This mustache app began not with shrewd business machinations or coding expertise but with a gag gift.

My wife and I got married in November of 2010, and discovered that weddings leave in their wake cookie sheets, esoteric kitchen gadgets, and other flotsam and jetsam from Target and Pottery Barn. Someone—I can’t remember whom—gave us a blister pack of twelve mustaches. We shoved them into a drawer and forgot about them until a trip to Nashville for Christmas with my side of the family.

best mustache appMy mom wanted a new family photo, so my sisters and I hired my friend Justin to do the honors. He never shies away from an oddball shot, and my family’s sense of humor is nothing if not a tad inappropriate and bizarre. Long story short, everybody wore a mustache in half the pictures, even my nephew Henderson, who was ten months old at the time.

One of Justin’s shots became my Facebook profile picture, and so I saw my wife wearing a mustache a few times a week. My Facebook friends also seemed to enjoy it.

Over the next nine months, an idea gestated, and while I was in San Diego at an internet marketing meetup, it finally emerged—fully formed, healthy, and with a full lip of hair. The metaphorical language, of course, breaks down there. The guy hosting the meetup had seven or eight apps under his belt, and had even created a training course teaching other people how to do it. With some help tackling the learning curve, I started brainstorming ideas and doing research.

I soon ran into a roadblock: the app store already has several apps that let you add an image to a new picture or one from the phone’s camera roll, and even worse, several that focused specifically on mustaches.

This roadblock soon led to several important insights:

1) Creating a better app for a market that already exists is easier (and often less expensive) than creating something novel, brand new, and trying to find a market for it.

In a BusinessWeek piece that ran in May 1998, Steve Jobs said, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Those of us who would follow in Jobs’s footsteps either have to be a true visionary or spend a fortune to simultaneously predict the future, decipher the human heart, and market to those nascent audiences. Or both. For my first app, I chose an easier route based on a simple observation: What people want is, a lot of times, what they’ve already got—only better.

2) Don’t give people what they don’t want.

Finding out what “better” means was relatively easy. I downloaded other mustache apps and used them. I took notes on cool features and frustrations, and I read the reviews of other users describing their experiences.

Half of the apps crashed on a regular basis because of buggy code.

A fourth of them lacked an intuitive user interface. I would be taken to a screen and have no escape route and no breadcrumb trail leading back the way I had come. Apps should be like a roomy sedan, not labyrinths, and give you more than one way to get in and out.

The last quarter of the apps had other quirks that affected the experience of using them for the worse: subpar design, icons whose function was unclear, in-app purchases in out-of-the-way nooks, and even too many features. In the enchanted realm of apps, too much is just as irritating as too little. We’re all Goldilocks looking for “just right,” and nine times out of ten, that means an app that does one or two things really, really well.

Being a proud parent, I can’t help but think that Mustache Bash is better than the other mustache apps. But I can tell you with complete objectivity that it does two things really well. It makes it really easy to put a mustache or a beard on a picture and to share that picture with friends.

In three words: funny pictures fast.

I’d like the think that it also delivers the full package along the way:

· Top-notch design
· Simple, intuitive user interface
· Lots of funny facial hair named after the celebrities who wore it
· Stellar in-app purchases
· Bug-free code & hassle-free usability
· Seamless sharing experiences for Facebook, Twitter & email
· No annoying ads
· More worthwhile apps on the “cool stuff” screen

If you use the app and think of ways to improve it, I’m all ears. I’ll be releasing regular updates, and I’d love some unbiased input. Fill out the contact form here or email support [at] mustachebashapp [dot] com.

Download the app here.