‘It’s not enough to make an app, you have to have a distribution mechanism that gets the app to the people that want it,’ says Adam Friedman.
Photo: Josh Robenstone
Melbourne-based entrepreneur Adam Friedman has advice for anyone who wants to develop their own mobile app: don’t bother with the app store.
“There are millions of apps in the app stores and just putting an app in an app store doesn’t mean anyone’s going to download it,” Friedman says. “It’s not enough to make an app, you have to have a distribution mechanism that gets the app to the people that want it.”
Friedman points out that it takes time and money to create separate apps for each app store and then additional effort getting consumers to find them. The end result is a lot of “zombie apps”, where an app exists but is essentially dormant.
“It’s like spending money printing a brochure and putting it in a library and then spending money getting people to that library to get your thing,” Friedman says.
His start-up Shareable Apps offers an alternative model and it is gaining traction, securing $1.2 million in angel funding from a dozen high net-worth Australians late last year.
The seed investment round was managed by GIA Capital and the investors included investment bankers and prop traders.
The business, as the name suggests, provides a platform to create apps and share them directly with the audience, rather than through the official app stores. Friedman promises that building the app is as easy as setting up a Facebook or LinkedIn profile, and the finished product can be distributed by SMS or social media and shared virally.
Brickworks, the building products business listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, and university RMIT have both signed deals to build multiple apps for both internal and external communications. The company also counts a government and a telco among its clients, and worked with brands such as Clearasil in the UK.
Value in the business
In an “anyone can have one” model, Shareable Apps also has a self-publishing platform that lets individuals create and share apps for a $99 a month software-as-a-service subscription. More than 2000 apps have been created through this platform since September 2013 and Friedman says there has been a lot of US traffic.
Shareable Apps is using the angel funding to commercialise and expand the offering and team. The company now has 20 people at its head office in Melbourne.
“I’m still the majority owner,” says Friedman.
“In this last round I was lucky because we had revenue and I’d proven the model; we didn’t go down the VC route and we managed not to give away the farm to get our funding round. There was already value in the business and this has amplified it.”
Shareable Apps is registered on the Australian Securities and Investment Commission as Amplifier Corporation and Friedman owns 52 per cent through his personal company Thoughtful Pty Ltd.
The iTunes App Store and Google Play, the biggest app store for the Android platform, both passed the threshold of a million apps last year.
Analyst firm Gartner predicts there will be 139 billion downloads from mobile app stores in 2014. Total revenue from app sales would be almost $US35 billion ($39.9 billion), though 92 per cent are free downloads.