questions to app owner kanarek

5 questions to app owner – Michał Tajchert, Kanarek app

About Michał Tajchert and his app

Michał Tajchert is the founder of Kanarek, a mobile app with over 500K downloads and a 4.7 rating on Google Play. The app allows you to easily check the air pollution (smog) in Poland and also notifies you if the air quality gets below the norm.

michal tajchert kanarek app

Check out the app:

Kanarek is Michał’s pet project, on daily basis he works in the eCommerce sector and previously for 5 years in banking.

Here, Michał shares the challenges and problems he faced while building and developing his product, as well as some tips.

What was the biggest challenge during app development and what helped you overcome it?

The biggest challenge for Kanarek app was finding time to work on this project as it is my pet project that I’m building in my free time. This has been a challenge not only for me but also for others involved (the iOS version was built by 7 people in 2021).

Due to that, we agreed on weekly check-in during the most intensive development phase to coordinate our effort and then work asynchronously with good communication and proper tools like Gitlab, Jira, and Discord.

Not a smaller issue is keeping persistent and working on the same app for over 6 years, but I always find some new challenges to work on and keep myself entertained, often even not related to the mobile app itself!

In retrospect, what changes would you make to your product development process if you had to do it again?

I would assume multilanguage and multi-country support from day 0, as introducing it later on with full backward compatibility is very hard and only now we are finishing it. I would also limit the number of features and remove the "info" section as it contains a lot of text - which is hard to localize and not too much useful.

These are not problems if you have a full-time dedicated team of developers and product people but in the case of Kanarek you need to pick your battles where you sacrifice your very limited asset... time.

From a technical point of view - I would, even more, try to limit the number of external plugins in our Flutter codebase as migration from 1.X to 2.X with nullability was very time-consuming and it happens on a monthly basis that some plugin has some conflicts with other in the project.

What makes you choose these features to be implemented in your product and how do you prioritize them in the roadmap?

As a first source of "next feature to work on" I use the site kanarek.nolt.io where users can add and vote on their favourite ones, which is the best indicator of what our power users need, as well as the app reviews.

The other source that I use is the synergy between features, as sometimes it makes sense to pack some features together as they are very related from a technology perspective.

Then I tend to estimate those features and focus on those with the highest benefit to the user in relation to the time needed to develop, as I mentioned time is our most limiting factor in this project.

Kanarek app was launched in 2016. What do you consider your most significant milestones?

I would say the first milestone was a bit of a surprise as the app got over 100K downloads in under a month without any marketing (mix of perfect timing, good architecture, and simple UI - probably a story on its own).

Next milestones were more planned and predictable as the iOS version of the app was very requested by people from the very first day – Kanarek got initially a very simple native app in 2019 and then a year after a Flutter version with all the features.

On the product side I always consider adding another data source from a new company a small victory for the users (as Kanarek aggregated data from over 8 different companies in Poland). Currently, we have a few different paths open ahead, with different milestones and to be honest, I don't know yet which one we will follow.

How do you promote your app?

Kanarek’s growth is almost 100% based on word of mouth and good app ratings as being the first app you can recommend to your friends to monitor air quality.

I have tried with some paid search ads but without a website, they do not work that well and this is not yet on the Kanarek roadmap, as well their cost is high, especially as the app has very minimal in-app payments for most heavy users with additional features.

For now, we will stick with this strategy where app quality is the best recommendation. Ads let you buy the attention of users, but not necessarily their hearts. And winning their hearts is what actually brings me joy in this project.

In conclusion, here are 5 lessons learned from Michał’s experience:

  1. Proper team communication and project management are important.
  2. Go global from day one.
  3. Collect feedback from users.
  4. Proper timing can be a big factor in the app's success.
  5. Focusing on the quality of your app can be the best marketing strategy.