Right now, Windows Phone 8 doesn’t have Instagram video, but that shouldn’t stop you. You can use iSupr8 in Windows 8, which allows you to add some old school to your videos. iSupr8 is a video recorder that grades each pixel based on exposure, the resulting film becomes a unique and retro masterpiece.
And the person who makes that app is Bruce Seymour, founder of MEA Mobile, our featured startup today.
We interviewed Bruce earlier this month to find out his views on building apps, starting up a business and generating revenue from the app store. His answers can help you with your startup.
Do you build for scale first, or for revenue? How are those things related in your mind?
Revenue, revenue, revenue. In addition to creating revenue with our branded properties such as iSupr8, MEA Mobile licenses technology to organizations which in some cases are direct competitors. I feel the rev-scale debate is akin to East Coast-West Side, or Cat-Bar. Good music is good music and many Cathedrals are running Bazaars; Microsoft.com/openness is a perfect example. When you look at successful scale and revenue plays the commonality is good people. It’s taken us a few years to grow an exceptional team; we’re there now. One of my favorite quotes is from New York PR firm, Maloney & Fox, “Don’t work with @&$holes”
Do you make reasonable predictions about how you are going to achieve revenue and then test them out, or do you start with a business model and deploy it, to see if it brings in revenue?
The ‘how’ is easy, the ‘how much’ is harder, ‘when’ even more so. Everyone likes a good hockey stick drawing. We’ve created a niche with imaging on tablets and phones and learned from getting to the ‘hockey stick grip-only’ phase a few times. We have patience, know what takes to succeed with imaging products and are exciting about our path. Speaking of hockey, I read merchandise for the Hartford Whalers is best selling of all NHL teams.
What questions do you think a startup non-technical founder needs to answer when considering a cloud architecture for his or her startup, and I am thinking specifically here during the business model generation period?
Cloud is critical. Development is happening faster and faster every year. We’ve missed opportunities by days which is why we are excited to be working with Microsoft to enable faster development. Recently we were able to have software available at launch with the Surface tablet. Important questions are: Do I need to build it myself? Can I accelerate my development by leveraging existing tools? Is there an open source component I can work with? Also put the world ‘cloud’ in your business plan at least three times per page.
What questions do you and your technical co-founder / engineering team feel are the most important to solve about the business aspects of your company?
Allocation of limited resource is a challenge. Sorting lists of critical priorities will melt your brain. I like to keep my lists to less than twelve items because you can’t roll a thirteen with dice. Strunk and White’s Elements of Style teach us about word reduction. I think a lot of their mindset can be applied to business. Can I add some affiliate links in here? We’re Edward Tufte fans too; being in New Haven, Connecticut helps.
How much of what you are building is based on leaving a legacy and how much of it is based on technical challenges, or the ability to make something just for fun? In other words, where do you fall on the seriousness scale? For fun, for profit, for life?
Our products capture moments artistically. We turn pics into artwork in three taps or less. Photography is legacy and we’re helping people create their own. MEA Mobile does a lot of contract work to maintain profitability while our in-house passion projects are under development. Some of the technologies we’re developing are very long term so we need to be able to keep the lights on while we’re working. We understand work life balance and have an almost nonexistent employee turnover. This also applies to our portfolio of companies we’ve invested in such as SmartShow, Snapr, AppAlerts, Too Hard Basket and GeoOpp. Our team lives and breathes MEA Mobile and because of our deep focus, we’re having fun while turning a profit.
When did you decide that you were “startup material”?
I’ve been a serial entrepreneur since age 19. Partnering with my childhood best friend Mitch Rochefort, we grew mom and pop video store into a small regional chain in the late 90’s. I was able to pay my way through college and attained my last college credit by doing an internship for myself. From there I transitioned into technology, worked for some great people and found my home in mobile.
What impact or legacy do you hope to make in the market and in the business world?
The technologies we’re developing today merging with tomorrows new ideas leading to what you’ve never dreamed; this is powerful. So digital grandchildren is the ultimate goal, the legacy of the technologies we’re creating.
What are some of the challenges you face as a founder or developer at a startup, when it comes to dealing with family life, or socially? Does working on a startup change the way you associate and interact in these areas?
What characteristics do you possess that make you an entrepreneur? What makes your startup a startup?
Can you describe the relationship that you have had with Microsoft in building your startup?
MEA Mobile was fortunate to have product available for the launch of Windows 8 and the Surface tablet. We could not have achieved this without the support of Microsoft and they’re commitment to developers such as MEA Mobile.
Why would an entrepreneur turn to Microsoft for help in building scale, a team, or using software?
There’s no company on the planet who has the experience with OS security on the scale and breadth which Microsoft has. In addition to having proven world class resources, Microsoft has an evangelist team who are passionate about Microsoft solutions and committed to assisting startups on any scale. I don’t know if it’s typical but when we reached out to our local evangelist he called me the following day. Microsoft is serious about providing resources for startups to grow their business faster and more efficiently. I would also like to note Microsoft’s commitment to startups globally. Although the U.S. side of MEA Mobile is in New Haven, Connecticut, our roots and two offices are in New Zealand. Both the New Zealand Microsoft team as well as their counterparts in New England have been extremely helpful.