Exclusive Interview: Steve Fanale CEO of TheAppVillage- A Community App Incubator

Steve FanaleI caught up with Steve Fanale CEO of The AppVillage recently post Apps World North America. I was quite excited to learn about his venture The Apps Village which is a community App Incubator project.

Steve began his career in the interactive and digital media industry over 15 years ago. After initially working in senior exec roles at Young & Rubicam and APL Digital he decided to take the plunge and start up his own interactive agency, MassMedia Studios, in 2000.

MassMedia Studios is an Australian leader in the provision of digital and interactive services and moved on to the international stage when he opened offices in London and New York in 2006, and grew the team to more than fifty employees with global brands like Audi, Cadbury, Unilever, Diageo, Vue Entertainment and Yahoo!7 on its key client list. In 2003 work begun on the development of Traction, a relationship marketing platform that helps brands interact, learn and effectively target their customers across all marketing channels. Highly regarded across the digital marketing industry, Traction has grown into a global platform with clients across North America, Europe and Asia.

In 2007 MassMedia and Traction was sold to the publicly listed BlueFreeway group. During his time within the group Steve was asked to move in to an interim COO role to improve the groupʼs internal processes and stabilize its financial position. In 2010 Steve left the business to take some time off but his interest in digital innovation brought him back in to the world of apps in 2012. As the founder and creator of AppVillage, his 5th Start up, Steve believes he has developed an incubation model to meet the needs of innovators, designers, developers, investors and consumers who love being part of the app world.

WD: What is theappvillage.com  all about? What problem are you solving?the-appvillage_beta

Steve: The Appvillage is a a community app incubator for the development and marketing of mobile apps.

We are responsible for the assessment, development, marketing and funding of app ideas. Being solely focused on apps, allows us to establish a brand in the marketplace with a very clear vision.

Our aim is to grow an intelligent, sustainable, business with an in-built process that increases the chance of success with every app that we produce. We are able to do this through our ever-growing community that are incentivised to become the business’ biggest supporters.

Our unique model of sharing the risk, and rewards, with all contributors incentivises a global community and builds an audience via their advocacy across their own extensive social networks.

The model essentially fast tracks minimal viable products to market and tests market interests before setting up a viable business start up.

Problems we are solving :
– Difficulty in taking an idea from ideation to reality
– Increasing the speed to market
– Ensuring the quality of product is high
– Providing funding for apps – development and marketing
– Providing Marketing for apps
– Build the process and community to achieve the above

WD: Tell us the story of how it started and the challenges you have faced?

Steve: Apart from being an Apple addict, the entire app ecosystem has always excited me. The prospect of developing applications and having access to a distribution platform to sell to the world is an Australian entrepreneurs dream. This coupled with increased smart phone and tablet usage, resulting in more and more people coming up with great, innovative ways to utilise them through specialised apps, was the reason I started AppVillage. The life experience that really pushed me to develop this idea was the passion to move away from developing digital products for clients and to make them and sell direct to the consumer. I wanted a model that was scalable and that could function at minimal cost. Out of this, AppVillage was born.

Challenges are the same as any start up. Trying to grow the business and get traction in the market place with minimal funds. Also the success of the AppVillage model will be more potent when we can show some traction and success and provide the momentum to grow exponentially. Till then we are relying on peoples faith in the model. Luckily some have shown that faith.

WD: Who are the Founders and their backgrounds?

Steve: Steve Fanale and Patrick Visser are the founders of The App Village

Steve Fanale – Steve began his career in the interactive and digital media industry over 15 years ago. After initially working in senior exec roles at Young & Rubicam and APL Digital he decided to take the plunge and start up his own interactive agency, MassMedia Studios, in 2000.

MassMedia Studios is an Australian leader in the provision of digital and interactive services and moved on to the international stage when he opened offices in London and New York in 2006, and grew the team to more than fifty employees with global brands like Audi, Cadbury, Unilever, Diageo, Vue Entertainment and Yahoo!7 on its key client list. In 2003 work begun on the development of Traction, a relationship marketing platform that helps brands interact, learn and effectively target their customers across all marketing channels. Highly regarded across the digital marketing industry, Traction has grown into a global platform with clients across North America, Europe and Asia.

