The Interview of The Founder of Mobile Creators
By Li Qichao
Baglan Dosmagambetov, the founder of Mobile Creators, the developer of Great Coffee App and The Great Photo App. Mobile Creators which is based in Republic of Kazakhstan has two people now. Alexander does the design and Baglan the development. Before smartphones and apps, they used to make websites as freelancers. They have launched 5 apps since 2011. And there have been 650,000 copies of their apps being downloaded on App Store. They are indie developers. And they haven’t got any money from outside although there are plenty of offers for them.
I first found this team by Great Coffee app. I am a coffee lover because it gives energy to me everyday. But after I saw this app, I realized the story behind the coffee is really interesting. And in the app, Mobile Creators used an elegant way to introduce it.
You could slide to see different types of coffee and tap to see the ingredients in that coffee. Meanwhile, the background music is also pleasing. If you have more interests in a specific kind of coffee, you could also figure out the whole process to make this kind of coffee by video. Maybe next time when you go into the coffee house, you will have something more to talk about. It makes me think of the happiness of life instead of just making a living.
When you search coffee in App Store, you will find that it is filled with lots of coffee apps. But the problem is that they use old-fashioned way to show coffee. Make a list and put some pictures & words on them(Yes! Even Starbucks). It is boring and most people do not want to read on their cellphones. People like to play with their cell phones. So like Great Coffee App, they used interactive ways to show the ingredients in each coffee and introduce the way how barista makes them. If you look carefully, you could even see the steam comes out from the coffee and vanishes in the air.
So how could they develop a gorgeous app like this? After having an interview with Baglan, I found out something interesting.
We always heard about some IT guys who give up their IT career to build their own business like selling food or fruits and make good profits in China. That approach is like they know better in the method of analyzing things in an advanced way and use this method in a traditional industry. But there is also a different approach, which is to cooperate with experts in specific traditional area and make a perfect digital product. The Great Coffee and The Great Photo are good examples. You may not know how to make a good coffee, but you can design it with a good barista in local.
Baglan and his friend Alexander used this approach and they are successful. When I talked with Baglan, he said it is not that hard but you need to put a lot of time in it. Yes, a perfect product needs the developer to put a lot of time in it. You should be patient and focussed. If you don’t have the heart to make it perfect, do not do it. Nowadays, from my point of view, the IT area lacks this kind of virtue in China.
And I am also curious that how this indie develop team makes money. It is a common problem for indie developers to make money. The most common reason is that the consumer could buy the product once and never pay for them again. About this problem Baglan gave his own opinion. You don’t need to choose whether to make a new product or focus on updates to attract more users. You could launch your artwork first and then observe the reaction. If it works well you could update it else you could give it up and put your attention on the next product.
Except for corporation with experts. There are some other reasons of their success.
First one is that they are indie developers. They could create anything they like. They don’t have deadline pressures. As Baglan told me they could finish the app when they thought it was done. Baglan also told me that it was not his gene to work in big companies. Unlike working in an office their workday is very unstructured. They coordinate tasks using Kickoff (http://kickoffapp.com/), sync files with Dropbox and make test builds available as soon as new features are added. They still put a lot of hours into their products but those are not 9-to-5.
Second one is they are really experienced before they became indie developers. They did a lot of freelancing web design job. And Baglan has worked at Ubisoft in Chengdu for 2 years. Meanwhile they are really good at saving cost. They only used less than 2000 dollars in making The Great Photo App. That is amazing. Of course, they rely on the help of their friends and acquaintances. However, they used one year to finish the first version of The Great Photo. I asked Baglan for the tip of saving money. He told me that
“ I think people should not get discouraged by the lack of resources – asking people for help and learning to do things yourself could be enough to make something great.”
As the third one, they started to do things instead of imagining them. When I was in Beijing, some of my friends always talked about that they have a good idea, and if they do that they will blabla…… Both Baglan and Alexander didn’t know what they would do back to the time. So they decided to find some existing work. They made an app for a local pub which is a cocktail map. During the process, they met the barista who helped them to make Great Coffee App. You never know what will happen. Back to the time, they are worse than you, at least you have an idea. Right?
So as a conclusion, we are always told that we could only make a success if we are an expert in specific area and know the power of tech. Maybe that is not true, how about a guy who knows the power of tech and works with an expert?
As Baglan said, “Generally, it’s hard to have both a wide perspective on different things and deep knowledge at the same time. Value of experts is that they have both deeper and wider view of the topic”
Maybe that is the other way out.
The video about the process of making Great Coffee App
Check out other apps which are created by Mobile Creators.
The Great Photo App
Great Coffee App
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