Creating an app is pretty hard work. To begin with you got to find the right idea, then put together a competent team and, eventually, after months of development, hopefully you’ll market it with some degree of success. Needless to say, all that entails a decent investment in terms of time and money.
MakeItApp is the Italian start-up that has disrupted the app creation process; their platform lets people with ideas and skills find each other, develop mobile apps and share the revenues that are generated. If you have an idea for an app, you can submit it, build your team with the best talents available and get it done. This way, cross-functional teams of developers, graphic designers and project managers are formed to ensure that the product is delivered. MakeItApp provides an environment for the app development to happen in optimal conditions, and takes care of marketing and promotion afterwards. (They keep 30% of revenue, and 70% is redistributed among the team members according to the percentages agreed upon; revenues are shared on a monthly basis.).
It seems like building apps from scratch has never been more accessible thanks to this platform. To find out more we interviewed the MakeItApp team.
Question. What are the key elements to launch a successful app and how does MakeItApp contribute towards it?
Answer. In a mature market, where there are millions of apps available for download in various app stores, apps nowadays stand out and gain success through high quality content and design. To achieve this, each app needs a team that truly puts its heart and effort into the production of the app. At MakeItApp we consider the teams that produce the apps as a key element to success because of the following reasons:
– Users only sign up to projects that interest them, which means they have a personal passion for the topic of the app.
– MakeItApp offers the opportunity to put experts in one field together with experts on other topics. Like this, an iOS developer does not have to pay a botanist for his expert knowledge on plants, when he wants to create an app on plants, and vice versa.
– Through this system, there is no initial investment needed to produce apps on MakeItApp, so that people with the best skills and best ideas can work on their app without a worry.
– Furthermore, most ideas for apps on MakeItApp start with someone saying “I wish there was an app for…”. And where there is a problem and someone has found a solution, there is also a market. Through this system the relevance of the apps is guaranteed.
Secondly, there is the factor of marketing and promotion, which means making people aware that the app exists. It doesn’t matter how good or useful your app is: if no one knows about it, no one can download it. Simple. And this is where MakeItApp contributes most to launching a successful app. In a world where information and ranking lists are just a Google Search away, one has to get coverage from many different web-sites and journalists to make app users aware of the app. MakeItApp works daily with journalists from many different countries, including Italy, the US, China and the UK, to promote the apps that are born on the MakeItApp platform. The developers of the apps profit from the extensive network of contacts that MakeItApp already has.
Q. What apps have been your “greatest hits” so far and why (in terms of profitability, downloads, usage, etc.)?
A. The first app that we have published is called “Football Season” and has been downloaded over 200,000 times already. It’s a game of cards in the crazy world of football.
Our second best hit is not a game, but a utility app, which informs users about traffic in Italy. It has been downloaded over 100,000 times and it is very often used on weekends and holidays.
Remember to Drink is an app for Windows and has been downloaded 40,000 times in only 40 days, making it an instant success. Here you can see the great power of MakeItApp, as the person who had the idea for the app wanted to enter into the Russian market, and with MakeItApp he was able to find an Italian to Russian translator very easily.
Another app that has demonstrated how MakeItApp works best is myPlants, where a housewife with no coding knowledge wanted an app to help her remember when to water her plants. Via MakeItApp she found a developer with whom she created myPlants. Like this, MakeItApp Apps can cater to niche markets that can be very profitable.
Q. Some of your apps have been listed at the top of the Android & iOS stores in several countries. How do you make sure that the apps fully reach the public? What marketing actions do you normally carry out?
A. Marketing is a fundamental aspect of the service that MakeItApp offers to its users, to add value to their app.
One of our key advertising strategies for apps is cross promotion, as all the apps produced on MakeItApp are featured together in the stores. This means your app will never appear alone on store. Furthermore, we are able to actively promote our own apps in other apps that have been released via MakeItApp. This is one of the advantages users get by creating and publishing their apps via MakeItApp.
Besides, we also have experience in launching an app in the various app stores online, and we now also have a direct contact at the stores. This gives us a higher chance to have our apps featured on the stores webpages.
Naturally, we have a great network of PR contract with journalists and bloggers, creating extensive media coverage for our apps. For example, the biggest newspaper in Italy, the Corriere della Sera, just released an article about safe kids’ apps, featuring two of our apps.
Q. To the contrary, have you had any “failed apps”? What are the most common mistakes?
A. Our big mistake at the beginning was to assume that once an app has been released, all the work is done and you reap the benefits. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Apps have to be maintained, updates need to be released and marketing efforts are always on going. Out of this mistake the idea for MakeItApp was born: We have created an online community with a rich environment where people can work together and only be focused on the most fun and exciting of creating an app from scratch and MakeItApp manages the other parts, such as PR and promotion.
Q. How are you funding MakeItApp? Have you received any venture capital investment? Have you breaken-even?
A. Currently MakeItApp has no venture capital investment. After having had a successful first year in business, however, we are now looking to secure venture capital in 2015. Furthermore, we were very excited to be listed under “Top 5 Italian Start-Ups to look out for in 2015” by Eu-Startups.com, which we see as a very good sign for a bright future ahead.
At the moment we are not breaking even, as we use all the revenues we receive to expand and grow our MakeItApp Team. Securing an investment now would mean that we can scale up the company faster.
Q. MakeItApp is the first Italian start-up that we interview. How is the start-up ecosystem in Italy, particularly in Milan?
A. Start-Ups are a growing trend in Italy, as the government has improved the conditions for start-ups and incubators over the last years. Consequently, there are many good incubators and seed investment companies present in Italy that help young entrepreneurs to build their company as an initial step. However, now Italy needs to grow and refine the sector of venture capital investments, so that start-up companies can take the second step towards scaling and growing their company.
Moreover, Milan and Turin also are one of the biggest industrial and commercial hubs in Italy, so it is a great place to be. Through the international atmosphere, we were able to find employees from around the world, who help the company to overcome language barriers, so that MakeItApp can become a truly international company very early on. As we are an internet-based company, this is especially important.
Q. What is the most important lesson that you’ve learnt since the start of MakeItApp?
A. At MakeItApp we have learned how important talent is: we all know that what we find easy, someone else finds very difficult, and vice versa. When every team member is working on the aspects of an app that they especially care about and have a particular talent in, you get a well-rounded product. At MakeItApp each area of the app, be it design or content, is always handled by an expert in their respective field and that pays off. Like this, sharing talents become an advantage for everyone involved: you get to do what you can do best, others do the tasks you would never dream of taking on and every aspect of the app gets the attention that it needs. To sum up, we haven’t invented anything new, we just make us of what we all know already: united we stand.