Simon Munk
15/06/2011 12:23 | By Simon Munk, contributor, MSN Tech & Gadgets

Dustman swaps bins for iPhone apps

Rob Shoesmith was a binman, before an app idea got him a marketing job. Now, he's hijacking Apple's upcoming iPhone 5 launch for his next big idea…

Rob Shoesmith (© Rob Shoesmith)

Rob Shoesmith was a binman, who came up with a problem-solving app idea. The company that made it gave him a job in marketing, now he's using those marketing skills for his next big idea - he's going to liveblog himself camping out for the Apple iPhone 5 launch, with the only kit he brings donated by companies who want to bask in Apple's reflected glory.

"I was in a bit of a rut. I had studied internet marketing at the University of Derby, but had to leave early and in debt. I was desperate and got a job as a bin man. Six years on I have only just left.

"I've always had an entrepreneurial instinct and a keen interest in technology and online marketing. I stumbled on an app in the iTunes Store called App Incubator by MEDL Mobile. It allows everyday people who lack programming skills to pitch ideas for apps. If MEDL decide to develop your idea they pay a percentage of the profits back to you. I had nothing to lose and I'd been looking for a break for some time.

A problem halved
"MEDL have received over 75,000 ideas. Over a period of two weeks I brainstormed over 30 app ideas. A week later I received an email from MEDL for one of my app ideas Problem Halved an agony aunt style application where fellow users act as the aunts. Users can post a problem about just about anything, or come to the aid of another user, by posting advice on how to solve a problem.

"I wanted to create an app that had universal appeal. At the end of the day no matter you're your background, everyone experiences problems. Some of the problems sent include issues with sexuality, bullying, relationship and internet problems. There has been a broad spectrum of problems posted and some being very moving.

"A great idea doesn't necessarily guarantee success though. The App Store is very crowded and you need to come up with unique ways to stand out to market your apps. I generated an enormous amount of press for Problem Halved.

"MEDL were really impressed and asked me to help out others who had their apps developed by them. I have recently gone full time as a MEDL Marketing and PR Executive. I can honestly say for the first time in my life I'm doing something I love.

But how do his new employers feel about his next idea?

"MEDL love the idea of the iPhone 5 Experiment! I plan on camping outside the Apple Store for the new iPhone. There is one rule to the experiment. I cannot spend a single penny on the following - travel to London, food and drink, entertainment, clothing, camping equipment and gadgets.

Inundated with offers
"I already have over 100 companies helping me out, including a Michelin-starred restaurant delivering gourmet meals to me in my tent, a personal trainer to keep me active and a mobile hairdresser to do my hair for any potential photographs. As for gadgets - the amount I've been sent out is unbelievable! I can't wait to test them all out; it has felt like Christmas in our house! And to top it all - MEDL Mobile have kindly offered to buy the iPhone 5 for me!

Not a bad few months in the Shoesmith residence then - but what is the point of his experiment?

"Apple launches are worldwide events. The aim of the experiment is to see if it's possible to live indirectly off Apple's marketing influence via companies who jump on the bandwagon," explains Rob.

"I've been to Apple launches before and really enjoyed chatting to like-minded people. To be honest I wasn't expecting quite as much attention as I've received. It's really snowballed with very little marketing effort on my part.

"The best and biggest stuff I've been offered so far include Chevrolet loaning me a car, two massive parcels of glow in the dark gadgets including a tent from The Glow Company and Helly Hansen are sending out a huge parcel of outdoor clothes including jackets and waterproof gear. Odd stuff has included Love Honey sending me a thong not sure if I have guts to show that one off! After it's all over, I'm thinking of auctioning it all off on eBay with all the proceeds going to charity.

But Rob hasn't quite ticked all the things he wanted off his wishlist, just yet.

"There's a few things still missing from my list - a security company who can look after me at night, a nice suit to wear for when restaurants deliver my evening meals, perhaps even a butler who can act as my personal assistant - I will be blogging a lot and need someone to help take photographs and update the blog! And as I will be blogging and video streaming live from outside the Apple Store, any company that can donate 3G data credit or battery chargers would be handy!"

Follow Rob Shoesmith's iPhone 5 experiment at or on twitter @shoesmith81