The mobile age is most definitely upon us. And, after hitting the $1 million turnover mark recently, doubling its growth rate in the past year and upping the number of employees from four to 15, Sush Mobile is welcoming it. Co-founder Sheenu Chawla dials in.
What was the lightning bolt that set you on a path to establishing Sush mobile?
The mobile app industry is growing at an amazing pace. It is estimated that by 2015, there will be close to 200 billion app downloads around the world. More than 1.19 billion workers, or 35 percent of the global workforce, will be using mobile technology by 2013, so apps will soon be an indispensable element of any product, service or enterprise. We understood the potential of the situation and decided to take the plunge.
You’ve worked with NZ Herald, Local Government NZ, Green Gorilla and Ritchies Coachlines, and the speech analysis app for Spicers NZ, Speak Like a Pro, went to number three on the local App Store business charts. What do you put your growth down to? And what’s your marketing strategy?
Companies are becoming increasingly aware of how mobility can act as a catalyst for growth. With a simple philosophy of developing app solutions that add value rather than just ticking a box, Sush has been partnering with companies in New Zealand and Australia to realise their app projects and overall mobile strategy. Our marketing strategy has been to showcase at tradeshows and conferences, as it gives us a chance to meet potential clients. It also gives them a clear picture of what we can do for them. We have also used social media to generate curiosity about our solutions and services and we’ve had a lot of success from editorial coverage. Also, it really helps that we have a very capable in-house development team.
Apps are a huge industry these days but there are so many of them available and so many companies making them. How do you ensure the apps you develop rise above the rabble?
We make sure our user interface design is of a very high standard. The user experience is of huge value in the app industry. Our apps are well–thought out and developed using mature processes. They’re structured to incorporate appropriate app revenue streams, thoroughly tested and are highly customer focused. With a large number of B2C (business to consumer) apps already in the market, we also develop B2B (business to business) and B2E (business to employee) apps. These are more functional and solve business problems. With every project our core focus is to develop apps that can be used long-term and not just for one-off situations. To achieve that, apps should deliver consistent value.
What’s the best and worst advice you’ve ever been given?
Best: if you work hard, the results will follow. I tend to leave bad advice at the door and follow my gut.
What are your rules for making good apps, both for consumers and for companies? And are there any apps you’ve made that stand out as favourites?
The two key ingredients for a good app are value and exemplary user interaction. It’s hard to pick out a favourite because each app we do is unique and solves a niche business problem.
Do you think there’s a lack of preparedness for the mobile revolution in New Zealand? And what advice do you give to those who are keen to dip their toes in the water?
In this country we generally take time to embrace any new technology and then get into it quite pragmatically. We have heard some mind-boggling ideas from New Zealanders. That said, people who have tried have seen tremendous success. I think it is only a matter of time before people recognise the potential of this platform. My advice to those interested would be that when selecting a partner for development, make sure you know who you are working with and pay extra attention to the engagement processes they have in place. Mobile applications require a great degree of collaboration, and if your intended partner is missing that point then it could be really hard to achieve true goals. You need to be sure of all the capabilities of the development company. And you wouldn’t want to be stuck with an iPhone app developer who doesn’t know how to adapt your app to Android. Another important tip is to sign a non-disclosure agreement before getting into the details of your idea. It also makes sense to invest in a prototype or a Proof of Concept that would be a margin of the total cost before building the whole app.
As an app developer, is it possible to live in New Zealand and work in the world? Are you doing much international work or planning on expanding?
Yes. The economy is very conducive to doing that and the talent pool in this country is amazing. As a country we are full of great ideas. Another factor that has worked to our advantage is the strong Australian dollar. It means Australia is more willing to outsource work to New Zealand. And that has allowed us to get good traction across the Tasman.
What’s next, both for your business and for mobile technology?
We’re opening a new office in Wellington, which is something we are really looking forward to [it also has a research facility in India]. And on the mobile technology front I would say mobile payments, wearable computing devices and sustainable mobile development platforms are the next big things.
- This article originally appeared in the Jan/Feb edition of NZ Marketing magazine.