Over the last 5 years Gregg Weiss has ran Blue Whale Web Solutions. Blue Whale started in the web development space and when Apple’s App Store was launched, quickly moved to focus on app development. Currently, the firm focuses on iOS and Android app development services for small to large businesses, as well as consulting for large corporations on their mobile strategy and execution. They have worked with large organizations such as Dun & Bradstreet and Mead Johnson and Discovery Channel as well as small companies and entrepreneurs who would like to create mobile apps.
Gregg has been able to grow his company to 6 full time employees in just 2 years. He received an Angel investment round into the company last year that enabled him to grow and hire talent to help fulfill the need for professional app development services, as well as create apps under the Blue Whale brand.
MO: I read some of the testimonials on the Blue Whale site and it seems that all of your clients think that you deliver amazing results. How do you constantly exceed customer’s expectations and provide consistent, focused customer service?
Gregg: Having a well-defined process is one way to constantly exceed our customers expectations. Since app development is fairly new ground for most businesses, we do a fair amount of education around apps, the ecosystem, the platforms and best practices. On the initial sales consult call, we explain our process and that sets up proper expectations from the start. This groundwork establishes a sense of trust and comfort with the Client.
Focused customer service is all about your staff interacting with the Client. For every project, we assign a team of 3 people a Project Manager, UI/UX Designer and a Lead Engineer. Having a dedicated Project Manager who is in constant communication with the Client is another way to provide focused customer service. Every week we send a status report to our Clients that contain milestones, deliverables, needs, accomplishments etc. We also find online tools such as Basecamp and BugTracker aide in communicating and keeping everyone one the same “page” .
MO: Are you often excited by the ideas that clients bring to you to develop? Has anyone brought any concepts that have surprised or inspired you?
Gregg: This is a great question because mobile apps are so new. We get our fair share of entrepreneurs who have “the next great million dollar app idea”. But the truth is, its not about the idea, its about the execution of the idea and your marketing plan.
One app that was particularly inspiring was an app we developed last year called HemoLog. This is an app the helps hemophiliacs log their bleeds, meds and share that data with their Physician. It was inspiring because we developed it for a young guy who was a hemophiliac himself, saw the need, and spent his own money to develop the app to help others. The app is a free app, so he isn’t even profiting from it. That is truly inspiring!
MO: What three apps do you use every day?
Gregg: Twitter, Facebook and Boating Weather. Boating Weather is our own app that simply shows you the NOAA Marine forecast. Its one of our best selling apps and I use it every day. Some days only to check out what the seas are doing, wishing I was out Fishing! (I call South Florida home and I am an avid fisherman).
MO: How do you think app market will change over the next 2 years?
Gregg: Great question, more like how will it change over the next 6 months! This industry changes so rapidly with new devices coming out, new operating systems and new apps that can literally change people’s lives, both from a personal and business/productivity perspective. We are only at the beginning of what these smart devices and apps can do for us.
Side Note – just read a report today from Gartner saying that 3rd Quarter smartphone sales increased 42%.
From the business perspective, the app market will continue to grow. Even small businesses can capitalize and create an app that will help them be more productive. I think that more businesses will recognize this, just as they did at the beginning of the dot com era when they realized they needed a website.
From a consumer perspective, apps will become more integrated into our lives. Think of how many people use Facebook or Twitter on a daily basis. The app market will start to permeate our lives (as its already started to now) as we see more apps on our TVs, Cars, home automation systems etc.
MO: What are the biggest obstacles you face in the development stage? Are there any limits to what you can do?
Gregg: When it comes to Android app development, a major obstacle is testing across the multiple devices with different screen sizes and different manufacturers. In terms of limits, one of the things that Blue Whale does best is research and discovery into new ways to do things using the latest tools available. We attend WWDC every year where Apple introduces all of their new tools, devices and Operating Systems, this ensures we are always up to date and using the newest technology.
In terms of limitations with Apple, there are limits to what you can do in the form of Apple’s policies.
MO: I know that you’re excited about the development of ConnectedTV. Can you tell readers about this product, what makes is so innovative and how it will change our relationship with how we watch television?
Gregg: I’m specifically excited about the announcement a few weeks ago that Apple is working on a Smart TV. Google and Yahoo already have connected TV products on the market that have a less than impressive adoption rate so far. However, like we’ve seen with the iPod (music industry), iPhone (wireless industry) and iPad (tablet computers), Apple turned all 3 of these industries on their heads by making easy to use, stylish devices that all play nice together within the Apple ecosystem. An Apple Smart TV is the next logical step that will marry the iDevices you currently have to your TV. It will be built on the same iOS that iPad and iPhone work, so this means that app developers will have a new big screen device that works with the TV, and use an iPad or iPhone as a second screen, possibly controlling something on the TV, getting additional data about what you are watching etc.
I think the next 2 years will be a very exciting time as it relates to apps and connect TVs and we see how media companies, TV manufacturers and device makers all try and merge to get your attention in the living room.