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Jan 20, 2021
Building a Lean Growth Machine for the World’s Largest Journaling App — Darius Mora, Reflectly
Play • 55 min

Darius Mora is the Chief Marketing Officer at Reflectly, the world’s largest journaling app. Reflectly is consistently in the top 5 Health & Fitness iPhone apps in the US, competing with companies 10X its size. Over the past 6 months, Reflectly has broadened its scope, acquiring 8 new apps in the mental fitness space.

Darius has been in the app space for almost a decade and founded 4 app startups prior to joining Reflectly in 2018. He’s been focused on ASO, free marketing, paid user acquisition, and retention for both Android and iOS apps.

In this episode, you’ll hear about:

(2:58) How Darius joined Reflectly.

(4:48) How Reflectly added subscriptions and grew to 12 million users.

(13:40) 3 solutions for getting past the growth “glass ceiling;” second product-market fit.

(18:57) User retention and churn; the “leaky bucket;” Apple’s 85/15 revenue split.

(24:52) A quick and easy hack for boosting retention: add paid subscriptions.

(29:28) Split-testing strategies; Amplitude; Mixpanel; RevenueCat.

(44:43) Advertising on TikTok vs. Instagram.

Follow Us:

David Barnard:

Jacob Eiting:

Darius Mora:

Follow Reflectly:


“I’ve had 25 apps on the App Store, and I feel like I’ve learned more from the failures than the successes.” - David

“[With my first app] we made all the usual mistakes… we spent half a year building it without talking to a single user, released it — crickets.” - Darius

11:30 “I think in SaaS, but also in consumer apps, the need for capital is going down… infrastructure can be rented, things can be experimented with and scaled very cheaply. It really doesn’t take what it used to to get something off the ground. And I think, strategically, it’s really smart because the leaner you are, the more options you have — and options are leverage.” - Jacob

“It does feel like we’re in the middle of a gold rush. There’s just huge opportunities and shiny objects every day, all around. So the hard thing is staying focused — and are you willing to wait out 5 years until you start generating that recurring annual revenue?” - Darius

“Most of the things that vendors are selling at conferences [solve] problems that are fixed by a better product.” - Darius

“Unless you have really good retention, you shouldn’t be doing anything else — none of the other stuff will matter.” - Darius

“You can’t fix bad retention with better growth strategies.” - Darius

“Retention is a metric that measures product-market fit; it’s not a goal in itself. If you don’t have retention, it’s not a retention problem — it’s a product-market fit problem.” - Jacob

“The truth is, a lot of times monetization is easier than retention. If you can figure out how to build an amazing product that works, monetization is not really difficult.” - Darius

“It’s nice to get annual subscriptions because you get all the money up front, but a lot of times companies will get more money from doing the monthly because you can price it higher compared to the annual. And you get a higher LTV down the line, but it comes after a couple of months instead of all the money up front. So depending on what stage you’re in and how much pressure you [have for] scaling, you can decide which one you’re going to push more.” - Darius

“When you’re running ads on any platform, it’s quantity over quality. Don’t show the market what you think is good. Show them everything you’ve got, and they’ll tell you what’s good.” - Darius

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