Rick Mak Chi-lit started his own business, app development company Oursky, with two partners straight after graduating from the Chinese University of Hong Kong with a degree in information engineering. As well as co-owning the company, he is also one of its software engineers.
Starting out in a home office, Oursky now employs 14 people and operates from an industrial building in Fo Tan. “We have been operating for five years. Our main clients are businesses that want to do marketing through apps. Many of our clients come to us to help them promote a product or an event. An app is a low-cost and efficient way of promotion compared to having a billboard advertisement,” he says.
Over the years, Mak says, the demand for apps has become more sophisticated. “In the beginning, we designed apps to deliver information to consumers. Now we collect data regarding consumer behaviour through apps, try to analyse the data, and provide businesses with new insights for their marketing strategy,” he says.
Mak says the industry has a bright future and that those with the right skills should have no worries about finding a job. In fact, the challenge for him as a business owner is a shortage of talent. “Ten years ago, there were not many people majoring in information engineering. As a result, it is not easy to find app developers with three to four years’ experience,” he says.
App developers do not necessarily need an educational background in IT, but Mak advises people wanting to enter the field to have the mentality of a problem-solver. “Creating an app is very much like using technology to provide solutions,” he says. “For example, when people go out for dinner, it is pretty messy when trying to share the bill. Maybe someone should consider develop an app that helps people deal with that. I encourage people to try to create apps to solve everyday problems. As an employer, I definitely value such achievements.”
Mak believes that the learning opportunities in the industry are never ending. “There are always new technologies coming out and developers have to follow the latest trend,” he says.
He also thinks the app-development industry should focus more on creating their own brands and taking themselves to a new level. “I hope I can develop more apps for the company rather than helping businesses develop their apps,” he says. “Many companies in US and Australia are highly respected in the industry because they create apps for themselves.”