I want to create a funny iPhone app called Make Me Ugly that will make 1 million people smile in 30 days.
In case you didn't watch the video, I have one medium-sized dream and one audacious, woolly, San Diego-sized dream:
1) I want to create a funny app that people can use to make ugly portraits and share them via Facebook, Twitter, and email.
2) I want to usher more joy into this world by putting this app in the hands of 1 MILLION people around the world.
Over the course of 30 days, I want to make a group of people roughly the size of San Diego smile and laugh, and maybe just maybe in the process, a lot of them will become a little more comfortable in their own skin and be a little kinder to other people.
Or, at the very least, thousands of hilarious pictures will flood Facebook.
Back in January, I started development for an iPhone app called Mustache Bash. It came into the world on April 6, which was also by no coincidence my 30th birthday.
In its first month, Mustache Bash (http://bit.ly/MustacheBashapp) was downloaded nearly 200,000 times. I've been receiving hundreds of emails from people around the globe. Race, creed, religion, gender, fashion sense—it didn't matter. Apparently, people can unite around mustaches. The variety of stachebashed photos was astounding: babies, enormous cats, a bulldog, octogenarians, hipsters, snails, sumo wrestlers, and, of course, Katy Perry.
As I opened email after email and laughed out loud at the creative use of mustaches, I began to realize why the whole experience had been so satisfying. The app is an authentic expression of who I am. I like bringing joy into people's lives and making them laugh. Humor and levity have this amazing power to draw us together and make us forget our differences.
And that brings me to this crazy idea that has been percolating over the past several weeks.
What if I could make 1 MILLION people smile and laugh in 30 days?
How cool would that be! I mean, it may not up there with space travel cool, but it would still be worth including on a “Cool Things That Your Grandfather Did When He Was Young And Virile” list.
The details are falling into place: I can take the sense of humor in Mustache Bash to a whole new level of ridiculousness—Is that a word?—and reuse 75% of the code. I've already got a great developer and several graphic designers. My amazing illustrator friend Nate Creekmore (creekification.com) will help out with the app artwork. He did the drawing above and this one:
An App That Will Make You Laugh Really Hard
My friend Nick used to grab a hold of his belly fat and say, “Why settle for a six pack when you can have a keg?” That attitude is what Make Me Ugly is all about.
Popular culture—at least in the United States—has a narrowly defined and artificial idea of beauty. By “artificial” I mean the impossible standard created by airbrushed, injected, and otherwise augmented celebrities and media icons. Apparently, I have to give up bacon and have pecs and abs like Ryan Gosling's—no offense, Ryan—to be an attractive man. Things are even worse for women. I say pish posh!
Let's be comfortable in our own skins. Let's lampoon fake portrayals of perfection. The Make Me Ugly app will help one million people do just that, and have a lot of fun in the process.
Introducing the Make Me Ugly app...
Here's what the Make Me Ugly app will do: you take a picture or select one from your camera roll. You then add scars, unibrows, buckteeth, birthmarks, zits, whiskers, fleshy moles, and all sorts of other homely facial accessories.
Once you have created this grotesque portrait, you can share it via Facebook, Twitter, and email.
I know it sounds a little nutty. Why would people want to take perfectly good pictures and make themselves look like Sloth from The Goonies? Because it would be hilarious. Because it would make them laugh so hard they snort.
After all, the things we most love about each other are the things that make us different. When we're at our best, we love each other's birthmarks and non-superhero chins.
Gettin' Down To The Nitty GrittyHere's the way it will all go down:
June 11: Begin final state of app development & finish design
July 9: Submit Make Me Ugly to App Store for review
July 19: Go live! (hopefully)
August 19: Celebrate 1 million smiles!
So here's what I'll use the money for:
- $1500 :: Last 25% of development & usability testing
- $500 :: Nate's excellent illustrations & app artwork
- $1500 :: Supplemental design work (think, Photoshop)
- $100 :: Boring stuff like code repositories & servers
- $200 :: Simple yet fabulous website
- $200 :: Video work for short promotional video
- $8500 :: Marketing!!!
Believe it or not, the most expensive part of this will be marketing. Spreading the word effectively will cost more money than I currently have.
I'll most likely need to enlist several major app review sites to reach that epic 1 million smiles goal. Maybe some of them will appreciate the goal and offer to feature Make Me Ugly for free, but I'll most likely have to pay for their services like any other app developer.
