When Julia Dexter checked her most recent analytics for an app she helped develop out of Halifax, she at first thought there was a glitch in the system.
The co-founder of Squiggle Park, an interactive app marketed to schools and which helps children learn to read, saw it had been downloaded roughly 1,000 times after it appeared on a page in Apple’s app store called Made In Halifax.
“It really opened my eyes,” she said. “I was thinking, ‘Holy smokes.'”
That achievement is just one of several app-development success stories emerging in the Halifax area.
Last year, two entrepreneurs in the city created an app to make it easier for people to find spots to refill their water bottles, instead of buying a plastic bottle. There are now more than 2,000 users.
The co-founder of Tap, Stephen Flynn, said he and business partner Mike Postma had such great feedback from the community and local businesses that this spring they started their own marketing and app development firm, Wunder.
“It actually sparked in us that people need a lot of help locally,” Flynn said.
“We kind of do have a big idea and we want this thing to be potentially worldwide to help people divert plastic bottles from landfills. But if you only focus on that big aspect and you don’t start small, you’ll never get anything going.”
Flynn said they saw an interest in the app across the globe, with people wanting to find refill stations in Hong Kong and London.
Client base outside of the province
There are several potential factors behind Halifax’s growing app industry. Not only does the city churn out large numbers of university graduates, some of whom will have the entrepreneurial touch, it also offers an affordable and easy lifestyle that encourages some developers to set down roots.
But while their roots may be here, the clients of many Halifax-based app companies are outside of Nova Scotia.
Ashwin Kutty, president and CEO of We Us Them, which is currently working on app development in health care, education and hospitality, said 80 to 85 per…