The first Mobile X Festival, a two-day event held earlier this month, successfully featured mobile-first businesses that specialize in handheld-driven sales. “Our goal with the Mobile X Festival was to encourage dialogues rather than monologues. It worked!” Jamie Turner, CEO of SIXTY Marketing, said. “We weren’t focused on mobile technology as much as we were focused on mobile marketing — how to use apps, websites, mobile ads, SMS and other tools to grow your sales and revenues.”
Plutonium Apps, a software development team that builds mobile apps for businesses and individuals, took their pitch to the Festival’s Mobile Accelerator and knocked it out of the park. “The Mobile X Festival and competition was like no other. It was exciting and educational! Everyone was bursting with energy and enthusiasm for apps. So for people like us, we were just overjoyed to be in such a strong community,” said Karima Aklhalid, VP of Marketing at Plutonium Apps.
Plutonium leaders, Aklhalid, Seth Radman, CEO, and Stephen Schwahn, CTO, talk about their experience at Mobile X, preparing for their four-minute Shark Tank presentation, and how they are dealing with their nuclear blast in business.
How did you guys prepare for the event, individually and as a team?
Stephen: We had to do a lot of practicing. We decided to switch things up and use all three of us in the pitch, which is crazy with only 4 minutes. We had to bare the presentation down to the most essential parts and then find ways to still add small bits of humor into the mix. It was a tedious process that we simply had to spend a long time perfecting. Our product is really our skilled team, our design, and our portfolio, so we needed to emphasize that in the presentation.
The goal of the event was to “focus on mobile marketing” and growing your sales. How did you focus on this?
Stephen: Unlike a lot of startups that strive to seek investment, our goal is to find highly qualified leads in the Mobile Industry, and the Mobile X Festival was actually the optimal event to achieve these goals. We were able to emphasize that we are a full stack app team that takes care of everything – including ensuring that your mobile app has the latest features and trends that are succeeding in today’s markets.
Karima : As a team, data has been a huge factor in all our decisions. As we have grown, we have analyzed our trend lines and directed our marketing efforts in the same direction. For example, we quickly noticed most of our clients came from direct referrals instead of online marketing campaigns, so we started attending more networking events to get our name and brand to spread.
What was your experience at the Mobile X competition? How did it feel to competing and meeting experts from big companies?
Seth: It was a very rewarding and energizing experience. We were up against some really cool startups, and everyone’s passion for mobile technology and entrepreneurialism created a dynamic atmosphere. Being able to interact with head executives from big companies like Google, Microsoft, and Coca-Cola gave us a lot of insight about where mobile technology is headed and how we can develop successful marketing and business strategies to engage global audiences. The experts were very approachable and gave us invaluable advice on ways to improve our business model as we continue to scale and grow.
What were the main takeaways you got from the competition? How will you apply them back to Plutonium Apps?
Seth: I think the competition reminded us how important it is to always continue innovating and improving. We have a solid business model that has brought us a lot of growth over the past several months, and we must avoid becoming complacent and satisfied with our current model to stay successful in a rapidly-evolving tech industry. We were super lucky to have the guidance of experienced, top-notch mentors including Jamie Turner, Jay Shaffer, Margaret Gearing, and others.
Stephen: We also learned what a lot of our customer segment looks for in apps, so now when we design and develop apps for these companies, we know what works from a marketing standpoint in both modern and traditional businesses.
Plutonium Apps is growing at a fast rate, as a team and in your portfolio. How are you preparing for such fast growth?
Seth: Our team is over 30 people strong now, and it’s incredible to look back and see how quickly we’ve grown. Right now, we are hiring an average of two new developers per month, and we typically launch a new product every 5 weeks. We did not expect our startup to take off so quickly, and we’ve embraced the challenge of scaling in innovative and creative ways.
Stephen: We are preparing for explosive growth by hiring more managers and perfecting the QA processes that we use to keep high-quality apps. We absolutely cannot sacrifice quality for the sake of quantity, so we need to make sure that everyone working on our team is held to a high standard and that our managers enforce that standard in the right ways.
Last time we talked to you, the team was working on the PlayToPay app. What are you working on now?
Karima: We recently started a couple new projects with bigger clients like the NBA, NFL, and universities across the country; those have been a lot of fun to work on. I think as a team, we have become a lot more efficient in our design, development, and testing processes. We are constantly striving to improve communication among our team and with our clients to ensure we keep a high level of quality as we grow.
Seth: As Karima mentioned, we’ve gotten the opportunity to work on really cool projects for awesome clients. Within the past year, our team has also begun developing our own apps in-house`, and we’ve already entered the world of wearables, augmented reality, and virtual reality apps. One of my favorite projects is a sleek, minimalist metronome app called Pulse. It’s a free app for iPhone and Apple Watch that lets musicians see, hear, and feel the tempo using haptic technologies and Bluetooth syncing. Pulse was released in May and already has 20,000+ downloads, so it’s exciting to be making some of our own successful products in addition to what we do for our clients.
What else is on deck for 2016?
Seth: We’re working with FitGenie, a new startup that got accepted to Startup Summer at Georgia Tech, to create a new fitness app with an artificial intelligence algorithm to help individuals accomplish their fitness goals. Aside from iOS and Android apps, we’ve also been playing around with the Apple Watch and virtual reality lately, and we plan to launch our first VR app later this year.