Canadian Startup Dandy Launches Open Beta for Community-based App Development

Waterloo-based startup Dandy has launched its app development platform in private beta, with plans to open to the public next week.

The company is part of the Hyperdrive program in Waterloo, Communitech’s $30 million incubator. Cofounders Matt Scobel, Taylor Jones and Karl Allen-Muncey have created a platform with the notion that “it takes a community to raise an app”.

The platform stands upon a simple yet brilliant notion: anyone could have the next great app idea percolating in their head, so why not tap into that pool of ideas?

Dandy lets anyone from the public submit an idea or rough sketch of an app. Other members of the Dandy community vote on the best idea submissions and can chip in by suggesting names or taglines, or by designing user interfaces and other features. Internal experts ensure that all ideas fit the scope of the app and from there developers can bid on the right to create the app.

Funds are raised by crowdfunding, whether it’s a $3,000 or $50,000 price tag. Those developers that bid on the ideas can choose to take a stake in the app instead of cash. Dandy can also fund the app idea if they like it enough, taking a larger slice of the pie.

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Dandy owns the apps but about 20 per cent of royalties are split up between the members of the community who chipped in with ideas and features. “So everything that you do on Dandy helps contribute to the process, whether its funding, the idea, beta testing, you’re earning a percentage of final revenue of that app,” Scobel told Techvibes.

Just weeks away from Hyperdrive’s DemoDay on April 25th, the team hasn’t had much time to spare. They’ve been onboarding between 250-300 new users to their community every day since launching late last week. Now they’re looking towards next week’s public beta launch.

“It’s something that’s attracting a lot of attention, we’ve hustled over the last two months to get the site open and we want to show the traction that we can get in terms of users and ideas,” said Scobel.

The three cofounders met each other through events in the Waterloo area and all carry impressive resumes.

Jones is the man behind DearPhotograph, the photo-within-a-photo website that boasts about 5,000 hits a day along with nearly 85,000 Facebook fans. Time Magazine called it their number seven website of 2011 and Jones produced a Canadian bestselling book through Harper Collins. Meanwhile Allen-Muncey built businesses in the UK and Australia before starting his design agency CuteGecko. Scobel gained his notoriety as an Apple Store Manager and creator of ProjectMacfrica, which operates mac computer labs in Kenya.

How Dandy will consistently rely on crowdfunding as a means of generating the necessary capital for an app remains a concern. With three proven entrepreneurs at the helm, shouldn’t they just raise a ton of capital and pay for all of the good app ideas themselves? Communitech entrepreneur-in-residence Shyam Sheth has been mentoring the startup and feels that this isn’t necessary.

He likes that the concept of the app immediately identifies and mitigates much of the risk, especially through validation from the community. Apps aren’t cheap anymore but with Dandy’s strategy they can make it work. “With the early validation, the early contributions and the early buy in you’re going to get rid of a lot of that risk up front and this is some of the hidden value of the platform,” said Sheth.

Once the company has validated its approach with developer and community engagement through about five to ten quick applications, it can then scale up to larger and more ambitious applications, according to Sheth.

For now the team of three wants to focus on enabling people to develop a good idea without all the capital. For many people they simply can’t pour $15,000 of their savings into an app idea. “We want to solve that problem and we want to allow anyone to get their idea out there,” said Scobel. “And if it’s good enough we can turn it into a real app.”

Want in on Dandy? Techvibes readers have been given an exclusive code to join the community: TECHVIBES-13.