Home The Latest Mobile apps for the little people

Mobile apps for the little people

| Print |  Email
The Latest
Tuesday, April 12, 2011

BY ILIE MITARU

Portland-based Night and Day Studios has in the past two years transitioned from building media installations for museums into a mobile app company. Founder Nat Sims (at left) managed to steer the company through an economic recession by shifting industry, radically restructuring, and following a fortuitous idea after reading a children’s book to his daughter.

“It taught me a lesson about keeping expenses really low,” Sims says. The staff had to relocate when their Firehouse offices caught fire last year. The company first rented the Fire House offices when they had secured a $1 million museum contract with the city of Tucson, Ariz. The city had ambitious plans, but as federal and state dollars dried up, the project sputtered. In January 2008, the museum put the project on hold for one month, leaving Simms with a salaried staff of 15 with nothing to work on.

“At that point, with all my staff and stuff, I was spending like $80,000 a month,” Sims says, “but I kept everybody on.” One night into that quiet month Sims was reading the Peekaboo Barn children’s book to his then 1-year-old daughter. He had an idea: build a Peekaboo Barn app.

Sims presented the idea to the team and they jumped in immediately. The app was finished in five weeks, but sales for the first month didn’t break $1,000. Then the Arizona project fell apart completely, leaving Sims with 15 employees, an app with promise but little revenue, and no other major museum projects on the horizon. He fired all but three employees and set about turning Night and Day Studios into a mobile app company.

And then Peekaboo Barn sales began ticking up in the iTunes store. Erin Rackelman, who was doing business development for Night and Day, had circumvented the usual app review sites and instead focused on reaching out to “mommy bloggers” to promote the product. It worked. Peekaboo Barn climbed to the top 25 in education apps, and remains there to this day.

Since Peekaboo Barn, all their apps have been featured either on the iTunes home page or top 25 in their respective categories. Night and Day will based its apps on a handful of prominent children’s books from authors Richard Scarry and Eric Carl, from which they have purchased rights. It also has done some large commercial apps, for Nick Junior and the Penguin Kids Club.
“Now that my daughter is 3, we’re mostly doing apps for 3- and 4-year-olds,” he says, “so [the business] will probably grow with her.”

Ilie Mitaru is a contributing writer for Oregon Business.

 

 

 

More Articles

Innovation: a critique

News
Wednesday, October 08, 2014
1008 innovation thumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

A Design Week panel discussion raises questions about how innovative we really are.


Read more...

Molecular Movies

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Dr. Chong Fang isn’t God. But the assistant professor of chemistry at Oregon State University is getting closer to figuring out how he put everything together. 


Read more...

Gone Girl

News
Monday, September 29, 2014
roundup-logo-thumb-14BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Wehby disappears, Kitzhaber fails to disclose and Seattle gets bike share before Portland.


Read more...

Fork & Bottle

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014

National media can’t get enough of Oregon’s pinot noir, artisan-food purveyors and lively, independent film scene.


Read more...

What I'm Reading

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014

Nick Herinckx, CEO of Obility, and Jake Weatherly, CEO of SheerID, share what they've been reading.


Read more...

Gender Code

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY COURTNEY SHERWOOD

Janice Levenhagen-Seeley reprograms tech.


Read more...

College Conundrum

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

University and college tuition fees have been rising for more than a decade, while state funds for higher education have steadily declined.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS