Lockdown Q&A with Brian Smillie, Founder & CEO

Startup founder

Since we’re all stuck at home right now, we thought – what better time to ask Beezer Founder and CEO Brian some questions?

Since Brian started Beezer’s journey on the quest to make mobile apps accessible for everyone – taking on Apple and the app stores in the process – we’ve come a long way. We couldn’t have made it this far without the amazing Beezer community of everyone who shares our beliefs:

  • That you shouldn’t have to be a massive corporation with deep pockets and global name recognition to be able to have a brilliant app that people actually use.
  • That anyone should have the ability to build a super-engaging, super-powerful mobile-first online presence – whether they know the first thing about technology, or not!
  • That a mobile-first app doesn’t need to be limited, and instead should be accessible on any device, from Android to Apple, from tablet to computer.
  • That you should be able to share it instantly with all of your customers and potential customers – and that they should be able to share it with each other, too.
  • That nobody should have to wait for approval from Apple or Google every time they want to update their app.
  • And that all of this – from building your brilliant progressive web app; to sharing it directly and seeing it spread virally; to using it to engage with your customers, sending them exciting new content and push notifications; to analysing its performance and updating it as often as you want – all of this should cost you just a small fraction of what it will bring you in return.

It’s these beliefs that get Brian and the team up and excited every morning to keep working on Beezer and making it better, even if we do have to do it from home.

So we’ve asked Brian some questions so that he could tell you all himself about his journey with Beezer, the good and the bad about start-up life, and what habits he just can’t kick.

You can watch the full video with Brian’s responses here: https://youtu.be/P2yAjvoH43Y

And if you just want the skimmed version, here are some highlights:

Bypassing the app stores: a better solution for a business app

How did you get the idea for Beezer? 

“I was running a digital agency in Sydney when I started to hear the same story from so many of my clients: ‘We spent a fortune building our app, but nobody’s downloading it!’ I could feel their pain, because the distribution model for apps is broken. SMEs in particular are struggling.

Apps can take weeks to build, they can cost thousands of pounds, and even when you’ve built them, your problems have just begun. Eight out of 10 apps never even make it out of the app store. They just sit there, doing nothing, until they die and turn to dust.

We figured there was only one way to solve this problem: bypass the app stores. So that’s exactly what we did. Beezer offers SMEs a platform to build and distribute their apps directly, outside the app stores – and you don’t need to be a geek or a creative genius to build it.

What was it like being on Dragons’ Den?

One thing that was good was, I’d watched the program from the very start, so there was an element of familiarity walking into the Den and actually meeting the Dragons. I didn’t feel like it was for the first time – I felt like I actually knew the guys.

Dragons' Den

We were in there for two and half hours pitching nonstop – and that was edited down to 19 minutes. Of course we could have done some things differently, but we came out of there with an offer – and more importantly, we came out with five Dragons, industry experts, validating how good Beezer was.

(Read more about Beezer’s experience on Dragons’ Den here)

What’s your favourite thing about being the founder of a startup? 

My favourite thing about working in the startup world is – we’re making a difference. Building apps without app stores, and taking on some of the behemoths out there? That’s exciting! And no two days are the same.

What’s your least favourite thing about being the founder of a startup? 

Raising capital is definitely my least favourite part of the startup journey so far. It’s tough. It’s not easy. You know, we aren’t in the States, where startups have the advantage of being in Silicon Valley, where large sums of money are raised for these opportunities.

But, even though it’s not my favourite part, we have been fortunate to have people believe in us – and I want to thank all our shareholders, for investing in our product, believing in Beezer, and believing in me.

What advice do you have for everyone who’s stuck at home in lockdown right now? 

The best piece of advice I think I can give you would be to keep things really simple, live in the day, and don’t think too far ahead. Don’t dwell on ‘when will this thing end’…just live in the day. And try to take advantage of any extra time you have. If you have a hobby, spend some more time on that hobby.

I think, also, take this time to get closer to your family. Whether it’s making meals together or whatever, spend time with your family – this is a great time to do that.

What’s your vice?

This is an easy one. Trainers!

I have a problem with buying too many trainers. My wardrobe is overflowing with trainers. My life is being taken over by trainers. Trainers, trainers, trainers! I love trainers.

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