In 2007 MassMedia and Traction was sold to the publicly listed BlueFreeway group. During his time within the group Steve was asked to move in to an interim COO role to improve the groupʼs internal processes and stabilize its financial position.
In 2010 Steve left the business to take some time off but his interest in digital innovation brought him back in to the world of apps in 2012. As the founder and creator of AppVillage, his 5th Start up, Steve believes he has developed an incubation model to meet the needs of innovators, designers, developers, investors and consumers who love being part of the app world.

Patrick Visser – Head of creative and innovation

Patrick is a senior digital creative with over15 years industry experience in Australia,Switzerland and Germany.During his successful career he’s been involvedin the conceptualising, design and developmentof every aspect of digital media includingwebsites, applications, online campaigns, Flash
applications, videos and more recently mobileapps and sites.

Since 2006 Patrick has been working as acreative and consultant for a diverse rangeof clients; from ad agencies, publishers andgovernment departments through to bluechip companies and small businesses such asthe Spinifex Group, NineMSN, Fairfax Mediaand Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, for whom he
recently developed their first field training iPadapp.

Patrick’s focus is on designing and creatingengaging and highly functional user experiences.

WD: How is your site so different when there are already idea promoting websites selling similar concepts?

Steve: AppVillage is not just about promoting ideas, its about managing the process of making it a reality. AppVillage brings all of the cool things together in one place. With a focus on apps, incubating, innovation and quality crowd sourcing, we are helping to build a community and at the same time building investment in entrepreneurship.

Strengths:
– Scalable development team
– Focus on marketing of app
– Building a community to engage in the process
– Building a fund to finance the marketing and subsidise development of app ideas

WD: What is your criteria of judging an idea and approving it?

Steve: Judging criteria is relatively simple. We try and assess if the idea has the potential to reach a wide market and generate lots of downloads and intern revenue.  We do this by initially assessing if we think it is a good idea then look at competing apps, the genre performance and marketability of the idea.

To be more specific we look at :
– Download and revenue numbers.
– The potential scope to enhance the app.
– Room in the market to compete against existing apps.
– Rankings, ratings and comment in the stores
– Growth of genre.
– Online presence of competitors.
– Media interest in similar ideas

WD: Who can submit  ideas ? Whats the process of submission ?and How will that person benefit ? How do you plan to monetize these apps?

Steve: Anyone can submit an idea and we open up submissions for short intervals throughout the year so we can address them in a timely fashion. To submit an idea it is a simple as filling out a form on our website TheAppVillage.com and we will then review the it and let you know if you get to proceed to the next stage.

The innovator will earn 10% of the royalties and can earn more if they can provide the skills or funds to produce or market the app. Monetization of the app will vary depending on the idea but essentially we will either charge a premium, provide a range of in app purchases, generate advertising revenue or a combination of the above.

WD: Are you only focused on mobile apps or you intend to get into other Web or Connected TV apps ?

Steve: At this early stagAppVillageis focused on mobile apps but the plan is to include Web or IPTV apps in our offering in the future

WD: How do you intend to build and promote the app village ecosystem fordevelopers?

Steve: We have a lot planned for the development community. Not only will we be looking to promote the stars of the village but also provide education, promotion of services and special offers to the community. These are only a few things we have planned.

WD: What initiatives are you planning in the next 2-3 years?

Steve: We have many initiatives planned but our focus at the moment is to build a foundation we can catapult from. We are also very aware that the app market is extremely dynamic. So we don’t think there is much point in solidifying 2-3 year plans when we may have to rethink them in 6 months

WD: Which locations is it available? Any plans of launching in Asia?

Steve: We are currently based in Sydney but anyone from around the world can submit an idea, join the village as a designer or developer, or invest so it is open to the global market. As we grow we would like to see offices in keymarkets which would include a head office for Asia

WD: What is your Marketing/Promotional approach?

Steve: There are range of channels that we use and all with their own strategies and budgets. To what extent each channel is used will depend on the app. These channels include both Free and paid advertising/promotion suchas :

– PR main stream and digital press
– Social posting across all networks including image placement and video trailers
– Paid advertising on social and mobile media networks
– Blog posting
– Submission to referral networks
– App Website
– ASO and SEO
– Store description and images

WD: Did you raise any funding? If you want to raise funds do you want to be contacted by Investors ?

Steve: We have raised some seed funding but are currently raising a further $1M. $500k in return for equity in the business. This will be used to finance marketing and project management staff and marketing initiatives. The 2nd $500k for royalty shares in apps to finance marketing and subsidies development. Happy to be contacted by investors

 

 

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