In 2010 when we started the Chelsea Apps Factory we had no idea what or how an apps company should be. All you could be was an IOS developer and there was only one platform, so we started hiring developers for it.
At that stage we had to dream up the solution, design the app and then build, develop and launch the app to consumers. Our first ever project was an app for CNBC to use during the 2010 World Economic Summit which took place in Davos, taking live feeds of the news connecting delegates.
By 2011 things got more interesting:
- The iPad, which had been launched the same year as Chelsea Apps Factory, started to be much more widely used.
- Android happened.
So we started hiring people with Android skills and designers had to learn about the iPads...and all the while we kept growing. Budgets got bigger - but now there were two builds to do.
We build games and then something totally awesome happens...
In 2012 we built some great games - Tom Daley ‘Dive’ got over 1m downloads - but then suddenly a couple of things happened:
A total stranger walked in our warehouse in Chelsea and said:
“I've sold an idea to a Japanese pharmaceutical company who wants to give 200 sales reps an iPad as a sales aid ...it’s an e-retailer and it’s an Enterprise App - can you help?”
We could quickly see this was a good business tool and if we could extend dwell time with salespeople and prospects they would sell more.
The stranger - now new client asked, “Could you start next Monday - we’ll pay upfront?”
(I thought, I like this Enterprise business - it makes sense - and we get paid).
At that moment we could see how endless companies could use apps to improve business performance.
We tool up...and become consultants
We began hiring digital experts from large consultancies, as the C-suite started to get engaged with digital transformation.
We were making presentations to HUGE companies and building roadmaps. We started getting paid to tell the story and visualise a future. Companies paid for this advice and we had engagement leads, designers, developers, QA and testers.
2013 and we’re beginning to talk more like a consultancy; it’s all about ROI and what the upside looks like for success and we are now being paid more for our advice than the amount we used to be paid to do EVERYTHING!
Other changes take place:
We see that enterprise apps are getting more air time during the Annual Apple presentations and platforms start arriving for developing apps on both IOS and Android simultaneously.
Android and iOS tablets are being deployed by IT and we start seeing programmes of work, not projects.
We get our first 7 figure deals.
By 2014 Ladbrokes walks into our lives. We work with them by running Innovation Labs looking at data driven decisions meets tech meets the business. A great success for us, a ground-breaking approach for the industry. (It’s also worth mentioning that Ladbrokes’ share price is now 35% higher than when we first started working with them.)
Now clients are noticeably braver...some are in trouble and seeking help with digital - which is becoming a big issue.
We partner with KPMG and expand into Scotland...
Late 2014 and KPMG comes along and invests - helping us look at products. Our dev teams expand into Scotland.
We find good people and start thinking about having more capability across the country. We also learn about grants and the fact that customers want to buy UK-based teams. We continue doing great work and clients stay with us.
We grow up and prepare to scale...
In 2016 we realise we need to learn to be a ‘scale up’ and not remain in essence a start-up.
To make that happen we create positive change, whilst continuing to follow the "go like hell strategy”. We hire great people and come up with our new go-to-market ...creating multidisciplinary teams around five Service Pillars; we help companies Think , Shape, Build, Optimise and Embed digital with a mobile-first agenda.
We now have three fairly well-defined types of client:
Large consumer-facing digital businesses
Clients who need to optimise their mobile presence
Well funded startups
...and we win our first large-scale financial services project.
We also present our company at Google For Work in New York. It’s a very proud moment as we are the only external talking about enterprise mobility.
We are also voted the 16th Fastest Growing Tech Business in the UK by the Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100.
We look to the future...
2017 has started with expanding the leadership team, continuing to scale and for the 7th year in a row we have had growth. We have hired amazing people and some of our work for clients is about to make them famous.
The eco system is also changing; Microsoft is getting stronger in enterprise mobility and we have partnerships with all the leading platforms...the future will be cloud connected apps (my CTO tells me) and it sounds amazing.
Gartner are telling the market that the demand for enterprise apps will be three times greater than supply by 2018 ...and we are the largest privately-held enterprise apps company in the uk, with 100 staff across two offices in London and Edinburgh.