The new Google for apps, music, anything

Perth-based app developer Filter Squad flew across the country to pitch at this week's Tech23 event. The move paid off to the tune of $25,000.

Perth-based app developer Filter Squad flew across the country to pitch at this week's Tech23 event. The move paid off to the tune of $25,000.

It took out the "greatest potential" award based on the success of its two apps, "Discovr music" and "Discovr apps", which have been downloaded from the iTunes app store over one million times.

Discovr makes music and app recommendations to users based on their previous behaviour and purchases.

Co-founder David McKinney said that the company's mission is to help people locate the most relevant information and products, similar to what Google does.

"Reducing complexity is really important. There's so much information in the world right now, and it is becoming incredibly hard to navigate."

"We're trying to make it simpler and more fun or engaging; that's an underlying current through the company, and it drives us."

He said that this mission stems from his background in science.

"In science, we were really trying to take very large complex scientific datasets over big spatial scales, reduce these down to more simple ways and describe patterns in the data," he said. "Reduce it down to something humans can readily understand.

"Discovr apps and music are really the same thing: take very large datasets of millions of music songs, or hundreds of thousands of apps, and reduce them down and display them in a way that's more accessible."

The company plans to launch similar Discovr applications in other categories in the near future (he wouldn't explain specifics), and will grow the development staff using the Tech23 $25,000 prize, as well as raised capital.

He founded the company in January this year with Stuart Hall, and also appointed a director and seed investor, Matthew Macfarlane (executive director of Perth-based venture capital firm YUUWA).

The pair, in their mid thirties, are the only full-time staff for the company, although it makes use of a pool of part-time developers. McKinney hopes to grow to five or six full-time staff by the end of the year.

He would not disclose revenues, but said that the apps sell for an average of US$1, and that over one million have been sold (Apple takes a 30 per cent cut on all app sales).

The apps are number one around the world in all major territories, including the US and Australia, he said.

SWOT analysis

Strengths

The company has sold over one million apps. It appears to have developed a methodology that can be replicated across different categories.

Weaknesses

The company requires more resources and datasets to provide the most meaningful results, and is limited by the number of ways it can acquire this type of data and the resources available.

Opportunities

The rise of services like Pandora (music recommendations) and Amazon recommendations have demonstrated the demand for services like Discovr. There is no clear leader, and there are many different niches to target.

Threats

It seems like it's only a matter of time before Google, Apple or Amazon launch similar products. They are at a huge advantage because of their resources, the number of points at which they interact with customers and the vast amount of data at their fingertips.

Conclusion

The technology is proven, and it seems like it'll be snapped up by one of the big players mentioned above who wants to integrate the technology into their own offerings.

Verdict: Boom

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