Matt Powers ’03: Making his name in Mobile Apps

Matt Powers ’03 has a lot of co-workers these days. That’s a far cry from when he was the only employee of his firm. “I unfortunately cannot take credit for starting the company but I can take credit for being Applico’s first full-time employee,” said Powers, chief technical officer of a mobile applications development firm based in New York City. Applico has grown to over 50 employees, with a goal of opening satellite offices in Boston and Los Angeles this year and an international office in China in 2013.

Applico builds custom mobile apps on connected devices and its clients include a number of large, multinational companies, including GM, AT&T, Toshiba, and Pearson Publishing. The firm also has a mobile consulting arm that includes both strategy and design.

“We have hit our stride and found our niche as a company,” said Powers.

Certainly, Applico is in a growing industry. According to IDC (International Data Corporation), vendors shipped 472 million smartphones in 2011 compared to 305 million units in 2010. That number is expected to double to nearly a billion units shipped in 2015.

“Based on these trends and the growth we have experienced, we anticipate our numbers to align with the rapidly increasing demand in the field of mobile apps,” said Powers.

After Powers left Fairfield, he went on to pursue a graduate degree in computer engineering from Boston University, and from there had the opportunity to work at several large defense companies.

“I loved the defense industry and enjoyed working with cutting edge technologies. I spent the majority of my efforts working on a missile defense system for the U.S. Army, which progressed into running my own lab outside of Boston.”

He decided to apply to New York University’s Stern School of Business MBA program. But, while visiting New York for an interview at NYU, he met Alex Moazed, who had founded a dorm room startup company out of Babson University that focused on mobile software. A recent college graduate, Moazed was in the process of moving his business from Babson University to New York and needed to build a team.

“Alex and I shared the same enthusiasm to take a small, dorm room startup company and transform it into a major competitive force in the mobile space. In August 2010, I decided to accept his offer.”

At first, Powers — who graduated from Fairfield with a B.S. in computer science and a minor in mathematics — helped developed many of the firm’s major projects, while also focusing on hiring and being a support line for the sales team.

“In the short term, our challenge is finding good talent that meets our standard. Engineering is on the decline in the United States. People who are not only passionate but also talented in this field are few and far between,” he noted.

Applico has recently partnered with Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books, to produce “Scholastic Storia,” the first interactive tablet, branded and developed entirely for children, which is expected to launch this spring. Scholastic has embarked on a $50 million marketing campaign to promote the tablet.

Powers, who lives in lower Manhattan, looks back on his Fairfield days fondly: “This will sound cliché but I will truly cherish my four years at Fairfield for the rest of my life. I had the opportunity to form life-long relationships and friendships. When I reflect on my time at Fairfield the first two things that come to mind are ‘team’ and ‘community.’ Colleges and universities can fall into the trap of placing their emphasis on academics. But a strong sense of community and team is equally important. I couldn’t think of a better place to help me prepare for that than Fairfield.”

Some of his best memories are of his Fairfield professors.

“The faculty at Fairfield was great. As long as I was showing a passion to learn, a door was never closed to me. I felt like I could walk into any of my professors’ offices at any time and they would take the time to answer my questions. It was such a nice feeling, almost like you were never alone.”

He added, “It’s probably unfair to point out a single person, because the faculty as a whole was so great. But Peter Spoerri (associate professor of computer science) was certainly influential in my career, both while I was there and after I graduated. After I graduated, he was always there for a recommendation. Boston University originally had reservations about accepting me into their computer engineering program because the discipline is slightly different than computer science. But I truly believe Professor Spoerri’s recommendation made the difference.”

Matt Powers ’03 has

a lot of co-workers

these days. That’s a

far cry from when

he was the only employee

of his firm.

“I unfortunately cannot take credit for

starting the company but I can take credit for

being Applico’s first full-time employee,” said

Powers, chief technical officer of a mobile

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