How a sales exec built an anger management app on Adalo
Wondering what it takes to bring your app idea to life on no-code? Often, it just takes starting! Mark Howland used Adalo for the very first time with a clear idea of what he wanted to build: An app to help you manage anger. Find out how this former sales executive journeyed through the world of app building to come up with a truly unique product.
My name is Mark Howland. I'm the founder and product lead at MarkLIVE! Labs out of Portland, Oregon. Feasibility is the core that drives the innovation that leads to our success.
I've spent over 20 years in the sales & customer success world – driving sales with smiles. I was an executive for a publicly traded multi-billion dollar retail company. Opening new locations across America, hiring thousands of amazing people, all while accomplishing millions in sales and results for clients.
Before the adulting world, I was born in San Jose, California, but starting at the age of 7 I grew up on a tiny island in the middle of the pacific ocean, Maui, Hawaii. My single mother provided for us as a nurse while my sister and I went through school. I spent my youth playing as much hockey as I could, roller hockey (ice rinks in Hawaii were rare).
My entrepreneurial start
I broke into the entrepreneur world around my mid 20’s and never looked back. It all started with a small website called Justin.tv (which is now twitch.tv). A few of us were private beta users when Justin Kan and others first launched the site. From Justin.tv, MarkLIVE! was created. I went on to livestream my life for almost a year, created over 400+ YouTube videos, and various other websites that now only collect virtual cobwebs.
Since 2007, I've gone on to launch and sell a few successful businesses. A few in the YouTube tool space, one in the customer success space, one for sales and various ones around the web.
No-code has been there the entire time. From Joomla to Wordpress, now Adalo for my app. No-code is my favorite method of developing. Mainly for speed, quick visual aspects, and more.
Building stew to manage your anger
I built stew to hopefully be used more as an accountability, responsibility, and commitment to one's own self on becoming a better human being by reducing our anger. Stew for me acts like an accountability partner to myself. Knowing I have the app now casts this mentor shadow around me to be a good human being or else I’ll have to use stew. Haha
“To fix the world, fix yourself.”
Personal growth starts with self-discovery. I cannot always choose what happens to me, but I can always choose what happens in me. Stew works best when we don’t blame outside events that rouse our anger.
Here’s another example: remember you getting mad at me for breaking the plate? What thoughts are going through your head; “He broke my plate”, “That plate was $1,000 because I like expensive plates.”, “My mom gave me that plate, now I’m gonna fight you.”.
Stew works by asking five internal questions about each event. Stew is best used when we can think clearer about the event, and is not best used at a time when you’re angry, as our thinking tends to be more misconstrued.
Let’s take the 1st and last questions in the stew app and I’ll give you a few example answers that help with internal thinking vs judgment outward:
What were some triggers that led up to the event?
He broke my expensive plate for what he thought was being funny.
That plate was $1000
This guy has been irritating me for weeks now and this was over the top.
It was already a rough day so I was on edge before he broke the plate.
How could have I reacted differently?
I will try harder to not react instantly when he does something that angers me.
I will bite my lip before speaking in case I say something that angers him more and can cause more serious damage than just a plate.
I will leave the room and shout into a pillow if I’m really upset.
Stew can be used in various ways and you’ll find out how answering the questions for yourself can help lead you to your own happiness and a more angry free life.
One feature that should be released by the time this article is out is our “Perspective Score”. It scores up to 10. The score allows you to know how each event affects your mood for the better. If you started off the event with a 2, but ended with a 7, then 4.5 is your Perspective Score. The algorithms will be tweaked & updated frequently.
Why I chose to build stew
Stew was created to help tackle the world's biggest plague, anger. Anger is in all of us (impatience, annoyances, ego, etc) some more explosive and dangerous than others. Anger has zero good, nor has a single reason for justification. No matter the reason, anger is never welcomed.
“It’s not the things that upset us, it’s our judgements about those things.” ~ Epictetus
Wise words written 2000~ years ago. If we think about anger internally vs externally, then it makes more sense because anger is no one's fault but our own.
Here’s an example: If you got angry at me for breaking a plate, and it happened again but someone else broke it, but you didn’t get angry at them, then how is that fair to you and me? Internally it's you choosing to be mad at me vs someone else for the same exact same thing.
We cannot choose what happens to us, but we can choose how to react to it.
Stew was born from a failed habits app idea I was designing back in August 2020. I got mad at something, sat on my bed for 20 mins, then it hit me, anger. For the next year, the ideas were flowing with stew, some good, some horrendous. I talked with therapists, psychotherapists, counselors, doctors, and more alike about stew, the ideas, wording the questions, and also some do’s and don'ts for a self-help app.
Over the span of the year, I was using the app myself but in a pen and paper format. I would write down the questions while answering them for each angered event I’d have in life. I would meditate before answering to calm my nerves and to allow more oxygen into my mind, etc. Over the course of several months, myself, friends and family have noticed an increase in my happiness and an improvement in my mood. Stew was working in bigger ways than I imagined.
Using Adalo to build stew
In Sept 2021, I started development on stew using no-code. I chose Adalo mainly for its drag & drop aspects anywhere in the app, its customizable components, and they also received additional funding for ideas I support. Their free plan allowed me to build the app up until the launch on the app stores.
Just like the core principles at the labs, I wanted to focus on feasibility while driving hard to tackling anger within ourselves. The hardest obstacle is to change the way we view ourselves.
Self-discovery is the key to stew. We can’t change until we accept who we are first. How are you able to grow from something if you don’t know what you’re growing from?
I didn’t want to build another “do X, follow X, and achieve X” self-help app. I wanted something that allows the user (like myself) to dig deep within myself to find the root cause of anger and visually see those results in a way never done before, our own beliefs.
I had several friends, family, and random users test the core component to the app. Nothing but positive results. Even my friend's wife thanked me for stew as it helped their relationship in some capacity.
Using a no-code tool for the first time
Building stew was my first time using Adalo. Learning a new no-code software is one of my favorite and also stressful things. It was funny building an anger management app while learning a new no-code program. Oh the learning headaches. haha.
Adalo on the surface is just a simple drag and drop to connect A to B, but sometimes the easiest thing took several forum posts, support emails, and at least 1,352 times me saying to myself “It’s connected, why isn’t it working?” and that’s because Adalo is a lot more under the hood. There are a lot of little moving parts you have to make sure of to build a solid app.
Luckily, I was born with too much resilience. So with any no-code obstacle, I’d stay up late to overcome it as long as it was possible. I would reach out to customer support for things the forum couldn’t help with. Through the Adalo community I was able to meet some awesome people who are also building awesome apps on Adalo. Some of these guys offer help, tips, and insights. I would watch YouTube tutorials for certain aspects of stew needs.
Follow your own path as a maker
We all have our own paths to follow. Use someone else's path as a stepping stone to building your own path. There is enough market share for everyone to make money. No-code your MVP (Minimum Viable Product) to save time, money, and more. What works for me will not work for you.
If you’re thinking “this app is going to make millions” before you made the first $1, fix your mindset. Think product always. Build for you. Keep pushing through. If it was easy, everyone could do it. Separate yourself by doing where others stopped. Don’t copy someone, learn and make it your own. Choose kindness without expecting. Build in a way that saves time and in less clicks. Don’t get upset at things, things will work out for the best in time.
Observe. Learn. Do. Grow.
Compete with yourself, and root for everyone else.
“If you’re serious about changing your life, you’ll find a way. If you’re not, you’ll find an excuse”