can come up with the following analogy: Karaoke.

Allow me to paint the picture for you. Imagine you’re out with your friends at a karaoke bar right in the 2nd chorus of Survivors Eye of the Tiger…

It’s the eye of the tiger
It’s the thrill of the fight
Rising up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watching us all with the eeeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyyeeeeeeeeee

Then your mom walks in and asks if you called your grandmother and wished you a happy birthday. You have to stop what you’re doing and attend to said interruption, even if it’s just acknowledgement. When you finally get to resume your song, the magic is over. Programming is no different.

I myself have had this countless times and the original spark of an idea I’ve had has long since become dim. So it takes me a while to ramp back up and continue where I left off.

After all each interruption, it means that it’ll take that much longer to finish what was started if work has to keep getting restarted.

So I implore all non-developers to give us developers some consideration when you see us working.
Until next time, have a great week everyone!

Do not disturb your programmers!

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So You Want to get into Mobile Development, eh?

Mobile Development has become engrained in our culture. Devices are being pushed to their limits, developers are high in demand in every industry and the biggest companies are just finally catching up with what we already knew: Mobile computing is here to stay. As Bromance Labs, we’ve been here since the beginning – with a couple of other believers – and are here to say we told you so.


mobile developmentSo where do you stand in the realm of mobile computing? We attempted to answer that question by asking you who you were in relation to us when we asked who you were. So if you haven’t reached out to us, let us know!  That being said you could be a combination of types. I personally view myself as a user, enthusiast, programmer, and probably dreamer. To explain that last one – I really believe that we can expand the greatness of mobile computing into practical everyday living. And we think the world is starting to agree with us.

What does that have to do with programming? Well… frankly, everything. We have met several developers, entrepreneurs, users and have found that a lot of them share the same passion for mobile computing and have gotten their hands dirty in development for a variety of reasons. As Joel told us last week, we became a company simply because the idea of making something for mobile was exciting (even if it was on the failing BlackBerry infrastructure)! At the time I was developing on the BlackBerry, I actually hated it. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even want to own one. No really – I got one as a prize and sold it. I owned this glorious piece of Windows Phone hardware:

Verizon XV6700

My first smartphone the VZW6700

The reason for having a Windows Phone at the time was the interface, the user experience, the integration. It felt ahead of it’s time. Pocket PC was a valid title for the little smartphone that could. But that faded for me with the release of the iPhone 3G. At the risk of sounding like an Apple Fanboy, I loved it. It was the first time I felt raw mobile power in that device and inspired me to want to dive in completely into mobile development. So for me, it was user experience that made me take the plunge.

I’m telling you this because there are a lot of people wondering if they can get into mobile development and I’m telling you, yes. If you want to do it – do it. We don’t care about the competition – we encourage it, we thrive on it. We’ve met people that have gotten involved with mobile development through so many avenues. One person saw a gap in app he needed for himself, so he learned to code. Another wanted to build a game and had never programmed before, but he learned. I know of a web programmer that wondered if she had the chops to transfer her skills to a mobile app – she did. There are so many ways to get into mobile dev if you want to be a part of the process.


The reality is that if you want to get into mobile programming there are a lot of resources out there depending on your skill level. You can come in with no programming experience or have 20 years. The truth of the matter is that we really enjoy the opportunity of learning more about our industry and meeting people from all kinds of walks of life.

So we say to the mobile industry: Thanks for having us!

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What’s in a Name?

[Pumba:] And, oh, the shame
[Timon:] He was ashamed
[Pumba:] Thought-a changin’ my name
[Timon:] Oh, what’s in a name
[Pumba:] And I got downhearted
[Timon:] How did you feel
[Pumba:] Ev’rytime that I…
[Timon:] Hey, not in front of the Kids

Oh, What's in a Name?

Oh, What’s in a Name?

“That’s a really cool company name”.
“Is that really the name of your company? That’s awesome”.

These are some of the phrases people say when they hear our company name. So in case anyone out there is wondering how we came up with the name for our mobile development company read on…

In 2010, Edwin and I both worked at the same company, when management wanted to explore a BlackBerry app. Edwin and I were tapped to develop the project. While working on it we developed a great working relationship and that’s all she wrote.

