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There are millions of apps out there. Many are very successful, but most are not. What are the steps taken by successful app makers that distinguish them from unsuccessful ones? In addition, many people have ideas for an app but don't know where to begin. What are the steps you need to take to create a successful app? As part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Amit Modi.

Amit Modi is the Chief Product and Technology Officer and Chief Information Security Officer at Movius. During his tenure with Movius, Amit’s responsibilities have included managing the Product Strategy and Evangelization, Product Management, and Engineering. He has helped lead Movius into the global marketplace by driving product vision, developing an expanding portfolio of enterprise grade omni-channel communication services, and delivering global service delivery infrastructure. 

Thank you so much for joining us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory and how you grew up?

Hello, I’m happy to join—and absolutely! My backstory requires a little bit of traveling around. Growing up my home was in the western side of India. As I grew older and started my own career aspirations into engineering, I was very blessed to be accepted into one of the premier institutes in the country at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur. My first job after school landed me in Bangalore or what many call the “Silicon Valley of India” where I accepted a position at Wipro Technologies as a systems engineer. 

From there, I traveled to the UK for a year where I worked for Computer Science Corporation on global mobile communications before opportunities moved me into my current residency in the “Silicon Valley of the US”. I have lived here in the Bay Area of San Francisco since Christmas 1999! 

Since then, I’ve always been involved in startups. The first company named IPUnity was at the forefront of Voice over IP. We were one of the leaders in media servers and application servers…this is really when voice over IP as we know today was taking off the ground. So, I had the opportunity to work with an amazing team and we created the product sets, scaled them and then later down the line had an opportunity to acquire the messaging assets of Glenayre, which together we were the third largest provider of voicemail system globally. 

Since then, I’ve been honored that my career has taken me to Movius where I am currently the Chief Product and Technology Officer, and Chief Information Security Officer creating innovative product solutions for businesses of all types.  

Most of us have been around a lot longer than apps have. What were your hobbies and interests in your youth before anyone knew what an 'app' was?

Like a lot of people from India, cricket has been one of my favorite sports that I’ve loved since I was a kid. I was very lucky to have played for my school team, played in college at a competitive level, and even in fact at my first job. I was part of the company's cricket team which was very fun to be a part of. So, I still try and follow the sport very actively when I have time. Outside of that, I’ve always loved getting outside and walking around. And I'm also very fond of old Indian music…so Hindi music, Hindi songs.

It has been said that our mistakes are our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or 'takeaways' you learned from that?

That saying is so true! I have learned much from my own mistakes. One of my first happened during my position at Wipro Technologies who I mentioned was my first job fresh out of school. My excitement, confidence and energy were there for the new role, but the attention to detail was lacking with my inexperience. Right away I was put on an important project and had to troubleshoot some key issues and solve them quickly. However, I didn’t truly get into the depth of the issues as I was trying to just address them at a superficial level. In fact, I’m not embarrassed to say that my very first performance review with my manager didn’t go well at all! But I’m thankful to my manager at the time for pulling up my socks and telling me very straightforward that I needed to lift my game and really go into the depth and breadth of the problems in front of me. Since then, I’ve realized the importance of doing quality work and with product management, really evaluating issues from end to end to make impactful decisions. 

But of course, as you grow older, you make less mistakes and you learn from them. Later in my career and this is very heartfelt..I’ve also learned to better understand the power of what a right team can create. No one can succeed solely working on their own. With as quickly as the tech space is always evolving, you never know what you don’t know. If you can trust and understand the full power and potential of what the team can bring to the table, it can lead to great success quickly.

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I tend to meet two types of app developers; people who are passionate about app development and technology and people who started an app because they saw it as a means to solve a problem. Which camp would you put yourself in, and how did you arrive there?

So, for me I think it’s absolutely the latter. Because ultimately, we are creating products to solve real problems and deliver true value. At Movius, our product creation is focused on a set of problems and needs that are either out there or that are anticipated to happen. What we create will significantly improve people’s lives. That what drives me and drives our team—it’s how we set the foundation to create Multiline by Movius.

