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Steve Fanale - AppVillage

An app-etite for new technology

In development land, apps are going off, with many an unlikely “app-preneur” making it big off the back of a wildly popular download. Now, one local start-up is bringing together all the people involved with the process to better develop and market these little goldmines.

AppVillage is an incubator community of designers, developers, investors, marketers and app-lovers, all working together to develop and market apps. According to CEO and co-founder Steve Fanale, the start-up grew from an idea to build a global and scalable business that incentivises all contributors to make the most of the app market’s massive potential.

First and foremost, AppVillage’s aim is to build a community that’s founded on the idea of sharing the risk and the returns.

“We are specifically focused on apps and have a unique model to allow fellow entrepreneurs and investors to get involved in projects,” Fanale told Dynamic Business.

“To minimise the risk, we have a process that includes research, quality controlled crowdsourcing and a focus on marketing. We believe that this whole process is our key point of difference,” he added.

AppVillage is funded via a combination of self-funding and a recently procured investment that includes cash and in-kind services valued at $250,000. Despite this external funding, Fanale said the start-up struggles with the same financial issues as most start-ups.

“We face the same challenges that burden most other start-ups: Not having enough hours in the day, and not having enough funds to pay for the people and expertise you need. It’s always a challenge surviving until you can generate the funds needed to get the machine running,” he said.

The secret to managing this is twofold. First, AppVillage approaches people and asks them to get involved with the business, and second, the founder ensure these people are working hard to produce new revenue-producing products as quickly as possible.

“Our market is global and the product we sell can be distributed globally; thus making our business a global one. In three to five years, we plan on having a range of apps in the market place, with our consumer base in the 100’s of millions. We also hope to have offices managing our community in locations around the world,” Fanale added.

On risks, lessons and advice

As is the case for many new ventures, Fanale said the biggest risk facing AppVillage is that it may not make it past the start-up phase due to a lack of focus.

“Remaining focused can be quite difficult and we often have to reign ourselves in because we’re operating in such an exciting space,” he said.

This means that the biggest risk is not focusing on the things that are critical to our success and become a distraction,” he added.

So, the start-up is focusing on what will fund its growth and prove its value in the market. It has four apps in production, due to be released this year, and is about to launch a competition called AppSuperCharge 2013. The competition is designed to help “supercharge” the apps of entrants by providing funds and services to market their app.

Fanale has had plenty of start-up experience, having launched and built two successful businesses in a previous life, and he said one key lesson keeps rearing its head: No matter how much you think you might know, be prepared to learn something new every day.

“These things could be as varied as the nuances of your target market, management styles, product development, or process and procedures. It’s incredibly important to be open to these learnings, while being prepared to pivot accordingly.”

And when it comes to giving advice to other start-up entrepreneurs, he keeps it short and sweet.

“Keep it lean, be persistent and be passionate. If you believe in what you are doing then others will want to get involved.”