Iconfactory’s Minneapolis office is growing into its unique northern identity, Minnesota nice included.
Started in a Greensboro, North Carolina basement back in 1996, the mobile design and development firm began selling digital services years before their Twitter fame and Twitterific fortune would arrive.
Fast forward two decades, cross a few state lines, and you’re now in CoCo Northeast where the majority of this firm can be found today, building mobile apps for themselves and others around the world.
Iconfactory, as it’s officially named, made its way to Minneapolis about four years ago via collaboration betwen AppViz and parent company IdeaSwarm, founded by Minnesota brothers Dylan and Dustin Bruzenak, along with Troy Gaul.
The trio decided to pitch their new partner on a vision to establish and grow a Minneapolis outpost under a sub-division aptly referred to as “Iconfactory North”.
“They are just such great people and we of course are really nice too, it was just really easy I think,” Dustin, left, now CEO of north, recalls of the cultural fit. “Plus there’s so much demand for the work it really just made business sense to continue as one company given the circumstances.”
With a ‘managed delivery’ mobile model in mind, Iconfactory North began taking on new clients and integrating with the old, including big brand names that have been around for as long as Iconfactory itself. Ebay, Adobe, and Cisco are such recognizable tech companies, along side household consumer brands like LEGO and Coca Cola that Iconfactory has been working with for many years by now.
“There was (and is) so much changing the mobile world that we had to take a big step back and really consider what actually makes a mobile app successful if we were to continue working in the space,” Bruzenak explains.
“Years ago, it was easy to launch, distribute and profit from a mobile app, but those times have come and gone,” he says, speaking with years of retrospect thinking about the future.
“Everybody does mobile development and design…we were competing in Minneapolis, in Wisconsin, in California, in Europe, and Asia, literally worldwide.”
Iconfactory’s approach might resemble that of a tried and true agency approach — unoriginal by all means — though Bruzenak stresses their how their proven design and development abilities separate them from the pack. When combined with the “business first” approach they take before going to work on the technical side.
It’s thinking through not just what the app will do, but how it will evolve and flourish, they see as the key to sustained client success.
Now with seven employees in Minnesota, their presence in Minnesota counts for about half of the overall headcount at Iconfactory and Bruzenak predicts a 50% increase in local growth throughout 2017, bringing their presence to a dozen by the end of this year.
In addition to their work for clients, the company produces high-profile apps of its own with a growing suite:
iPad Pro sketch app Linea, for example, started as an internal tool for drawing icons for clients. It worked so well that the company decided to release it as a standalone product.
By working on its own apps as well as client’s, Bruzenak said, Iconfactory staff members prove their ability in the field and earn extra revenue at the same time.
The Minnesota office believes in bringing “handshake-level trust” to its interactions with clients. Bruzenak said he focuses on hiring people who are working for the love of designing, rather than the potential money involved. In effect, he wants to bring a taste of Minnesota nice to Iconfactory’s international presence.
“We’re homegrown,” he said, adding that his team is melding “Minnesota values with world-class design and development.”