Appsme was founded by Nick Barnett (pictured) and David Mannl in February 2014 and provides an online mobile app builder to help small businesses create applications.
The company is based in serviced offices in south west London and currently employs 12 people. Its aim is to help smaller firms engage with customers, encourage loyalty and ultimately increase revenue in a cost-effective way.
V3 shone the Startup Spotlight on Barnett to find out more about his business.
Why did you choose to set up Appsme?
The apps market, to us, feels very much like the websites market about 10 to 15 years ago. People didn't know how to build a website and were put off by how difficult and expensive it was.
We saw that big businesses and brands, like Starbucks and Pizza Express, were taking advantage of mobile apps to boost revenues and increase customer loyalty, but felt that independent SMEs were prevented from doing so because of cost and complexity barriers.
We knew that, if we could remove these barriers, we could help independent companies compete on a more level playing field.
Tell us how you got Appsme off the ground
We were lucky as we already had a mobile apps business, Mippin, which worked closely with news and media publishers to build their apps. Appsme started as a small project within Mippin, and has rapidly grown to be the focus of the whole business.
What technology do you use with Appsme?
We also make use of cloud platforms. We use Parse to enable push notifications in apps and we use FastSpring/Saasy as a subscription payments platform.
For analytics, we mostly use Google Analytics.
What level of funding have you received so far?
Again, we were lucky here as Mippin received funding from Accel Partners, one of the largest tech investors in the world.
What challenges have you encountered?
Lots. Some have been technical, like getting location-based messaging working flawlessly in the apps, and getting iBeacons to work on Android as well as they do on iOS.
We met some commercial challenges as well, like helping SMEs understand the value an app can bring to their business and how some of our customers are generating a tenfold return on their investment.
What's been the biggest highlight of Appsme so far?
Working closely with business owners and seeing them ‘get it'. A switch can get flicked when their app goes live. They see it being downloaded and used by their customers and they see customers coming back more often and spending more with them. It's great to see.
What do you and your staff do to relax or have fun after a busy day?
Frequent trips to one of the many good local pubs. Plus we have regular team days, recently the old classic of bowling at Brooklyn Bowl but also go-karting and park sports days.
What did you do before starting Appsme?
I used to work in telecoms and was at O2 for about five years in its corporate development team, which basically means I worked with the teams to make the business better and did a bit of buying, and looking at selling, parts of the business. Prior to O2 I was with the consulting firm McKinsey & Company.
What are your favourite and worst things about running your own startup?
I love being able to move fast. We can think of an idea in the morning and be testing it in the afternoon.
Worst things? Other than the obvious battle for hiring good talent and how much time it takes, I hate the admin overhead and I'm always up for outsourcing as much of it as possible.
If you could emulate the success of another startup, which would it be?
Wix.com. What they have done with websites, making them the world's largest website builder with over 40 million customers, we want to do with apps.
Smart or casual?
Both. There's a time and a place. But for work and the office, it's a pretty casual environment.
Coffee shop of choice?
The Fallow Deer in Teddington, also an Appsme customer.
Beverage of choice?
A good bitter.
Locally, The Duke in Parsons Green.
Do you benefit from startup communities and related networking?
To an extent. The Accel network can be very helpful.
Could the government and technology industry do more to support UK startups?
Of course, but in my opinion government grants aren't the way to go. Help should be focused in two areas: incentives, such as enterprise tax relief, to channel private investment into startups; and making it easier and less bureaucratic for small companies to work with government bodies at all levels.
If you want to take part in the V3 Startup Spotlight contact Roland Moore-Colyer.
Previous startups under the spotlight have ranged from cloud collaboration company Huddle, smart cities analytics company Future Decisions, cloud computing services firm Fedr8, to memory health app maker Memrica, public sector website developer DXW, and software sequencing specialist Sparkl.
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