Frisky Interview: Appanda Makes DIY iPhone Apps Easy, Companies Cash In

Tue, Feb 2, 2010

Android, Features, iPhone, Mobile

Got a small business, blog, group, class or cause? Appanda has an app for that… I recently had a chance to sit down with Chris Przybyszewski, CEO of RESOLUTE, the Memphis-based iPhone developers behind a variety of original and for-hire games and apps.

RESOLUTE’s latest release, Appanda is making it easier than ever for small businesses to create and launch their own mobile apps (iPhone and Android). Here’s the inside scoop on Appanda, do-it-yourself iPhone development and more – enjoy!

Give us an overview of RESOLUTE – who are you and what do you do?
RESOLUTE builds software platforms that help everyone create their own mobile device app, such as an iPhone app or an Android Marketplace phone.

How many people does RESOLUTE currently employ (in what areas)?
We have around 15 part-time contractors right now, with no full-time employees yet. We’re probably about to add another five or six people. The skill sets are pretty wide, including software engineers, server engineers, website engineers, sound engineers, security engineers, documentation specialists, graphic designers, and animation specialists. We also have marketing specialists and the management group and senior advisory board.

Many startup iPhone developers are part-time only for now. Do you have a day job?

Yep. I am with the InMotion Orthopaedic Research Center, which is a biotechnology start-up in Downtown Memphis.

What made you want to get into iPhone app development?
It was the opportunity. We wanted to build our own company, and we knew we had the option of developing our own ‘stuff’ and then worry about publication, marketing, etc. With the iPhone, we were able to get a number of products on the market, build expertise, build a reputation, and build our customer base.

What are the 3 most valuable lessons you’ve learned so far?
1) Build your team the right way. If you are working any creative endeavor, make sure everyone you bring to the group can contribute in a big way. When you bring them in, have everyone understand all issues up front, like intellectual property agreements, pay, and an expectation of the level of work that will be required.

2) Fix your vision on the things you want the company to “be.” Don’t worry so much about what the company ‘does.’ RESOLUTE started as a game company, and we have evolved into something much bigger and more powerful. We have the potential to help millions with our products. At the same time, our vision statements have remained the same.

What we do changes the world. RESOLUTE values our people first, the products they make, and the profits we make from those products, in that order. We only tolerate spectacular failures. That is, we only allow failure that brings major, positive evolutions in our company.

3) Don’t underestimate the power of a good awareness campaign. Most of our major evolutions have happened due to some positive local press we have received. Public notice of your company can go a long with in convincing customers, employees, and even funders.

Can you give us a rundown of the apps RESOLUTE has developed to-date?
Our biggest/best app has been ThumStruck, which is a music-based rhythm game that has had over 120K downloads worldwide. We have also created a wide variety of other games like Segment, Seven Deaths in Nagamachi, AppRoach, and Plummet. As well, we have made a big mark in the ‘apps’ arena, having published Elvis Mobile, Lovers & Haters, and ArtsMemphis (among others), and a bunch of apps we can’t tell you about because we worked for second party contractors. And then there is Appanda…

Appanda, your most recent release – what’s it all about?
Appanda (www.appanda.com) is an easy-to-use online interface that allows anyone to create their own iPhone or Android mobile app in less than 30 minutes at a cost of less than $500/year. It’s pretty cool and could change the way anyone and everyone looks at the online storefronts for mobile devices. These apps offer a new tool for our customers to reach users, allowing real-time updates of company services and announcements, among many other features. These apps enhance corporate branding and extends the ability to reach new audiences while cultivating customer loyalty.

How does it work?
Using Appanda is easy for anyone. After they log into their account, they simply ‘drop in’ the links to their various news, video, podcast, or image “feeds,” where are website links that go to the online storage of this sort of media. The customer can also put in a custom splash page and custom headers. After this happens, the customer doesn’t have to touch the Appanda account again. They just need to update their materials, and that will populate to Appanda automatically. You can watch a video demo here.

Why did you decide to changes courses with Appanda (from games to business)?
There are over 30K developers on the App Store. It’s very difficult to find ‘shelf space’ where people can see your products. We’ve made some pretty good games, but we didn’t feel they were getting the notice they deserved. So, instead, we have decided to go the other directions. Instead of trying for a ‘hit,’ we are going to get everyone involved in the App Store and Android Marketplace.

And the other over-riding reason was that we want to help small businesses achieve their goals. One thing they all will need in the near future is an app, just in the same way they now need a website. However, the usual cost for a basic app is higher than most small businesses are willing or able to pay. Appanda removes those barriers across the board.

What types of people/industries/companies does Appanda cater to most? Who has been your biggest audience?
Right now, we are seeing the best buy in from small businesses who want to reach their audiences in a new way. These are typically businesses that have social media presences (podcasts, blogs, YouTube videos, etc.). However, we are seeing more and more people who are developing these assets just for Appanda! So far, we have worked with companies of all sizes and industries.

How has Appanda helped companies increase sales, raise awareness and/or stay connected?
The biggest advantages Appanda brings are company awareness and a new way to reach out to users. Since it’s a mobile device, app users can access anything on the internet, as well as directly access the companies who have an Appanda app. We’ve seen enormous returns already from our clients.

What do you see as Appanda’s biggest benefit? How does that compare to the most popular ways you’ve seen it be utilized thus far?
We predicted that the customers would make their own uses for Appanda, and that’s pretty much how it has been. We have one app that is an online publication of a major journal. We have another that is a local beautician who has stylized herself as a hair expert, and so puts her classes online. We have yet another customer who puts out a major video game blog. We’re about to install a new feature where musicians can post their own music into the app as well. There really is no limit to the different uses customers can do with that.

What’s next? What is RESOLUTE working on now that we should keep an eye on?

Appanda is going to get pretty big. Our job right now is to put as many feature options into Appanda as possible. These include any number of utilities customers can put into their apps (maps, calculators, levels, flashlights, etc.). As well, you are going to see major capabilities launched soon that will help users use their existing social media storage for Appanda. That’s going to make it even easier for people to make their own app.

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Very cool! Thanks for your time Chris. All that said, you might just need to keep an eye out for the FriskyMongoose iPhone app soon. Meanwhile, find out more about Appanda on Twitter and Facebook, and check out some of RESOLUTE’s apps/games in the App Store here:

7Deaths: 7Deaths

AppRoach: AppRoach

Segment: Segment

Plummet: Plummet

Thumstruk: ThumStruck Free

ArtsMemphis: ArtsMemphis

Elvis Mobile: Elvis Mobile

Lovers & Haters: Lovers & Haters

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