Pop quiz. What company started out with the idea to create a few simple little apps and has developed into a successful software developer and tech incubator with an impressive list of clients across the spectrum of private industry and government? That would be Appetizer Mobile.
The brainchild of CEO Jordan Edelson, Appetizer Mobile is “a creative mobile application development, consulting and marketing company.” They work with clients in a variety of industries to develop, market, brand and implement mobile apps designed specifically for them. With a broad range of contracts in multiple industries, including music, entertainment, finance and security, Edelson has managed to create a self-financing business with significant equity potential.
Some of you may recognize Edelson from his earlier successes. The former owner of Game Broadcasting Live, (a digital streaming video game broadcasting channel that premiered on Time Square’s Jumbotron), and eSportsTV, (a portal for streaming live electronic sports and professional video gaming broadcasts, where he partnered with Samsung), Jordan made a name for himself in the gaming and tech space before he even graduated from high school! He was later CTO of H3 Enterprises, the first publicly traded Hip-Hop Company, (creators of the Hip Hop Soda Shop), where he inked deals with Microsoft and Viacom.
With such an impressive beginning, it’s no surprise that this young man continues to stake out significant territory in the mobile apps space. With a little over three and a half years under its belt, Appetizer Mobile has created apps for a number of celebrity co-branding projects such as the official “The Monster in You” app for Lady Gaga & Interscope Records and Kim Kardashian’s perfume launch. He’s also developed apps for Fortune 500 companies, music labels, pro athletes and other celebs, and notably, a smart phone voice encryption program for the company Kryptos Communications, poised to be utilized widely throughout the military.
Jordan was able to launch the company with seed funding from investors who took a liking to him back in his Hip Hop Soda Shop days. Since then, Appetizer Mobile has been able to effectively fund its incubator operations with its fee for service projects. (When the company partners with clients, their relationship may involve a straight development fee, or it might include an equity position.) This strategy has enabled them to amass a diversified client and investment portfolio with enough regular income to support 25 full time employees.
The company has been adept at offering a combination of high end technical development with revenue modeling, custom marketing and PR, building their apps as complete mini-businesses. This level of soup to nuts service and client hand holding far surpasses their original vision.
Edelson’s biggest challenge has been time management. With as many projects as the company has going at any given time, the level of personalized client service that he offers leaves little time for sleep. Sometimes logging as many as 22 hours a day, he simultaneously monitors the multiple accounts that range in shape from major budgets to under-capitalized but highly promising ideas. The variety suits him just fine. Never a super corporate type to begin with, he enjoys the flexibility of being able to go from healthcare or finance projects to something music or security related.
“It’s very important to know your place in the whole ecosystem,” he says. Differentiating his company from “technology software chop shops,” he considers his team to be “innovators trying to create new disruptive properties” in order to expand their portfolio. They have purposely kept their reach diverse. “We want to have equity positions in as many properties [as we can] that we see could be big hits for us.”
So far their approach appears to be paying off. Growth has been steady each year and shows no sign of slowing. Except for some recent SEO, they have done virtually no advertising, relying instead on referrals, word of mouth and repeat business. Right now, despite being pitched between 100 and 150 ideas a week, the company is operating at maximum capacity of about 25 projects. Edelson is looking to increase the number they can handle at any given time, but wants to be able to scale intelligently.
When Jordan cites the passion and self-motivation required to stay on the roller coaster of entrepreneurial life, you get the feeling he really knows what he’s talking about. By bringing so many complementary skills to the table and offering clients such a full range of services, he has been able to remain incredibly focused with an ability to individuate his product on demand. Moreover, his team can operate as highly informed investors, well aware of their own development capabilities.
With a name based on the notion of offering small bits of technology to businesses, Appetizer Mobile has developed an incredibly robust recipe for success.
And they haven’t even gotten into revenue shares yet.
Listen to the full interview here:
Deborah Oster Pannell is a writer who specializes in the arts, culture, special events and creative projects of all kinds. As Director of Communications for the tech start-up eventwist, she also manages their blog. Some of her favorite work is featured on modernlifeblogs.com, lizkingevents.com, and her own blog, shesaysyes.wordpress.com. Currently she is launching Project Mavens, a literary, editorial design collective, with partner & writer Lillian Ann Slugocki. On Twitter @projectmaven.
Category: Entrepreneur Interviews