Road trip and grant build app's momentum

CHRIS HYDE
Last updated 12:00 23/01/2014
brebner
APP ON THE UP: David Brebner, CEO of Unlimited Realities in Palmerston North has been awarded with a New Research & Development Growth Grant for his IT company.

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A Palmerston North software company may have developed the Wordpress of the app world.

Unlimited Realities chief executive David Brebner is back in the country after a whirlwind promotional tour in the United States, where more than 150,000 people in New York and Las Vegas were exposed to Umajin - pronounced "you 'magine".

Umajin is an app builder, allowing businesses to create apps for Android devices, iPhones and most other platforms without having to write code.

It is an innovation that Mr Brebner believes will reduce the cost of building a quality app.

Mr Brebner returned to his Princess St offices to the news that his company had also been awarded up to $5 million per year in government funding over three years as part of the more than $140m in new Research & Development Growth Grants to 31 hi-tech New Zealand businesses.

The grants are administered by Callaghan Innovation, and were announced in Budget 2013.

It has been a good start to the year. "It's great because it means we don't have to be consistently applying for grants and we can focus on investing in our capability."

Unlimited Realities began in 1996.

The business began to make its presence felt in the market about 2006 by bolstering its services division and by 2009 it had produced some of the most critical elements of computer giant Dell's touch-screen model under its other core brand, Fingertapps. With help from the research and development funding, the aim is to develop the Umajin brand globally.

"Apps are now what websites were 10 years ago, and we are the Wordpress of the app world," Mr Brebner said.

"To develop a top-quality app to work across multiple platforms, it costs in excess of $100,000 but for this is a fee of $1000 a month."

That puts it within the reach of local, small-town businesses, which Mr Brebner believes will all have apps in the near future.

"If people like tradies had apps, their customers could send a photo of the problem they had and they could prepare for it or quote it before they went to the house.

"That's just an example of the innovative stuff we can bring with this."

The company has signed an agency contract with Localist and through this, Auckland restaurant Pizza Fresco recently became one of the first clients to use the app technology.

Mr Brebner is confident more will follow.

"Pizza Fresco are just two stores so it's the smallest chain store possible to invest in it but I actually think it's really cool that companies like this can afford to have apps.

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"Even for big companies you're probably only going to do one app per year but we say that with this you can build an app every campaign."

The app creator was not built to be used to make the next great mobile game, but for what it was it could be effective and visually stunning, Mr Brebner said.

"Technically too, I think we stand out.

"People have seen what a crappy app looks like and our software and in particular our turn-key - it's good enough for people to be able to trust their brand with it."

Mr Brebner said the market for Umajin in New Zealand was small, and the main focus was on exporting the technology.

"Our software ships in 20 languages and in 130 countries and one of the goals is to expand that reach.

"For apps, the market is still completely a Wild West so that marketing investment and getting the foot in the door is so important."

- Manawatu Standard

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