What kept you motivated to develop your first minimum viable product, and how have you kept your momentum since then?

For me personally this is a very insightful question. The motivation has always come down to three areas. 

The first being, as I mentioned earlier, the mentality that you are creating a product and innovation that’s going to have an impact on business or day-to-day value creation. 

The second piece comes from the motivation and rallying of the team itself. These are the people you are working with every day that are energized on the long calls and sometimes late nights. You can’t always have smooth sailing, but with a dedicated and resilient team who believe just as much as you in what you are creating you can solve anything. 

Last but certainly not least, comes from the people you come across outside your company who believe in your cause. It could be a first customer, it could be partner, it could be a conversation with a stranger on the street about the product. These interactions and support drive motivation past the finish line seeing the real-world impact of your ideas. They can sometimes be tough critics, and they can also have game-changing ideas, in either way they believe in the team. We have had phenomenal partners and supporters who’ve supported us in good and bad times and believed we could pull through to the amazing place we are now. For that, I am forever thankful for them.

Can you tell us a bit about your app? How does it help people? What do you think makes it stand out? What are you most proud of? 

Sounds good…let’s talk Multiline by Movius! As I mentioned earlier, for us it’s always taking a step back to examine what issue we are trying to solve for our customers—or what we call our problem statement. We are trying to help businesses of all sizes protect their company data, their customer interactions in a secure and compliant way. I think now more than ever with data leaking and issues of all kinds, protecting data is super important to businesses. 

Secondly, every business wants to have better engagement with their customers. A clear line of communication that can be organized on one single device simple and easy. Many companies require employees to juggle their work device as well as their personal phone which can be a costly and cumbersome investment to employees and management. 

That leads us to our final problem we are solving is making employees and teams more productive and effective on a day-to-day basis. Multiline by Movius solves for all those issues as it is a software app that allows users on their personal device to call, text or send WhatsApp messages on a secure, dedicated business number—separate from their own personal line. Our app works on smartphone, desktop or even directly in Salesforce or Microsoft Teams with simple and easy to use onboarding. 

The product itself has been doing very well benefiting financial services as well as other verticals. It’s our 2024 aspirations to continue to support that vertical as well as be a resource to other verticals through both enterprise and smaller businesses globally.

What I think differentiates our product is our 100% software-based approach which was our move from day one. The amount of cost savings to a business not having to invest into business phones is substantial—plus, it is environmentally friendly. We helped businesses last year save over 3,100 metric tons of CO2 equivalents that come from the device, battery usage and network energy consumption. It is a great contribution to a greener tomorrow that we are very proud of.

Approximately how many users or subscribers does your app currently have? Can you share with our readers three of the main steps you've taken to build such a large community?

While we can’t share approximate numbers, we have users all around the world from smaller businesses using the app to some of the largest businesses out there including JP Morgan Chase & Co., Deutsche Bank, UBS, Toshiba, and even the United States Air Force among many others. 

It is also very exciting to see the level of partnerships that have taken us to our next level in 2024 and have helped us build such a large community. For example, we recently announced a full partnership with T-Mobile here in the United States which I’m sure I’ll touch on a little later—it is partnerships like these and businesses that believe in our model that have led to substantial growth. Our community trusts our product with these partnerships—they know our telecommunications background and focus on quality reliability, high availability, and geographic spread in our work.

It is also important to note that as we originally were building our audience around Multiline, we were focused starting with the financial services as our end enterprise segment. These industries can be very tough, highly demanding but also embracing of new ideas. I think choosing that as our first vertical to win over gave us a lot of credibility as the customers starting coming in. There was this instant confidence with many businesses where they mentioned “Ok, you guys understand scale, you understand security, you understand the level of flexibility and customization needed…that means you’ve got a powerful platform.” 

One more fun way we our building our community is by active blog posting on our company website as subject matter experts in the world of Artificial Intelligence and have created some great buzz from our “Demystifying AI” series helping create a better understanding of AI and products like Multiline by Movius that help bring it to life.

What is your monetization model? How do you monetize your community of users? Have you considered other monetization options? Why did you not use those? 

