​Can app development really be as easy as Pie?

DIY app building could fill a need for small and medium sized businesses. Appy Pie is one of the newer solutions on the market, but it's already proving to be pretty popular.

Does app development need to be time consuming and complex? Wouldn't it be nice if anyone could develop their own apps with the minimum of expertise?

Most application development companies, and there are a lot of them, claim to offer a comprehensive and/or easy to use platform. Appy Pie is one of the newer solutions on the market, but it's already proving to be pretty popular.

By the company's count its website gets around 25,000 to 30,000 visitors every day and it is creating on average somewhere between 2,000 and 2,500 apps.

You can try Appy Pie out for free -- but your apps will carry ads -- after which there are three advert-free rates from £12 to £40 per month depending on configuration.

According to CEO Abs Girdhar, Appy Pie is so simple that a child can do it and, to prove that, one of the fastest growing sectors on the site is education in schools.

What is the main focus of your business?
Primarily Appy Pie is a do-it-yourself app builder. It specialises in ensuring that anyone without coding knowledge can create their own app. That is what we specialise in and it has been the focus from day one.

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Girdhar: "No company in our space is getting the kind of traffic or revenue that we are getting."

Photo: Appy Pie

I come from a new media background so when we started out we were looking at the market and could see that people wanted to build apps but were not willing to shell out $15,000 to $20,000 for creating a simple app.

That is where we thought we should be doing something. Now there were some companies already in this space when we entered it. But when we looked at their software, they were a little clunky. They were not offering the features that users actually wanted or needed and they were very, very basic.

We thought, why shouldn't we get into this space and create a model for building apps? We put together a team of developers and we launched our app.

Now we kept it free for around eight months or so, and we were getting a lot of people coming onto the site and creating apps. We were getting a lot of positive response and that is when we decided that this is where our future was, so we started invested a lot of time and resources into it.

Then the numbers surged. Currently we get about 25,000 to 30,000 visitors every day and we get about 2,000 to 2,500 apps created every day too.

Initially, our focus has been on SMEs and they are the ones driving the growth. We get a lot of restaurants creating apps for food ordering for example, taking orders and deliveries, that sort of stuff.

There are all kinds of customers and small businesses. A café that wants to introduce a loyalty programme is another increasingly popular one.

We offer 24/7 technical support and we have call and chat support for any client and any user who at any time gets stuck.

The app building process is very simple. Just choose the design template for whatever business you are in. Choose the design features that you want and again we have chosen a few features that we feel would be the best for a certain category.

We believe that Appy Pie is filling the gap of getting small and medium businesses to create their own app.

And we have been evolving as well. We have recently added a lot of high-end features like augmented reality support. We've also added artificial intelligence, and embedded chatbot support.

How many employees do you have?
Currently we have offices in three different countries. We have offices in the USA -- Virginia -- London and we have the development centre in New Delhi. The whole strength is around 235 people.

The idea of having an office in London was to have our support people there who were multi-lingual and could support French, German, and other customers.

The United States is by far our biggest market and recently we have expanded in Asia and we have launched the product in India and will launch it soon in Italy and Japan. To help the expansion in the US we have also launched a TV campaign.

I spent six months working on setting up the operation in London but now, who knows what happens after Brexit. It could be we have to move out office to a different country.

You think you will move the UK office to a different country?
It depends. Looking at the people I have working for me in London, one of them is an Italian citizen, another a German, and they are settled here but if they start having issues in terms of work permits and so on we might have to move offices.

How has growth been so far?
Well, in terms of numbers we have been doing OK. We crossed $5m in revenue in March last year.

We have been growing so rapidly because of the product and because of the focus. It has been a good journey in terms of numbers and volume.

But while Squarespace and Wix dominate in their spaces, when we began there was a big void. There are a lot of website builders but there is no app builder there who can do what we now do. We saw the opportunity and there have been a lot of VCs who can see the opportunity too. It's tempting but we have kept it privately funded. We can do that because we are cash rich. We are taking in a lot of revenue every single month.

So what do you see as the main difference between you and the competition?
Take the US. One of the big sectors for us there is schools. Because we are so easy to use we are used as a teaching tool in loads of schools there. We have lots of teachers teaching mobile app development to kids.

So I think the simplicity and the ease of use is what defines us. We want to be easy to use and at the same time make the process pleasurable.

Plus, because our support is based in India we can afford to do it 24/7. Each time you go in a chat box pops up and one of our support colleagues will be ready to help you.

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