With millions of apps available online that are increasing each year, an average smartphone user has a wide array of options on which ones to use that correspond to his needs. For Appscore co-founder and Managing Director Alex Louey, whose company has been developing apps, websites, cloud solutions, Internet of Things (IoT), and other technology-based products, it’s more than just building a software. Its mission is to create great customer experiences for their clients and make their lives easier every day.
“We started off as a mobile app company. But now, we've progressed from being very focused on apps to focusing on making our customers’ lives easier and better for them to do things,” Alex quipped. “It means that we don’t look into a particular technology. Rather, we look at the problem to be solved and the appropriate technology to do it. We look at the entire life cycle. We look at the customer experience and the problem that they're facing. Then, we build the software and look at what we can do to help clients engage customers and get the customers to use their business software,” he added.
Although Appscore is a technology company, Alex admitted to not having any IT background. He built his career on project management, working in various banks. It was not until he and his mate, Nick Bell, one of the co-founders of AppsCore, decided to start a business that he got into this industry. His parents, who were Chinese immigrants that ran restaurants, had advised him to get an education, work for somebody, and not get into the restaurant business. “It’s true. I'm not in the restaurant business, but I am working for myself,” he countered.
With the challenges that come with owning and running a business, Alex shares his insights and some entrepreneurial lessons derived from smartphone apps.
1.) Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp: Communication is key
“I use this a lot because it's a way that I communicate and talk to a lot of people. The idea is when you start a business you've got to talk to a lot of people. Even with existing clients, you've got to go out, talk to them, take them out to lunches, find out their future objectives. And it's all about communication. It's all about building relationships,” Alex explained.
He emphasised that the key is having the right networks and the right relationships. By engaging various stakeholders in the business, it allows him to understand the values that are important to their customers and staff. “As the company grows, I continue to learn how to communicate with a broad range of people. You need to speak to them in their language. Different people process communication in different ways. Some are very visual, while others are very auditory. As I’ve learned recently, some challenges that I’ve had was not about others being difficult, but it’s the way I communicate with them. They don’t understand because they don’t process information the way I do. So, I’ve had to change the way I communicate to get my message across.”
In communicating with different kinds of people, Alex underscored the need to be genuine about it to show care. He receives and exhibits care through his engagement with EO Melbourne, where he found value in talking to people who share similar experiences with him and can empathise with his concerns.
2.) Angry Birds: An exercise on frustration
Alex believes that there is no entrepreneur or business person, whether successful or unsuccessful, that can say their journey has been smooth sailing, without problems or stressful situations. But he learns to deal with those circumstances and move forward with the lessons. “When you start a business, you're going to be frustrated and have setbacks. There are going to be hurdles that you can't initially work out. But if you persist with it, even how hard they come, you'll eventually find a way through. Out of all the five stages of Angry Bird, I think I got up to stage three, and I spent about three hours playing on the plane,” he laughingly shared.
3.) YouTube: Continuous learning
“YouTube is quite entertaining and also very educational. TED talks are one of my favourites. Sometimes it tells me stuff that I already know, but it reinforces the things that I need to focus on or the skills I have to learn. As an entrepreneur, you can't stop learning. I don't think there is anybody who is good at everything. You'll always learn because there is no playbook to be an entrepreneur. For every step you take and every way you advance, you create new ground,” imparted Alex.
To learn continuously, they send their key executives on training courses to learn about the newest and greatest stuff. Since Alex didn’t have any sales background, he had to learn that skill by reading books and talking to other people. He also found various learning opportunities from EO Melbourne.
4.) Instagram: Know the trends and tell your story
According to Alex, “It is important to look at how other people are doing things. Instagram is great at that. I follow people on a whole range of topics, whether business or personal. If you're interested in a particular topic, you can see how other people are doing it. It’s the same with business. There are always people that do worse than you, and those that do better than you. As an entrepreneur, always look at what other people are doing better than you and learn it.”
He stated, “Businesses, especially in the technology field, need to be on the lookout for new trends. With technology, you can easily be superseded the next year, even if you are the best last year. When processes change, customer expectations also change.” He also stressed the importance of marketing and being able to tell your stories to your customers. Culture and corporate values also play a major part in attracting people to the business.
5.) ANZ Bank app: Tight control over money
“Cash flow is king” is a line commonly heard from business people that Alex echoed. He expounded, “You are responsible not only for the company’s success but also for everyone that relies on you for their livelihood. It's important to keep an eye on what your business is doing financially. It is good to spend money to grow, but you have to make sure that you get a return on the money before you start to splurge, thinking you can hire fifty people if there's no sales pipeline to refill.”
For the next two years, Alex aims to double the size of the company, create more services, and grow the consulting space and resource sector. He wants to continue to push at the forefront of the various technologies that are coming out in the market while strengthening their core business of building software for their customers.
To Alex, the entrepreneurial journey has highs and lows. But what he found helpful is having a good team around him that can help him refocus when he’s down. “I don't think an entire company can rely solely on a single person to drive it forward. The important thing is you have a good team to make up for your shortfalls. If you have a good team, and you are honest with your team and transparent with your leadership team, you can make anything happen,” he conveyed.