POP, the app that lets developers turn paper sketches into app prototypes, has joined AVOS, the Internet company led by YouTube co-founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen. When it launched in November, POP’s (Prototyping On Paper) easy and intuitive set-up garnered it a lot of buzz on both tech and design blogs. All developers need to do with POP is draw a user interface on paper, take photos of their sketches, and turn them into a tappable demo in the app.
Before getting hooked up with AVOS, POP was entirely bootstrapped by Taipei-based founding team WOOMOO Inc. POP co-founder Ben Lee says the first thing that crossed his mind when his team got an email from Chen was “Holy sh*t, it’s Steve Chen from YouTube!”
“When we launched POP last November, we attended a Global Shapers Taipei event and met a friend. He comes from an investment background and was looking into startups in Taiwan. He and his partner have always thought there was a lot of amazing talent in Taiwan but found it strange that these startups were rarely seen in the global markets,” Lee says.
“This friend was impressed with our app and our team so he asked if he could introduce his partner to us. When we asked who his partner was, he just said it is also an ABC that has a technical background but never mentioned a name. So you can guess how surprised we were when we saw the sender’s email address!”
The POP team say that Chen and Hurley’s experience in building out YouTube and Delicious will help them learn how to create a proper platform, scale their business, improve their management team, and help them find developers in Silicon Valley. They also hope being in AVOS will give them exposure to top-tier venture capital firms as they seek new funding and work on a revenue model.
“We started as an app prototyping tool, however, after our first visit to Silicon Valley, we have been inspired to make POP into something beyond just a tool,” says Lee. “The ease of use makes it possible for anyone with an idea to have their own app. We have grown really fast in the past few months, so we changed our original pricing model and are coming up with a few different possibilities.”
“Existing tools were either too complicated or inflexible, so when prototyping apps, we found that the user always went back to the very basic pen and paper, which was just so much easier and allowed the developer to be spontaneous. However, the key problem with the pen and paper method is it made it difficult to present, create a demonstration, and to share,” Lee tells me.
“One day, an idea just popped-in my head (pardon the pun) – ‘Why don’t I just take photos of my sketches and link them together on my phone so I can see how it actually works?’ I think it is the way that prototyping can be. Frankly speaking, even if we did not make POP, I am certain someone else would have come up with the idea and made it for people to use.”
Since POP’s buzz-generating launch last fall, the team has fine-tuned its features and workflow.
“Our app bounce rate has dramatically dropped from 60 percent to 20 percent. We have also been working on the Android version and additional functionality that allows for cross-device sharing. All of this will be available next month,” says Lee. Developers who have used POP range from 37 Signals, who used it to prototype the Basecamp iOS app to a second-grader who designed a game on POP.