Pajap provides an innovative mobile service, which provides new routes in native mobile application development, end user experience and advertising methods.
We had a very interesting in-depth interview with Mr. ‘Giannis Zaoudis‘, Co-Founder and COO of the US (Delaware)-based start-up “Pajap Inc.”.
“Pajap” is a DIY mobile apps service with a new technology that allows you to create full featured 100% native and hardware accelerated mobile applications.
Below is the full interview that we have conducted with Mr. ‘Zaoudis’ regarding his start-up web-based development company “Pajap”;
1. What is it exactly that you do and what “Pajap” is all about?
Pajap provides an innovative mobile service, which provides new routes in native mobile application development, end user experience and advertising methods. Specifically, using Pajap a high-quality native mobile application, worth of many thousands of dollars, can be created in minutes by everyone without a single line of code. Furthermore users of this app don’t have to install it on their phone. They just open it using Pajap market, QR code scanning or just tapping a web link from their browser. Applications are updated on the fly without any update process. Pajap aims to make the creation and use of native applications as easy and as seamless as websites without compromising any of the advantages of native apps. Pajap technology can lead to the next generation of super-rich, dynamic, interactive mobile ads.
2. When has “Pajap” been founded? And what stage is “Pajap” currently at?
Pajap Inc. has been founded just a few months ago, in May 2012 and we are currently building some strong relationships with current and future clients. Furthermore, we are developing the next generation of our library which will support even more great features such as camera and more. Finally we are in the process of creating a strong board team in order to design next years roadmap.
3. What is “Pajap”‘s business model and how does it work?
Pajap is subscription based and the business model is freemium. Applications made with the free tier will display ads from Pajap ad network and other major ad networks (such as AdMob). The freemium model will also work as a conduit to increase the reach of Pajap ad network to a more extensive user/application base. For enhanced application capabilities, features and larger user capacity a higher tier will be needed with a monthly fee.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
Pajap currently consists of three software engineers, John Papadakis, Giannis Zaoudis and Stefanos Mpliatsios. We met 7 years ago at the university when we came to Patras to study Computer Engineering. All these years, we have been close friends and we have worked together in many IT projects. The fact that each one of us had experience in a different field of expertise but most importantly that we’ve been friends all these years and had worked together many times, made clear to us, that we were the right persons to join the team and work together on this project. So we believe that we have a great level of communication, which will help getting this project done, that wouldn’t be easy to find in another team no matter what their knowledge and expertise is.
John Papadakis is the person, which initially had an idea, which after almost a year of discussion and planning took the form of Pajap. He is currently involved in the client side of Pajap that has to do with android development and with server infrastructure. He has three year experience in developing android applications. The applications, that he made, exist in the market currently and they are some of the best rated apps. Ioanni’s novel ideas and vision was the motive for him to create our team and work on this project.
Giannis Zaoudis is working on the server side of the project and he is in charge of the web designer along with the servers’ setup and administration. He is the person with the most experience in web technologies and web development. He has been working on web projects for 5 years, thus having a deep knowledge of how a web oriented system is structured. His experience was crucial for the team, since he had a major role in designing the web part of the project. He helped us decide which technologies and frameworks will be needed for this project.
Stefanos Mpliatsios is the all in one player of this team. In the one hand, his deep understanding in databases and on the other hand, his experience in mobile application development made him integral part of the team. He is responsible for all the backend aspects of our project, whilst in parallel he is responsible, with Ioannis Papadakis, of the UX of the mobile application.
The most important thing, which we believe makes this team strong and able to produce a high quality product is the commitment, of each one of us, into this project. All three of us believed from the start in the project and made clear that we would be available to dedicate as much time is needed building this project. Our top priority is to build a high quality product and in order to achieve that, we rejected other opportunities and offers for jobs. Furthermore we have adjusted our working space and transformed it in to a house where we are working full time in this project. As far as skills that the team is missing we would say, that there is lack of experience in the finance field, which is crucial for a business but nonetheless can be overcome.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
We have found the common ground between native and web applications!!
Users browsing Pajap-based applications can either open an application or “pin” an application as a shortcut. Opening an application requires an active internet connection, only for the first time. When a user opens an application, for the first time, it launches (“installs” and opens) in less than a second, depending on the network speed. The experience for the user is like opening an already-installed application. This feature provides a novel way in the use of mobile application. Until now, such an experience can only be found in the way websites operate. Usually, users have to go through a time-expensive process of installing an application. The whole process actually consists of the following parts, Market search ->selecting an application -> confirm permissions -> confirm installation. Furthermore applications occupy space at the device, thus a user, who wants an application just for one-time use may choose not to install that particular application. On the other hand websites, which don’t require installation, are way more user-friendly at this.
