myHomework: Bootstrapping to 2 Million Downloads in 15 Months, Part Time

May 21, 2012

1:00 pm

myHomework doesn’t have the seemingly traditional startup backstory where someone has an idea and forms a team, and everyone quits their jobs on Monday. They also don’t have the glamorous “overnight” success story we all read about. While spending time with cofounder Keith Entzeroth at Big Omaha, I heard an interesting story that is much more common but far less told.

Rodrigo “Rigo” Neri built the first version of assignment tracker myHomework while attending Park University, to solve his own problem of tracking classes, homework, and projects. The app saw good initial traction, but wasn’t intended to become a startup.

Neri went on to take a job at Cerner Corporation, where he would eventually meet his cofounders, Entzeroth and Ryan Niemeyer. At Cerner, Entzeroth spotted Neri’s rockstar abilities and recruited him to work on a high-profile internal project along with Niemeyer. Entzeroth described the project as “the closest you’ll get to a startup in an enterprise.”

When Neri told the others about myHomework, they were both intrigued. After some more discussion, the trio decided to found Instin in January 2011, with myHomework as their first product. Entzeroth says the time they worked together on the Cerner project gave them the confidence to go it alone.

Now here’s where you’d think all 3 guys would quit their jobs, but that didn’t happen. Entzeroth’s last day wasn’t until this April, and the other 2 refrained from putting in their 2 weeks notice until last week, 15 months after Instin was officially organized.

When I asked Entzeroth what took him so long to quit, he said, “I was very analytical in my decision. For the last 3 months or so I’ve been trying to find every reason I shouldn’t quit.”

myHomework is a free app currently available for iPhone, iPad, Android, and the web with the ability to sync across devices. They have a unique in-app purchase revenue model where local sponsors subsidize students’ upgrades. myHomework has now been downloaded over 2 million times, has 400,000 active students this semester, and 20,000 paying users.

Guest author Nick Tippmann is a young entrepreneur with a thirst for learning and a passion for helping. He is an organizer for Startup Weekend, a mentor for Lean Startup Machine, and currently working full-time on his own startup. Follow him on Twitter @ntippmann.

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