One of those apps you knew someone would invent one day….
Full transcript of the interview is below:
Monique: Welcome to this week’s entrepreneur interview with me, Monique Chambers and my guest this week is Matthew Borg Carr from MBC Byte Code.
Monique: That’s byte with the ‘Y’ that’s really down for the kids. [Laughs]
I used to think bits and bytes was a really special thing when I was young. So what do you do at MBC byte code?
Matthew: So we develop any kind of websites, software and we specialize also in mobile app development.
Monique: Okay, so other people in general?
Matthew: Yes, for any organization or any company that requires a website or if any individuals
also require a website or any software for their needs. Monique: And how long have you been doing that? Matthew: We’ve been doing this for ten years now. Monique: Wow. Okay.
Matthew: Since I was a steward.
Monique: Thank you for saying that because I was going to say you don’t look old enough. [Laughs] So I always had a passion for coding. So this was my thing, basically.
Monique: And so you’ve gone through some transition of languages as well. Because in ten years, things have changed.
Matthew: Yes technology has evolved continuously so you need to keep in line with whatever is coming.
Monique: Ok. And now recently, I spotted you via LinkedIn that you have an app that you’ve developed yourselves for yourselves sort of thing is, it’s your own product.
Matthew: Well we tend to call it a mobile app developed in Malta, for the world. So really, and truly, it’s not for ourselves, it’s for the entire planet.
Monique: But you’re selling it, nobody else has commissioned you.
Matthew: Exactly developed in house by MBC byte code, basically. And it’s been it’s been
launched a couple of days ago, two days ago. So it’s pretty new.
Monique: So tell us all about it.
Matthew: Alright. I can start from the very beginning if you don’t mind. [Laughs]
Monique: Please please do.
Matthew: Nowadays the trend is that when people require services, what they do is they go on the social media and ask for recommendations.
Monique: Is this the builders and plumbers, that kind of thing?
Matthew: Yeah so for example, people tend to ask, mostly women any recommendations for a good hairdresser or for example they have an appointment with the hairdresser today and the hairdresser drops the appointment so they urgently need the hairdresser for example they have a wedding.
Monique: It’s Wednesday I need a hairdresser I mean you know. [Laughs]
Matthew: [Laughs] yeah could be. It can be Saturday. So this idea came out from this scenario basically. Social media is good it’s there, but what I say is social media is intended to connect
people. My hurry app is intended to connect consumers to businesses and vice versa of course. So what my hurry app does in a nutshell is, for example I need a hairdresser to keep on the same concept, I go in the category of hairdressers and with just one click I send the request to all the hairdressers in my hurry app database with the date and the time of the services required, as well as with any additional details for example, hair color, hair cut or load, right, you name it. And this applies to all services, so to speak. So all the hairdressers in that date in my hurry app database will be notified with this request, and they can either ignore it or accept it if they can offer the service in that time and the date. So this creates an efficiency for consumers and a good exposure which is affordable exposure for businesses.
Monique: So the businesses actually pay to be in the directory.
Matthew: Exactly. We have four different packages; the basic the basic packages 999 excluding VAT so it’s fairly cheap and all packages’ duration is for six months. So 999 for six months is fairly cheap.
Monique: It’s fantastic!
Matthew: Fairly cheap compared to what their marketing providers.
Monique: Especially if you get like the scenario you mentioned about a hairdresser and somebody dropping out you can pick up business when you have acquired slot?
Matthew: Exactly and for 999, with one appointment you can easily repay what you’ve paid to be on the database.
Monique: So you have is it mostly that kind of service online is it more sort of beautician aspect of things ?
Matthew: With regards to categories there are there are various service providers that can benefit from my hurry app not just beauty or there is beauty but we have for example, even private lessons, tuitions, we have any kind of category that you can possibly imagine and this is just the beginning we will not stop with that. We will continuously update the categories and services that may come up or may have been missed. We will include them on daily basis basically.
Monique: So does it work like with us? What’s the work radius? So I can say I need a hairdresser, within 10 miles.
Matthew: For now, it’s just the beginning, and it’s just in Malta. We are targeting all businesses in the country. So all hairdressers, not nearby but all the hairdressers that are in Malta for now, however I must add in October we are currently in negotiations with a company in London that was soon as we started marketing my Hurry app they showed interest and got in touch immediately like you did.
Matthew: So in October we will be in London for first week of October to continue negotiations that have started already but virtually but we will be there in person. So by the end of the year or maybe a little bit longer we’ll also be taking into consideration the English market. So at that point, the radius will become an important factor. Because a hairdresser in London, definitely won’t interested in Malta or vice versa. But if I’m in London, I can set up ten mile radius or five mile radius and those businesses that are within that radius, they can approach them. But for now, as we said, just the entire country.
Monique: So it’s almost it’s like an Uber for services.
Monique: So how did you actually really come up with the idea? Who came up with the idea?