“No installation” is a Pajap innovation, which allows leveraging the application usage to an entirely different way. A user may open an application for a local store, restaurant, which in any other circumstances may never have installed. A website link or a QR code can be linked to a Pajap application that opens instantly to the user’s mobile phone. Moreover, native applications have other disadvantages like updating them. Users have to update their mobile applications, which is a procedure that many users tend ignore, since it is as time-consuming as the installation. Additionally, with Pajap, every time a user opens a Pajap-based application will be delivered with the latest version of that application. Modified layout, new product offers, new album covers, new top stories new UI layout, or even entirely different functionality of an app will be delivered instantly to the users of that application as the publisher intended. The update process of a Pajap-based application is entirely transparent to the user, since it happens when opening the app. In conclusion, this is the most innovative feature of Pajap, according to which applications can be modified daily in order to share a better experience with the end-user.
Pinning an application is the equivalent of installing an ordinary application. A shortcut is created at the mobile‘s home screen giving the illusion that this app is installed on the device. When the Pajap application-shortcut is selected then the specific application will open as any other app. The specific app will be opened as a stand-alone app and will be performing as top quality native apps are performing.
Pajap applications can be extracted as different apps so that developers can publish to the markets for themselves. These apps will exist also in the Pajap market, in order to exploit its features like geo-apps, which will be explained thoroughly later. Users that find these apps from the regular marketplaces will have to install that app as usual but they will not have to update it.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has “Pajap” achieved so far?
Currently we are introducing our first clients, less than twenty, with the web environment and the application features. Our goal is to explore three verticals in the first phase, media groups, hotels and music bands. In addition to that we have set a KPI at 100 apps which will mark the end of our beta period. The first milestone was to stand out from the rest of the DIY mobile application services in terms of quality while adding the first five clients in our service. We managed to stand out from the crowd and get the quality assurance for our apps when we published an app for one of the biggest technology magazines in Greece, Digital life (http://www.digitallife.gr/), which went in the top 5 of the best apps in the Android marketplace within 2 days. This achievement means a lot to us, since it is a strong indication that our applications are top quality and can compete custom native applications, which is extremely remarkable for a DIY service! Check a video of the app @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BaxMQkWPSqw or download it here https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.pajap__15.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is “Pajap”‘s competitive advantage over them?
Pajap’s competitors are all the other DIY mobile application services like Mobile Roadie, Genwi and other but pajap stands out of the competition in many ways. The new features created like no installation, no updates) are only possible with Pajap’s technology. Most competitive products promote that they can build native applications, which is not the entire truth and leads to poor solutions. Competitors make web applications (html) wrapped inside a native package. That is, a native application using some features of the specific platform but the main application layout and content designed from the user is a web/html application wrapped inside a web browser in the device. Such products have major drawbacks, which actually combine disadvantages of both native and web applications. Furthermore many successful competitors have one predefined template only, leading to applications that are identical. On the other hand Pajap provides a highly dynamic designer where user doesn’t just choose a template but can build his own by dragging and dropping widgets. With this dynamic drag n drop design logic, Pajap offers limitless possibilities for application customization. So all applications created by Pajap are completely unique looking.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
In terms of technical challenges, we must admit we had a fair share of those. We were presented with a quite interesting issue, which was to “merge” the advantages of native and web apps and we had to solve many important issues like the size of the responses, C2DM communications and more. Of course now that we have launched we all realized that this was the easiest part since business development is a whole new world for such rookies like us with quite a different mentality.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
Mobile development is a quite huge field, so it is not a surprise to miss a few key points. Unfortunately one of the key things that outsiders still miss is the differences, advantages of each platform in terms of the type of users, ease of reach etc. Furthermore, i think that many don’t really understand how important it is to create real engagement with the mobile presence of your company and not treat it as a supplement when the user is not in front of a computer. I think though that these things will be overcome in the near future easily since everyone interacts constantly with mobile technologies.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
We believe that in order for a start-up to be successful three things are necessary, great product, great team, great business development. Currently we are pretty sure we have two out of three…
We think we solved a really important issue that clients do not really understand completely yet, because they didn’t know any other way of things being done in the field. We found the common ground between web apps and native apps which allows everyone to have a top quality app, without spending tons of money while exploiting most of the features of web apps such as modifying your app and serve it instantly without time-consuming updates to your clients. In conclusion we believe that our product is one of these cases, where we can say it speaks for itself.
