We have always been passionate about developing technological solutions that can improve the everyday lives of people and also the society around us, and working on projects who are of value to people is what has been motivating us since DigiMark was established.
Our Head of the Business Development, Liliya, had the pleasure to be interviewed by Forbes Bulgaria and to share our story and how we have managed to contribute to the positive change in the Bulgarian society. We decided to translate the interview into English, as we believe this is a story worth sharing with everyone who has ever been interested in how technology can impact society and better the everyday life of people.
1. How has the mobile app market changed in the past few years?
There is a change in the market for mobile applications and it is mainly reflected by the transformation of consumer demand. We all remember the times of euphoria from mobile apps in which it was enough an app to be published in the App Store, and the users were downloading it only to see what it was doing. It was trendy to have apps for anything you can imagine, and the brands which were having their own mobile application were bragging to be trendy.
The outcome of the application euphoria was tons of applications, that did not create any real or added value, which led to a change in the consumer behavior.
There was a huge demand for smartphones, and people just downloaded applications without having a real need for them. But everything has changed, curiosity is no longer the main factor, but the needs of people. The smartphone is no longer just an accessory, it is a tool for better life. A year ago, an analysis made by the global leader of the online research, comScore, showed that Americans downloaded zero new applications per month.
It is no longer enough to be in the App Store – the applications need to deliver a particular benefit and to satisfy a consumer’s need. In order to develop and continue its life, a mobile application should start as a reasonable investment and a well-planned solution, delivering added value, which afterward contributes to various business goals.
Slowly the App-obsession has calmed down and the companies that staked on innovation with a long-term perspective and return came to stand out. Those that survived were the ones which were focused on the industrial sectors, unaffected so far by the technological revolution. For the mutual joy of the software companies in Bulgaria, their number is not decreasing. We also see growth in the mobile solutions of crucial areas such as health, education, finance, energy, and transport. The examples of most European countries, the Asian market, and especially the US, are inexhaustible.
2. How do the mobile apps help with social change?
Above all, they unite and connect people in need to interact with and help each other. In the first place, the fastest advantage achieve the applications, which ease the lives of people with different conditions or disadvantages.
One unique example is a Danish startup company that created a mobile application-assistant for people with damaged sight. The project, called Be My Eyes, is used in 150 countries around the world and has more than half a million users. Anyone who wants can use the app as a volunteer to assist a blind person in a real-time situation with real-time video streaming. Project designers faced an interesting case in testing the application. At different times of the day, video streaming was black, as if the camera is not working. They then realized that blind people simply do not turn on their lights at home.
A similar project to this one is our project “Donate Blood”, which we made together with the Bulgarian Voluntary Blood Donor Organization. A mobile application, which often saves human lives, connecting people who need a blood donation in real-time with blood donors. A little-known fact is that Bulgaria is in one of the last places of blood donation in Europe. The number of blood donors is only 22 per 1,000 people, which puts the main goal of the project – to change this negative trend in Bulgarian society, and why not to be a worthy example of the next social mobile applications developed in Bulgaria.
Another similar project is Buddy – a social platform for patients with oncology diseases which we are currently finishing. The aim of the project is to support and calm patients exactly in the first hours after learning about this severe diagnosis. The platform will show them that they are not alone and that they can get support from other patients in a similar situation.
Perhaps most of you have also heard about the “My Rights” app – the pocketbook for our civil rights, which was our gift for the society, along with the organization team, three years ago. Few people know that this is one of the most downloaded mobile apps in Bulgaria with more than 130,000 unique downloads and over 20,000 active users a month, who are already a little more informed and are certainly thinking about the rights and their obligations as citizens.
Maybe you have also heard of the app “The Citizens”. Although it is not our project, it is one of the best examples of an app with a huge impact on the society. Any citizen can report traffic violations to the police directly from their phones.
3. As a company do you have specific plans and goals in this direction?
One of the main philosophies in DigiMark is working on projects and creating software which has a great impact on improving everyday life and people’s lives. Whether we work for clients, create an internal project, or choose an organization to sponsor, the main question we always ask is – “With what will this application help people? Does it make sense? Do we believe in it? “
The most interesting effect which we achieve when carefully selecting the projects we develop is the high motivation of the team. Every developer wants to create software that has value and meaning, each of our colleagues wants to be proud of their work and the impact of the products.
You have no idea of the feeling we get when we receive a thankful letter from a person, who has received a life-saving blood donation on time, by finding a blood donor via our “Donate Blood” app. This gives a huge sense and satisfaction that our work has a much higher purpose and significance than writing a software code for a fee.
As a company, we have a very clear social policy from the owners and a long-term CSR strategy, in which we support social causes in the fields of Education, Health and Civil Society in Bulgaria. The first realized project of the company is social and is made for NGOs, free of charge. When the company only consisted of 5 people, we were again allocating valuable time for publicly significant projects and we will continue to work in this direction.
4. Are your plans international or only for supporting Bulgaria?
The development of social projects that contribute to the development of the Bulgarian society as well as the annual participation in various charity causes have become a tradition for DigiMark and are laid as the basis in our corporate value system. After all, we are a Bulgarian company and despite our international development, our main team, development center, and focus will always be in Bulgaria.
For our company, a very logic continuation in this direction is the creation of the DigiMark Foundation, an organization entirely devoted to the development of social mobile software solutions. We believe that only innovation can reform society quickly and we will rely on partners from different sectors with whom to realize some really worthwhile projects.
About a year ago, our owners Boris Kolev and Nikolay Angelov, set up the DigiMark Ventures company, which supported various start-up projects that should be focused primarily on achieving positive digital change in society and also on having the possibility of a serious growth.
5. Send a message to your future clients and partners
We are not just another software company and do not look for us if you would like us to develop something quickly at a low cost. We value quality and added value of each project. We have already had over 180 projects on several continents and we have an international team in Portugal and on three locations in the USA. We always put our hearts and souls in each of our customer’s project and we do not worry about expressing an expert opinion when we see that a project has a meaningless functionality or no added value. If you are looking just for someone to develop an app, it is not us that you are looking for. However, if you are looking for a partner, then you can contact us.