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225 Nickels Arcade
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Ben Kazez

What are the necessary basics of starting a mobile app company?
You need a well-balanced team. I would say that's true to any start-up. It's really important to be frugal and have a lot of skills on the founding team.
How do you know whether you have a business vs a one-hit-wonder product?
Ultimately, it comes down to the financials and the money aspect. There is definitely a difference between having an app and having a business.
How do you leverage that initial success into a growing company?
It's really a matter of how you allocate those resources. One of the things we learned early on is we can do a lot with creating a suite of our own travel apps.
Is Mobiata a travel-app company or does its ethos go beyond that?
I see us as a mobile travel company. Anyone who uses one of our apps understands us as the company that makes their travel easier through iPhone and Android.
Leaving the safe confines of working for someone else to be your own boss is not an easy step. In fact, it's a leap of faith most people don't have the courage to make. What was that transition like for you?
It was kind of scary. At the time I was working for Ultralingua. It was founded by two professors at the college I attended, and I was the first engineer. I don't have a business degree, and early on I was wondering, 'Is the success I am seeing going to last a month?' After a few months it became really clear that it was doing really well, so I decided to take it up as a full-time thing.
Were there things you were afraid of then that make you scratch your head now?
I could have made the move sooner if I had wanted to.
Do you think slowly starting a business on the side is the best way to go or should people just dive in head first?
I have no experience diving in head first. There are some big benefits to taking it slowly. We didn't take any investor funding. We don't have any debt to worry about. That has been very freeing. We have been able to spend all of our time developing these products instead of putting together pitches or sorting through legal documents. That's a really time-consuming process. It really helped us move that much faster. It also meant that had Mobiata not worked out, it would have been a nice side project.

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