Many startups, and in fact established businesses, have some form of an app designed for the mobile industry, but how do they know if their app is in fact being used to its full advantage? Gustaf Leksell and Chi Diré were wondering the same thing, and came up with a product to accurately measure revenue and download intelligence for this ever growing market, filling an obvious gap. We spoke to Gustaf  to find out more out their business, Reflection…

Tell us a bit more about your business offering

Reflection provides free and accurate app revenue and download intelligence to all developers who make apps. We’re also building premium tools that can help developers make sense of the data and better succeed in the app market. We are developing these tools with feedback from our developer community.

Where are you based? Have you always been here?

We’re based in the heart of London’s West End. We’re a diverse group of talented people from various backgrounds but key members – myself and Chi (Founder & COO) were app developers. I‘m Swedish and I ended up in London for the access to talent, business partners and capital.   

Who would you consider to be your target audience?

When I started Reflection two years ago, it was very expensive to access accurate app market intelligence. This was a problem because I needed the information to understand what to build, the best performing countries for the app, and how many downloads I needed to reach and maintain specific ranks in the app stores. It is essential to have this data to succeed in the app market.

And why do you think you are unique? What gives you the edge over your competitors?

Our data is free for developers who share their store data with us – we receive their data and in return they are offered access to intelligence for the market that we offer. With app intelligence going free our aim is to build premium features that help developers understand their market. We are building these features with close feedback from our developer community to ensure that our tools are useful and reliable for them.

How long have you been working on this project and what stage are you at to date?

We have been building for about 2 years with our focus on delivering an accurate intelligence service. We are currently in open beta with developer partners such as Miniclip, Sega, Square Enix, Soundcloud and Sky to name but a few.

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Tell us how this project is being funded? Do you have any investors?

It’s privately funded with investors who all believe in what we do – making accurate market intelligence available to the entire developer community. We also have a great angel investor who has previously invested in companies such as Uber and Snapchat.

Is this your first startup?

I’ve been involved in 2 startups previously, though not as a CEO, one of which was acquired by Zynga. I think both experiences really prepared me for what I am doing now.

What makes you so passionate about this business and where did the idea for setting it up originally come from?

I’m a developer myself and I know how hard it is to succeed in the app market. There are over 2000 apps released every day so gaining traction is not easy. I really want to support the developer community, to help them understand the markets, and for them to focus on what really matters – creating great apps.

Tell us about your work background and how you came from working for someone else or studying to running your own business

I dropped out of university in Stockholm where I studied computer science to move to Seoul to make computer games. Developing games has always been a passion of mine and it was exciting to be part of a market that was at the forefront of gaming. My career has taken me to Austin, Texas for another startup and finally to London where I got my MBA. After that, I joined the BBC to head up business development for their games division. It was at the BBC where I started to think about the need for Reflection.

What about your childhood background? Were any members of your family running their own businesses?

My grandfather was the father of radiosurgery and he was a brilliant inventor, transforming neurosurgery. My father later took his inventions to market and founded a company in Sweden that provides radiotherapy equipment for non-invasive cancer treatment. My dad is a great entrepreneur and mentor and has urged me to follow what I believe in.

Any interesting hobbies?

I love skiing and scuba diving. There is something calming and inspiring about being part of nature that is vast and sometimes forbidding.

Do you have a role model, or mentor who inspires you?

My grandfather and my father. They have created incredible inventions and companies that are saving lives. I feel really honoured to have grown up in an inspirational and supporting environment. I’m also inspired by entrepreneurs who are changing the world for the better. Elon Musk being one of them with Tesla and Space X.

You mentioned a business partner. Any interesting stories there?

My co-founder Chi Dire and myself have really complementary skills. He is handling the technical side of operations and I’m handling the business side.

I met Chi while I was working at the BBC. He was running his own firm at that time, developing software and apps for various companies. He worked on projects such as Wallace and Gromit, Motorola, and Unilever. We got along well from the onset, and I was impressed with his ability to develop across mobile and web applications. When I started Reflection, I  went to him for advice on technical operations and development, and as we shared the vision for app market intelligence, he agreed to join me as a co-founder.

Chi has experience in managing large teams of developers and has over 600 apps on his phone. There’s no one who understands this market as a developer as well as he does.

Tell us about the most exciting moment to date in running your business

I wouldn’t put it as a single event. It’s exciting to work with really smart people and making constant progress. Every day provides a new challenge and if you don’t have the right team you won’t go far.

What about the toughest moment?

Fundraising can be really draining. Convincing investors who don’t believe in what you are doing can be particularly hard. I think my advice to anyone starting up a company is not to quit and to believe in what you are doing.  

Have you made any “bad” decision along the way? What did you learn from this?

We tried to pick up development speed by hiring developers. I was too eager to fill the positions and we ended up hiring people that were not up to scratch. This actually slowed down development speed as it took more time to train them when we ultimately had to let them go. My lesson from this is to have a rigorous recruitment process and if in doubt, don’t hire.  

Where would you like to see your business in the next few years?

Our goal is to be the market standard for intelligence for app developers. For every current and future platform for apps including iOS, Google Play, Apple TV or new stores that will support VR.

Any last words for someone considering a startup?

Don’t quit!

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