If you start with the value creation and the money flow chain…our end customers which are a wide range of enterprise level, small businesses, and everyone in between—they consumer our service as a subscription service. We have a SaaS (software as a service) model. It’s essentially very simple. Our customers pay per user per month to use Multiline. 

Now, there are two ways you could go about offering the service. In a B2B landscape, you can sell directly to the enterprise or find ways to partner and also sell indirectly. For us, that’s where our great partnership with T-Mobile and other partners worldwide come in. We have what is called an indirect selling model which is great for scalability. Their own passionate and energetic team members also help close many of the business contracts from offering the service through their channel. So, in those cases, the money flow is from the end customer to our partner to us. It has been fantastic to see grow and grow by the day!

Could we do additional alternative models for monetization? Yes, I think as the company evolves there are always possibilities. But we are focused on continuing to grow what’s working. As a business, we are very partner friendly and realize that even with a small but mighty internal sales force in addition to leveraging our partners model for scaling—we are able to create a much wider impact.

Can you tell our readers about the most unconventional tactic you've used to test, market, or gain feedback on a product? What did you try, what was unique about it, and what was the outcome?

To be honest, there hasn’t been anything that radical in our product development environment. We have all taken a very agile and beta centric process. It’s a process of continuous iteration. We work directly hand-in-hand with our customers, partners and our own internal drive bot capabilities as needed. We like to validate it directly with the end customers, listen, and then iterate that if things are lacking, we’ll address it immediately. We don’t like to wait until the end of the cycle, complete everything and then cross our fingers and hope that it will consume and deploy correctly. Both our partners and end customers find this approach very satisfying and easy to work with because of our flexibility.

What are some of the strategies you have used to improve your products and build on their success?

So since our launch, there have been quite a few enhancements in terms of the overall quality and reliability of Multiline. One is very fundamentally the underlying network and infrastructure that powers the service itself. This comes from the communication provider partner itself. As I’ve mentioned previously that is with T-Mobile here in the U.S.—the number one wireless carrier in the country! 

I think it’s very important to make sure that we partner with the Tier 1 level carriers because ultimately, when you pick up the Multiline application, we want to make sure that phone call or text message is at that highest quality of reliability. We couldn’t be happier with how the relationship with them is going so far and the benefits to our customers. Secondly, we always try to enhance the experience itself—how do you continuously simplify the end users experience. Because ultimately there should not be friction…and that’s an important word to me. It is one of our utmost strategies to continuously reduce friction in the service, personalizing it and consumerizing it.

Thank you. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a very successful app?

1. Start off with what problem are you solving for and “why”? Make sure to keep asking that question throughout the creation process…the “how” will come later. If you’re not clear on why and what everything else will fall apart.

2. Find your passion behind the product. What gets your team excited about the product? People will see through your eyes if there is a lack of passion behind what you are creating if you lose sight of it yourself.

3. Find the right team of people that can accomplish the creation. No journey will be perfect. There will be twists and turns in the product building phase. But a team that can navigate that journey along the way (and have some fun in the process) will succeed at the end of the day.

4. Do bite-size MVPs or Minimal Viable Products—get real time feedback. Don’t be afraid to put stuff out there for the world to see. When they can touch and feel something you can get feedback better.

5. Don’t be concerned about course correction—it’s okay to fail! The important part is being able to recover quickly and create quick wins. Along with that…take time to celebrate those wins! Sometimes we get so fixated on the faults and losses that we forget to celebrate even the little wins as they come to us.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Your readers can learn more about how Multiline can benefit their business and all the amazing technology we are creating at Movius at our website. And for those not as familiar on all things AI, make sure to take a look at our blog section for some really insightful articles in the world of Artificial Intelligence.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

This was so much fun! Thank you for the great conversation and a chance to take time to reflect.

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By Hannah Clark

Hannah Clark is the Editor of The Product Manager. Following six years of experience in the tech industry, she pivoted into the content space where she's had the pleasure of working with some of the most brilliant voices in the product world. Driven by insatiable curiosity and a love of bringing people together, her mission is to foster a fun, vibrant, and inspiring community of product people.