About a year ago this time, I was working a full time job with over an hour commute each way. I was in the middle of my MBA program and was doing all the day to day activities for our mobile app business. A year later now, I have quit my job to turn all my focus to growing the business. My classes are not as demanding as last year and we have three part time help to help with a lot of day to day activities of the Business. With all that extra time, I was hoping to be at the peak of my productivity and get a lot more done than what I was able to a year ago. However, the truth is that I feel like I was more productive and getting more done when I hardly had a spare minute. I have less focus and feel as if I am constantly achieving less than what I was a year ago .

I am starting to realize that my brain is more productive when there is a time crunch and a deadline. Even though, I am not a  big fan of structure, It seems that I cant do away with all the structure and minimal structure  might just be what I need to restore my productivity. I recently, read the book "Flow" by Mihali Chikcent Mihaly, and his definition of Flow hit close to home for me. Mihali defines Flow as a state of mind

Wikipedia Flow

In positive psychology, flow, also known as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.

Flow theory postulates three conditions that have to be met to achieve a flow state:

  1. One must be involved in an activity with a clear set of goals and progress. This adds direction and structure to the task.
  2. The task at hand must have clear and immediate feedback. This helps the person negotiate any changing demands and allows them to adjust their performance to maintain the flow state.
  3. One must have a good balance between the perceived challenges of the task at hand and their own perceived skills. One must have confidence in one's ability to complete the task at hand.

It seems I was having easier time achieving state of flow last year. With limited time, my goals were clear and I could not afford to be scattered very often. I had that good balance between stress and productivity.

I have been going through a lot of blog posts about productivity and habits lately and been trying to implement few small changes in my daily habits. Two changes that have made the most impact so far are:

  1. Use of the App productive to create a routine and build habit.
  2. Setting concrete deadlines with tasks and subtasks.

Google play store optimization learnings


Google play store optimization seems like a black box of unknowns but google is actually very open about what are the key factors that affect google play store rankings. After enjoying top ranking and sustained high downloads for a long time for a lot of our keywords, we took some hit this year. I spent a lot of time doing research on how we can increase downloads and get back on the same growth trajectory we were in about a year ago.

This was not an easy task as we have a lot of small apps focusing on niche markets rather than few large/popular apps. We also have apps in both android and iOS store. So, we had to find a strategy that would work in both app stores.

I wanted to write a quick post on google play store optimization and the strategies we tried to regain google play store ranking. Google play store optimization for us was not just about keyword research and optimization. Even though my primary focus was to find ways to improve play store ranking in order to get more downloads, after some research I decided to expand that focus.

Whenever possible, we used google play store's experiment feature to try the changes we were implementing. This way we could get concrete data about how the changes affected downloads and ranking.

Google play store optimization factors:

We decided to focus our experiments around the following items in order to increase retention and improve ranking.



Featured graphics

Usage frequency



App Update Frequency

Key learnings from our Google play store optimization experiments:

  • We had underestimated the power and importance of user retention. Not only that we had to go get more users if retention was low, it seemed like the keyword ranking for apps with low retention tend to drop in the google play store
  • It was important to have an icon that stood as icon and title were the first to things that a user saw. This was our first opportunity to convince the user to click on the app to look at description, screenshots and reviews.
  • Once we had convinced users to click on the details, we now needed convincing description and screenshots to get the user to download the app. Our Key learning here was, while we needed to provide the best description and screenshots, it is critical to be accurate. User satisfaction depends on what expectation we set for the app compared to what they get. If we over promised on a feature that did not deliver,
  • Reviews and ratings were key. This ties in to the above point about managing expectations. If we managed expectations properly and over delivered, we ended up with higher overall ratings.
  • Keywords and title were important to get a higher ranking but other factors discussed above were more important in getting higher download and retain rate.
  • Apps that had a higher usage frequency were better at maintaining higher ranking
  • It was important to update app frequently. This helped keep the app bug free and showed that app is recent and relevant.

We used Google play feature to conduct experiments. Google analytics was used to measure app retention rate and usage frequency. Push notifications and routine updates were used to increase usage frequency.

We used App Annie to monitor ranking and do keyword research.

Hope you found something helpful about google play store optimization from this post. Let us know if there is anything else you have found useful.

Bikul Koirala's profile


Bikul Koirala's Summary

Experienced biotechnology professional with a strong track record of analytical method development and documentation, analytical equipment acquisitions, maintenance, and repair. Experienced in sterile anaerobic fermentations Interested in the renewable energy and biobased chemical industry.


• GC, HPLC, GC-MS, LC/MS method development and optimization • Fermentation development and optimization for production of biobased chemicals. • Process scale-up and scale-down • Analytical equipment installation, operation, and maintenance • QA/QC setup

Bikul Koirala's Experience

Research Associate

OPX Biotechnologies, Inc.