These services can run anywhere from $3000-$6000 each, and paying for them will take 2/3 of the budget. I guess you can put a dollar amount on a million smiles! (Corny joke.)
Join My AppVenture
I invite you to join Nate and me on this adventure. I've put together some sweet rewards packages. Even if I do shave your name into the side of my head (please reference FRANKENSTEIN to the right), no amount of stuff and no loss of hair could adequately express my gratitude.
You are a crucial part of this endeavor! Find a rewards package that you like, join the Smile Squad, and help me create Make Me Ugly. Let's make 1 million people laugh so hard they cry .
Chief Goofball & Rabblerouser
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
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Pledge $10 or moreYou selected
ZIT reward – Welcome to the Make Me Ugly team, and congratulations! You just pre-ordered your very own copy of Make Me Ugly for the iPhone. You can either keep it or give it as a gift. Your name will also be included in the app credits.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $25 or moreYou selected
HAIRY MOLE reward – You get the goodies above, plus a copy of Mustache Bash. I will also schedule a call with you and tell you my favorite joke. (Sorry, it's not dirty.) I will have six more ready just in case you don't think the first one is funny. If you still haven't laughed after seven jokes, well, you're on your own, pal.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $50 or moreYou selected
UNIBROW reward – I, Austin Church, proud father of Make Me Ugly, will put the website or link of your choice (non-risqué, please) on the front of my t-shirt before I wear it for a day. You have supported my dream so I'd like to support yours. You will also become a member of the Smile Squad, a backers-only email list that will receive news about the project and updates about the Smile Count on our way to 1 million. *Includes all the goodies above.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $100 or moreYou selected
1 backer Limited (24 left of 25)
BUCKTEETH reward – You get exclusive access to the app as a Beta Tester during development AND you can choose and name one of your favorite (non-risqué, please) features to be featured in the app itself. *Includes the goodies mentioned above.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $250 or moreYou selected
1 backer Limited (11 left of 12)
RAT TAIL reward – You will receive a limited edition print of the Make Me Ugly sketch printed on cotton paper with archival-quality ink, signed by the artist Nate Creekmore, and delivered to your front door by a smiling postal worker. (I can't actually guarantee that last part.) You will also get 2 invitations to an exclusive Make Me Ugly launch + costume party hosted by Austin Church & Nate Creekmore where we'll partake of delicious food and libations and talk about crazy dreams. (You'll need to be able to travel to Knoxville, Tn.) *You also get all the goodies mentioned above.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $500 or moreYou selected
0 backers Limited (10 left of 10)
WARTY NOSE reward – I will compose an ode of at least 20 lines, celebrating your life and uniqueness. I will then copy this original poem onto handmade paper and mail it to you. *Includes all goodies mentioned above.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $1,000 or moreYou selected
0 backers Limited (5 left of 5)
SLOTH reward – The app's artist, Nate Creekmore, will sketch a one-of-a-kind caricature of you, someone of your choosing, or even your dog Muffins. It will be framed and mailed to your front door. *Includes all the goodies above.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $2,500 or moreYou selected
0 backers Limited (3 left of 3)
QUASIMODO award – The app's artist, Nate Creekmore, will create a one-of-a-kind pen and ink portrait of you, someone of your choosing, or your favorite celebrity or public figure. It will be framed and mailed to your front door. *Includes all the goodies above except the caricature.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $5,000 or moreYou selected
0 backers Limited (2 left of 2)
EMPEROR PALPATINE reward – You will have a starring role in the Make Me Ugly app. An entire group of images will be created using your features, and people all over the world using the app will add some piece of you to their own pictures to create funny combinations. If you would prefer that someone else's feature be featured, that can be arranged. *You also get your choice of either the caricature sketch or pen-and-ink portrait, along with all the other rewards.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $10,000 or moreYou selected
0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)
FRANKENSTEIN reward – Okay, folks, this is the big one. A caricature of you will appear on the credits screen of the app. My wife, who is a professional stylist, will SHAVE MY HEAD, leaving just enough hair to etch your name on one side of my head. This poignant demonstration of my gratitude will be staged in a public place and filmed for your viewing pleasure. We can even do it on the day of the launch party. You will also get everything listed above. Duh.Estimated delivery:
- (31 days)