Dan Novaes graduated from the Kelly School of Business at Indiana University, but he was wheeling and dealing long before that. In high school he founded his own company, Elekteks Inc, and bootstrapped $2 million by the time he was 20 years old. Today he is still the sole owner and operator in Europe, USA, and Australia.
In 2012 Novaes began a new venture, MobileX Labs (MXL), to help anybody build stunning apps for iOS and Android with no coding required. The platform then expanded in 2013 to MXL Games, which allows users to tap the same functionality for building iOS and Android games.
Novaes is a success story, plain and simple, and he can teach us a few things about bootstrapping. From high school student to major entrepreneur, we had a chance to talk with him about MobileX Labs and hear the story as only he could tell it.
Tech Cocktail: After Elekteks, what led to MXL?
Novaes: When I was in college, I started a popular college music blog. We were most known for our music playlists and the site was getting over a million hits a month. Everybody wanted us to make a mobile app, but companies were trying to charge me $20,000 to make it, and the available DIY app builders I came across were terrible.
I met my co-founder Kiran Panesar, originally from the UK, on a freelance site, and he helped me build some sample apps for DJs and websites. Once we launched and saw the positive response, we knew we had something; MobileX Labs began right then and there.
Tech Cocktail: What strategies are you using for marketing?
Novaes: We have Mark Cuban as a company advisor, which helps a lot. He pushed us to develop our SEO for a primary form of marketing, and six months after starting out, we were on the first page of Google search.
We also realize that won’t be enough to get us the number one spot overall. To that end, we always prepare 30, 60, 90, and 120 days into the future. This allows us to market and hit the ground running with our products as soon as we deem them ready for prime time.
Tech Cocktail: How have you spurred success for MobileX Labs?
Novaes: As of October 2013, we are fully bootstrapped; I have funded the company since day one with earnings from Elekteks. In the beginning, when I didn’t have any revenue coming in, I remember seeing massive burns every month with nothing to show for it.
In April of 2013, we were hardly making any money and in danger of falling apart, so we started building apps using our own system to bring in some extra cash. One of our paid iOS apps began generating several thousand dollars per month, and that allowed MXL to stay afloat.
Then the customers started coming in, which has led to monthly revenues of over $100,000. And that’s what entrepreneurship is all about: how well you can deal with the ups and downs from day to day. If you are emotionally stable and can deal with loads of ups, downs, and stress, then you can be a successful entrepreneur.