Timing can be everything in a new market. While making a successful app in today’s mobile arena is a difficult feat due to the heated competition of companies with similar products, only a few years ago a popular app could take your company a long way. Korean startup NextApps has come far since CEO Youngsik Kim founded the company in October 2009. In almost three years, the company has sustained itself, managing to achieve a profit margin of 45% without taking on any investment.
NextApps found its success with its flagship app Booooly, which quickly gained popularity after it was released in December 2009. A fun, simple and extremely addictive game, Booooly easily rose to the top of the Korean app store. The app continued to gain popularity worldwide, hitting the top spot in the app stores of seven other countries and the top five in 18 others. On the Korean app store, it stayed in the top 50 apps for a year and a half. Both paid and free versions of Booooly were released at the same time, and they received a total of approximately 3 million downloads worldwide. Various upgrades have been constantly added to the game, such as integrations with social networks and the ability to purchase items.
“When we added the multiplayer function so users could play online with other people around the world, the response was explosive. We were the first mobile online multiplayer game in Korea and our strong user base worldwide meant that there was always someone to connect with.”
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A new version of Booooly, Booooly 2 Online was released for Android on July 30 and will soon be released for iOS. The new app has completely revamped the online experience for the player in both single and multiplayer modes. Users are now able to choose their characters and decorate them with various accessories. While Booooly was originally a never-ending game which became more challenging as the level increased, Booooly 2 includes a variety of stage packs and missions to play through. During the game, players gain “cookies” that can be exchanged for items and used whenever the player chooses, another upgrade from the previous 24-hour limit on items.
Social features in the new version of the game have also been significantly increased. Kakao Talk has been added to the networks that link with the game and limited communication is now possible during gameplay using pre-defined expressions.
The Booooly series is just one of the series of apps which NextApps produces. VOCA Family is a series of educational apps which has recorded 250,000 downloads. Focusing mainly on different levels of English, the apps help users learn to easily memorize words and relevant information through games. The apps have received a large number of awards and have also made it to the top spot on three different app selling platforms.
The company also has several other games available for download including puzzle and music games. While most of its apps are games, App Pang is a platform designed to give users discounts and points when purchasing apps. Points can be redeemed for other apps available on App Pang.
Before founding NextApps, CEO Youngsik Kim saw the potential for smartphone apps early on and undertook several other high-profile projects while still working full-time. He developed the Doshirak music app for operator KT, now known as Olleh Music. Following this, he went on to create the successful Tap Tap Revenge, which took users’ MP3 files and turned them into a game.
“I like making new things and tried to start my own business prior to founding NextApps. While working full time I always had a dream of having my own company that did well and where the profits would be used to create new ideas and products.”
In September 2009, Kim decided to leave his full time job, foundind NextApps the following month. With two other members, he created the company’s first game ‘Blood Hunter’, but it didn’t do so well. Booooly, the company’s second app, was created in just 21 days. NextApps remained a company of three employees until July 2010 when it started to expand through the success of Booooly. Kim says that he had good luck with timing in the market, but also talked about the skills of the original three members including himself:
“I had 15 years experience in the industry and the two other members of the company had around 10 years experience each. Using our skills and knowledge we were able to work together to create a quality app.”
NextApps now has 17 employees and is looking forward to more success with Booooly 2. While NextApps has done well on its own up until now, Kim says that he is also interested in working with other partners.
“The Korean market is not bad, but I would like to expand further into the global market.”
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