This Clutch interview was conducted with Maria Seidman, co-founder of Yapp. The purpose of this interview is to offer prospective partners of Yapp a descriptive and firsthand view into the capabilities of Yapp.
Clutch: What inspired you to co-found a software like Yapp?
Maria Seidman: The real inspiration came from the fact that I valued the place that mobile software had in my life. I am not a software developer myself but the moment of inspiration was when I tried to create my own mobile application for a women’s retreat in which I was participating in. When I went online, there really wasn’t an easy way to do it. There were some things advertised as “easy-to-use self-service software”, but they actually weren’t user friendly for someone who was not experienced in software. I wanted something that looked great and that anyone could use.
Clutch: Please give an overview of Yapp and its intended purpose.
Maria Seidman: We like to say that Yapp is the easiest way to create and instantly publish a mobile application for all the parts of your life that matter to you. We’re focused on a site that is really easy to use. Anyone can go in and create an app in just minutes. We have a series of page templates and a series of ways to customize your look and feel. When you hit the “Publish” button, you get an easy download URL. You do not need to know what an APK [Android Application Package] is or how to get an Apple Developer Account. It’s a streamlined experience and your app downloads instantly into our Yapp container app, which is available on the app stores.
As much as people love their apps, most people don’t really understand what it takes to submit and update an app to the app stores. We wanted to take that complexity and mental baggage away from our users. Our system enables us to have hundreds of thousands of apps on our platform, but any time we make an upgrade like a new feature, page template, or one of the major platforms make an update to their operating system, it enables us to just update our platform which instantly updates the hundreds of thousands of apps running on it. From a user perspective, they don’t have to think of any of that.
Clutch: Who is the target client for this software? Is there a client base that you wouldn’t recommend your software to?
Maria Seidman: We’re great for people who need a mobile app to do something specific for an event, group, or promotion. Specifically, it’s people who are having any kind of event whether it’s a personal event like a wedding or a business event, a sales meeting, conference, convention or a big trip. We’re also really good for networking groups or associations, a sports team or a book club. We even have people using Yapp for promotional purposes like a resume in app form. Anybody can use Yapp. You don’t need to be technical. You don’t need to understand anything about design.
The great thing is that people with IT[Information Technology] experience can, and do, use our app as well. One of our big surprises early on was that a CTO [Chief Technology Officer] was using Yapp to create an app for a maker fair. We emailed him and asked why he would use our app when he knew how to code himself. His response was great.
“Why would I do that? You guys are so easy to use and I get all the functionality I need. Why would I spend my valuable time coding something from scratch and then dealing with the headache of having to update and maintain that?”
Because of that we’ve moved away from saying we’re for non-coders. Our range of users is really wide from event planners to parents with kids on a sports team. We have users from ever U.S. state. . One active user is a farmer in the Midwest. She’s using Yapp to manage and market her family’s agricultural business. We also have users from more than 50 countries. We are going global!
Clutch: Specifically, what platforms does your software build apps for (iOS, Android, HTML5)? Are they native or hybrid apps?
Maria Seidman: When the user creates an app on Yapp, they are creating an app that is published inside a container app called “Yapp” on the iOS and Android stores. The apps themselves, whether it’s the Yapp container app or your individual app, have native functionality. That means that they can do things like send push notifications or you can upload photos or browse content offline. From a technical perspective, it’s a “hybrid app”. We are submitting our own functionality to the app stores. Your apps have the benefit of that kind of native functionality. We are currently on iOS and Android. For those that don’t have those kinds of devices, we provide a desktop web view of the contents of the app.
Clutch: Can you speak to the available development tools?
Maria Seidman: Yapp got its name because it is ‘your app’ and that idea is engrained into culture of our company. We spend a lot of time talking to our users about what they need and what they want to see improved in the platform. Those conversations guide how we think about product development. We don’t use words like ‘developer’ and ‘tool’ because they seem to scare some people. Our system is set up in a simple, modular way. We believe in the concept of ‘the paradox of choice.” - meaning that giving users too many choices can overwhelm them and create a sub-par result.
