I’m excited to present to you an exclusive interview with KBJ Capital portfolio company APPEK Mobile Apps. In this interview, co-founder and CEO Adam Ceresko shares his vision for the future of APPEK Mobile Apps and the broader mobile application industry in general, while also providing some tips for young entrepreneurs on what it takes to raise funding, build buzz, and penetrate a fast growing market. In all respects, Adam and his team at APPEK are crushing it!
If you are an APPEK Mobile Apps fan like I am you can learn more about them here or visit them in San Francisco in two weeks for TechCrunch Disrupt. Follow APPEK on Twitter @appekapps and fan on Facebook at
http://www.facebook.com/appekapps. If you are a business in need of professional mobile application development call 1-877-844-1386 right now.
KRIS: Tell me about the history of APPEK Mobile Apps?
ADAM: APPEK was co-founded in 2009 by Andrew Herman and myself during our graduating semester at Penn State University. During that semester, CATA, State College’s transit agency, released GPS bus location to the public, but only in the form of a website. The web experience of the browser was very poor, so Andrew and I decided to develop an iPhone app that combined the power of a native app with the GPS information. Long story short, we partnered with CATA and released the app in January 2010. With instant success, there was an immediate demand for an Android app. To date, the iPhone and Android apps have been downloaded over 30,000 times in all markets we serve.
In October 2010, we re-located APPEK to the Scranton Enterprise Center, which is home to the Small Business Incubator of Scranton, PA. Within our first couple months, we were fortunate to meet some great people, including you Kris. During this time, with your help, Andrew and I started to notice a very large demand for high-end mobile development. So on March 9th, 2011, APPEK announced a $50,000 investment from KBJ Capital to fund the creation of a B2B Mobile App Development Division of APPEK. Our services include design, development, testing and consulting for clients ranging from funded start-ups to Fortune 2000s. We build on all major platforms, including IOS, Android, Blackberry, and Windows.
Since taking down some venture financing we’ve increased the size of our staff considerably and added some incredible talent. Our developers, mostly from Penn State (Kris’ Alma mater as well), have been incredible assets to the team and the culture of a silicon-valley start up is really starting to take form.
KRIS: You mentioned in your answer to the previous question that your focus is on building mobile applications for funded start-ups and large Fortune 2000 companies. Can you share with me a bit more of your thinking here? Why start-ups and large enterprises? Is APPEK Mobile Apps willing to build mobile applications for others types of businesses outside of your core focus?
ADAM: APPEK focuses on funded start-ups and Fortune 2000s because they are more immediately prepared for our services. These companies either already have the existing product or service in place and are ready to add the mobile component, or have their vision well planned and the necessary development funds in place.
We absolutely are willing to build mobile apps for other types of business. At the beginning of every project, we start by working through our Requirements Gathering Document to help APPEK and the client better understand their vision. The goal of the document is to provide a tangible outline for the project that allows APPEK to give a more detailed and accurate quote.
Just because our main focus is on high profile companies, we are always willing to help create the next big thing!
KRIS: APPEK Mobile Apps was funded with $50,000 from my early stage technology fund KBJ Capital. Why did you take the funds and how has the experience been thus far?
ADAM: The investment funds were mostly allocated to building the B2B division. It allowed us to immediately a lead developer – Nick Heckman, plant a seed for other employment expansion opportunities, and upgrade all the technology we had in-house. But at the end of the day, the reason APPEK accepted the investment from KBJ Capital was for yourself and the intangibles you brought to the table. Between your experience gained from Pepperjam, the vast network and passion for building the next big thing, it was a no brainer.
KRIS: Mobile is one of the largest and fastest growing segments of technology. What are your thoughts on the future of mobile? Have we just gotten started or will mobile continue to grow indefinitely?
ADAM: Go back to 2001, there was no such thing as text messaging, Facebook or iPads. We then had the ability to take a mobile device, snap a picture and send it to a friend within seconds, but that was so 2006. Now we can sit in front of a beautiful 3.5” mobile device and live video chat with anyone, from anywhere!
So to answer your question, we are still just getting started. Mobile devices, and more importantly apps, are completing reshaping how we consume not just the internet, but all information. This has lead to a complete paradigm shift in technology that will be around for many years.
KRIS: Pretend I’m a decently successful start-up Web based business (let’s say I’m Yumm.com). How can mobile help me? Can I make money from mobile?
ADAM: Not all web-based business can benefit from a mobile app, but the majority of them can in a big way.
First off, mobile is sexy and is the best new branding tool on the market. We’ve been hearing “check us out on the web” for so long it goes in one ear and out the other where “check out our mobile apps” sticks a bit more. From a shear-marketing standpoint, having mobile apps is attractive and shows your customers you’re keeping up with technology.
