The Startup Sit Down: Alex Kutsishin is the FiddleFly Mobile Guy
“If mobile is the glue that connects everything, then FiddleFly gives you superglue,” raves Alex Kutsishin, the guy behind the mobile web builder. I caught up with the mad-about-mobile President for another session of The Startup Sit Down to get the story on FiddleFly’s inception, why Mondays are his favorite day of the week, and how innovation is his motivation.
Hi Alex, thanks for taking the time to give us the FiddleFly lowdown. Our KillerStartups fans are looking forward to being inspired. Let’s get started-
What’s the deal with FiddleFly?
Alex Kutsishin: FiddleFly was born out of my company MOS Creative. In 2009, we created a mobile site for the company, and received a lot of recognition after the project. And, it was then that we realized mobile would be a growing market, so I wanted to give all our clients at the time a mobile site. We sent out a promotion to build a mobile landing page and got a lot of responses back. So, FiddleFly was born out of necessity for a mobile site for MOS Creative, and the desire to develop mobile sites for our clients.
We launched in April 2011, and up until Jan/Feb 2012, we like to think of that time as an extensive research project into what mobile really is. We now have developed a beautiful hybrid platform that is designed for a variety of people.
We’re in THE most exciting industry right now. Period. We’re actually helping mold the future of mobile, the future of the way we communicate with our mobile devices, and the future of how our mobile devices communicate with us. Desktop is research. Mobile Web is ACTION Web. When FiddleFly markets itself, we don’t just give them a tool or an interface, we’re consulting our clients to be successful in mobile.
FiddleFly’s goal is to help make as many sites mobile [as possible], but not by us making them mobile through people, but through empowering agencies and giving them the ability to create optimized mobile sites and simple mobile web apps.
What’s the story behind the name?
AK: It was first named Web to Mobile, but we realized that was too much of an industry name and we needed to be a little it more creative and a little bit more forward thinking.
We were thinking about different things you do with your phone, and the different things this platform would allow you to do. You do things on the fly with your phone, so that’s how FiddleFly was born. It was either that or FiddleFrog. We went with the former.
Tell us a little about where you’re coming from
AK: I came to the States from the Ukraine when I was 7. I don’t remember much of that experience, but I know my parents left to give me better opportunities. The majority of my entrepreneurial spirit comes from my parents and I thank them for that. They’re absolutely amazing; they’re my motivation and inspiration.
My first venture was in the medical industry at the age of 20. After that I launched a printing supply company with my current business partner that was very successful. We then opened up a nightclub and that led to our marketing and graphic design company, and subsequently FiddleFly.
What keeps you busy these days? What’s your current project?
AK: We’re getting ready to evolve the company. Mobile Web as a stand-alone thing will eventually become a commodity, it just will be. Mobile Web is the Internet on a smaller device, so we have to think about how mobile can be used that other similar technologies, or plain technologies like pieces of paper can’t, so you have to ask yourself, “ What can I do on a mobile device that I can’t do on a piece of paper or a desktop computer.” That’s the kind of answer we want to come up with and that’s the kind of thinking we want to have.
Since agencies are our main target, we’re working on a project to create a place where you can do everything on a tablet or desktop all from our platform and incorporate our management system in such a way that makes it more effective than what people are currently doing.
We’re always trying to push the envelope if possible. And, it’s really fun. We’re also getting into some mobile commerce at the moment.
Biggest startup surprise (good or bad) so far?
AK: How slow agencies are at adopting mobile. Agencies wait to be reactive, “Is social media going to be that important?” or “Until my client starts to ask for it, why should I even think about it?” The agencies that take on mobile and spearhead the project have a lot happier clients and have a lot more success moving forward.
I kind of like that it’s going slow because it’s an opportunity to become better. But, ignorance is definitely one of the biggest surprises for me.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
AK: The bio of Steve Jobs. Steve was an amazing person with a mind of gold. What he’s accomplished and the way he’s accomplished it and his attention to detail is unmatchable. He’s definitely an inspiration. I also like his quote:
“Customers don’t know what they need, we have to tell them.” – Steve Jobs
What drives me is the possibility of everything and that there are no boundaries. Someone was quoted in 1891 as saying, “Everything that we could possible ever create or invent has already been created or invented.” You look at the quote and go, “Wow, how far off can you be.” There are some pretty amazing things happening right now, and I hope to be a part of making a positive impact on the world and make it a more fun place to do things.
My motivation is innovation.
What would you be doing if you had one year off?
AK: Exactly what I’m doing right now! Ok, something else? Well, since I have a baby on the way, I’d probably spend a lot of time with baby.
Or, I would also like to be educating, touring and doing seminars.
Congrats! When is baby due? Boy, girl?
AK:Early July, so we’re about 6 weeks away. We don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl, that’s the most exciting part, right? We have all this technology now and we’re like, no we’ll keep it a surprise.
What is FiddleFly‘s success sweet spot?
AK: Being in every agency’s toolbox. We want to think of ourselves as the Adobe Photoshop of Web design and development. We want this to be something that is taught in schools. Money is money, it’s not about that.
If I could do it for free, and still live the life I want to live I would. It’s that much fun.
What’s your office vibe and how do you balance work and life?
AK: Shoes are optional in the office. For us, it’s a fun place to work. For stress, I work out and practice jiu jitsu. And, being at home is a stress reliever. But honestly, I’m not good at balance. My fiancée tells me all the time, “you need to find balance” I’m like, “I know, I know!” But it’s difficult. I love coming into the office. Friday comes around and I’m sad I won’t be in the office. Mondays are very exciting for me.
I’m one of the lucky people who adores what they do.
Favorite tech tool you couldn’t live without?
AK: There is nothing that I couldn’t live without. I don’t have Facebook and I don’t have Twitter. And, it’s because there is no way you can be connected with so many people so often and be honest to everyone you’re connected with. You just can’t. Don’t get me wrong, those companies are great and they are highly innovative. But, it’s difficult to have that kind of honest connection.
I guess my phone, so I can reach out to people. I also love Google. With Google, you don’t have to be smart anymore. But, I’m not obsessed with any one tech thing.
Sometimes, it’s better to keep it old school
AK: Absolutely! My mom always taught me to “think on paper.” So a pen and paper, that’s all you need
Parting words of wisdom for startup newbies and wannabies?
AK: First of all, love what you do, that’s critical.
Always have the right people around you. There is no one person that became great on their own. Also, have the foresight to get rid of the wrong people.
I heard somewhere that, “Your true wealth is how many people you serve and how well you serve them.”
When you solve a problem, make sure you’re solving a lot of people’s problems with whatever you are creating.
Thanks Alex! I appreciate your enthusiasm and energy for what you do and I hope people are inspired by FiddleFly’s story! Good luck with the little one on the way, and try not to work too hard!