New innovator: Smart Fit Apps
Business creates apps within as little as five days without breaking the bank
Mike Creaven: “What makes us different is that we make hybrid apps so we can keep development costs to a minimum.”
Not that long ago it was de rigueur for progressive businesses to have a website. Now mobile apps are the “must have”. But getting one developed takes time and the high costs involved have been prohibitive for many smaller companies – until now. Newly launched Smart Fit Apps creates apps within as little as five days without breaking the bank.
“Mobile apps are as important if not more so than websites now,” says founder Mike Creaven. “Not only do apps generate 10 times the usage compared with mobile web, but research also shows that 67 percent of users surveyed would buy from a business with an app. Those without one drive a significant portion of their mobile traffic to their competitors.”
Creaven has been in the telecoms industry for more than 12 years. Prior to setting up Smart Fit Apps he worked with Vodafone Ireland for nine years and clocked up experience in a number of mobile business areas including apps, payments and mobile advertising. “Only 7 per cent of Irish businesses have an app. Not having one leaves you exposed. Look how quickly Hailo has dominated the taxi market in Dublin. Most businesses are now adopting a mobile-first strategy,” he says.
Boost to business
Creaven points out that even developing a minor app can cost thousands and take months. “This has blocked many businesses from trying an app to boost their business,” he says. “The Smart Fit Apps platform simplifies the process by machining and automating the development process so it’s possible to build apps quickly. We’re also using a monthly subscription payment model so a company can easily test and verify the benefits of the app with little investment or risk.”
Creaven’s initial target market is the SME sector, which he says is not being offered an adequately refined, cost-effective apps development solution. “Some of our competitors have huge cost bases and have to go after really big deals such as a €200,000 app for a bank, for example. What makes us different is we make hybrid apps so we can keep development costs to a minimum. Hybrid apps are the way this industry is going. They are native but have integrated components (such as third-party software/ content pages) that allow high- quality app experiences to be produced at a fraction of the cost.
“We have also integrated push messaging so a business can send offers to their customers to keep them engaged. Additionally we can use geofencing to set up a radius around a business to trigger messages when customers are nearby.
“Finally, we provide sophisticated reporting so clients can see how well their app is performing,” Creaven says.
Creaven recently participated in the Enterprise Ireland New Frontiers programme at the DIT Hothouse. He estimates business start-up costs at €50,000 in hard cash and 24 months of time and energy. Four people now work in the company and Creaven expects to have nine staff by mid-2105.
“Nothing protects me from having my idea swiped except my experience, know-how and route-to-market knowledge,” he says. “Shortly after we launched we clinched a deal to become the apps platform solution for Eircom for its Digital Boost initiative. Not too many people would be able to score a mobile operator as a reseller and it opened doors for us. It took us two years to get the market fit and processes right and to optimise our proposition.
“Anyone trying to copy us will have to go through a similar process. Our platform will travel so overseas markets are in our sights but not immediately. There is so much potential business in Ireland it would be foolish not to focus on that for now.”