275: Bob Gallagher — Appsynth

275: Bob Gallagher — Appsynth

 

Podcast highlights:

  • [04:18] Earlier this year, you picked up an award in Singapore. Tell us a little bit about that. -- We picked up two awards from Campaign Asia-Pacific. Campaign Asia-Pacific is basically the de facto agency world magazine in the region. It was really good recognition for us. Now it's onward and upwards!
  • [26:00] Do you see anything emerging in Thailand on the mobile front that will catch on in the rest of the world? -- On the consumption side, Thailand is leading in terms of time spent on mobile. We're talking 4-5 hours a day. There is also mobile payment via QR codes, which are very big here. We see the drive to a cashless society. These are things you would notice in Thailand, people scanning people's QR codes and transferring money for products and services very easily.
  • [44:10] So now you're 8 years into the story of Appsynth. Where do things go from here? -- For us it's a careful balancing act in terms of having the people we need versus having a situation where work dries up and we can no longer support the number of people we have. Maybe we could expand to 100 people, be we'll have to see. We also want to look at growing regionally and also in Europe and the US. One effort we've engaged in is diversifying the nationalities of our employees. As we move forward we need to continue to figure out how to change our structure to support our growth.

Podcast notes:

  • [00:05] Welcome Bob Gallagher, Managing Director and Founder of Appsynth to ATP Stories with Graham D Brown.
  • [00:40] You set up Appsynth in 2010, correct? -- Yes, that's correct. Coming up on 10 years in Thailand with 8 of those years running Appsynth. We have over 50 people working for us now and have seen a steady stream of growth in this regard.
  • [01:40] So your background was originally in music, wasn't it? -- Yep. Started working in mobile 12 years ago for a mobile music distributor and even before that running a record label. Came to Thailand first at age 18 and saw the potential in the markets there.
  • [04:18] Earlier this year, you picked up an award in Singapore. Tell us a little bit about that. -- We picked up two awards from Campaign Asia-Pacific. Campaign Asia-Pacific is basically the de facto agency world magazine in the region. It was really good recognition for us. Now it's onward and upwards!
  • [07:48] These awards must help in terms of recruitment. Can you talk a little about that? -- We've probably hired a bit more than 15 recruits in the past year, which is a lot. The award adds to the prestige of working with a company like ours. While we're growing, we've been focusing on things like company culture and creating an environment where people want to come but also then want to stay.
  • [10:35] When you look at other companies, who do you admire in terms of getting corporate culture correct? -- There are many different role models in this regard. There's no one way to run a business. But to name a few, there's Spotify. Of course there are other inspirations from different fields. Just take a look at who are the best software teams in the world and how do they operate. One benefit we have in terms of hiring people is the ability to tell candidates they will be able to work on many different projects given that we're not such a big company. We don't have teams devoted just to narrow features or products.
  • [15:15] Can you describe a bit about how you capture the sort of software engineer who wants to go out and make a difference in the world? -- This is really a reflection on how we go about business development and being selective in terms of who we work with and what sorts of things we take on. There's a lot of work out there, but we need to find things that are exciting and are going to be used by millions of people. This gets people motivated.
  • [20:30] You've recently published some data about working in Thailand and the changes taking place there. Can you help us understand some of these trends? -- We clearly see how hard people work in Thailand. Certainly in technology and knowledge work, people work very hard here. The pace of work has been increasing here and we expect this to continue.
  • [23:50] In Thailand you have a hard-working population, and a young population very connected on social media. What sorts of opportunities does this create for a company like Appsynth? -- This is a point we like to highlight because Thailand really is at the forefront for mobile usage and mobile shopping. It's not in places like the US, it's here in Thailand.
  • [26:00] Do you see anything emerging in Thailand on the mobile front that will catch on in the rest of the world? -- On the consumption side, Thailand is leading in terms of time spent on mobile. We're talking 4-5 hours a day. There is also mobile payment via QR codes, which are very big here. We see the drive to a cashless society. These are things you would notice in Thailand, people scanning people's QR codes and transferring money for products and services very easily.
  • [35:20] What sorts of other things are you experimenting with there in terms of mobile payments and money transfer? -- The app we produced for 7-Eleven here in Thailand has a feature where parents can top up their children's accounts and eliminate the need for those kids to carry cash. This helps parents better control where and how their kids can spend money too. Another feature you see is loyalty tracking, which can be used to offer discounts and enticements to consumers.
  • [36:45] Do you think Thailand will be a leader in terms of being a cashless society? -- Yes, I think so. People have really embraced this new QR-based payment model. Maybe Thailand won't be the first country to go cashless, but it will certainly be one of the first.
  • [37:45] What is the mobile music scene in Thailand right now? -- People here obviously love music and mobile, and in fact Spotify as the big player in this space was actually a bit late to come to Thailand. There are other players here including well-established local labels who are getting into mobile music.
  • [39:50] Do you see a lot of Chinese investment coming into places like Thailand? Are there Chinese companies coming in and making big investments? -- Yes, definitely. There's pros and cons of course. We've seen some cases were Chinese investment comes in and ends up moving development jobs back to China where some Thai developers simply don't want to move for whatever reason. This has opened up new talent avenues for the companies that remain. This is what happened, for example, at Lazada.
  • [44:10] So now you're 8 years into the story of Appsynth. Where do things go from here? -- For us it's a careful balancing act in terms of having the people we need versus having a situation where work dries up and we can no longer support the number of people we have. Maybe we could expand to 100 people, be we'll have to see. We also want to look at growing regionally and also in Europe and the US. One effort we've engaged in is diversifying the nationalities of our employees. As we move forward we need to continue to figure out how to change our structure to support our growth.