From there, we started working on smaller apps. These apps never saw the light of day but they were great learning experiences. Fast forward to 2012, we made the decision to form our own development company called Bromance Labs. The name “Bromance” seemed perfect for 2 guys who work very well together and at the same time crack jokes and make each other laugh until our sides hurt. And we felt like we were working on so many experimental pieces of tech we envisioned ourselves as scientists working in a “Lab.”

So the first app we released commercially is called SleepLab. We worked on and off that project for about a year while keeping our day jobs. There were many highs (when the program didn’t crash) and lows (integrating in-app purchases) along the way. During the development process we hired Corbie the great Pixel Monkey who does outstanding artwork. He turned all of the 1s and 0s into wondrous tapestries or art. We kept plugging away at SleepLab and it was successfully released on both iOS and Android phones and tablets in 2013.

So that’s how our company was named and formed. We’re currently experimenting in the lab on new projects. One said app is going to be really useful if you play board games and you’ve lost your dice or want to brag about your score. Another project that we’re working on is going to be extremely useful for companies that want to have an app presence and don’t have the full resources to do it in house.

I’m afraid we can’t divulge any more information, you know… top secret stuff going on here. If you pry too much, I can’t be responsible for what our minions might do. With that being said we can’t wait to release our experiments out onto the public and for you all to start using them.

Do you have a favorite company name? Let us know!

Have a great week everyone!

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Hey Bromance Labs Audience, Who the Heck are You?

Dear Audience,

It was a dark and stormy night when… No wait, it was totally a cool, crisp summer night when I decided to call El Señor Joel Reeves. I was having this existential crisis for our little operation here. You see, we’ve been working on so many wonderful things that we have forgotten about why we started this adventure to begin with: you.

We are not marketing guys, that’s a given. We don’t do everything necessary to put out the word about what we’ve been up to and by our own admission, not the greatest communicators to our community. Well, we decided to change that. We want our community to grow, feel included, get excited when we do, and geek out over new things together. But as Joel and I contemplated the inclusion of everyone, we kept getting stuck on something: who is our audience, anyway? Who were we trying to get excited and about what?

So tell us in the comments below, on Twitter, or Facebook where you fall. How did you hear about us? or what do you consider yourself now?

Future Employers/Investors – Standard Membership

We figure there are a few people that casually come across our site, apps, etc that are interested in learning more about who we are and what we do. Heck, we have the data to prove that! We like jiving about tech trends, and what we are up to. We also enjoyed handing out our really awesome business cards made by the great Pixel Monkey, Corbie Summers:

Programmers – Platinum Membership

A Programmers Life – we love what we do!

Meetups, Hackathons, Coding Horror Weekends, oh my! Some of our best ideas and conversations happen at these events, in forums, on our favorite programming subreddits, and so much more. We really love talking real geek talk and learning from so many people that have been programming for years. So much so, we are thinking about starting a GitHub channel for some projects that surface from these events!

SleepLab users – Sapphire Membership

If one thing is for certain, we find users of SleepLab all over the place! In the unlikeliest places typically. When we first started this project, it was just our little adventure to find out what it was like to put an app on the App Stores! Well, little did we know how much we would learn about sleep patterns and how much people love using our app. Yeah, we love you too!

Old or Current Colleagues – Diamond Membership

Look at your suits.. you’re so fancy

Some people that we have worked with/or currently work with are some of our biggest fans and critics! We love your feedback and we love how we end up talking about the future of what we are doing. We love sharing that excitement with you all. Keep us grounded and humble.

Friends and Family – Ultimate Membership

The heart and soul of Bromance Labs.

Our absolute favorite user base! You guys are the soul of our drive and we adore you. You are the first to beta test, the first to tell us when something sucks and the first to give us high fives. You’re also typically the ones that have to listen to us drone on and on about technical stuff that is typically reserved for those with a Platinum Programmer Membership! Thanks for all you do!

So tell us, who are you? We’re dying to know!

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SleepLab 1.0 coming to an app store near you!

EDIT: As of 04/13/13, iOS version is available.

