Farmington HillsJune 12, 2013
College buddies create popular Apple voice app
By Sherri Kolade
C & G Staff Writer
Farmington Hills resident Austen Couchenour displays a voice app on his iPhone recently that he and his college friend, Brock Taylor, began developing last fall.
FARMINGTON HILLS — Farmington Hills resident Austen Couchenour and college friend Brock Taylor’s new voice app is gaining momentum after Apple ranked it 374th the in the top 500 Entertainment category — and the duo isn’t finished yet.
“We are going to use money from this app to create money to build other apps for simple games,” Couchenour, 27, told the Farmington Press recently. “This is just the first of many, so gaining exposure is key for us right now.”
The app, The Voice Studio, lets users transform their recorded voices using a virtual drop-down studio microphone; users then select from one of the several voice effects and play it back. Users can also save their favorite recordings to a personal library and share it through email and Twitter. The 99-cent version of the app has extra sharing features through texting and Facebook.
The app — which has more than 7,000 downloads — was birthed out of the friends’ dorm room last fall at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Ill., just south of Chicago.
Taylor said that after the pair left college, they started to develop a concept for the app, and he was encouraged after reading an app-development article.
“That got me pretty excited about it,” Taylor said. “One conversation led to another ... and in August or so of last year, it was like, ‘Hey, let’s do this.’”
Taylor said that although the voice app is not the first, he and his business partner made an already successful concept even better.
“I came across a voice changer, something similar to ours, and it was fairly successful; but I kind of said to myself, ‘It is really subpar, and I could really improve upon this,’” Taylor said, “and turn this into a nice project.”
Taylor said that by researching the app reviews and seeing what people wanted improved, they tweaked their own app; and they aren’t finished yet.
“We do plan on coming out with a few new voice filters to be included in the upgrade,” he said. “We are going to try to add some value to that. We are expecting that to happen in the next three to four weeks.”
The busy pair also started a business, Third Floor Studios, which features the app on its website.
“We met in 2004,” Couch-enour, who works at a furniture store near his Farmington Hills home, said. “We started developing the app together in September of last year. (Taylor) approached me about it and talked about the opportunity.”
Couchenour said he and Taylor, 27, of Springfield, Va., are happy with where they are and where they are headed.
“We are really excited,” Couchenour said. “We are really proud of (the app). Just to go from talking about it a few months ago … to being so far as launching the app (in June).”
It cost the pair a little more than $4,000 to develop the app, after hiring out developers and Ukraine-based graphic designers, among other things.
The team earns a profit from advertisements on the app and from the 99-cent downloads. Couchenour said they plan to tweak the app to make it more appealing.
“We are still looking to put out some updates,” he said. “It is definitely mostly in the United States; (we are) looking to get it translated.”
About 90 countries have downloaded the app, “basically all over the world,” Couchenour said.
The lion’s share of the downloads are from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada; other locations include Madagascar, Bermuda, Mozambique and Ireland.
“It is surprising and encouraging. It makes you feel like you are successful at what you are putting out.”
For more information on the app, go to http://bit.ly/tvsappstore. For more information on Third Floor Studios, go to http://www.thirdfloorapps.com.