In the summer of 2020 I was realising that shutting down Imaginactive was inevitable. A year earlier the original Apocalypse Survival Training app had launched, with serious problems. The exaltation at finally getting to the stores was quickly replaced with terror and apologies. Fixes broke more things. At the end of the 3 month warranty period, the developers turned up 40 minutes late to our contract renewal meeting, to announce they were ending our contract with the next update.
That update broke the payment system, making the app into a client relationship nightmare, and now we had no dev support.
The developers who bravely took over and tried to fix the bugs took several months update iOS and could not get a version of Android that we could run advertising on (ie that functioned well enough to sell). We missed the enormous opportunity of Lockdown 1. That lockdown felt like it was going to a huge AST silver lining, but the app was not able to provide an acceptable user experience (like handle payments in return for content).
We got to the summer. Lockdown was our time, and it was over. The app wasn’t converting from downloads and we didn’t have an email campaign because the original developers ended our Firebase subscriptions and all the APIs, including to mail chimp, which it took several people to reconnect.
I was asking the world for answers on how to get Apocalypse Survival Training working and out and actually making revenue. I wasn't quite prepared to quit, but I could see no way forward.
And then in July… I got an email from a Dragons’ Den researcher, saying they would love us to audition for the 2021 series.
I put a joking post on Facebook asking if I should (I hadn’t seen all the confidentiality documents yet!) and as person after person said yes, I started to think…
…they’re shred us. It WILL be AWFUL. It WILL be humiliating....
...but we’re done anyway so - maybe it was the last chance?
I deleted the FB post and applied.
That began several rounds of audition over about seven weeks. I kept thinking at every round this is it, they’ll knock us out now. When I submitted the financials I was sure they would knock us out. I was now watching the previous series though and starting to wonder if we were one of the businesses that is brought in because it has major issues and weaknesses and then gets skewered for entertainment. I became increasingly convinced that we that business.
I wanted the withdraw, but Ras held the faith and held fast. We some people helping us prep as well, who urged me to continue. And as the choice was literally to hold that faith and continue, or end Imaginactive and AST, I gritted my teeth and kept going.
We were provisionally accepted in late August, for filming in October (everything was provisional, up to and including the day).
And then things got weird…
Tune in tomorrow for how weird and see our audition pitch below!