RWDevCon Inspiration Talk – Teamwork by Ray Wenderlich

Learn how teamwork lets you dream bigger, through the story of an indie iPhone developer who almost missed out on the greatest opportunity of his life. By Ray Wenderlich.

Leave a rating/review
Save for later

At our recent RWDevCon tutorial conference, in addition to hands-on tutorials, we also had a number of “inspiration talks” – non-technical talks with the goal of giving you a new idea, some battle-won advice, and leaving you excited and energized.

We recorded these talks so that you can enjoy them, even if you didn’t get to attend the conference. Here’s our first talk – on Teamwork, by myself – I hope you enjoy!


People who are born before the 1960s or so commonly ask each other, “Where were you when the Apollo 11 landed on the moon?”

However, we, as iPhone developers have a different question. “Where were you when you got your first iPhone?”

I vividly remember when I first got my iPhone and I’m sure all of you do as well. It was a magical experience. Once we realized that we could make apps for this and show them off to our friends and have anyone across the world download it, we were hooked.

A Feeling of Excitement in the Air

For many of us, this was around the year of 2009. At that time, apps look like this:


And code looked like this:


The App Store was only one year old and we were in the middle of the great App Store gold rush. It seemed like everybody had the next great app idea.

Believe it or not, the guy that made this fat app made millions and we all wanted to be just like him.


There was this feeling of excitement in the air that inspired many of us to become full time iOS developers.

One of the first books on iPhone programming, Beginning iPhone Development by Dave Mark and Jeff Lamarche, summed up this feeling of excitement in the air really well. In its preface, it said:

–Dave Mark and Jeff LaMarche

“I haven’t been this excited about a programming platform since the first time I laid eyes on a Mac. The world is just beginning to open up.”

Who here remembers that feeling when your first app was accepted on to the App Store? Wasn’t that an incredible feeling of accomplishment?

It was addicting and so we kept making apps. Our iOS community continued to grow, and before long, many of us started to make a full time living as indie iPhone developers making our own apps.

The Indiepocalypse

Fast forward to 2015. There aren’t that many indies left anymore. We call this the indiepocalypse and there’s been a lot of discussion about this from all of us on the iOS community over the last few months.

It all started when Jared Sinclair, a well known indie iPhone developer, released the sales numbers for his most recent app which were well below his expectations.


Soon, others started releasing the sales numbers for their apps and they were equally disappointing. The sense of doom and gloom started coming over the community. We started asking ourselves, “What happened? Where’d all the indies go?”

What happened is as the App Store has matured over the years, developers have started shifting from individuals to teams. By nature, teams can accomplish a lot more than individuals which makes it very hard for an individual to compete.

  • Logically, we know, in order to compete in such a market, we be best served by either joining or making teams of our own.
  • However, emotionally, it’s not that easy, because we have these feelings and fears standing in our way.

Feelings and Fears

First, there’s feelings. As developers, we’re used to working alone and we like it that way. We sometimes think, “I can do it best. I want to do all the work so it’s done right. I want things my way. I want all the credit and I want all the rewards. Mine, mine, mine.” Not very admirable is it, but it’s true. We’ve all felt that way sometimes.

Second, there’s fears. Sometimes, we’re afraid to be a part of a team. We sometimes think, “I’m afraid my teammates won’t work as hard as me. Or I’m afraid my teammates will mess up the vision I have for this project. Or I’m afraid of being a small cog in a grand machine.” I think these feelings and fears, we can’t let them paralyze us, because if we do, we can miss out on a great opportunity.

An Indie Story

Consider for a moment the story of an indie iPhone developer who almost missed out on the greatest opportunity of his entire life.

Typical business plan in 2009.

Typical business plan in 2009.

It all started back in that magical time we were talking about of the 2009. This developer decided to quit his job and become an iPhone developer. He was convinced he had the next great App Store idea and was going to become the next App Store millionaire.

Here’s what the app looked like:


I think I just heard Jony Ive cry. It looked pretty terrible. There wasn’t much to it and sadly it did not earn this developer his million dollars.

But he learned a lot doing it, he had a lot all along the way and he kept making apps. He was on the right place at the right time, so after about a year of doing this, he was lucky enough to be making a full time living as an indie iPhone developer.

About the same time, this developer started a blog, and the blog started to become popular. He realized he needed some help to take this to the next level, but this guy was one of those darned introverts I was telling you about.

What is an introvert to do?

What is an introvert to do?

Every time he would think about getting some help, he would make a million excuses as to why that was a horrible idea.

He would say, “No, I should just do it myself and that way it will be done right. Or, no, I’ll never be able to find anyone to help. Or, no, I can’t afford it.” Or a million other excuses. If this developer had it his way, it would still be that little blog that it was back then.

But luckily, this developer had a wife who is much smarter than he was and one day she sat him down and said:

–A smart wife

“Listen, you need to either get some help or you need to shut down this blog.”

Luckily, this guy was just smart enough to listen to his wife, so he did. He started looking for some people to work with and he found these incredible team and together they were able to take things much further than he ever could have on his own.

More importantly, he stopped thinking of himself as an indie iPhone developer and instead, he started thinking about himself as part of a great team.

Now, I’m sure many of you have guessed that this former indie iPhone developer I’m talking about is me:

App Store Income, 2009.

App Store Income, 2009.

I remember those $6 fondly. I think that was my entire income of 2009!

But that means that the great team I’m talking about is the team. By being a part of this great team, it has changed my life and ways I never would have imagined. I’ve gotten so many more benefits from being a part of this great time than I ever could have gotten as an individual.