Mobile application company Two Toasters initially focused on releasing apps under its own brand but soon switched to being a hired gun who developed them for others.
“None of our ideas was quite as good as Angry Birds,” deadpanned director of development Jeremy Ellison, one of four co-founders and, at 27, the oldest. “We found it was in our best interests to go into consulting full time.”
Two Toaster’s ideas for others, however, have served it well. The company, which was founded in 2008 and is based in downtown Durham, has expanded from about five employees a year ago to 15 today. And more are on the way.
The company currently is seeking to fill five jobs and anticipates expanding to a staff of about 25 by the end of this year, said Sara Wall, operations manager. Three employees, including CEO and co-founder Rachit Shukla, are based in New York City.
Revenue at the privately held company exceeded $1 million last year, reflecting double-digit growth, Wall added.
Two Toasters has developed apps for both Apple and Android mobile devices for an array of startups, as well as well-known companies such as Dick’s Sporting Goods and Lexus. Many of the apps are for internal use only; for example, its app for Lexus was used for training salespeople on iPads.
“A lot of our business comes from word-of-mouth and referrals,” Ellison said. “We have enough leads now that nobody is cold-calling people. We’re following up on people who contacted us.”
Word-of-mouth is how Steven LeBoeuf, the CEO of Valencell, ended up hiring Two Toasters.
Valencell is a 6-year-old Raleigh company whose technology, which it is licensing to manufacturers, enables wearers of wireless headsets to monitor key health data such as heart rate and calories burned while they listen to music or talk on the phone.
Two Toasters helped Valencell create an app that it uses to demonstrate the technology to manufacturers. LeBoeuf said the feedback from customers has been strong, and he was especially impressed that Two Toasters was able to develop an interface between Bluetooth headsets and a phone that was essential for the app.
Depending on the complexity, Two Toasters is charging businesses anywhere from $40,000 to $200,000 or more for a project.
The company promotes itself as a “high-end” development firm that can transform a concept into an app that can maximize the user experience – and sales.
That strategizing comes into play even when a client wants to move something that already exists on its website onto mobile devices.
“When you’re on a mobile device, you have to rethink how the customer is going to interact with it for it to make sense,” Ellison said. “You can present the user with a lot more options on a website without overwhelming them.”
The name Two Toasters, by the way, was inspired by an episode of TV sitcom “The Office” where one of the characters goes off on a rant because he’s stuck with a pair of the small appliances.
“It turns out it is really sticky,” Ellison said. People really remember it.”