At first, when this 22-year-old engineering student received an email from an Israeli IT company expressing interest in conducting valuation of the app that he had developed and published on the Google Play Store a year ago, and offering to purchase it for $25,000, he felt somebody is trying to scam him. The amount seemed too large for him. However, within a couple of months of receiving that email, he sold the app to the company (Rounds AI Ltd) for over $50,000. This is the story of Karna Bahadur Budha Kshetri, who is currently studying Computer Engineering (5th semester) at Universal Engineering & Science College. It details his journey into app development and how he negotiated the app’s price from $25,000 to $50,000, achieving a remarkable feat that can inspire many of us.
He is originally from Bardiya, a district in the mid-western region of Nepal. He started learning programming while studying CTEVT’s Diploma course in Computer Engineering. The course introduced him to programming and coding, and he furthered his knowledge of technology and programming languages. After that, he learned Android development using resources like YouTube, Google, and blogs, and published his first app on the Google Play store during the first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020. He continued to create educational apps for Nepali students, such as Nepali Quiz, Class 9 Nepali Guide Book, Class 8 Nepali Guide Book, Nepali Grammar, Learn English, etc.
Currently, all of these apps have 50k+ downloads, some even having 100k+ downloads.
Many of you might be wondering what is the app that he sold for $50k+? We don’t want to keep the suspense any longer.
The app’s name is ‘Pickup Lines – Flirt Messages’, which was published on the Google Play store on November 15, 2022, just over a year ago.
He had conducted some research while developing the app and found 3-4 apps in the same category with approximately 10k+ to 50k+ downloads. This motivated him to create his own version. After developing the app, he requested his friends to download the app. However, he got merely 30-40 downloads initially. For the first four months, the app saw little traction and he hadn’t placed any ads in the app until then.
However, after about 5 months of publishing the app, the app started earning some money. He earned around $70-80 in revenue during the first month.
However, things changed dramatically after that.
Subsequently, the app gained more downloads and positive reviews, reaching milestones of 10k, 50k, and then 100k downloads. It started to receive 5,000 downloads per day and 200,000 downloads per month. With ads in place, the app’s revenue increased, and in the month before its sale, it earned approximately $2,000.
The app was particularly popular among users from Nigeria, the USA, South Africa, and India.
He was surprised and happy to see the growth of his app. He had not expected it to become so popular and generate revenue on that scale.
However, he hadn’t put any such effort into promoting the app. Since he is a student, and didn’t have any money to spend, he had made almost zero monetary investment to promote the app. He had focused on ASO (app store optimization) though, resulting in fully organic growth. Interestingly, he had updated the app only twice, once while it hit 10k, and again when it hit 100k downloads milestones.
What’s interesting? He manages all the app designs on his own, using Photoshop and other tools.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, he had received an email from Rounds AI Ltd, an Israeli company. The email had come just before Dashain. They asked him about his monthly revenue and other metrics so that they could do a valuation of his app. He thought it might be just a spam email, and someone wanting to scam him.
They projected the valuation of his app at $25,000. He was certain that it was a scam because it was too large an amount for him. It was around 30 lakh Nepali Rupees. The app did not have many downloads or revenue at that time.
He was wondering what’s going on? Then he decided to research about the company. He found out that it was a legitimate and reputable company involved in buying and selling apps. He also discussed the matter with some seniors from the industry and received some advice from them (who suggested he sum up the potential revenue for the next 2-3 years, and to quote the amount as the price). Then, he planned to negotiate the deal.
He said he quoted a figure of $50,000 as his asking price. They gradually raised the offered amount to $40,000. However, he did not budge from his demand. He didn’t give any signal to them that he was desperate to sell the app, and as the revenue from the app was increasing, he thought he should not sell the app at a lower price.
They reviewed his code and held a meeting with him. They gave him their final offer. He also shared his Playstore report and access to his app. They tried to find some flaws in his app and tried to reduce the price to $25,000. However, he refused to sell his app for less than $50,000.
The transaction was done through Escrow, a secure online platform for payment. As the Nepal government deducts a 5% TDS from services income, and Escrow also charges a platform fee, he asked them to make the amount to around $53,000 to cover the taxes and fees. And they agreed to his requests.
He signed the contract and transferred the app to them. They verified all the details and approved the payment, and Escrow released the amount in his bank account.
Even after seeing money in his bank account, he couldn’t believe that it’s real. He could not believe that he was getting such a big amount for his app.
The whole process took approximately 1.5 months. The negotiation and verification lasted 3 weeks, while the handover and payment took 2 weeks.
However, after Escrow released the money into his bank account, he got a call from his bank, after they noticed a large amount being deposited in a personal bank account. He went to the nearby branch of the bank, wrote a letter, and submitted necessary documents for verification.
And the money got released into his bank account last Friday, December 8. Through this deal, the Nepal government also earned ~रू 350,000 in revenue.
He is sure that the app would hit the 1 million downloads milestone soon, and would reach more users in the coming days.
This app was available only on the Android version only. He has plans to publish his future apps on the App Store as well. He said he has many ideas and projects in mind, and he wants to explore more opportunities in the app development sector. He aims to develop many more apps in the coming days.
His story shows that there is a good career in app development and anyone can achieve their dreams with hard work, dedication, and creativity.