Barber

So indie, I’ll just wear a fake mustache to promote my AR beard app

So I made an app called Unshave that lets you AR try on beards and mustaches — created by both artists and machines.

It’s in support of #Movember and #NoShaveNovember — to help spread awareness of issues in men’s health. Except, I’m not a man. Though I like seeing myself in beards, I’m perhaps also not the target user. I’m solo developer and did not have the time/capacity to properly market my app. My trial business cofounder tried his best to tell people about our app. And then it became mid-November and basically no one knew about the app. 🙁

I embraced the essence of my indie dilemma. I wore a new (real) fake mustache (Unshave Unlock codes: s2 and s6) to ChromeDevSummit each day to try to spread awareness of both Movember and my app Unshave.

Except, it’s downtown San Francisco — and most people don’t ask, “Why the ‘stache?” I had to break ice pro-actively, “Aren’t you wondering why I’m wearing this hairy attachment?”

I made this app that lets anyone try on beards.

Sometimes, I’d geek out and explain a bit of the innovation and over-engineering. The content-onboarding is multi-modal. Uses ML semantic segmentation to extract beards from any front-facing photo — or takes any 2D beard art straight to AR-wearable. I haphazardly forgot to hand out these new November business cards that included an AR marker that served also as a digitization template for faced.io Digitizer — draw on real paper, and instantly wear on your face what you draw!

It’s for iOS, Android, Windows Mobile — face tracking using OpenCV that can be compiled on any platform, and I use Unity for cross-platform compile, so that as solo developer, I can keep to a single source base and not lose out in the platform wars. Other times, I might show the hacky asm.js Unity WebGL version in the form of https://faceStylr.com (which also won my second grand prize at TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon this year).

Amidst odd looks and avoided eye-contact, I might do the big grin blast back or eyebrow thing or point out to someone else, “Nice mustache!”

Sometimes, “Want to see how you’d look like with a beard?” It’s greeted with smiles and delighted surprise. I pivoted the pitch a bit to — Unshave: beards and mustaches for everyone, even for those of us who can’t quite grow one. And if you doesn’t like a beard or mustache, you can just press the “Unshave me” to get a new random ‘stache! Or, GIRLSTACHE!

Despite happy customers for this free and fun app, there were also people who found it odd that I was both the person who made the app and also the one shelling out her sleep-deprived energy to market her own app. “Wait, you made this?”

However, such is the state of being an indie dev. You wear as many hats as you need. You build your own app. And then you gotta tell the world about it. Yourself.

So… What’s your “So indie, I have to…” story?



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