“Is there an app for that?”
In the age of social media and technology, yes! Whatever the need or idea, there’s an app for it. Whether you’re a techie or an average Joe, anybody can create their own app, but it’ll cost you time and money. According to reports, a basic app can take three to six months to build and run you about $50- $100,000. If you’re looking for something with more bells and whistles, that can take about 10 months and you could spend a quarter of a million dollars or more. And if that price tag is a little more than pocket change for you, not to worry, Bruce Hamilton has a remedy for all of that.
After working extensively within the music industry, Hamilton, a Virginia native, “decided to make this crazy shift into tech,” he says. “I had this weird epiphany on my 30th birthday where I decided I wanted to show the world that Black people could do more than sports and entertainment.” And that’s exactly what he did. In April 2018, Hamilton launched his tech company Wing Zero Apps, a platform which makes app building easier and less expensive.
Wing Zero Apps gives users several financial options to bring their app to life. Someone interested in the service can pay a monthly subscription fee of $99. The company also has a rapid development service for $1,000, where the team builds the app using their platform and then the user pays $99 a month and for those who want something more custom, that will cost $10K.
Since its launch four years ago, Hamilton says more than 2,000 apps have been created, with Black millennial women creating the most apps since 2020. The initial goal of the company, according to Hamilton, is still the same. “I just want to give everybody the accessibility to have their own mobile app,” he says. Complex spoke to Hamilton for the B.O.S.S. program, an initiative aimed at shining a spotlight on minority-owned businesses, about his path to launching Wing Zero Apps and why anyone can enter tech.
What were some of your hobbies growing up, and how do you think they helped lead you to tech?
I was a big gamer growing up. I’m still a big gamer now as an adult. It’s probably one of my favorite things to do. I was playing video games and reading comic books, basically doing anything creative. I was very much an intellectual child. I was also building computers as a kid.
Wait, you were building computers as a kid?
Yeah, I built two computers from scratch. I was about 10 or 11 years old. I had really cool parents who let me dive into different passions. Building a computer comes down to knowing what pieces of technology to put together. That’s how I got to where I am in tech.
Was tech always your career goal?
I had a vast career in music. I thought I was going to work in music my entire life, but then I had this weird epiphany on my 30th birthday. I decided I wanted to show the world that Black people could do more than sports and entertainment. I spent so many years [within music] helping creators get their visions out. I’ve always viewed myself as a creator, so I was like, I think it’s time for me to finally step into that creator role.
What idea specifically led you to birth Wing Zero Apps?
I was still in music at the time and I think word started going around that I was diving into tech. All of my peers kept coming to me, asking me about app ideas. They were like, “Oh, I have this app idea. You’re the only person I know in that space. What are your thoughts? blah, blah, blah.”
And at this time, I was talking to numerous app development companies getting quotes, but the quotes I received were between half a million up to a million dollars. I would go back and I would tell my peers, “Yeah, this is what it’s going to cost you,” and you could just see their dreams shatter.
So after a third or fourth person I saw it happen to, I was like, there’s a need here that no one has really addressed of lowering the technical barrier to building an app. I’ve heard so many great app ideas, but most people just don’t have half a million dollars ready to spend.
What was the most challenging aspect about creating Wing Zero Apps?
The most challenging aspect was first explaining to people why they needed an app. People didn’t get it. Now, everyone’s like, “We need an app. Our website’s not enough now.” Convincing people that having an app is necessary and would most likely be just as necessary as having a website at some point. Most people who want to build an app feel as though they’re app isn’t on the level of Facebook, then they shouldn’t have an app and that’s simply not true.
For people who might be intimidated by apps and coding, what would be your pitch to get them interested?
Don’t be ashamed of what your first iteration looks like. You see what LinkedIn or Facebook, or Twitter looks like now, but I promise you, they did not look like that when they first launched. You would laugh at what their first platforms looked like. I always repeat this quote from Reid Hoffman, the founder of Linkedin. “If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”