Matthew: The idea came up with it my wife Raisa, it came up funnily enough from a real experience. She’s a lawyer by the way. She used to deliver lectures at the University of Malta, and she had an appointment with her hairdresser couple of hours before the lecture. Now the hairdresser just dropped the appointment and she had already washed her hair to make it ready for hairdresser to style it. So she had to go to this lecture in front of all those students with her hair undone and even wet.
Monique: And students are terrified.
Matthew: I believe so. [Laughs] I was the software developer and we discussed what if we have a tool that could help these kinds of emergencies. In all fairness my hurry app was intended to tackle just emergencies but then
after market research, evaluations and stuff like that, my Hurry app evolved to be what it is today.
Monique: So you actually did it properly because I’m glad you said you did market research because I’m so annoyed with people who don’t do their market research.
Matthew: Definitely. Well before starting development of my Hurry app I had a full time job so I had to quit their full time job and focus on the present, I used to work 60 hours a week to end up where we are today. And so yes, we had to do the proper market research. We also issue questionnaires to the public to make sure that this product is actually required and people will make use of it. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have left my full time job and sacrificed all this time for nothing. So I am proud to say we did this thing to properly and the right way.
Monique: Fantastic! So did you start the idea before you quit your job? Or was it like No, we’ve done the research, now let’s get on and start developing?
Matthew: No, really and truly, the work started in parallel with the market research with my full time job. I used to work a couple of hours in the evening after work, gathering information, gathering data, compiling the questionnaire, interviewing people, businesses mostly. So during the gathering of data phase it was done in parallel and with the efforts of Raisa my wife, this was possible to be done because it’s not a one man job. It’s more than that. And then when we decided that yes we have enough this is a viable project we should go for it. Then it was the point where we took the decision and I quit my job and I started a full blast on my hurry app.
Monique: No looking back so far?
Matthew: No if I had to redo it, I would do it. It’s been an amazing experience full of challenges because, as we already said, money was the biggest challenge throughout with no employment and with the doubt, so to speak, even though we were sure but with a little bit of doubt that this might not work or might be for nothing because it’s normal in life, the doubts will never die.
Monique: I think it’s good to be a little bit scared otherwise I don’t think you work hard enough.
Matthew: Definitely. I agree. I totally agree and I’m grateful that I was a little bit scared because the end result is satisfactory. As I said challenges were there. But now I look back and I say we managed to release this app and now we keep on sustaining it through continuous improvement, we make sure our users are benefiting from the main purpose and scope of the app.
Monique: So one of the things I think is wonderful about it is when you do go on to the social media sites and you ask somebody can somebody recommend a hairdresser it turns into a bit of a bitch fest.
Matthew: I agree. Some people tend to make fun of it also. But let’s put that on the side it’s not the main scope; what it is if you had to look deep into it, it’s a modern but a conventional business directory where you end up with recommendations full of telephone numbers and you have to call them one by one. Now instead of asking the question on social media, you could have gone to the directory, opened it up find the hairdressers and call them one by one. So really and truly even though it’s been recommended by other people, there are still telephone numbers and you still have to call them so that’s what my Hurry up is doing, what social media fails to the do. So it’s reverse engineering kinds of thing.
Monique: So I can offer you the service and I will call you know, I will let you know I can offer this service and then it’s up to you to decide which of the people to respond to.
Matthew: Exactly we can bring the example with figures. If I there are 50 hairdressers, for example, and 20 can help me out I will ignore totally the thirty because I know they can’t help me out on the day and time I specified and then focus just on the 20. Now, out of the 20, I select the one of my preference. So if you can see the time wasting is becoming less, less, less and less with this tool.
Monique: So is there like a button that you click and you phone that salon?
Matthew: No, it’s direct push notification to the app of the user of the business service provider. So what would the just one click, I just have to enter the date, as I said, the time and the details and all the hairdresser’s with their phone will ring basically with the request, they open it up and with just swipe left I accept or swipe right I ignore and that’s it.
Monique: But then how do I book the appointment, the one I’ve chosen?
Matthew: Yes. So if we go back to this example; out of the 20 as soon as I select one hairdresser from the 20 it will automatically move into the calendar that is built-in in the app both for the service provider as well as the user consumer and on the day towards before the appointment, the app will notify me that I have an appointment within two hours. So there’s also a notification reminder for every appointment.
Monique: So you can then see what you’ve booked and where you thought in case you go to the wrong place.
Matthew: Exactly, exactly. So you can click literally on you can go into calendar, click on the appointment and open up the profile of the service provider. And with just one click. You can even open the GPS of the mobile phone and it will direct you straight to the business or service.
Monique: Easy. Nice.
Matthew: So nowadays time is money and then efficiency is important.
Monique: Yeah, convenience is absolutely the way to go. If it’s convenient. It’s gonna fly off the shelves. So did you have feedback already from customers that have been using it?
Matthew: Yes, we have. We are very much happy about the performance because the launch was on Saturday.
