Some of New Zealand's tech companies are achieving growth that brick and mortar businesses can only imagine. Moa Creative, the smartphone app development company, formed in mid-2010 by developers and equal shareholders Jay Moon, Rohan deSouza, Moon Kim and Charles Wang, has already launched a second operation.
Moa Creative has been a meeting of the minds for Moon Kim, Moa's chief technology officer, a former mobile developer for Samsung in Korea and Indian-born general manager Rohan deSouza, whose CV includes interactive producer for MediaWorks and web manager for Barfoot & Thompson. The two high achievers met on a computer course in Auckland and now have 11 staff at Moa, most of them developers.
MediaWorks, owner of TV3, was the first big-name client for Moa, and since then the company has developed customised apps for AA Tourism, Air New Zealand, SkyCity, Maori News, Tangatawhenua.com, Ray White Real Estate and Fletcher Building subsidiary Laminex. Almost all Moa's apps are top downloads on the app store, claims the company. The 3 News iPhone app was named as one of the five best news apps available in Australasia in the 2011 Apple iTunes App Store Rewind.
For most clients, Moa is adapting online and offline content so that it works on specific mobile devices, says business manager Andrew Malcolm, who came into the business in late 2010 and has a 5 per cent shareholding.
"We take what they have online and make it look good and function well on a mobile device," says Malcolm. It is already a trend for people on smartphones to go to an app for information rather than going to a company's website.
"Our aim is to enhance the user experience so we don't have people hopping out of the search." If someone is looking at a hotel on an iPhone and they've gone on the website which is not adapted for iPhone use, the client can lose sales as a result, says Malcolm.
A big coup for Moa Creative came in January 2011 when it won a contract to provide app development for the clients list of a large New York mobile agency. The agency had gone to companies all over Asia, some employing hundreds of developers, but they couldn't find the code quality, says deSouza.
"They tried us and were blown away by us," he says. Through the US agency, Moa is creating apps for some of the biggest brands in the world, including global online retail names, hotel companies, sports, news/media, travel and tourism, leisure, hospitality and utilities companies, says Malcolm. Half of Moa's business now comes from the US-based business.
In New Zealand, Moa prefers to work for larger corporates. Additional business comes from doing technological updates such as extending the content to iPad apps.
Moa is designing an iPad app for SkyCity at the moment. Six months ago people were hesitant about how long the iPad was going to be around, now it is seen as here to stay and iPad app demand is going to be increasing, predicts Malcolm.
In their spare time, the Moa Creative shareholders, with Malcolm an equal partner this time, have developed an app platform template for the hospitality and retail sectors. The separate company, called App La Carte, provides smartphone apps in an easy-to-use, low-cost way for restaurants and retailers. Hamburger chain Wendy's and Bang & Olufsen are some of its first clients.
Meanwhile with Moa's turnover at $1 million, Malcolm is expecting more growth with its US contract to be renewed in the next couple of months. Also with apps becoming more familiar to consumers, Malcolm expects Moa's work to increase in New Zealand.