ABLEND of marketing expertise and technical know- how has helped to make a Bristol firm the UK's leading mobile applications developer. At the same time it is taking the city's name around the world.
Mark Mason founded Mubaloo three years ago after selling a digital marketing agency to an American company for an undisclosed sum. He is now its Chief Executive Officer.
Over the last three years the number of staff he employs has grown from two to nearly 50, and the firm which has a turnover of more than £2 million is bullish about the future.
Mr Mason, who left university with a degree in electronics engineering, had taken some time out of work after selling his business to look for his next opportunity. He had an iPhone at the time and started to realise the impact applications, or apps, were beginning to have.
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Through a recruitment agency he was introduced to Ben Trewhella who has been interested in computers since childhood. "He had done a few apps, so I was the money, he was the brain, and we kicked it off," recalled Mr Mason.
Business for the first nine months was relatively quiet. "We were doing little bits of work but then in January 2010 the iPhone became available on Vodafone and T-Mobile as well as on O2. We saw a complete change in the market," he said.
Mubaloo's client base has expanded over the past 12 months with more large corporates using its services. "Our ambition is that the company should continue to grow and we hope to have 60 people working for us soon."
The firm puts together apps for businesses ranging from the insurance giant Axa to the Bristol financial firm Hargeaves and Lansdown. "This was the first app in this country, if not the world, which allows people to trade shares and deal in funds. People always want to get information on the move and with this they can get the most up-to-date prices," explained Mr Mason.
Another local company, Unite, which provides student accommodation, is also a client of Mubaloo. "We designed and developed an app for its housing maintenance team. This has revolutionised the firm's business process.
"Head office can view all of the job details in real time and even see where its staff are, thereby enabling them to plan their work schedules more efficiently. The men doing the maintenance tasks no longer have to fill in paperwork. It's all there in the app. This has increased their work capacity by 40 per cent as the company can feed them jobs throughout the day," said Mr Mason.
One of the firm's most popular apps is the one it created for the Met Office. "It is the 16th most accessed app in the UK. This is above Amazon, Camelot and Groupon. The app lets you have up-to-date weather information wherever you are," he said.
An application for the bookmaker William Hill has also been launched enabling users to receive a random selection of up to five accumulated bets.
Ninety per cent of Mubaloo's work is UK-based but Mark Mason says he will continue to push its services into Europe, America and China, as the demand for apps grows in those countries.
Last month Mark, who confesses to be a gadget freak and entrepreneur, received a top award from the Institute of Directors. He became their regional director of the year. It is an honour that recognises the work of entrepreneurs, company directors and business leaders in building success, creating wealth and growing the economy.
"Our objective over the next five years is to become the mobile development partner of many more FTSE 250 organisations.," he said.
Mubaloo also won the category for firms with less than 100 employees in the Post's Business Awards.