Johann is the founder of Admin’s Helper. Admin Helper solves simple problems for Admins. His mission is to help Admins solve specific business requirements with specific apps.
How did you get started?
So I think it was one of these moments during COVID, during the lockdowns. We all had these ideas, from sourdough pizza to buying a house, and mine was starting an AppExchange business. So, I literally remember the moment: I was walking in a really cold and dark industrial area around my flat. It was one of those long COVID walks with nothing else to do, and I thought, “Why not try? I’ll give it a shot.” That’s right. What I did was sort the IdeaExchange page by “most voted” and “still open” and I looked for a problem I could code within one night.
So, I didn’t come up with the idea first, but I had the solution. The idea came to me as I was working as a product owner before, and my career has now shifted to being a Salesforce architect. I learned my lesson: my ideas may sound smart in my head and even people might think they are smart, but honestly, if there’s no business problem, they are not a good idea. So, my plan this time is to start with a business problem.
What better place to find a business problem than the Idea Exchange? People literally write about their problems there, and I found two or three small problems that could be coded within one night. That was always my goal: Can I build a prototype within one night? Here’s the disclaimer: I’m a horrible coder. If you were to look at my code, it’s a mess of scripted something. So, the next thing I knew was that I had to keep it simple. I had to learn how to do it because I had zero idea about AppExchange. So, for one or two weeks, I started reading up and following Salesforce Trailheads, literally from the first page to the last. And I want to say to everyone who wants to get started: If you follow the documentation from the first to the last page, nothing will go wrong. As soon as you start skipping steps, things go sideways.
So my idea stems from my background as an admin, and I have a particular affinity for small apps that solve specific problems. I’ve never been a fan of large, bloated apps. No offense to the people who create them; they might be suitable for some products. However, I prefer products that solve one problem at a time because I find them often easier to use and quicker to onboard. My role model in this regard has been Local Timezone Helper, an app I’ve used for many years across various organizations. It takes literally five minutes to install, does exactly what it claims to do, and offers responsive support within one or two hours. It’s literally run by one guy in the Netherlands.
Some of my customers already have larger apps installed that could technically solve the same issue. However, for the admin, it’s still quicker to install my app and implement it. You might even find my app more economical despite me charging 5,000 euros per year. This is because the other apps are so complex that setting up the same solution with them takes weeks.
How about Building and Launching Your Apps?
My thinking is – one night, it had to be working after one night. For one app. I invested about two weeks, which was very stupid, honestly. But I enjoy the coding part. I started watching coding videos and got so excited about coding that I used two weeks during the Christmas break just coding away. From a business point of view, it was a waste of time.
Yes, there might be problems. But if you can’t code a prototype on the Salesforce platform literally overnight, even if it’s completely fake, flows, or whatever, you have to show it in front of customers. Because I’ve talked with other friends who also aimed for the AppExchange and coded for six to 12 months.
Amazing products. But how should you know if you have a market fit if you don’t go live?
And honestly, no customer cares about the code itself.
They care about the solution.
So I would never, again, build four apps based solely on my own ideas. Those were the two failures for which I received a lot of praise from the community. Everyone thought they were good ideas and encouraged me to proceed. But there’s a complete difference between admins or architects liking a product and customers actually paying for it. There’s no overlap.
My friend employs a different, not necessarily better, marketing approach. He does exactly that. He sorts apps by the most installed and picks the third or fourth most installed. Then he codes a simplified version, increases the price, improves the documentation, and simplifies it further. I guess the key point is to make sure there is demand, whether it’s from the Idea Exchange, consulting projects, or existing apps.
What are your Marketing Channels?
It’s always the same process. Google to IdeaExchange to AppExchange Listing. I start with the Idea Exchange, my link appears in the Idea Exchange results. People find it through the IdeaExchange and set up a meeting with me within a day or two. We install the app, and if they like it, they usually make a decision within a week. All other efforts have essentially been a waste of time.
How do you determine Pricing?
I take a unique approach to adding features: I simply don’t. The reason is simple. If you don’t add features, nothing can break.
In terms of income, things have evolved significantly. A year ago, my revenue per year was about 1,000 euros. Now, it’s around 20 to 25,000 euros. I even tested the waters by asking my existing customers what the maximum they would have paid was. To my surprise, they said 4,000 to 6,000 euros per year would not have been a problem for them.
Price, in my experience, is not the main concern for customers. For example, I have an mass export feature that exports all articles. I had a customer who was so grateful for this feature that they said, “Thank you so much. We had lawyers from the government standing right next to us, demanding these PDFs by midnight. You were our only hope, and even though we’ll never use the app again, we’ll still pay you because you saved our day.”
The bottom line is that value is not about complexity or effort; it’s about what the customer perceives as valuable. I’ve been flexible with pricing, sometimes even testing different price points, but the focus remains on delivering value to the customer.
“Value is not the same as complexity or effort. It’s the value from a customer’s point of view.”
What final advice do you have for others?
One thing I haven’t mentioned is the multitude of skills one has to acquire to succeed. Learning to record demos, conduct sales calls, provide customer service, write documentation, and manage my own time were all part of the process. Interacting with Salesforce updates and AppExchange partner managers, as well as understanding which contracts to sign and what insurance is needed, also took up time. Believe it or not, coding constituted maybe just 10% of the time spent. So, if you’re getting into this just because you enjoy coding, I’d advise against it.
The second thing to note is that it’s all about sales. We operate in the B2B space, and while I initially thought that people would just buy the product themselves, that’s far from the truth. Sales is crucial; otherwise, competitors with better sales strategies will outperform you. I have a friend who copied another app and has been ridiculously successful because he comes from a background in sales and marketing. He even taught himself to code just to create the app.