Why bring one app to market when you can launch 10, 20, even 30?  That is the ethos of a dynamic team of young Finnish developers who go by the wonderful name of the Magnificent Eight.  As the name might suggest, this is an award-winning team of eight who have known each other since high school and have turned their shared fascination for computer technology into a stream of apps, many of which are available on the Windows 8 store. 

They must be doing something right, because they are also one of the successful applicants selected to be supported by the highly prestigious AppCampus, as well as winner of the recent Finnish leg of the worldwide Wowzapp event.  Karl Ots, spokesperson for this band of ambitious, talented students-turned-entrepreneurs, gives us some background.  

A screenshot of Connect 4, a Magnificent 8 app.

“We’ve known each other for many years and have a lot in common, including our love of programming and playing computer games, but it wasn’t until Windows 8 that we got the idea of working together to launch our own series of apps.  We could see that it was going to be a great platform for launching apps quickly and efficiently, plus we believe there is a huge opportunity: most other app markets are flooded, but as Windows 8 is quite new, there’s a real chance to make a big impact.  So we wanted to be among the first developers to launch our apps on the Windows Store.”

“I had a chance to work with Windows 8 right from the start, because I am also a Microsoft Student Partner here in Finland (I’m studying at Tampere University).  So, I had early exposure to the technology and have even trained other students on using Windows 8. I already knew the Microsoft team here in Finland well and they have been very helpful, always ready to help us if we have questions and even making sure that we had an early tablet to play around with when we started developing our Windows 8apps.”

“The development process with Windows 8 was very smooth and has meant that we were able to follow up on lots of our ideas for apps, rather than focusing on just one.  So far, we have posted around 30 small games and apps to the Windows 8 Store, such as Magnificent Sudoku (which we had ready in time for the official launch of Windows 8 in November 2012), Magnificent Kakuro, Video Poker, Magnificent Live Tile Clock, Poker Sudoku and Magnificent Words. Most of them include some serious artificial intelligence or other challenging algorithms, to put a new ‘twist’ on apps to make them more interesting.”

“While we can’t reveal exact figures, we are in positive revenue.  Our business model is simple: we have a time limited trial and then there is a small fee to carry on using the app, between one and two euros.   We have had over 5,500 page views and around 5 per cent of those become paying customers.  The biggest country for downloads is the US, with around 80 per cent of all download traffic from English-speaking countries.”

Like so many start-ups, the Magnificent 8 are ‘bootstrapped’ and self-funded, but have recently received a great boost:  They won the Wowzapp competition (a worldwide Windows 8 hackathon organised by Microsoft in which 650 developer teams worked through the night building apps).  The Magnificent Eight were named the outright winner with their board game – shortly to be in the Windows Store – securing a 20,000 Euro prize offered by co-host AppCampus.

The Magnificent Eight are also now being directly supported by AppCampus, an €18 million open-innovation programme funded by Microsoft, Nokia and Aalto University that aims to help entrepreneurs and start-ups around the world bring breakthrough apps to market.

So what’s next for this band of bright youngsters?  Last words from Karl: “We’ll continue to collaborate with Microsoft and AppCampus and are talking to other potential partners too.  It’s early days for us, but we are confident that we will continue to grow and be successful. It’s a great time to be an app developer.”