AC Barcelona 2016: Winner Interview with rtist’s Duncan Campbell

Following their recent win at our homecoming AC Barcelona event, we chat to rtist’s Duncan Campbell about the app’s creation, his career and the sharing economy…

What’s your background
I’ve been writing software for the last 15 years, and apps for the last 6 years.  Just 2 years ago I founded Gorilla Arm, an app development agency here in Barcelona  Since then we’ve been making apps both for clients and for ourselves.


What caused your first interest in apps and developing?

Software development is in my blood – I remember being given a Commodore 64 when I was 8-years-old and instead of playing video games I spent a month learning how to write my own games.  I’ve done all sorts of development, from websites to servers to corporate apps.  But there is something really magical about apps.  This is software that bends and shapes itself to you and your needs.  It feels so much more personal.  And people LOVE using apps.  We have users who write to us to complain because we’re stealing their life away because they’re so addicted to our apps.  That’s what makes app development so rewarding.

Where did the concept for the app come from?
rtist came about when I was on a flight to Stockholm last December.  We were talking about art and about how we have many artists in our circle of friends who can’t afford to do art everyday because they just don’t make enough money out of it.  They end up working in other jobs and trying to make enough money to do their art at evenings or weekends.  I wanted to find a way for them to make more money, using their passion and talent productively.  I’d also recently seen a few people I know commission artwork from artists, and see how excited they were about showing off their work and talking about the experience.  It made sense to me to bring those two together, and offer a way for artists to make money doing art commissions.

The sharing economy has seen huge growth and exposure in the past few years, do you think apps will continue to lead the charge? 
I guess the reason that apps are taking the charge here is because they make it so easy to offer a service without being stuck in front of a computer or telephone all day.  You can hire cars or book rooms or order artworks while you’re sat on the bus, and the other party can accept and process everything from their phone.  You don’t need to dedicate your life to this – you can keep everything moving while doing exactly what you were doing before.  I think apps needs to evolve as users’ needs are evolving, but I think apps still have a lot of life in them, especially in the sharing economy.


How did you hear about Appcircus?

AppCircus has been a major force in Barcelona for the last few years.  I remember going to an AppCircus event a few years ago and wondering if I’d ever have an app worthy of participating.  As a Mobile World Congress attendee I have been to the grand final twice now – never thinking I’d ever make it to the same stage. Let’s see if rtist manages to join the other world-class apps on that stage in February.

What’s been your proudest moment?
My proudest moment has to be the day that we gained 40,000 new users for our app Enscripted.  We were featured by a number of large online publications and I watched in shock as the number of users sky-rocketed in just one day.  I was glued to my phone for the whole time.  It just goes to show that hard work and a good idea can pay off.

Reaching your audience is one of the hardest challenges with any product, how do you plan to attract more user?
We’re planning a few strategies.  Mostly we’re hoping that the artists who join the platform will hep us reach their followers – who we know are already art lovers.  We’re also planning a large Instagram campaign, as well as an offline campaign to reach more new users.


Where do you see the future of the app going? Any expansion plans?

Right now we’re just starting out.  We’ve launched in Spain and we’re busy making everything perfect ready for an autumn launch in the UK.  Once we know that everything is going well in two countries, we;re going to start pushing out to the rest of the world and seeing if we can help artists across the globe benefit from our platform.


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