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Double Encore, the Manhattan Project for iPhone Development
Monday, July 28th, 2008 at 12:20 PM - by
Dan Burcaw founded Double Encore software after leaving Apple to try a different approach to iPhone software development. iPO spoke with Mr. Burcaw, the CEO, to find out how his company is thinking different about innovation on the iPhone.
Dan Burcaw, CEO, Double Encore
Double Encore is a Denver-based iPhone development company founded only two weeks ago. Unlike many other iPhone developers who started with a specific idea for an application, say an game or a calculator, Dan told iPO that he's focusing on a more general goal of building a company from core principles.
"There are two boats we want to be on," Mr. Burcaw said. "The first is custom business software, and the second one is internally developed innovations that push the envelop on what mobile devices can offer. We don't want to get into a mode where we're fighting to develop a Solitaire game against some else's Texas Hold 'em. Instead, we want to build a sustainable business."
Mr. Burcaw believes that the sustainability comes from working with businesses to develop innovative, critical software for the iPhone that will help them with their business operations. He believes that the App Store alone is just a microcosm of the wider entrepreneurship possible with the iPhone. His goal is to fully develop each iPhone application in just eight weeks.
One might suspect that with the emphasis on business, innovation would take a back seat, but that's not the plan at Double Encore. That's because innovation isn't just a magic process, "it's the result of understanding the needs of the customers combined with a creative, thought-provoking environment," Mr. Burcaw said. "Once we've worked with a company for awhile, and we understand what they're trying to achieve, then we can bring our innovation to the table."
To that end, Mr. Burcaw is going to follow Google and allow his employees 20 percent of their time for creative projects of their own. In the business world, that's quite a luxury. "That doesn't mean we don't meet our schedules," Mr. Burcaw explained. "It just means we're flexible in giving people the resources and time to explore their talents."
iPO asked Mr. Burcaw about his perceptions of the adoption of the iPhone in the enterprise, and he had an interesting take. "I think the equation changes for the IT Manager for the iPhone. There's more risk for the IT Manager if he doesn't respond to the, say, CEO, who is more likely to be exposed to the iPhone than a Mac. In addition, we're seeing how the iPhone is instantly more international than the Mac has been. International business will also put some pressure on U.S. businessmen to be more open to the iPhone."
The Right Business Model for Innovation
In terms of the business model, because Double Encore isn't hanging its hat on one or two blockbuster apps, venture capital won't play a key role. In fact, it would get in the way of building the company from the ground up. Without the customary pressure from V.C. investors, Mr. Burcaw saw how Kai Staats developed Terra Soft Solutions here in Loveland, Colorado when he was the CTO. At Terra Soft, Mr. Burcaw led an engineering team that delivered solutions to companies like Boeing and the U.S. Navy. By being free to respond to business needs and learning how to meet them, a company can build itself in the way that the founders find desirable.
Mr. Burcaw's goal is to write iPhone apps that cause that "ah ha" moment for business people -- they couldn't imagine a world without these innovative tools and perhaps won't even know they need them until they see them.
That's why Mr. Burcaw describes his new company as the Manhattan Project of iPhone applications. It's the kind of perspective one gains after working for Terra Soft Solutions and, later, Apple for four years.
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