Local software company aims to make an impact on global stage

A photo-sharing application called MoLoMe in smart phones across platforms, including Blackberry, Android, Symbian, and MeeGo, has been creating ripples. 

After its launch in April last year, there have been more than 1.5 million downloads up to now from the four platforms combined. This application is being using by smart-phone users around the world. But how many people are aware that it is an application created by a Thai developer?

Sittiphol Phanvilai or @nuuneoi, a programmer who is now managing director of Hua Lampong, a local software company, owns the MoLoMe application. His company was set up in 2008 soon after he got his bachelor’s degree.

Sittiphol has been familiar with the software business model since he was a computer engineering student at Chulalongkorn University. He took part in many software development contests locally and abroad. He loved programming and loved the challenge of competing with others in contests. 

“I started to join software contests from the time I was a junior student. In the first contest I took part in, I received many awards. After that I have always won prizes in all local contests,” said Sittiphol.

His first success came in a local contest when he was the third-year student, winning the DTAC and Nokia Dot Awards. His application was a location-based app called ‘nearby coupon’, designed specifically for the Nokia mobile phone. After the contest, he tried to commercialise this application but it was not a success because at that time maps were not easy to use and GPS was not popular among mobile users, while the operators had not given the cell-phone ID to developers.

His application developments have always been based on mobile platforms and most of them won awards and were a success in terms of number of downloads. Another development called Music Caller won the first prize at Samart Innovation Awards. It was a commercial success, bringing a master’s-degree student like him Bt100,000.

He also took part in international competitions. He submitted his software development – an application for watching YouTube on mobile phone dedicated to the Symbian platform – called “Mobitubia” to the Nokia Open C Challenge in 2007. Mobitubia saw more than a million downloads at that time.

He also developed a mobile game called Moskillto, a Symbian mobile game, which he submitted to a global contest called Nokia Calling All Innovators, in 2008. It failed to win any prize as he submitted the application in the wrong category. Instead of submitting in the innovation category, he submitted to the environment category. He brought Moskillto to the Software Industry Promotion Agency (Sipa)’s Pitch 2008 Contest where it emerged the winner. Then, he developed Moskillto for iOS platforms. It was also successful with its free version getting about 10,000 downloads per day, while its paid version had about 100 downloads totally. 

With his experience in mobile application development and participation in many contests, he realised that he would like to become an entrepreneur rather than be a programmer in a software company. He decided to set up his own company – Hua Lampong – in 2008, with the aim of becoming a local software firm developing mobile applications to serve the local and global market.

“I had been familiar with mobile development contests as I entered a lot of contests throughout my student life. I completed my master’s degree in computer engineering from Chulalongkorn University. Participating in the contests helped me develop the business idea, rather than just having programming skills. When I graduated, I opened my own company to focus on mobile development,” said Sittiphol. 

Hua Lampong’s first commercial product was called Madz, a mobile advertising application. But it was not quite a success as mobile monetisation was difficult at that time. So, he adjusted Madz to become MoLoMe, the community photo-sharing app, and launched it last year. MoLoMe has been a huge success, especially on Android, Blackberry, Symbian and Meego platforms. 

MoLoMe was first launched in Nokia Calling All Innovators last year and it won the third prize in that global mobile competition. 

Currently, it has about 500,000 registered users and has about 1.5 million downloads from across four platforms. These figures were reported only 10 months after the launch of MoLome. He plans to launch MoLoMe on iOS in the second quarter of this year. Once MoLoMe is available on iOS, it will have 10 million downloads by the end of this year.

“We provide the application for free with limited features that they can enjoy using. But if they need more features they have to buy. Our revenue also comes from advertising. But until now, even though MoLoMe is recognised among mobile users it still does not generate revenue for the company. Therefore, we have to develop mobile software and applications for the enterprise. This activity helps generate revenue for the company,” said Sittiphol.

The company has 15 programmers. He said there were plans to double the number of programmers to 30. Half of them will concentrate on developing and enhancing the features of MoLoMe, while the rest will focus on developing mobile applications for enterprises that are the company’s customers. 

“MoLome will be monetised after June this year, once we launch it on the iOS platform. We are considering launching it for Brada and Windows Phone as well,” said Sittiphol. 

He said his passion is to build Hua Lampong into a mobile software firm whose products are recognised and commercialised globally.

The signs of success are already there as MoLoMe is being recognised among smart-phone users around the world. The 1.5 million downloads worldwide in only 10 months is a good start for a local software company. 

Sittiphol also dreams of opening a mobile application development academy to groom mobile developers. It will be set up sometime within this year.


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