Hi. My name is Ben Askren (not the famous one). My family and I are the faces behind BuildCalc. My wife and I have always been fearless do-it-yourselfers (having remodeled two houses) and I’ve always been quite the computer geek … although never professionally. Which meant that sometime in late 2008, my love of building and programming came together and spawned the idea of BuildCalc. By that spring, I realized that the idea behind BuildCalc wasn’t going to leave me be and so downloaded XCode and started working on this app.
For the following months, when the twins were down for the night and I wasn’t too tired, I would fire up the laptop and pick-up where I left off the night before. Slowly I learned the nuances of iPhone programming as well some of the missing parts of my knowledge of carpentry. By fall, BuildCalc was ready to go.
Those first couple of weeks were a real roller-coaster. Sales were a little more than I expected (I really kept my expectations low) but the user response was great. And then, just two weeks on the market, I got my first review … and it was terrible – 1 star. I had not anticipated how difficult it was, for someone unfamiliar with this kind of calculator, to learn to use BuildCalc. I am quite sure I caused someone some real frustration.
But that 1-star rating was also probably the best thing that could have happened to BuildCalc at that point in time – it was the first real test of the promise of BuildCalc … that the user experience really was the most important part of this app. So the next morning I pulled BuildCalc from the app store and spent the next two weeks developing an in-app help. Dozens of drawings, scores of tables and thousands and thousands of words. By mid-November, BuildCalc was back in the app store and I really felt like I had been true to its promise.
Today BuildCalc is a much better app than it was back in the fall of ’09. More functions, better usability and reliability … plus support for the Android and iPad. And with all that, what makes me most proud are the hundreds of individual users that I have helped by email and phone when they needed it.
– Ben Askren