11. If “Pajap” succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
Our next goal is to use this technology in order to create the next generation of super-rich, dynamic, interactive mobile ads. Users will be motivated to navigate through the ad as they will be enjoying an interactive, visually stunning, content-rich advertisement and advertisers can create super-rich, dynamic ads as easy as never before. Applications made with Pajap will be “Pajap Ad ready”. For other applications we will provide a SDK so that developers can include it to their applications. For the first time in the mobile history we will be able to provide native mobile ads!!
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build “Pajap” based on?
Mobile application development is a hot issue and we saw a huge gap on native and web apps. We had our brainstorming meetings and we realized we could create something really unique and valuable for many people. Furthermore we did a lot of research about the market and the competition and it was clear that we could stand out.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
I think that each one of the three of us gained a lot of experience in terms of business-oriented knowledge. We realized how important it is to create a strong network around your business and the differences between an old classic company and the mentality of a start-up. Finally i think persistence is they key characteristic you need to obtain before even thinking of going the start-up way.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
I hope that our biggest problem will be software scalability :). It is a very interesting question that i am not sure how to answer. I think that growth is always an issue and probably trying to enhance our team with motivated and gifted people will be another issue that will come up in the next months.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
Customers have to face some serious issue when developing a mobile application and in the lifecycle of the app since launched.
First of all they have to understand all the differences between native apps and web apps and decide the way to go. Using Pajap technology they get the best of both worlds!!
Additionally they don’t have to worry about the budget of the application since our service is quite cost effective. Furthermore all of our clients get free distribution of their apps through our expanding application network and finally all of our customers are really happy when they realize the true power of modifying daily their apps and serve it to their users without any updates!
16. How did customers / users find out about you?
Initially they found out about us through our participation in a mobile conferences and similar events. Nowadays some of them learn about us through referrals from existing happy customers and other contact us after they have used some of our apps and wanted the same valuable app for their business. Finding customers is definitely not the easiest task, especially for tech guys like us but worth every minute of our time.
17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?
Currently most of our users come from the media industry and a few are independent businesses which wanted a mobile presence. Our target customers belong to a variety of industries such as publishing, music and other and they are large media groups, hotels, music bands and of course every business that would like more points of contact with their audience.
18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
Customers come mainly through referrals and some through inbound marketing such as creating valuable content for others, blogs etc and linking back to our service. Furthermore we try to be present in all the cutting edge domain discussions and spread the world about our product. I believe many of our customers try a lot of alternatives in order to decide which service to use and they are really happy to get top quality native app so cost-effectively.
19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?
We get really great feedback from our customers. They love the quality of the end product and everyone is pointing out that hiring a developer wouldn’t benefit them more. They are really glad that they can use features like push notifications and they can monitor their applications statistics instantly.
20. How are you going to scale?
Initially we are adding only a certain amount of paid customers and a small amount of free users. We have a waiting list from which we will add new customers when we are ready and then continue with the creation of many helper tools for our users in order to over-automate the procedure and allow many users to easily create their apps.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
The Pajap library is currently provided only in the Android OS and many customers request support for iOS also. As Pajap library is 100% native we choose to publish it initially only in the Android in order to get our first feedback and we plan to port it in iOS in the upcoming months. Finally we are brainstorming about porting it to Windows phone too but currently this is not something our customers seems to care for.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
Pajap is already available all over the world but only in English. Pajap library will be published in other languages too as our customers come from places all over the world. We are going to target the English spoken European and USA market initially by cooperating with a few key companies in the domain.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
The mobile domain is expanding rapidly and the industry is flourishing. Our goal is to lead the mobile application development world in the DIY area and add thousands of customers in our service. Furthermore by introducing the first native ads we believe we can play a very important role in mobile advertising and distribution.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
In the next couple of months we will be hiring people and we will be looking for talented engineers in the fields of mobile and web development. We would love to cooperate with passionate people who have deep knowledge of iOS development, web designers and business-oriented gurus! We will be waiting for applications at email@example.com
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
We have been bootstrapping for the first couple of months but we would like to accelerate our business plans, so a funding round would be one of the first steps that we are going to make in the following period. I would be glad to hear business proposals for partnerships and i would like to discuss with VC, which have expertise in our domain. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
Persistence is the number one thing for me. I suppose there are so many things one can share even from so early on but i would say that everything in a start-up environment is matter of good psychology and quick actions.