We all love iPhone apps, but behind the app lies a developer, pulling the strings and pressing the buttons that meant that we get the apps that we love. Every week iPhoneAppCafe meets up with an app developer and has a chat about what it takes to build a successful app and why they do what they love. This week we met with Tudor Munteanu who is the brains behind ‘Grokking It’, a great new app that allows users to follow their friend’s style and purchase their favourite clothing items from their iPhones.
iPhoneAppCafe: Hi Tudor, thanks for meeting us today. So, how did you come up with the idea for your app?
Tudor Munteanu: I was working on consulting projects for clients for 3 years and I thought that it was about time that we started our own project. The team consists of Calvin who lives in Singapore, Stefan who lives in Italy and I’m originally from Romania.
iPhoneAppCafe: A nice international team; what’s the main challenge that such a team faces
Tudor Munteanu:Communication. We use Skype every day to chat, but you can’t beat a good-old fashioned water cooler talk in the office.
iPhoneAppCafe: True, true. So, is this the first app that you’ve developed?
Tudor Munteanu:Yes. We haven’t started in the traditional sense, as usually a developer starts with a small game or app and then grow from there, but we went directly to full power on our big hairy idea! We have the experience and the programming background, so we thought why not?!
iPhoneAppCafe: Did you develop it yourself?
Tudor Munteanu:Absolutely. Everything on there is done by our team.
iPhoneAppCafe: So, you’re the developer; what are the other two’s roles?
Tudor Munteanu:Stefan is the server admin guru, (a total mad genius) and Calvin is great at the business side of things; he’s currently helping us out with some fund-raising in Singapore.
iPhoneAppCafe: Singapore seems a good place for these sorts of businesses?
Tudor Munteanu:Yes, it’s a fantastic place for app developers. Even though they don’t take as big risks as Silicon Valley, the government is very supportive of start-ups; they just want to innovate.
iPhoneAppCafe: How does the start-up scene over there compare with London?
Tudor Munteanu:Tough to answer. One main difference is that London is much bigger; it’s double the population. There don’t seem to be as many public funding systems over here, whereas in Singapore the government is helping to fund a lot more.
iPhoneAppCafe: So, where are you with Grokking project?
Tudor Munteanu:We launched the first version in December, but we didn’t find it that attractive from a user’s perspective, so now we are focusing on the photo sharing and tagging element, with the buying part becoming somewhat secondary, more natural.
iPhoneAppCafe: So that’s part of the new features coming soon?
Tudor Munteanu:Yes, watch out!
iPhoneAppCafe: So, how would you describe Grokking It in a nutshell?
Tudor Munteanu:Well, the tagline is ‘Define Your Style’. It’s a great way to discover new products and make a name for yourself, if you are a particularly stylish person; if you follow someone and you like what they’re wearing, then you can just buy it straight from your phone without having to wait to get home or see it in the shops.
iPhoneAppCafe: Does it tie in with any other social networking sites?
Tudor Munteanu:So, when you tag a photo you can share it on Facebook; the next step will be Twitter.
So you have big goals for the app; where do you see it in a year’s time? Tudor Munteanu:Well, we are focusing at building the user base, so then, given the potential amount of community there are ways to monetize from this, rather than trying to make money too prematurely.
iPhoneAppCafe: So it’s free?
Tudor Munteanu:Yes, everything is free, download photo sharing, it’s all free!
iPhoneAppCafe: So where is the main monetizing going to be?
Tudor Munteanu:So something with interaction within the community; if we can find a way to create a currency within the community that would be great but this is secondary to building our community initially. The beautiful things will happen once people start liking our app.
iPhoneAppCafe: It could be a good platform for advertising?
Tudor Munteanu:Yes, possibly; we are more focused on building a great app, which is more important than having a revenue stream from the beginning.
iPhoneAppCafe: So, as somebody who has developed there first app, can you tell me a little something about any bad experiences or words of warning you may have?
Excellent, some great tips for other developers. Well, thank you very much Tudor and the best of luck with Grokking It!