Monique: So it’s a week ago. Matthew: No, no. Five days ago. Monique: Wow. Okay.
Matthew: This Saturday, this September. And so well, there are a lot of users, there were a lot of downloads as well. And even on Facebook the likes have increased, people really and truly want this kind of tool.
Now, we are working hard. We are continuously of course monitoring the performance of the app itself because that’s what our concern is. There were instances where there was so much traffic that we noticed that the performance slowed down a little bit. So we are now tackling this kind of issue so if such occasions occurs in the in the future, we know about it and we solve it straightaway.
Monique: Actually it’s quite a nice problem to have within a week of launch. [Laughs]
Matthew: I agree. In fact, instead of going crazy, we’re kind of happy about it because that’s a good sign. I know it’s a bad sign but on the other hand, it’s a good sign from our perspective that a lot of people are making use of this app.
Monique: So have you marketed it?
Matthew: Yes, we have. We are mainly focusing on social media marketing. Well marketing is expensive,
honestly. And being a start up, it’s kind of a struggle to go for such thing. Well, marketing is essential on the other hand, and we will definitely keep that in mind. And we’ve been on several news stations and we are also considering other possible options.
Monique: But if you’re already getting downloads at the speed where you need to kind of buy extra space you are doing quite well.
Matthew: We are, but let’s be honest, five days it’s still too early.
Monique: But normally once you start good, you pretty much keep going good if the app does
what it says.
Matthew: I agree. But I tend to keep my feet on the ground when these kind of things and not fly away. I give it time, the time it requires, in all fairness.
Monique: You don’t get too excited.
Matthew: Yes. Yes. It’s nice, it’s fun. But as I said, as much as possible, we try to keep our feet
on the ground to not to overdo it or go the wrong way. Monique: Yeah, cut any corners.
Monique: Because once you do something wrong, it doesn’t work. People start unusing and unloading your app.
Monique: And that’s horrible, feeling horrible when something goes wrong. And things like new features. You were saying? You’ve got some unusual businesses that have signed up to be suppliers?
Matthew: So far. No. Well, it’s not an unusual I would say there was one particular business that got in touch. This category was not so clear. So we fixed it for him. He did contact us first of all, he was happy with that, that we accommodated his requests. And he was right in all fairness. I mean.
Monique: So what’s his category? Now I’m intrigued.
Matthew: To be honest. I forgot what it was.
Monique: Something slightly unusual. [Laughs] Matthew: Yeah, I would say so. It wasn’t that complicated. Well, the wording was the only issue. Monique: This is one of the problems people have.
Matthew: It’s perspective in all fairness.
Monique: Yeah what you call it, has to be what everyone else calls it, otherwise you don’t find it. Matthew: Exactly. But well he’s in the industry and I would say that he knows best.
Monique: So we hope. [Laughs] Matthew: [Laughs] I hope so. Yeah.
Monique: So you’re just going out essentially via Facebook and getting businesses to sign up that way or have you got somebody cold calling?
Matthew: We did. We used to do that before the launch to give a little bit of taste on the phone to potential users. In fact we had some registrations before the launch they showed interest. They gave us the details on the phone recently wrote them down manually and when they have was available for download the just look at the end and found the app. So they kind of skipped the registrations that because they did it on the phone but now when things settle down because we’re still kind of catching up and getting up exactly after the launch of all the arrangements and stuff like that, my plan is to organize more information sessions and also which in something like that would be marketing as well. And also I would like to have a call center 24 seven and especially when we launch in London; this is I wanted for sure; via Skype or phone call or mobile or whatever it is, or even chat, to be always be always be there for our users. In any case, if I don’t know if the app crashes or they have a difficulty there or they don’know what to do or they did something that they did not save or for any particular reason. We want to always be there and listen to our users and help them out wherever possible.
Monique: And the smart thing to do as well as the other apps that you build other people as you go forward they can be using your service to help spread the costs.
Monique: Know these things all you have to look at the future and how these things can be
Matthew: Always think ahead.
Monique: And any other future plans for you guys I mean this one I know we’ve just launched five days ago but you know if you give it six months forward if you got other ideas that you want to work on?
Matthew: For now, I want to focus on my Hurry app to make it 100% optimum. I would consider expanding the app on for example, focusing on properties. For now it is services and products but there is property retail inside it but for example, if you click on retail on my Hurry up, it will open my hurry app property or my property app. If you start imagining and dreaming, the sky is the limit, so to speak. The first step is a struggle, to get it out there, to finalize it, to make it available for you that step I believe we are in it. Or it’s behind us just right behind us. But we’ll see. We’ll see how it goes. Like I said, the sky’s the limit. And I won’t stop here for sure.
Monique: Fantastic news. Well, it’s been really interesting talking to you. That’s Matthew Borg Carr from MBC Byte Code and their app which is myhurryapp.com
Actually, you’ve got the.com, fantastic.
Monique: Thank you very much, Matthew, for coming in and talking to us. Matthew: Thank you very much for the invitation.