Chad Mureta took a much-needed night off from his demanding real estate business in 2009 to attend an NBA game in Charlotte, N.C. He had such a great time that he started reassessing the way he was living his life while on the drive home. "I was wondering why I wasn't happy more consistently," he said. At that moment, his car hit a deer, rammed into the median and flipped four times.
Mureta spent the next six weeks in and out of the hospital, with mounting medical, credit card and business bills putting him $115,000 in debt. Meanwhile, his business was failing in his absence. He had transitioned from unhappy to "depressed and suicidal. It was the lowest point of my life," Mureta said. "I had no money, no life. I was absolutely miserable and never felt more helpless."
Mureta's lifeline came in an unexpected form: the iPhone 3G he had purchased the day before the accident. While he was in the hospital, he read an article about app millionaires. Though his technology background consisted of experimenting with his new iPhone from his hospital bed, Mureta was inspired to create his first app, Fingerprint Security Pro, which became a bestseller in the App Store, eventually making more than $700,000. He has since created four mobile app businesses, including App Empire, with about 55 apps and almost 50 million downloads.
HuffPost Small Business recently caught up with Mureta to find out more about the accident and the app businesses that changed his life.
What was your lifestyle like before the accident?
I was running my real estate business for about three years and basically working my butt off seven days a week. I was responsible for so many different people that I really didn’t have a life outside of my business. I couldn't breathe. It was the whole "prisoner to your life" scenario.
What do you remember of the accident?
I remember everything. It happened in slow motion. When the car was rolling, I was completely conscious and helpless. Once it came to a stop, I looked over at my arm and it wasn't even recognizable. It was completely mangled and there was a lot of blood. Next thing I remember was sirens and being pulled out of the car.
What revelations did you have while in the hospital about your business and its effect on your life?
I realized that my real estate business didn't light me up. I felt like I had to do it, not that I wanted to. I spent all this time and money and felt that I couldn't walk away from it. I wasn't helping people. I had already decided to make a change while I was driving home from the NBA game and then when I got into the accident, there was no other way. I knew I had to change my life.
How did you manage to build an app, much less an app business, without any prior tech experience?
I was able to outsource the development --the actual coding and design -- to a company I found on the East Coast. I met them in person with my idea sketched out on a napkin. It was a complete joke. Now I have a system for building apps, but I started with napkin sketching. I can't believe it worked out. I just trusted that I had the willpower and stamina to see this through, and it worked.
How has your life changed since the accident?
That accident threw me into this whole other path of realizing what was possible. For the first time, I had money coming in when I wasn't even working, so I started going on all these vacations and doing all the things I dreamt of doing. The real connection of the dots was taking myself out of the equation. You need to set things up to run autonomously and let technology work for you. I actually got more successful and had more downloads when I realized this. It's natural to feel the need to be present at all times and do everything yourself, but in the end, that won't necessarily make you more successful.
I definitely believe the accident happened for a reason. Even now my hands don't work that well and it's hard to even type, but it's one of the best things that ever happened to me. I was going down the wrong path, and that accident changed everything.
Name: Chad Mureta
Company: App Empire
Location: San Francisco
2012 Projected Revenue: $6 million