Checkmate Mobile Apps Development Company is Designed to Grow

by Dan Holden | August 7, 2012


CheckMate Mobile is a mobile applications development company with an eye to becoming a much larger player. While many entrepreneurs are satisfied to develop a random array of apps, or even a group of closely related offerings, the company has moved up the food chain, embracing a broader strategy that includes three operational divisions: The CMI Mobile Incubator, which develops branded apps for CheckMate Mobile; AppBuilder 360, which offers the services of CheckMate’s developers to other entrepreneurs in need of new apps; and DropSocial, a marketing service that socializes the apps on various networks to increase their visibility and impact. The company leverages all three divisions to grow and ensure overall success.

Also unlike many start-ups in the emerging mobile apps space, CheckMate Mobile’s exec has a long history of enterpreneurism, Internet development and high-tech investment experience to back its efforts.

Robert and Dean Rositano. We spoke with Robert, the CEO, who has been part of Silicon Valley lore since the days of Netcom Online Communications, when he was senior sales and account manager—a.k.a. employee number three. He created a series of tutorial products for Netcom that were later managed under the name Simply Interactive, which was sold to the McMillan Publishing House.

Robert then went on a full-fledged entrepreneurial spree, creating NetTaxi—a competitor to GeoCities that was sold in 2002; America’s Biggest— a precursor to America’s Got Talent that was sold in the same year it was created; Zippi Networks, a mobile provider of commissionable online sales; and iHookUp, one of the first dating apps on iTunes and a flagship product of CheckMate Mobile.

Located in the nuevo riche Silicon Valley community of Los Gatos, the company is now fully immersed in its three-part strategy and is nearly ready to go social with its latest development, a self-described viral mobile social game.

How did you come up with this three-part business strategy for CheckMate?

We’ve been on this path for quite a while, since the founding of Netcom, and we’re constantly looking at what is new, what is coming in the Internet, broadband, video and game technology.

After Wall Street went from its dotbomb mentality of running from tech stocks to returning and showing interest in social apps, we decided to move into this space in a big way.  Once the iPhone was introduced we knew were were in the right place at the right time. So in 2009 we started CheckMate Mobile and iHookUp. Originally we went with an outsource model, hiring outside of the US to keep our costs down, but that caused a significant amount of brain damage. We anded up spending a lot more time in the development cycle then we had anticipated.

What was the problem?

So, when you get involved with an overseas team, you quickly discover that there’s a very high churn rate of developers. We started with one team and then just one-quarter of the way into the project we found that we had another team because three developers had left and the new team had to be completely schooled in what we were doing. So we ended up with code that has been band-aided together, if you will, and that took a long time and cost a lot of extra money. In addition, because we didn’t have a good view of how our app was developing, we ended up getting a different animal than we expected. The code was not solid and we had to do a couple of different revs before it went live.

The app is down the road now, we’ve built a couple hundred thousand users so it generates revenues, but we’re developing an entirely new rev now that will be available soon.

So CMI Mobile Incubator is the in-house app development division responsible for that app now. What else is that group working on now, in addition to iHookUp?

We’re working on a socially viral application based on the kids’ game of truth-or-dare. It’s a mobile social game of dares called Dare Ya.

We’re trying to take a little bit of a fun approach to a mobile application. We started out by taking look at flash mobs, and how they work, it’s very much of a ‘dare you to..’ idea.

We quickly realized that there were no truth-or-dare games that operate in a multiplayer fashion.  We could make this come alive, by allowing things like photo and video submission of the dare,  allowing people to send dares to others in different proximities, and share the results of that dare on Facebook to gather more friends or more likes. We’ve also incorporated things like moving up leader boards, influence rankings, even winning virtual currency, by creating games out of the dare.

We’ve gone very deep with the concept, creating categories such as pranks, outside dares, inside dares, team dares. We even have a pre-filled list of dare ideas. We’ve even brought our kids into the office and had them test it out, you know, “what do you think?” And they’ve given us good input that we’ve used.

It’s all connected with Facebook and Twitter and tied in to the social graphics of 15-to-25 year-olds.

We’re anticipating that the dares will not always be funny/silly/goofy. We’re also offering cause dares, a category of causes. So for example you could dare your friend to donate blood on Saturday to help our troops, or your dare can create a virtual currency that gives back to a charitable organization.

We’re hoping that by bringing in the right causes we may be able to get people like Justin Bieber pumped up to sponsor a cause-related dare that is of interest to that demographic.  It could be something like daring people to break out in song in the middle of a mall, and if people subscribe to that dare their money gets donated to a cause, the celebrity gets a share, Apple gets their money and everybody has fun.

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