Interview with Dusan Babich (Device Magic)
Device Magic lets users build software applications for mobile devices.
I interviewed Dusan Babich, Device Magic CEO to find out more. This is the hundred and forty ninth in a series of DW startup interviews. Big thank you to Dusan!
Give us the elevator pitch for Device Magic.
Device Magic aims to make building mobile business apps much quicker, cheaper and easier by concentrating on the key functionality most organizations require.
We’ve identified data capture and replacement of paper processes as a pain point most businesses have and want to digitize/automate.
Tell us about Mobile Forms.
With Mobile Forms we’re replacing clipboards and paper-based workflows with an online tool to build your solution, accompanied by a rich set of apps for iPhone, iPad, Android devices and tablets and BlackBerry.
We figured there are a few key things you need the app to do, like work offline in areas of limited connectivity, automatically stay current with the latest version of a form, interact with the native device features (camera, GPS, barcode scanning etc).
Most importantly, an organization wants their mobile-originated data to flow into existing processes, whether they be a PDF in an Inbox, a spreadsheet, Google Doc, or proprietary database.
Tell us a bit about your background and how you got to where you are today.
My co-founder and I have been in the mobile space for about 8 years now. We started building dev tools at Red Five Labs for Nokia/Symbian smartphones, specifically a .NET runtime for Symbian OS.
When we worked with customers trying to get their Windows Mobile apps running on Nokia, we kept on seeing the same kind of app being built over and over.
What was technically the most challenging part of developing Mobile Forms?
Probably supporting different codebases for each of the mobile platforms. We wanted to deliver a great experience on each OS, so that meant writing the code as close to the metal as was feasible.
We have customers all around the world in every timezone, so making sure everyone’s data arrives in a timely manner keeps us busy!
Do you have any products in the pipeline?
We’re focussing on our core Mobile Forms product for now, adding direct integrations into systems our customers care about and improving our developer API.
What do you wish you’d have known 5 years ago that you know now?
That both Nokia and Microsoft were going to fail in mobile? Our last startup was basically a bet that those two would always remain relevant…look how that turned out!
Where do you see Device Magic in 5 years time?
From day one we wanted to be both a platform and a product…by having an API, more and more people are using Mobile Forms to solve the “last mile” of data collection. We see ourselves (hopefully) solving that problem completely for people needing to get data from the field.
What is the most magical thing about running your own business?
Business (especially tech/Internet) is so global these days…it’s really interesting to interact with people from all over the globe, applying our tech in ways we definitely didn’t imagine. We’re humbled by some of the institutions that rely on us.
What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?
US Immigration reform for entrepreneurs probably. We’d love to be building our business from the US, but that is currently quite difficult.
What is your favourite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?
Hmmm, that’s a difficult one…I’m really enjoying my Klipsch in-ear headset – I use it for everything from gym to conference calls! In terms of an app, if you follow NFL and live outside the US, NFL Game Pass app+service is really, really impressive.
Which entrepreneurs do you most admire?
That’s easy! Elon Musk. Who else tackles 3 of the most challenging problems facing humanity? I admired him before I realized he was born in South Africa.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone starting up?
Get through as many startup iterations as possible, as early as possible. My theory is that entrepreneurship is a learned skill and most of the success stories that emerge are the result of a few prior attempts at company-building.
For example someone of 23 with three ventures under their belt is more likely to succeed, all other things being equal, than someone at 30 without a startup under their belt. You can’t mitigate the lack of experience by reading either, at least not completely; you have to do it.
Also watch our for winner’s bias. But that’s just my 2c.
How important is it to love what you do?
Extremely important. When you multiply probability of success by the size of that outcome, you have to be doing it for more than monetary gain.
What are you most excited about at the moment?
I’m really excited that we’ve finally entered the area of privately-operated spacefaring. That’s a huge milestone for humanity and it almost seems to have gone unnoticed! Also, the commoditization of electronics hardware with things like Arduino has opened up a whole bunch of possibilities and innovation.
Finished reading? Check out Device Magic!