Developing Minds Want to Know: Q&A with Andrew Maltin of MEDL Mobile

Nov 9, 2012

MEDL Mobile develops applications for celebrities, big brand names, and more on both iOS and Android. One of their most notable apps to date is My Wild Night With Ted, an entertaining app that adds the movie’s titular character performing outrageous actions to your photos. MEDL is very diverse in the app projects they undertake, […]

MEDL Mobile develops applications for celebrities, big brand names, and more on both iOS and Android. One of their most notable apps to date is My Wild Night With Ted, an entertaining app that adds the movie’s titular character performing outrageous actions to your photos. MEDL is very diverse in the app projects they undertake, as they’re also behind the recent Marlee Signs, an application that teaches users American Sign Language through the guidance of award-winning actress Marlee Matlin.

In this edition of Developing Minds, CEO Andrew Maltin chats with us about app innovation, their analytic-gathering tool the MEDL Brain, purchasing apps, drinking tequila, and other app developers that inspire him.

Key Company Facts

Name and Title: Andrew Maltin, CEO

Company: MEDL Mobile

Location: Fountain Valley, California

Size (Revenue and/or Employees): 55 Employees

Primary Apps/Platforms: My Wild Night with Ted, Marlee Signs, Boxhead – The Zombie Wars, Kids! Learn to Draw by Walter Foster, Real Recipes, and Greedy Jump (to name a few).

APPOLICIOUS: What inspired you to become an app creator?

Andrew Maltin: I was seeing the emergence of mobile and it reminded me of early web, only faster. Apps proliferation mirrored website proliferation. My partner came from a marketing background and he saw an emerging need for high end custom development. We joined forces and formed a company to solve the need in custom development while looking for opportunities in the emerging market.

APPO: How long have you been developing apps, and what is the most significant difference between now and when you began?

AM: It’s been four years. When we started apps were toys, time killers and shiny objects. Today, mobile apps are driving businesses, improving people’s lives and solving challenges that were previously unsolvable. One of our clients is using the iPad as a device to assist surgeons in performing complex surgeries. Another built a mobile application to distribute masses of information to a judge and jury during an evidence-heavy trial. We still build games – but even those now have complex economies as opposed to being a simple $0.99 download.

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APPO: What apps (outside of those that you develop) inspire you the most and why?

AM: I love Path. I think they found a completely fresh approach to user interface design. I play a lot of Disney iPad games. They are masters at creating a simple gaming mechanic but delivering it in an exciting, fun and engaging way. I also use a lot of small lesser-known games. MEDL is actively purchasing existing games and apps from the store. So I like to see what’s out there. My new favorite is Greedy Jump (which, in full disclosure, we did recently acquire).

Here’s a video of Greedy Jump – Halloween Edition in action:

APPO: Where do you see the most innovation in the app sector?

AM: That’s the amazing thing about the app sector. Innovation is happening everywhere. We see it in the enterprise, with large companies who are using apps to change their business. We see it in medicine. We see it in media. We are building a mobile interface for a company called Mnet America. Mnet is the MTV of South Korea, and we worked with them to reinvent how digital content is delivered to fans.

APPO: How do you harness that innovation in your own titles?

AM: We drink a lot of tequila. And we incentivize the whole company to be on the lookout for new ideas – and to bring them back. Everyone in the company has a monthly app budget. And we ask them to find new things and then tell the rest of us what they find.

APPO: In such a crowded space, explain how you generate awareness and drive downloads to your applications.

AM: That was the single largest challenge we set out to solve when founding MEDL. We’ve solved this challenge in two ways.

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First, by building what we call The MEDL Brain. The MEDL Brain gathers user analytics into what we call a DAP (Detailed Anonymous Profile). The Brain is collecting information from millions of users (MEDL apps have been downloaded more than 17 million times) – and based on that information, we recommend new apps to our users.

Second, by partnering with big names. We purchased one app and attached a celebrity to it. One tweet from the celeb generated more downloads than the app had in total up to then.

APPO: What are the biggest constraints that exist today in the app sector?

AM: Time.

APPO: How do you (or will you) make money from your application?

AM: Several ways. We built a network of direct advertisers who pay us to advertise within our content. We run optimized advertising across our network. We sell in-app digital content such as lesson plans, game level packs and additional media content. And sometimes, we go the old-fashioned way and charge for the download.

APPO: What advice do you have to those working on their first applications?

AM: A big luxury for new developers is that they can get a product to market quickly and then use user feedback to make their product better over time. If you don’t have a marketing budget or a launch plan, then build your base organically and keep making the product better.

APPO: Where do you see the app sector one year from now? Five years from now?

AM: In a year, I believe that many of the cross platform walls will start to come down. We’ll see the emergence of some new powerhouse social media platforms (ours is called Hang With). We’ll start to see a bigger roll up begin to happen with larger companies buying up libraries of applications.

Five years from now, if we play our cards right, we’ll all be on a beach.

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Brad Spirrison

Brad Spirrison is the managing editor of appoLearning and Appolicious Inc. In this capacity, he has sampled and evaluated thousands of iOS and Android applications. He also holds an M.A. in Education and Media Ecology from New York University.

Spirrison worked in concert with appoLearning Expert and Instructional Technology Specialist Leslie Morris while curating and evaluating educational applications.

A longtime media and technology commentator and executive, Spirrison is also a regular contributor to ABC News, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Bloomberg West and The Christopher Gabriel Program.

Spirrison is married and lives with his wife and young son in Chicago. As his son was born just weeks before the debut of the iPad, Spirrison takes his work home with him and regularly samples and enjoys a variety of educational applications for young children.

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