As you may know by now, Leadbolt has a vast network of more than 65,000 apps but interestingly, just a small portion of these developers and coders happen to be women. Our network is a microcosm of an industry-wide truth that male app developers outnumber women app developers. Fueled by our passion to acknowledge the contributions of this under-represented group, it is our hope that these interviews inspire more women to join the mobile tech movement.
We originally approached Loretta Cheron for a chat because she is a female app developer. What we found is that her personal journey to becoming an app entrepreneur transcends the gender discussion, and provides inspiration to women and men alike.
If you’ve ever wondered about developing an app, but didn’t know if the mobile business is right for you, read this. If you are mid-career, but feel the need to explore something new, read this. If you want to create new ways of giving back to your community, read this. It’s never too late to start: Curiosity, desire to learn and a dose of gumption will get you everywhere.
Meet Loretta Cheron, CTO of TLC Productions, the indie development studio creating games with a purpose, such as Cool Dog, Ninja Warrior Combat 3D, Monster Truck 3D, etc.
Where and when did you learn to code?
I received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from UC Irvine and had to take coding classes as part of the curriculum. I found myself enjoying those classes and having that background helped me in several of the Corporate jobs that I had after graduating college.
What were you doing before you started developing apps?
Well that is a long story! After college, I worked for several of the top Fortune 500 companies (in electronics), e.g. Hewlett-Packard, Tektronix, Honeywell, General Electric, Parker Hannifin, etc., doing marketing and technical sales. During that time, my husband decided to leave his electrical engineering background behind and he opened a retail golf shop.
After many years of working in the corporate world, I decided to leave that environment and opted to work with my husband at our golf shop. I was only going to work there for about 1 year, computerizing the cash register system and setting up state of the art golf simulation systems. That one year turned into years! I started to get antsy, wanting to do something a bit different, something that might generate a little additional income, something I could do from home or from the store, something to keep my mind active.
One day, my husband was reading iPhone Life magazine and at the back of the magazine, in the ad section, there was a notice about a person that was going to teach a class on how to make a game for the Apple App Store. My husband got the first iPhone when it came out and we both had always wondered how do these apps get made? How do people make money with these? Are the games only made by big ‘gaming’ companies? At the time, we didn’t know that individuals could actually make a game or an app for Apple. It seemed like a very closed door environment with only a few companies being allowed in! So I decided to sign up for the webinar on how to make a game!
We both listened to webinar and we decided that this could be something that would satisfy my need for something new to do and also might provide some additional income. The rest is history! And our first game, Cool Dog, came out in May 2012.
Tell us about your game, Cool Dog
Our first game was Cool Dog – which was a labor of love. Our beautiful Shiba Inu named Darby lost her battle against canine lymphoma Oct 11, 2011. So we decided to make our first game a way to raise money to help fund cancer research for all animals – not just dogs. So Cool Dog was completed the end of May 2012. And yes the image in the game resembles our Darby and the bark – yep – that is hers!
Any In-App-Purchase that is made in our games is donated 100% to animal cancer research centers and animal rescue facilities here in California.
Aside from coding proficiency, what is the single trait, characteristic or skill that is most important to your success as an app developer or business professional?
No fear! Meaning you can’t be fearful of what you don’t know! And you can’t be fearful of spending money if you have no interest in learning what you don’t know and you need to hire someone who actually knows what you don’t know! Bottom line – if this kind of business or any other kind of business is your passion – do whatever it takes to make your passion a reality.
What do you feel is your most significant influence on the product’s outcome?
Clearly the character in the game! Also the character’s antics and the obstacles. Cool Dog came about because our dog passed away from cancer just 1 month before we started Trey Smith’s very, very first how-to course! So I (we) needed to make her the character in the game to honor all the happiness she had given to us unconditionally and our hearts needed to make her cancer journey mean something which lead us to donating some of the profits from the game to animal cancer research and to the local animal rescue centers. So that is what we did and still do today!
Any advice for other women looking to break into the business?
Align yourself with successful people. Attend conferences, attend local meet-ups, set up face-to-face meetings whenever possible. Don’t be shy but don’t be overly aggressive either. Ask lots of questions but don’t question your instincts or gut feelings. If it doesn’t feel right – it isn’t. Be slow to hire but very quick to fire – a Trey euphemism! Form or join Skype groups, mastermind groups. Find a mentor, female or male. On the app side of things! Maybe test the waters with Android apps first. They typically are less expensive to make, take less time to make and are much easier to upload with almost no approval process. Google’s algorithm seems to be more transparent than Apple’s so ASO is a bit easier. But! It can take some time before you make your money back. It will, however, help you decide if this kind of business is for you. IOS apps typically make more money quicker but you are at the mercy of Apple approving your app and also at the mercy of Apple’s latest search algorithm.
Share your personal motto, quote or mantra that keeps you motivated!
I hear so many people say – “I’ll believe it when I see it.” My version is “If you believe in it, you will see (achieve) it!”
Editor’s note: If you’re a woman who codes, we’d like to hear from you. Get in touch by emailing us at biz dev at leadbolt dot com.