At Chartlytics, we have costs of time and money. Co-founder Dave Stevens works full time on the app. Co-founder Rick Kubina works many hours but not quite full time (he has a job a Professor and that demands a great deal of time). All of those hours require commitments to planning, development, and meetings. Plus, factor in the actual work on the app and all the periphery work (e.g., Blogposts, videos, in-app help text). And of course we have marketing, customer support, and face-to-face and virtual meetings.
In terms of money, Chartlytics has development costs. At a minimum, we pay thousands of dollars a month to developers. Every month we operate, we write another large check. We don’t see that changing anytime soon. Adding functionality, bug fixes, and a boatload of hidden costs (hosting, server, and third-party fees) costs real money.
Where does all that real money come from? App developers have different resources but none of them provide a guarantee. For example, investors provide a source of funding. Investors range from family and friends to crowd sourcing (e.g., Kickstarter) and angel investors.
Other sources of money come from bank loans and grants. Loans require the app to have revenue or the investors' good credit. Grants work if your app falls within the parameters of a grant competition. And you have tough competition and no guarantee of obtaining said grant. Recently, Chartlytics explored a Small Business Innovation Research Grant. We discovered last year's competition provided 11 awards out of 250 applicants. We also discovered we didn’t qualify due to a new technicality.
How does Chartlytics receive funding? We have debated the merits of different funding sources previously mentioned. Bringing on investors means trading equity for the investment. Loans need to be paid back (an option we might consider in the future). Grants have worked to small degree, we received a small one and hope to compete for more in the future. The real answer to Chartlytics funding? Let’s just say Dave and I have bet our houses on Chartlytics!
Another point made in Mahon’s blog concerns instructional design. Instructional design refers to the process one uses to design, develop, deliver, and refine materials. In the case of Chartlytics, instructional design covers all of the information users will interact with. iPad apps might teach people how to do computations, write a poem, spell words, or play some game aimed at an educational outcome. Chartlytics focuses on measuring performance, displaying performance across time, and making decisions based on the visual display of data. Chartlytics will also help users organize important curricular content and allow wide scale sharing and distributing of materials demonstrated to accelerate learning.
Users of the app Chartlytics focus on performance improvement of targeted skills. How well people can input, access, and use Chartlytics will determine the degree to which instructional design delivered on the front end affects outcomes on the back end, namely, a user’s experience.
iPad, iPhone, and web apps grow exponentially. Other apps and information services like Mahon’s app will no doubt serve an important role so parents, students, and any user can make an informed decision as to what app they should select. In the meantime, if you would like to support an app that you feel deserves future development and support, consider downloading that paid app or taking on paid subscription.