There are three major components to creating a Yapp:
2) Page Templates -These provide most of the desired functionality. We have around 12 page templates that range from an invitation page, information page, a ticketing page, a schedule page, a newsfeed where people interact, crowd pictures where people upload photos, etc. Users can add as many pages as they want.
3) Content - The user brings their own content and information surrounding their event, their photos or their logo.
A main difference in terms of Yapp and other products is that it’s not a Wiziwig tool. It’s a forum-based tool which helps make it easy and quick to do. It guarantees a good-looking app across every platform. It’s a clean, highly-functional app every time across every platform with a lower level of customization and a higher level of design integrity and ease of use. The output is very specific to the different platforms.
Once you publish your application, we give you an easy download URL. They all start with my.yapp.us. If you google “my.yapp.us” or search Twitter or Facebook, you’ll get a sense of the people who are making their apps publicly available and for what purposes they’re using it. The URL can either be shared or protected. The download process starts when the user taps on the URL from their mobile device. From there, it kicks off an installation process. It is customized for design, has offline viewing, features push notifications and is capable of sharing photos from the app to other places. One of the real benefits of our system is that whatever you want to use our app for, it’s there, and it’s ‘approved’. We do check our apps to ensure that the content is appropriate and meets the guidelines of the app store.
Clutch: Are there any features or functionalities that a consumer may be looking for that you would may say that your app software is not the best fit for. What monetization tools does your app software feature?
Maria Seidman: We are not geared toward mobile commerce. The only real commerce that occurs within our applications is that we have an integration with Eventbrite. If one of the pages that you chose is a ticketing page template, then your users can buy tickets through the app with Eventbrite. Outside of that, we don’t offer any commerce. We also don’t allow you to sell your app and we don’t run ads on our apps.
Many of our users use our apps because they are able to offer their sponsors inventory inside the application and then they charge outside of our system. In addition, the positive ROI of saving thousands of dollars on their printing budgets is very attractive.
Clutch: What support options do you offer buyers of Yapp?
Maria Seidman: It is based on subscription level. People who are in our ‘plus’ plans or are white label clients get premium VIP support, but the reality is that everybody gets really great support. We are known for being responsive and we have an online instant chat, which is monitored by real people – including me - at least a few times a week. Our platform is so easy to use that we actually never talk to too many of our users. Some platforms are marketed as DIY, but actually you’re submitting content to somebody and going back and forth. We are completely DIY.
We do offer setup services for people who just don’t have the time or don’t want to bother with it. We also offer, for a minimal fee, some time-saving shortcuts that also help people to set up their application. We have a phone number, a support phone number, online chat and email. We have an email program where we give tips to users about how to use the app and make it better. My personal email and our community team lead’s email are listed so people can get to know us and email us directly.
Our real brand promise is to take the hurdles away from app making and make it accessible to anyone. That is our philosophy. There are no dumb questions. Every interaction we have with the user helps us to make our platform better.
Clutch: What would you say would be the key feature or features that sets your software apart from other software meant to accomplish similar purposes?
Maria Seidman: Simplicity, ease of use and great design.
When would you say, if ever, should a company look to a mobile development service provider rather than a DIY option?
Maria Seidman: There are millions of apps that are on the app store today and unless you happen to be in the top ten or have a special relationship with Apple, you will never be discovered. The notion that you’re on the shelf and are going to be discovered is really a false dream. Some of the other app-maker software companies are making empty promises. For the majority of people who are creating apps, they really need to decide if it makes sense as a standalone app in the app store.
They should ask themselves:
1) What is the reason they want their own app?
2) How does the service provider help them to achieve that?
3) What is the right level of investment and maintenance needed for this particular use case?
Some records show that the percentage of fully customized apps that actually get rejected from the iOS app store can be as high as 80%. An app developer knows that the submission process, the metadata, the assets and the discovery are all complicated things that are rife with issues. The last important question to ask is:
4) Do you really need to go through the hassle of having your own app on the app store?
In short, different solutions are right for different people, but these are the large questions that should be addressed before deciding.
Clutch: Those are all great insights. Thanks for your time, Maria.