Bizness Apps, a startup that gives small businesses the tools to quickly and easily build mobile apps, has a bit of a Zuckerberg-ian early history. Well, admittedly the Facebook comparison is a bit tenuous, because Bizness Apps’ story is likely akin to what a much larger percentage of entrepreneurs actually experience. Really, few are lucky enough to turn down multi-million dollar funding or acquisition offers. And, no, the startup probably won’t attract 600 million users, but, at the very least, it’s a useful example for young (specifically, college-aged) entrepreneurs.
The startup was founded by Andrew Gazdecki, who was, at the time of the company’s founding in 2010, a junior at California State University. Less than four months after launch, the startup raised a $50K round of seed funding from two angel investors, namely Build.com CEO Chris Friedland (see his reasons for investing here) and founder and CEO of Collegescheduler.com Robert Strazzarino.
How Gazdecki raised the funding is a good example for young entrepreneurs and CEOs raising capital: if you believe in your business, don’t settle. In the fall of last year, Gazdecki won a business competition at California State and, as a result, was introduced to Chris Friedland after the event. Friedland took the young entrepreneur out for lunch and whipped out his checkbook in the process, offering to write Gazdecki a check for $25K in return for 20 percent of the company.
“As a kid in college, you can imagine how fast my heart was racing”, the founder said of his experience. But, knowing that he was onto something with Bizness Apps, he declined the investor’s offer — checkbook and all. Friedland stayed after him, though, and a week later brought the college student into his office and offered him $50K for 20 percent. Again, Gazdecki politely refused, and walked out of his office. But the investor went after him, waved him back, and eventually talked him to $50K for 13 percent.
In the big picture, $50K is not a lot of money, but for a 20-year-old to show that kind of poise is impressive. I would’ve sold for $500 and a grilled cheese. What’s more, Gazdecki tells me that, since November, the team (he added three more CSU seniors) has been growing the company primarily based on internal revenue and hopes to avoid further outside investment. That might be possible. In February, Bizness Apps revenue grew 400 percent, and by 100 percent in March. The CEO said that he thinks that the team can build a $20 million company in a year or two. That’s great and all, but you know what’s cool? A $200 million company.
As to where that revenue is coming from? Bizness Apps makes money from monthly support and maintenance fees, but a large portion of the startup’s revenue emanates from its work building an international network of app resellers.
In other words, for companies looking to produce more than 10 apps per month, the startup offers a complete white label solution — for a competitive price. This allows, say, regular marketing firms to provide in-house mobile app development for their multiple clients using the startup’s DIY mobile app platform. And Gazdecki is bullish about the prospective international market, telling me that the startup has already worked with businesses in 10 different countries.
As my colleague Robin Wauters pointed out in his post in November, whether or not you believe that every business needs its own app, at $39 Bizness Apps is very affordable for SMBs that don’t want to shell out the big bucks.
What’s more, up to this point, Bizness Apps has only offered the tools to create iOS apps, but beginning today, the startup adds Android to the list. As before, Bizness allows small business (restaurants, bars, realtors, etc.) to simultaneously create, edit, and manage app creation and development online — without any programming knowledge needed. And now businesses can hit both Android and iOS users.
The price for using a single platform will remain at $39, and those that want to create both Android and iOS apps will pay $59.
Considering how cheap the service is — and that apps are custom-made for each business, submitted to the App Store and Marketplace, and regularly updated with new features and improvements by the Bizness Apps team — I think Bizness Apps has great potential. Sure, the apps the team is making won’t be akin to the best native apps on the market, but you can make apps in 5 minutes, and there aren’t any setup fees.
Gazdecki told me that, in spite of his company’s growth and appealing prospects, both he and the team will be graduating from California State in May. So, for you slackers out there, it is indeed possible to build a successful company and get the requisite amount of book learnin’. Gazdecki said he isn’t sure how they’ve managed to both, but it is possible. Now, imagine if Zuckerberg and Moskowitz had stayed at Harvard.
It’s not for everyone, but getting your diploma, while hustling to grow your business, is worth it. Don’t settle for less, and use your failures to make your business — or your next ventures — better.