Interview with Parveen Kaler, CEO of Smartful Studios

I received a few emails in regrards to my article about BCIT’s new program for iPhone games developers, so I thought since the interest was high, I’d interview Parveen Kaler, CEO of Smartful Studios who was directly involved with designing the program.  Here is what he had to say about his startup, BCIT and the world of iPhone apps.

Tell me about Smartul Studios and the BCIT program. 

Smartful Studios is an iPhone Application studio.  The consulting wing of the company funds the product wing of the business.  The studio was founded in February of 2008.  If you follow the timeline, that was one month before Apple formally announced the iPhone SDK.  So, we have been hyper-focused on this space before there was even a legitimate way to develop applications for the platform. BCIT offered me a position as an instructor because of my work in the iPhone space.  BCIT is in the process of expanding their media program.  When I first saw the iPhone, I really did see a glimpse of the future.

What would an expanded course look like, for those interested?

An expanded course offering would dig deeper into the different aspects of iPhone development.  These are early days and a lot of innovation comes from programmers sitting down and pushing the device to the edges of its capability.  However, there is room for specialization in design and usability.  We have shed the traditional keyboard and mouse.  There is a process of experimentation underway to figure out how to best interact with touch screen devices.

Can anybody learn to build an iPhone app?  What are some skills that are necessary?

A traditional computing science background and experience with the C programming language will help programmers transition to iPhone development. However, Apple has released some absolutely fantastic tools.  A designer can sit down with the Interface Builder tool and design big chunks of an application before a programmer has to come in and implement the logic of an application.

Is there a viable market for building iPhone apps?

There is a viable market for building iPhone apps.  But you can’t confuse the market, which is an external entity outside of your control with your business which is the entity that you can control.  There is no doubt that there is a lot of money exchanging hands.  Smartful Studios is an iPhone development business with ambitions of being a media company.  The plan is to generate new IP, build a core audience and deliver content to this core audience in ways that they prefer to consume media.  The iPhone, iTunes, and the iTunes App Store is an end-to-end solution for getting content to users in a way that they like to consume media.  

Do you have investors for your startup?

I raised a small amount of money from family. The biggest investor is myself.   I don’t believe in taking funding from investors that can’t act as advisors or mentors.  That is a recipe for disaster.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of owning your own business?

The best part of owning a business is the freedom to pick and choose projects to work on.  Stretching both my technical and business muscles is also rewarding.

Biggest challenge or mistake when starting up?

Everything is a challenge.  But the biggest challenge is smoothing out the ups and downs of entrepreneurship.  It’s mentally tough.  I find that more new entrepreneurs run out of gusto before they run out of money.

Thanks Parveen!