Furthermore, mobile does two things very well; geo-location and push notification. These features allow companies to target specific audiences and push simple messages to each audience, in a matter of seconds.
KRIS: Please share with my readers one interesting story about yourself that few people know and one story about your cofounder Andrew Herman that he’d kill you to share publicly.
ADAM: First off, I have an unlimited number of stories about Andrew that he’d kill me for telling, but I am going to pass. He is my co-founder & CTO, and without him APPEK doesn’t exist. If you would like to get some of the good stories, invite me out for a drink and I’ll be more than glad to share individually. As for making fun of myself, that’s a different story…
It was early 2010. APPEK just released the CATA iPhone app, our first product we’ve been working on for months. It was a huge success, landing us major local media coverage. Bus companies starting contacting us to inquire about our product and there was an immediate demand for Android. The business was starting to gain traction and we felt on top of the world. Then, our business cards came in the mail. Having personally designed them, I was more than excited for the first official hand off.
The next day, we traveled to Pittsburgh to view apartments and office space. It was our last stop, an apartment complex just outside the downtown. We arrived and were greeted by a very attractive young woman who proceeded to show us around the facility. After the tour, she invited us into her office to get more information and supply us applications. As we were walking in, I had the great idea to go back to my car and grab a business card…the first hand off! I proceeded to walk inside and instead of handing it to her professionally, I did the two-finger spin toss onto the table and mumbled, “There’s that.” Sitting down like nothing was wrong, I look up to both Andrew and the young woman completely in shock followed by uncontrollable laugher. Needless to say, I will never live down my first business card exchange.
KRIS: From a consumer standpoint which mobile operating system is better Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android?
ADAM: As a consumer, you can’t go wrong either way. Both platforms are very powerful and are clearly the leaders in mobile compared to the others (BlackBerry, Windows, etc.) From a straight OS standpoint, I am biased considering I’ve only ever owned an iPhone & iPad since 2007, 2010 respectively.
When comparing phones, it’s a toss up. iPhone offers a simple learning curve with a beautiful interface, while Android offers several different options (price, screen size, etc). When it comes to tablets, the iPad not only created the space, it’s dominating it. Even outside the US in countries where Blackberry & Nokia dominate, the iPad is selling like hotcakes.
This very interesting info graphic adds a different look into the world of Android vs iOS (http://blog.hunch.com/?p=51781).
KRIS: If you could trade shoes with anyone for two straight weeks who would it be and why?
ADAM: I would trade shoes with Jason Fried, the co-founder of 37signals (www.37signals.com) who is responsible for Basecamp, Highrise and other excellent collaboration software. In an article he wrote for Inc. Magazine (http://bit.ly/qwkXIX), he discussed his lifestyle and morals, both professional and personal. Jason explains his views for transparency, efficiency and time management, but the most respected attribute is his dedication to user engagement. Between the many 37Signal blogs, twitter, podcasts and books, Jason has created an incredible culture that focuses on technology for the users, not just the bottom-line. Please check out their latest book, “Rewire” (http://37signals.com/rework/).
KRIS: What is the future of APPEK Mobile Apps?
ADAM: Success for any start-up company is based on staying focused and building on momentum. For APPEK, the creation of the B2B division was great and now its time to ramp up our marketing efforts and maximize our in-house efficiency to become one of the largest app developers in the world. But what’s next?
I’m proud to announce that APPEK is currently in development on two incredible projects…
The first is a mobile analytics technology that is unlike anything currently offered in the market. This tool will allow developers to better understand how users are interacting with their apps and where improvements can be made. This software, which has been named PathMapp, will be formally introduced in BETA at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco on September 12th, 2011.
Our 2nd project, also being announced at TechCrunch Disrupt, is our first release into the largest category of apps…mobile games. Our gaming team has been in development for several weeks preparing for the launch. Without ruining the surprise, lets just say this new twist on an old classic will provide endless hours of game-time for you and your friends. Please stay tuned to our website for more information in the coming weeks (www.appekapps.com).
KRIS: Complete the following sentence and tell us why. If I was not a start-up entrepreneur I would be……
ADAM: If I was not a start-up entrepreneur I would be bored. I had no idea when I approached Andrew with our original idea that APPEK would have blossomed into what it is today. But it’s not enough…
I have created an opportunity for myself where the sky is the limit and I am bound by only my thoughts. Recognition of your accomplishments should only fuel you to surpass them and in turn make all the doubters sit back and have nothing to say but…shit.
Why would I want to be doing anything else?