It is never an easy task to walk away from a secure job that pays well, especially when you have your family depending on you. But when the calling to start up came for Tiruchirappalli-born George Christopher and Suresh Kumar G, they quit their jobs at Cisco, forgoing a salary of Rs two lakhs per month, turned down offers of the coveted H1 visa and became entrepreneurs. With George having a three-month-old baby and Suresh and his wife expecting their second child, one could imagine how hard that decision would have been.
The duo started an app development company MacAppStudio in 2012 in Chennai and have, so far, created 120 apps for various platforms, including iOS, Android, Windows and Mac OSX. The apps have seen three million downloads with four lakh daily users.
Some of the apps they created include MoneyBag (manages day-to-day finances), TasksBox (helps manage daily tasks), Declutter (helps create smart folders based on file names) and Wishjar (to write down your wishes in a beautiful interface).
They have won many accolades in the past, including the Intel BlackBelts Award and three Intel developers app challenges in 2010 and 2011, with a reward of cash money of $100,000. Even Intel requested them to create an app store inside Google Play to showcase apps optimised for their X86 processor.
The duo have worked with 30 clients (including Fortune 10 companies) since August 2014. Suresh says that betting on their world-class design and development, they charge 10 to 20 times higher than their peers.
Was it that easy?
While the duo were celebrating their apps making it to the top of the charts on the Mac App Store, the revenue growth was unsustainable as they lacked effective marketing campaign.
However, instead of searching for an investor, we focussed more on creating a great product,” says Suresh (34) who is a BTech from Mookambigai College of Engineering, Tiruchirappalli.
For the first two years, the duo went solo, and hired no one else. They even developed products in 1 mbps Internet speed with poor voltage fluctuation.
Today, the duo owns three ventures MacApp Studio, BlueInnovations and RocketXLabs. BlueInnovations (launched in 2012) is into RealSense, two-in-one devices and X86 for Android. RocketXLabs (January 2016) is an IoT (Internet of Things) laboratory creating products and services in the IoT platform.
A simple development process
On receiving requirements, MacAppStudio finalises the design and creates the first version of the app. Then it continues with successive iterations incorporating the feedback of the consumers, complete integration testing, and submit the app for validation.
“We keep adding the other remaining features one by one to the app. This helps customers get a clear visibility of how the app gets developed, and hence avoids any sudden surprises at a later stage during the final delivery,” says George (35), who did engineering at PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore.
The duo follow a framework-based development model, where they reuse pre-built components to build apps, thereby reducing the development process time. The Chennai-based startup currently has 42 employees.
Last year, MacAppStudio witnessed a revenue of Rs 4 crore, with year-on-year growth of 141 percent, and is targeting Rs 16 crore in 2016. The startup also hopes to have 10 million users by the year end.
It is currently working on an online integrated school management system, Happy School, to enhance communication and collaboration between parents, teachers, students and school administrators. It has also launched a next-generation learning tool called MySchoolTab, an educational tablet comprising books, apps and games specifically customised for the school syllabus.
A glimpse into the mobile app development market
According to an industry estimate, Internet users are expected to reach 462 million by June 2016, with revenue from paid apps in India estimated to reach $317.6 million. India is all set to become the largest base of mobile app developers by 2017, according to a report by Deloitte.
OpenXcell, Sourcebits, Konstant Infosolutions, TechAhead, QBurst are some of the mobile app development companies in India.
“Of the 60 percent of development studios we interviewed, nearly 65 percent of them confessed that mobile brings them more than 50 per cent of their revenue. The startup segment contributes to over 50 percent of the demand for app development,” says Ashwin Ramasamy, Founder of ContractIQ, a marketplace that connects real enterprises and startups with app developers that build real products.