22 May 2013
App’s Got Game
Keith Rumjahn was inspired by his experience as a basketball coach to come up with his award-winning mobile app
When veteran National Basketball Association (NBA) coach Flip Saunders contacted Keith Rumjahn out of the blue requesting a new feature from his company's app service, the Hong Kong-based mobile app developer swiftly responded and fulfilled the request in less than two weeks.
"He asked if there could be a new function enabling our app to be shown on an external monitor so that his whole team of basketball players could see the app at the same time. Our team acted immediately," says Mr Rumjahn. "We attend to our clients' needs and have an in-depth understanding of what they want. This is one of our biggest strengths. We didn't start off providing an ideal service, but by interacting with customers, we have been making progress."
"Making progress" may be an understatement for Mr Rumjahn's company, J Plus Corporation, a mobile app developer based in Hong Kong’s digital community, Cyberport. The startup has been growing at a remarkable pace, with its product, Coach's Clipboard, taking the sports world by storm over the past few years.
|The basketball clipboard version of J Plus’ app featured in the 2012 Hollywood family film Thunderstruck|
First Mover Advantage
J Plus’ Coach's Clipboard beat 200 entries and won the Grand Award and the Creative Lifestyle Gold Award at the inaugural Asia Smartphone Apps Contest held earlier this year
"At the time, there were not many apps in the market. We got on this fast-moving train early, so we enjoyed a first-mover advantage," says Mr Rumjahn, who quit his full-time job two years ago to focus on the app business. "If we hadn't done it until now, it would probably have been a different story considering the much more intense market competition today."
But it’s not just timing. Mr Rumjahn believes the company’s success hinged on its ability to tap a niche market. "If you try to please everyone, you may end up with a mediocre product that pleases no one. But if you have a niche product, and make it highly professional, you'll attract users who love your product with passion and your clientele will eventually expand.
"Today, numbers are not as important to investors as before,” he continues. “Your app may have a million free users, but if they don't like it, its presence means nothing. Investors would be interested in your app if you have 1,000 users who open the app every 10 minutes."
Coach's Clipboard is a digital clipboard designed for coaches to show players what plays to run and give players a visual idea of a game setup
Apart from finding niche markets, Mr Rumjahn says that to stay ahead of the competition, newcomers should strive to build a strong and capable technology team.
"Everyone now is looking for talent, so don't rely on conventional ways,” he says. “Go to startup events, university campuses, social gatherings or even karaoke nights to spot the right people. In terms of region, talent in mainland China has very strong IT skills. There's a strong talent pool in the US, too, but they are more expensive. If you need people who are creative with an international outlook and English skills, it has to be Hong Kong."
J Plus Corporation