Factory Outlet

Sometimes, I admit, I go to meetings with a pre-conceived idea of what I’m going to find out when I get there. So it was when I received an email a couple of weeks ago from a lady called Jane Allan inviting me to come to Chelsea and find out more about the Chelsea Apps Factory. The fact that she had got my name from Helen Keegan was a good start – Helen has forgotten more about mobile than most people know – so eventually last week, we hooked up.

So what I was expecting, I admit, was a briefing from an app development company keen to tell me about the great apps it was developing for some big-name clients. And what I got, in fact, was something completely different.
The team behind the Chelsea Apps Factory is a pretty heavyweight one. In addition to Allan, herself a seasoned publisher and brand consultant, there’s Mike Anderson, ex Group MD of The Sun and News of the World, and Jo Rabin, ex-CTO of Reuters Mobile and MD of MoMo London, among others. Allan concedes that both she and Anderson are new to the world of mobile and apps, but says they are loving every minute of it. What they bring to the table is their marketing and branding experience, plus their contacts with some of the biggest companies around.
And while the Chelsea Apps Factory is indeed looking to build apps for brands, it is also looking to connect companies that know they could benefit from mobile apps, with the legions of app developers out there who have great ideas and development skills, but who don’t have the budget, marketing nous or the contacts to make real money from them.

It wants to help connect talented developers with brands looking to develop an app strategy, helping with management and marketing, and in some cases, providing investment where it feels the business case is strong enough. In Rabin, it has someone who understands the technical side of things – “When a developer tells us an app will take three months to develop and will roll out seamlessly to every mobile platform, he can tell us it will take six, and it won’t,” says Anderson – and in Anderson and Allan, it has a couple of big-hitters who understand marketing and branding, and are pretty well connected to boot.
“There are a lot of companies looking to create an app so they can tell the board they have one” Anderson told me. “But they are so locked in to what they do in their day-to-day business that it stops them from thinking outside the box. On the other side of the fence, you have these really talented developers who don’t quite know how to get their work noticed.”

Anderson and his team want to bring the two sides together, and make some money in the process, of course. Some of the bigger firms developing apps, of course, will argue they have no need for something like this. For the hundreds of smaller ones looking to monetise a great idea, however, the Chelsea Apps Factory could be the answer to their prayers.

David Murphy