Tal Perry

    Why I Chose Not to Develop a Scripture Memorization App for American Christians

    Before diving into the reasons behind my decision, it’s essential to know that I am a Jewish Israeli atheist living in Berlin. This background might make you wonder why I would even consider building such an app.

    Despite my core identity, I sold a developer tools company two years ago and vowed, “Never again to build a developer tools company.” Instead, I want to pursue something with a well-defined target market and clear value proposition, ideally requiring no outside capital.

    Memorizing Christian scripture, a niche within the Faithtech market, initially appeared promising. However, I ultimately concluded that it wasn’t the right fit for me. Here I’ll reflect on how I found the idea to begin with and how I concluded I am not a fit for it.

    Initial Motivation

    As an immigrant in Germany, learning the local language has been a persistent challenge. I have been using Anki, a tool that employs “spaced repetition,” to expand my German vocabulary.

    Discovering Anki’s effectiveness, I came across a heartwarming Reddit story of a parent teaching their child to read using this tool. Inspired, I successfully taught my own five-year-old son to read with Anki. GenAI makes a fun way to read the word Giraffe Moreover, I discovered that GenAI allows me to generate large volumes of high-quality content affordably, which would have been prohibitively expensive a few years ago. Using GenAI, I created engaging educational content for my son, like spelling the word “Wurst” (sausage) using images of sausages and producing illustrated and narrated German sentences in YouTube videos.

    I was intrigued by the possibility of selling this as a product to other parents. However, I realized that the market for educational apps teaching children to read is unappealing. The price point is low, customer acquisition costs are high, regulations are complex, and subscription revenue is challenging to achieve.

    Despite these hurdles, I remained interested in the intersection of affordable high-quality content that GenAI enables and memorization algorithms. However, having previously made the mistake of building something and then validating whether someone wanted it, I now sought a problem to solve before developing a solution.

    One day, driven by curiosity, I embarked on an endeavor to memorize several chapters of the Old Testament in Hebrew using Anki. Although this could be a product, its Jewish-specific focus limits the potential market due to the smaller global Jewish population.

    In contrast, there are many Christians in the U.S. with smartphones and relatively high disposable income. This could be a viable market, so I began exploring scripture memorization for Christians.

    The Deep Dive

    A few quick Google searches revealed that there are about 200 million Christians in the U.S., with 140 million identifying as evangelicals. While I didn’t fully grasp the significance of this, I knew from social media that evangelicals are devout and willing to invest in their spirituality.

    This idea became more appealing when I discovered the wealth of data available about the prospective market. In contrast to my experience with developer tools, where market segmentation was a challenge, here I found detailed Pew Research data on app usage among different denominations, disposable income, and geographic distribution.

    With this data, I could effectively target specific market segments, tailoring language, imagery, and marketing strategies accordingly. I became convinced that if people were willing to pay for this solution, I could design effective marketing experiments to scale a sales machine.

    The Product Development Hurdle

    While scalable marketing is promising, a marketing campaign needs a functioning product to bring to market. What does “functioning’’ mean in this context? For users, it means the app helps them memorize scripture.

    However for me, the person who will be investing time and money into building this, a functioning app means an app that converts users into paying customers and retains them.

    Viewing a product as a revenue-generating machine complicates the scope of an MVP. It involves appropriate microcopy, correct pricing, delivering a quick “Wow!” moment, and ensuring user retention.

    While feasible, it sounds challenging, expensive, and time-consuming. I asked myself a few questions: Could I achieve this without venture capital funding? Probably not. Do I have expertise in creating consumer apps that convert? No. Do I have insights into making the app viral? No.

    My enthusiasm waned, and a realization during a conversation with my wife sealed the decision.

    The Marketing Challenge

    While discussing the idea with my wife in traffic, Maria was singing along to Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats”. The line, “Right now, he’s probably buying her some fruity little drink ‘Cause she can’t shoot a whiskey,” struck me. It highlighted the songwriter’s deep understanding of their audience. Shooting whiskey is an evocative phrase for their audience, but relatively meaningless to me (An Israeli in Berlin where whiskey isn’t a cultural staple). The songwriters knew their audience so well they could intuit evocative phrases like that.

    If I were to sell scripture memorization software to American Christians, what could I intuit about them? What relevance or advantage do I have in creating a product that touches on an identity I don’t share?

    This issue can be addressed with money. I could hire an agency that specializes in the Christian segment. But without a market-ready product, why invest in marketing? And without a clear marketing strategy, why build the product?

    Personal Fit and Market Understanding

    Both product and marketing challenges can be solved with time and money. But I had to ask myself, how much time? How much of my life am I willing to dedicate to building and selling scripture memorization software?

    Yes, I would like to help people deepen their spirituality. Yes, it would be intellectually stimulating. Yes, it could be lucrative. But I have no personal connection to the product or community. Is this how I want to spend the next 5-10 years of my life?

    No, it’s not.


    I was initially excited about this opportunity because it leveraged familiar technology, had a large and well-defined market, and seemed potentially lucrative. However, I realized that without a personal advantage in this space, the cost (in time and money) to develop even an MVP was more than I was willing to invest.