From summer project to 7 million downloads – the rise and rise of Smudge Apps

New Zealand Hi Tech Awards finalist Reuben Bilj
From self-taught app-builder to finalist in the New Zealand Hi Tech Awards – things are continuing their upward swing for young mobile app-developer Reuben Bilj.

Bilj, one of the brains behind Smudge Apps, was recently announced as one of the five finalists in this year’s Young Achiever category of the New Zealand Hi Tech Awards.

Smudge-designed apps have now been downloaded more than seven million times with that number growing every day, but it all began in 2008, when Bilj and his school friend Toby Vincent decided they would teach themselves how to build mobile apps over the summer break.

This summer project went well for the boys and within three months they had created more than 50 apps, including one that hit the number one free app position in the US App Store.

Soon the pair started their own company and within two years Smudge was securing the loyalty of such heavy-hitters as Vodafone and Yellow.

“We were making more money off our apps than our day jobs,” says Bilj. “We showed consumer-facing organisations how they could enrich their brand value and user experience with mobile technology.”

Now the company is providing productivity, profitability and consumer relations apps for major brands including Coca Cola Amatil, Sky TV, BMW and the Police.  

“The mobile app market is still very young with plenty of opportunity, as more corporations learn about the ability to transform business process and achieve significant returns on investment with mobile computing,” says Bilj.

Winners of the New Zealand Hi Tech Awards will be named in Wellington on May 15.