The founders of Appwoodoo; Photo credit: Appwoodoo

published 1 Jul 2015 by Eva Thalhammer in Austria 5 minutes 39 seconds to read

Appwoodoo - across the European startup scene

Appwoodoo was part of Betapitch Vienna and was able to secure an interview with inventures as a prize. We talked to founder Richard Dancsi about pitching travels across Europe, his inspiration and the next challenges to come.

Appwoodoo

Appwoodoo is an open source push notification & remote control service for app developers keen on privacy.

What was your inspiration for founding your business?

Us, Richard and Tamas Dancsi are brothers, who both happen to be app developers, and share a vision for simple solutions. We have been building products together for almost 30 years: mostly with Lego in the first few, apps and services in the last decade. Appwoodoo is a spinoff product of our mobile app consultancy. We have been creating Android and iOS products for our clients, where one common feature was to communicate with the users through the apps: receive their feedback, or send out push notifications.

This sort of communication adds significant complexity to the apps though: now we need to store the users’ data in a safe data centre and securely communicate with Apple’s and Google’s servers. Incorporating such a service tends to make apps more expensive. Appwoodoo addresses both these issues. Running only one robust platform, we can share the costs between apps. And, quite unlike with other frameworks, we know exactly what information we store about the users: the bare minimum that’s needed for the notifications to function.

Can you pitch your project in just a few sentences?

Appwoodoo is a tool for app developers to add push notification and remote settings to their Android or iOS app. Quite unlike the competition, Appwoodoo is open source, lightweight, and doesn’t track any of the apps’ users.

Although the concept might not seem too sexy for the bigger crowds at first sight, our service solves an actual problem for app developers. Collecting and storing the users’ sensitive data has become industry standard over the last few years.

According to our team’s vision, programmers should be in full control over the information that gets stored about their users. By design Appwoodoo doesn’t track the users, and handles only the minimum set of data needed for the service to function.

What is your professional background? How did you get involved into the startup scene?

Startups are blooming, and we are having fun building teams and products with other entrepreneurs out there.

Richard started working on his first company still in high school, right while the first internet boom was happening. Tamas also joined in during university years, and we have built dozens of websites, e-commerce solutions and other products with our team.

Fast forward ten years, when, plenty of products, ventures and startups later, we still work on apps and services together. As luck would have it, being an entrepreneur is not such a lonely thing anymore. Startups are blooming, and we are having fun building teams and products with other entrepreneurs out there. It’s a wonderful world where we all help each other and create great things together down the road.

Where is your startup positioned at the moment?

We started in public beta earlier this year. This is the first time we allow other developers to sign up and use our services, so we needed to put together a whole lot of help for them: customer service, documentations, support for their frameworks and code.

It’s feels just as much work as writing the service in the first place actually, but it allows us to look at Appwoodoo with other developer’s eyes. We definitely learn a lot from them.

What are your milestones so far?

The biggest milestone in Appwoodoo’s lifetime was to open up the service to our developer friends in 2014. Once they started to use Appwoodoo for their apps, we could test our products with a much broader network, find performance bottlenecks, and in general, create a better product.

Now that we run in public beta, it’s pretty much the same effort on a bigger scale. The only new aspect really is that now our customers are paying for the service, so they expect solid support and a more mature product.

Who are your supporters? What helped you most on the way to where you are now?

We have been bootstrapping with Appwoodoo so far, so we didn’t need financial support. Having said that, we can’t be more thankful for our developer friends and first customers who were using our service and give us feedback along the way. Without them, Appwoodoo would be just another tech product in our drawer.

How did you find out about Betapitch and why did you decide to take part? What does it mean to you to win at Betapitch?

By chance our first-ever introduction to the general public was in Berlin, on the Tech Meetup just a few months ago. We had fantastic feedback and learned about Betapitch there during the open discussion. Tamas, one of the founders is living in Vienna, so for the Betapitch competition the City of Dreams was our natural choice.

Naturally, every positive feedback feels fantastic, but being one of the winners at Betapitch is especially precious for at least two reasons. First, Appwoodoo is an extremely techie product that is very hard to explain to a lesser-techie crowd. And more importantly: the others had great products as well, and it’s always great to win a prize where the competition is hard.

What are your plans and goals for the near future?

[W]e are looking into ways to make Appwoodoo stand on its own two feet with a dedicated team. 

We will keep on updating Appwoodoo to include the features our customers requested the most, especially around an extended support for Apple’s new devices and technologies. As for the startup itself, we are looking into ways to make Appwoodoo stand on its own two feet with a dedicated team. To make this happen we just started talking to potential investors in the UK and an incubator in Berlin, but it would be too early to say anything further just yet.

What piece of advice do you have for a team who wants to turn their idea into a business?

Just get started! Appwoodoo was only a few lines of code, a server and an admin page when we decided to make it to be a product. Early feedback means that you only develop the features people need and want to use - and there is no easier way to make money than not spending it.

If there is anything else you would like to mention – this is your chance to do so!

We are a London-based company that participated in the pitch competition in Vienna, started by the Berlin-based betahaus, wining a visit to Budapest. We might be far away from the Silicon Valley, but our story shows that European startup scene is interconnected and Europe has become one big startup hub.