“I’m always trying to be intentional about abiding in the Lord. It’s not that He’s with me in what I’m doing as much as it is that I need to be with Him in what He’s doing. That’s the only way that I’m going to bear fruit, whether that be in my business or in the kingdom.”
For the July issue of MinistryTech, in my “Startup” column, I featured Brett Golson of Scripture Typer.
In this article series, we’ve defined a Christian entrepreneur as: a person, driven to glorify God in all he does, and ruled by the Word of God, who starts a new venture and is willing to risk a loss in order to achieve the success of the venture. Each month I’ve been introducing you to specific Christian startups and entrepreneurs, some of which may be helpful to your church, ministry, business, or family, but my main intent is to encourage and inspire you to be entrepreneurial in your ministry and career.
Recently, I was introduced to a mobile app that has become my new favorite. The website for the app provided enough of a teaser on his story that I knew Brett Golson would be an entrepreneur that I wanted to introduce to you. I reached out and Brett was gracious to tell me his startup story.
The Problem with Index Cards
Brett’s company is Millennial Apps, LLC and their main product is Scripture Typer. You can use Scripture Typer on any device (your memory verses are linked to your account) and you can share verses with others to be encouraging one another in the Word. If you haven’t guessed it yet, Scripture Typer is a mobile and web app for memorizing scripture.
Throughout his life, there have been times that, like many of us, Brett has been convicted about the need to memorize scripture. Also like many of us, he turned to the trusty old index card – write out the verse, and carry it with you wherever you go.
While this approach generally worked, Brett found two main problems. The first problem was that, though he may remember (most of) the verse, he often would forget the card and it would make an unsuccessful trip through the laundry. The second problem was a good one to have. As often happens when the Lord puts a scripture in our mind, Brett would encounter someone who really needed to be blessed by that scripture, and he would give his index card away. Both of these problems were easy to fix, but Brett thought there had to be a better way.
Brett also noticed that if he typed out the verse he was trying to memorize, he would learn it more quickly. The combination of the audible (saying the verse out loud), visual (reading the verse), and kinesthetic (typing it out) resulted in much quicker learning.
Step one towards entrepreneurship – seeing a problem and starting to imagine a solution.
What Happens When You Pray
In the mid-2000’s, Brett was happily employed as a software developer. He felt called to take a sabbatical year to focus on the Lord and prayer. God blessed him in many ways that year, including meeting McKenzie, the young lady who would become his wife. While Brett had planned to return to his former job, after getting married, McKenzie’s family started working on the National Prayer Bank, a not-for-profit website where people can share prayer requests and pray for others. Brett was excited to join in this family venture. And that led to the for-profit family startup, Millennial Solutions, LLC, a web development firm with a particular focus on helping churches integrate the features of the National Prayer Bank into their websites.
At Christmas that year (2009), Brett took a short break from all the craziness, and as a fun project put together a web-based app to help solve his “index card problem.” He was pretty happy with the results, so he grabbed the ScriptureTyper.com domain name, published the app, did a little search engine optimazation, promoted it on a few blogs, and the traffic started to grow. Other bloggers noticed it and the traffic grew even more.
The only challenge was monetization. Brett tried using Google AdSense to provide advertising revenue, but in the right circumstances, even with the right filtering settings, some ads would get served that really weren’t appropriate for a Bible memorization site. About that time, Brett started appreciating the value of mobile apps. He realized that the new business models enabled by the Apple App Store (and later Google Play) could begin generating revenue for Scripture Typer. As he launched the apps, the existing user base on the ScriptureTyper.com website provided tremendous interest in the new apps, helping lift the rankings in the app stores, and that increased visibility drove more interest and even higher rankings. Before long, Scripture Typer was the top result people saw when they searched for Bible memorization in the Apple App Store, Google Play Store and Amazon Appstore for Android.
The revenue model for the app is pretty straight forward. Initially, Brett charged for the app, but with the release of version 2.0, he made the basic app free and introduced a Pro version with a few extra features. The price is so low and the value of the app is so high for me, that I didn’t hesitate to upgrade.
Writing a mobile app also created a new line of business for Brett. While continuing with Millennial Solutions, he formed Millennial Apps, LLC as the home of Scripture Typer, but has also been taking on a diverse set of mobile app development projects for new clients, many of whom have found Brett because they are impressed with Scripture Typer.
I asked Brett how his faith impacts his approach to business. He pointed me to the beginning of John 15. “I’m always trying to be intentional about abiding in the Lord. It’s not that He’s with me in what I’m doing as much as it is that I need to be with Him in what He’s doing. That’s the only way that I’m going to bear fruit, whether that be in my business or in the kingdom.” That sounds like a great perspective for all of us.
As I introduce you to these entrepreneurs each month, I hope that the focus isn’t on what men and women are doing, but what God is doing through them. A verse that Scripture Typer has helped me memorize I think appropriately reflects that: “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” (Colossians 1:9-10 ESV)