Disruptive's office in Sparks, Md. Photos courtesy of Disruptive.
Andrey Kondratyuk didn’t set out to create an app for making and managing To-Do lists.
A native Ukrainian who moved to the U.S. at age 4, Kondratyuk cofounded app and website development company Disruptive in 2008 with two friends — also immigrants — he met in elementary school in Maryland, and the three made a Russian card game, Durak, the focus (and name) of their first attempt at a mobile app.
Durak has been a hit on the Apple app store, even with a price tag of $4.99 for the iPhone and iPad. (For Mac desktops and laptops, Durak is free.)
Kondratyuk said there are about 50,000 active users from around the world playing the card game every month, and more than 200,000 people have downloaded the app since its release in 2009. “That was our first app, and it’s been our biggest success so far,” he said.
But as other app-makers in the Baltimore area have realized, Sparks, Md.-based Disruptive had to turn to development work for clients as a way to provide the financial cushion needed to continue making other apps that weren’t guaranteed to bring in big money.
In fall 2013, Disruptive’s free Busy app went live on the Apple app store, the culmination of about two years of development work.
Although To-Do apps aren’t novel — a cursory search through Apple’s app store yields 175 such apps — Kondratyuk insists Busy is slightly different because it organizes people’s most important tasks into its own folder. (Other apps, such as Todoist, allow for tasks to be organized by folder as well.) The design interface, he said, forces Busy users to tackle their most important task for that day, thereby weeding out any inclinations to procrastinate.
“We used to be chronic procrastinators,” said Kondratyuk, a 26-year-old who studied e-commerce at Towson University. “We found if you just get started and you knock out your most important task right away, then the rest of the day becomes so much easier. So the first main goal of the app is to get people to do their one most important task every day as opposed to other [apps] where you just put in a bunch of different tasks.”
So far Disruptive has made money off the Durak card game app, but not yet from Busy. (On the app store, Disruptive lists its own apps under the name Lost Token Software LLC in order to distinguish its work from the development projects it completes for clients.)
Most of Disruptive’s app work is done in house, but because the three cofounders’ background is mainly in web development, they sometimes call upon outside developers — from Odessa, Russia, Pakistan and California — to help them finish an app.
“We’re trying to find the best talent from all around the world, not necessarily just outsource to the cheapest place,” Kondratyuk said. It proved beneficial during the development of Durak, when the three needed to find developers who were familiar with the classic Russian card game.
To make money from the Busy app, Kondratyuk and his cofounders are looking into adding features that will be accessible via in-app purchases.
“Every app puts us in the hole for a while, then we get out of it,” he said. “So Busy isn’t profitable yet, but our plan is a year or two down the road [it will be].”
Still, Disruptive subsists mainly on the client work. The company has received a minimal amount of investment money from a family friend (Kondratyuk declined to disclose the exact amount), but the strategy going forward will be to make money on the apps it releases under the Lost Token Software name.
“Through in-app purchases and different subscriptions, we think that’ll be the best way of making money off the app store,” said Kondratyuk.