Privately Held; 51-200 employees; Biotechnology industry

November 2011Present (9 months) Boulder, CO

Research Associate

Tetravitae Bioscience

Privately Held; 11-50 employees; Biotechnology industry

March 2009October 2011 (2 years 8 months) Champaign, IL

• Develop and Perform lab-scale and pilot scale experiments aimed at optimizing the methods and equipment of fermentation(Corn, Sugercane, Municipal Waste) and product isolation • Downstream purification design and optimization of fermentation products. • Lead analytical method development and instrument acquisition (GC, HPLC, LC-MS) critical to experimental efforts • Researched and performed ASTM testing on final fermentation products( Acetone, Butanol) to prepare industry standard product spec sheets • Identified and developed a novel catalyst systems for the production of guerbet alcohols • Train technicians in execution of routine analyses and new methods and instruments • Assist in formulation of research goals through study of literature, engaging in discussion of research results and proposing experimental efforts. Organize, analyze and summarize experimental results • Prepare and maintain standard operating procedures (SOP)

Analytical Consultant

Tetravitae Bioscience

Privately Held; 11-50 employees; Biotechnology industry

October 2008March 2009 (6 months)

• Consulted in analytical method development and instrument acquisition (GC, HPLC) • Prepared and maintained standard operating procedures for analysis of fermentation substrates and products

Analytical Chemist

Isotech Labrotaries


August 2008March 2009 (8 months)

• Gas and liquid sample preparation for stable Isotope ratio analysis (C,H,N,S,O) • Isotopic analysis of groundwater and surface samples • • Operation and maintenance of Isotope ratio Mass spectrometer

Teaching Assistant

Idaho State University

Educational Institution; 1001-5000 employees; Higher Education industry

January 2006August 2008 (2 years 8 months)

Labs taught include General Chemistry; Introduction to General Chemistry, Organic and Biochemistry, and Quantitative Analysis.

Undergraduate and Graduate Research Assistant

Idaho State University

Educational Institution; 1001-5000 employees; Higher Education industry

July 2005August 2008 (3 years 2 months)

Use of GC-MS techniques for identification of archeological samples via extraction, transesterification, and analysis of fatty acids to determine the source(s) of the residue with the view of increasing our understanding of history and civilization of particular geographical area. Supervisor, Dr. Jeffrey Rosentreter.

Research Assistant

Idaho State University

Educational Institution; 1001-5000 employees; Higher Education industry

March 2005August 2008 (3 years 6 months)

•Performed laboratory research on Behavioral and neurochemical studies of ethanol dependence and withdrawal in a lab animal model using techniques including Gamma Counter, Radioimmunoassay, Western Blotting, Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry, Immunocytochemistry, Mammalian hippocampal slice culture brightfield and Fluorescent microscopy • Wrote technical papers, reports, and standard operating procedures (SOP) • Presented findings in regional and national meetings, and prepared manuscripts for publications • Played active role in design and co-ordination of experiments and personnel scheduling

Program Residence Coordinator

Idaho State University

Educational Institution; 1001-5000 employees; Higher Education industry

January 2005December 2005 (1 year)

My duties included welcoming ELS students to Idaho State University, managing their accommodation, providing them with local and campus information, matching them with interested residents as roommates so as to better help them learn English, and helping them cope with the language, cultural, and traditional changes.

Bikul Koirala's Education

Idaho State University

Master of Science, Chemistry , ACS certified Chemist


ACS Outstanding Analytical Chemist Award

Activities and Societies: American Chemical Society

Idaho State University

Bachelor of Science, Biochemistry and Chemistry (ACS certified Chemist)



Activities and Societies: American Chemical Society Snake River Association of Neuroscience

Bikul Koirala's Publications

  • Examination of prehistoric artifacts via fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) techniques using modern environmental stewardship

    • Journal of Archaeological Science
    • June 2009
    Authors: Bikul Koirala, Jeffrey Rosentreter

    Elucidating the specific use and purpose of archaeological specimens such as stone axes and grinding stones can improve the understanding of an area's ecosystem and civilization. Chemical analysis of residues preserved on these tools may provide key information in identifying how the tool was implemented. The arid US Great Basin provides an ideal environment for the preservation of fatty acid...more

  • Influence of hormonal status on behavioral responses to an acute ethanol challenge during ethanol withdrawal in male and female rats

    • Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
    • October 2008
    Authors: Bikul Koirala, Paul E. Alele, Leslie L. Devaud

    We previously reported significant sex differences in ethanol withdrawal (EW) recovery as well as in sensitivity to GABAA receptor modulators during EW. The aim of the present study was to determine if hormonal status moderated behavioral responses to an acute ethanol challenge in EW animals comparing two different behaviors. An initial set of experiments explored motor-incoordinating effects of...more

  • Sex Differences in Acoustic Startle Responses and Seizure Thresholds between Ethanol-Withdrawn Male and Female Rats

    • Alcohol and Alcoholism
    • November 2009
    Authors: Bikul Koirala, William Reilly, Leslie L. Devaud

    Aims: We have found consistent and significant sex differences in recovery from the increased seizure susceptibility observed during ethanol withdrawal (EW) in our rat model system. The main objective of the present study was to determine if sex differences in EW generalized to an additional behavioral measure startle reactivity. Methods: Acoustic startle or seizure threshold responses were...more

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