DURHAM — Juan Porras is at the head of Durham-based start-up that’s working to launch a software application that allows non-developers to build their own software applications for mobile devices - or an app for creating apps.
Porras, a 27-year-old Duke University alumnus, said Rheti came about after the company’s chief technology officer, Rafael Tavarez, a mobile developer, was overwhelmed with requests for building others’ apps.
Tavarez got the point where he felt like saying, ” ‘Why don’t you just build it yourself?’ Because I’m tired,” Porras said. And the idea was born.
Porras said he wanted to build a tool that would allow non-professionals to build their own applications that would be as easy as stacking “Lego bricks together.” He said he believes the market is large for their app because of the number of people who own mobile phones in the United States.
According to the market intelligence firm International Data Corp.’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tractor, the number of mobile phones shipped worldwide in the third quarter of this year grew 2.4 percent year-over-year to a total of 444.5 million mobile phones.
In the worldwide smartphone market, vendors shipped 179.7 million units in the third quarter, up 45.3 percent compared with the number of shipments in the quarter last year, according to IDC information.
“There is a trend for people that are building applications themselves who don’t want to spend a lot of money and they don’t want to spend a lot of time figuring out how to program apps,” Porras said.
In June, the company closed on its first capital investment. The team raised $50,000 from a private group of angel investors, he said.
That investment was made to take the start-up through beta launch, which is a test-run of the product for a limited number of users.
The company released the beta version at the end of November. In January, they’re hoping to be able to release the product to the wider public.
Porras said he believes the company’s product will help to fill a void in the technology that exists for helping consumers build mobile phone apps.
He said there is software that allows consumers to build mobile applications on their personal computers, but he believes their product meets a need in that it allows consumers to build their own apps directly on their mobile devices.
Initially, they’re targeting their product for churches, small businesses, and artists, or for use by couples who want to build an app for use by their wedding guests, he said.
There are a number of different ways that he said they can make money from the product - including through one-time fees for different features that they could add on to their app. The program would be free to user to publish the app through Rheti, but he said they’d charge to make it available through other online app stores, like Google Play.
According to their website http://www.rheti.com/how-it-works, Rheti will be available through Google Play, which is the app store for Android mobile phone users.
“It’s three steps - very, very simple,” Porras said, of their app-creation app. “You start with a template catalog, we’ll call it, and then write your app’s name, and then you select your app’s icon, and you’re essentially done with the building, so you can see your app created after you submit your icon.”
Rheti was one of the first companies in Groundwork Labs, a mentorship program for start-up businesses located in the American Underground of the American Tobacco campus in downtown Durham.
John Austin, managing director of Groundwork Labs, said in an email that Rheti was the first Groundwork Labs company to get a seed investment.
“In the same way that WordPress enabled anyone to very easily build a website - not just those with Web development expertise - Rheti can revolutionize app development,” Austin said in an email. “It’s a very interesting new platform and market.”