Engineer Nolan Bushnell said it best.
Everyone who’s ever taken a shower has an idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off, and does something about it who makes the difference.”
These days, most of us regularly have ideas for iPhone apps with no idea what to do about them. Let’s face it—none of us are programmers and even if we were, we wouldn’t know where to start in getting our creations into the app store. So we keep our great ideas to ourselves, knowing that if only we could get someone to do something with those ideas, the world would be changed forever.
A new company can help you with those great ideas.
52apps—named that because the company plans to release 52 apps a year—can take your idea and turn it into an app, which you can then put to use on your own iPhone. Based in Columbia, South Carolina, 52apps is the brainchild of college students and app developers Christopher Thibault and Brendan Lee. Their ability to speed-code apps allows them to customize apps for individual customers.
How do they do it? Thibault and Lee don’t create each app from scratch. The two developers have come up with a customized template that includes items common among most apps. This saves time, as they only have to make that code work with each new app idea.
The best ideas seem to come from outside our field of expertise,” Lee told Savannah, Georgia’s WSAV-TV. “You run out of technology ideas pretty quickly, and so by talking to everyone else in the community we can come up with ideas that we never would have dreamed of.”
Before you start thinking the company takes your idea and makes money off of it, 52apps gives inventors a royalty from each download. So far, 52apps’ creations have received a combined 500,000 downloads, and the company only debuted in January of this year.
At 17, Thibault and Lee developed an app called “Algebra Solver,” which helped them with their math classes.
As they moved onto college, the two developed another app, called smartNote, which is available for free in the App Store. smartNote is designed to allow students to attend class without carrying a notebook. Using an iPad, students can take notes, highlight text within a PDF, and search all content. Users can customize everything from the paper color and text font to cover design.
By the time the two founded 52apps, smartNote had been downloaded more than a half a million times, with a store they created inside the app that allowed users to download other features. That success caught the attention of Stephen Leicht and Bill Kirkland of Collexis Holdings, who worked with the duo to develop 52apps.
Want to submit an idea?
It isn’t as easy as mailing it in. 52apps plans to hold a series of “App Idea Days” at the USC-Columbia Technology Incubator in Columbia. The first Idea Day was held Friday, June 15.
If the people we’ve talked to so far, just randomly asking what ideas they have, is any indication, then there are some unbelievably good ideas out there, just waiting to be built,” Lee said in the days leading up to the event.
While there are many companies willing to help you make your app dream a reality, many expect you to pay them. 52apps not only accepts your ideas free of charge, the company hands you a portion of the royalties if your idea is used.
Still…aren’t you giving your ideas away for free?
Certainly. If your idea is something you can develop yourself, 52apps isn’t the company for you. If you have the funding, time, and entrepreneurial spirit to track down an app development company and pay for your idea to be brought to fruition, you probably stand to make more money than going through a company like 52apps, which will probably take a fairly sizeable cut of the proceeds. Think of it as the app version of Shark Tank. They’ll help you get your idea out there, but they’ll have to stand to gain something from it. Otherwise, you’ll have to do it on your own.