Hey folks! We’re super excited to announce that our app, SleepLab, has finally moved on from beta testing and is now available for Android (and coming soon to iOS!)

Get it on Google PlayAvailable on the App Store

Syncing up your sleep to wake refreshed has never been simpler.

A simple sleep calculator generates the best time for you to stop sleeping.

Or, YOU can tell IT what’s best for you. (We’re not all that particular.)

The wily human sleeps in cycles, falling in and out of REM sleep. Aiming to rise between these intervals causes sensations of restful awakening. Don’t you want to be awakened restfully?

• Calculate your sleep cycles if you want to go to bed NOW.

• Calculate your sleep cycles to wake up at a certain time.

• Calculate your sleep cycles to go to bed at a specific time, but later, after one more round.

• Manage your sleep patterns based on how long it takes for you to fall asleep.

• iOS – Will send you an alarm notification when your phone is locked or in another app.

• Android – Screen will wake when the alarm goes off, displaying the current time.

• Here a sleep, there a sleep, everywhere a sleep sleep.

(requires giving us money in-app)
– Android: $0.99 gives you unlimited access to use sounds stored on your SD card as the alarm. That’s less than a penny per song, if you have over a hundred songs (and who doesn’t?) WHAT A BARGAIN!
– $0.99 lets you purchase a pack of 5 sounds (3 packs available) to use as the alarm. (Currently Android only).

* iOS: iOS 5.1 and up
* iOS: iPhone, iPod, or iPad (and this one’s important!)
* Android: Android OS 2.2 and up
* Android: Google Play client version 3.9.16 and up for in-app purchases
* A desire to sleep
* Fingers or a fat sausage to manipulate screen. (Fingerless manipulation coming much later).
* An elite sense of sleeptivism over your common man.

* Imaginary Sheep (optional)
* Knowledge of Astrophysics [(or just “Neil DeGrasse Tyson”)]
* Looking both ways before crossing the street
* Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis
* A partridge OR a pear tree


What’s the holdup?

Hey Everyone,

Summer has come and gone and we’ve been quiet.

…Or have we?

We’re getting things underway and haven’t been sitting on our hands. We’re excited at what’s to come and we hope you are, too. So hang in there, be patient, and get some sleep.  If you can’t sleep, remember, SleepLab is coming with a whole new design to help you out with that.

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Enter The Self Appointed Pixel Monkey

Making an app is a lot like building a car.  There are a lot of cool things that make a car function.  For example, the hydrophonic pistons that control steeri—okay, wait, I don’t know anything about cars…  How about this: making apps is a lot like constructing a home.  You take the big metal thingy and hit the smaller metal thingies into the wood parts—

Clearly, these analogies don’t work for me.  I’m not a car guy or a handyman.

The same goes for people perceiving how an app is built.  Not everyone can understand the intricacies of building a car or a home.  People can relate to a beautifully designed car interior or a wonderfully decorated home, but how did it go from metal, nuts, bolts and nails to eye candy?  The answer is beautifully well-thought-out design.

We decided to expand by adding the position of Creative Director.  Our own personal Don Draper inspired visionary: Master of the Inventive, Dreamer of the Imaginative, Visionary of the Fantastic!

Enter the self-appointed Pixel Monkey, Corbie Summers.

Why Pixel Monkey?  Simple: he prefers to be compensated with crates full of bananas.  (We try not to judge the creative; after all, Van Gogh cut off his own ear.  Who are we to judge the methods of a creative genius?)

As Pixel Primate—er, Monkey—Corbie will be responsible for taking our 1’s and 0’s and making them all pretty and usable for you.  After all, everyone likes gazing at classy car consoles and admiring marble countertops. With Corbie’s app designs, it’ll kind of be like that.

Read More about Corbie on our About page.

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Hello world!

As programmers, we may as well begin with the most well know words in all of programming. But honestly, hello! We are still well into the infancy of this site, our apps, our community and Joel and I couldn’t be more excited to share that with you. Throughout this journey we hope to make some apps that help you be more productive, enhance your life, or just help you unwind. We don’t know what’s in store in the lab, but we hope that you’ll have just as much fun experimenting as we will.


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