Building a Windows 10 App for Artist Portfolios & Textures – An Interview with Surface Pixel Founder Micah Iverson

Hello! My name is Micah Iverson, I am the founder of Surface Pixel, a Windows 10 app for artists to show of their artwork in a start to finish timeline. Surface Pixel is a personal side project, for my day job I am a freelance UI Designer.

What can you tell us about your monthly revenue

I’m not ready to announce specific revenue, I will say that my expenses still exceed the income I have earned since launching.

When did you start your business

Surface Pixel came out of another project I created back in 2006 called TextureArchive.com – at the time I was going to school for 3D Animation and I had been taking a lot of texture photos and decided to create a site to allow other users the ability to download them for use in their own projects. Long-term I knew I wanted to transform the site into a “portfolio” focused service, but it ended up taking me over 10 years to make it happen.

Over the years I designed about 6 variations of what I wanted for Surface Pixel but I was never happy with any of them and the technology I wanted to use wasn’t really where it needed to be for some of the features I wanted to include.

Finally, in 2016 I had a design I liked, the technology, UWP on Windows 10 which has strong support for ink and touch and I had a great developer to help me build it. In September of 2016 we started development and in June 2017 we finally went live.

Where are you located and how many employees do you have

We are located in Castle Rock CO, but our team is all remote. There are basically two of us working on it, but it’s not our full-time jobs. I focus on the UI Design and XAML development and my partner builds out the C# backend.

During the launch phase, did you maintain a full-time job? (or even currently)

I had a full-time job during development, but I have recently switched back to full-time freelance design.

How did you acquire customers/subscribers/users?

The never-ending challenge! So far I have been getting users from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and word of mouth. TextureArchive.com had a decent number of visitors each month from other various sources, so now I forward those users on to SurfacePixel.com

What software/platforms/tools have you utilized since launch?

From a development perspective Surface Pixel is built for Windows 10, so we are using the Universal Windows Platform (UWP). This includes C#, XAML, MS SQL, Azure Web Services using Visual Studio for our IDE. From a general perspective, we published on ProductHunt.com, AppRaisin, Facebook and Google Ads.

Which have worked / not worked?

I kind of screwed up my Product Hunt launch, it was my first time using the service and didn’t fully understand how it all worked so my “Product Hunt Rush” never really materialized.

AppRaisin has been decent for getting visibility directly from Windows 10 users, it would be more valuable if we were able to push out updates more frequently or if we tried the “featured” listings.

Facebook and Google ads are a mixed back, certainly had more success with Facebook but even that is fairly moderate. We were able to get a lot of views but not necessarily a lot of registrations from it. Google ads are about the same but with a less focused visitor.

How did you fund your startup and how do you make money/revenue?

About half the development cost was covered by a small investment from my parents, the other half was invested by me. We have two revenue models, first is simple banner advertising within the app for free accounts and people that are not logged in. Secondly, we offer an annual membership for just $12. To date, what have been your biggest challenges as a company? What have you done to overcome them?

The biggest challenge by far has been getting new members and getting them to actually post content once they have joined. We have a chicken and egg problem, people do not want to commit to using the app if there isn’t much activity, so they won’t post content until others post content. So far we have not overcome this issue.

If you had to do it all over again, would you? What would you do differently?

Yes, I would do it again, the concept is a solid idea and there is certainly a market for “portfolio” driven tools. The one thing I would do differently is I would target the web first, and then build native apps to supplement them. I know being successful on Windows 10 would be difficult, but it’s been far more difficult than I had imagined in a worst-case scenario.

I’m not done with Surface Pixel by any means, I have more ideas and new plans to make it successful – I just have other priorities to focus on first. Lastly, if anyone reading this wants to know more about your company… where do we send them?

If someone is interested in learning more about Surface Pixel, simply visit https://www.surfacepixel.com. To learn more about other services I’m building, check out http://www.krazier.com.

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Building a Windows 10 App for Artist Portfolios & Textures – An Interview with Surface Pixel Founder Micah Iverson
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