Technology

How to ride the waves of your passion to a top-selling app

Rose Powell /

With surf reports only being published once a day when the sun is up, passionate surfer Aaron Kyle saw a gap in the market for instantly accessible data on surf conditions.

 

Released in May, Kyle’s Surf Finder Australia iPhone app has already been downloaded over 6,000 times. It’s currently the number one paid Australian surfing app on iTunes.

 

It allows users to receive live updates every 30 minutes about surf conditions at their nominated beaches.

 

Kyle told StartupSmart it was a much-needed update for surfers seeking information online about the best beaches to head to.

 

“They can get updates while it’s still dark and they’re getting up, because the surf reports don’t get published until the sun comes up and many of us are already heading to the water before then,” Kyle says.

 

The app was designed with full-time workers and school students in mind.

 

“I knew people were getting frustrated looking at surf reports in the morning, and then when they could actually get to the waves they wouldn’t know the best places to go,” Kyle says.

 

“A lot of surfers are hard workers. We don’t just not work or wag school, and I reckoned we needed a new way to know they can fit in their surfing at the best possible places.”

 

Kyle developed the basic code blueprint of the app, but had the final version created by a professional developer. The process took just over two years.

 

“I spoke to some app developers when I first had the idea and it was just way too expensive. The cost for surfers to buy the app would need to be too high. So I did some research and jumped into it,” Kyle says. “I built the blueprint, and set out how it would function in different modes and settings but got a freelance developer to do the rest.

 

The app costs $1.99 and Kyle says he expects to break even by the end of the year.

 

“I’ve kept away from advertising so far to see how it would go and if it worked. I’ve got a lot of feedback and it kind of took off,” Kyle says, adding he’s working with a developer to roll it out to other countries as well.

 

“It’s going to take a while, but the feedback from the Aussie one makes us pretty excited about its chances.”

 

The app can also direct surfers to beaches via GPS directions. Kyle says this feature was designed to help surfers get the best rides regardless of their habits, and it was the aspect of the app he was most concerned about.

 

“Surf is a real raw sport and initially I was worried that locals would get frustrated that it was adding extra surfers to the water. This isn’t about all of a sudden flooding the ocean with new people, it’s just a great way to check the surf with greater flexibility and live updates,” Kyle says, adding users still need to respect the local surfers and the environment.

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Rose Powell

Rose is the current head of growth at Rampersand Ventures. She was formerly a reporter at StartupSmart.

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