His is mantra: Building an app is the easier part, selling it is much harder.
To prove his point, the Adelaide native chronicled his own experience with the Maths with Springbird iPhone app, which went on to top the charts in Australia and New Zealand.
The extent to which his marketing may have succeeded is reflected by the latest news: Truong’s startup, Broccol-E-Games Pty. Ltd., has been picked up by distant Chile for a global startup accelerator program run by the government of the South American country.
The Melbourne company will join 100 other startups, from 36 countries and receive $40,000 in equity-free seed capital. Truong tells us Broccol-e-games was picked for the Start-Up Chile program from an application pool of 1,509 startups, and is the only Australian one selected.
Global ambitions now
“We’re incredibly excited for this opportunity to be working with the top entrepreneurs and investors in South America,” said Truong, who moved to Melbourne after his startup was picked by the AngelCube accelerator program.
“We’ve had a great response to Maths with Springbird in Australia, New Zealand, and China, so it will be great to launch our products in Chile and the rest of South America,” he added.
Maths with Springbird is a fun learning app for children aged between four and eight years. Released in July, the app hit top position on the Australian and New Zealand education App Stores in its first week. It has been downloaded more than 30,000 times, and the game has been played over 230,000 times in more than 100 countries, the company says. It focuses on exclusively iOS devices, such as the iPad and iPhone, and plans to release an iPhone version in October.
“The response has been amazing, especially in non-English speaking countries, when you consider we haven’t even translated the game yet,” said Truong, who has more than seven years’ experience in the education industry, with tertiary qualifications in computer science and law.
For Start-up Chile, the Broccol-e-games team will relocate to the South American country for the six-month duration of the program. Truong already has ambitious plans to utilise that opportunity and tap the entrepreneurial energies of the fast-growing Chilean ecosystem.
“We’ll be releasing a number of new games for the global markets. Our goal is to become the Khan Academy for mobile learning in K-12 education,” he said, referring to the free education site started by the Harvard- and MIT-educated Salman Khan.
While it is an exciting time for Truong and his team, the move to Chile also raises some troubling questions for the startup environment in Australia. Truong laments a lack of government support for early-stage tech companies in Australia, drawing attention to what Chile is doing.
“The Australian government should learn from Chile and provide more tangible support to early-stage businesses,” he said. Adding that the government would also do well to “work with the local investor community to educate them about the new generation of technology companies and Silicon Valley’s approach to investment.”
Start-Up Chile is a two-year program initiated by Chile’s Ministry of Economy and executed by Corfo, its national economic development agency. It is part of Chile’s call to innovation, rather than revolution, to change the world. The program aims to attract 1,000 startups to Chile by 2014.
Startups that have participated in the program include Austria’s Win the Planet, which makes embeddable social games for websites; FormaFina, an e-commerce site for design and home decor for Latin America; and Memeoirs, which aggregates e-mails into an elegant book.