Last year, Itai Ben-Gal, an engineer from Israel, and Victor Nemirovsky, a software developer from Russia, were working in the auto supply chain. Today, to their surprise, they are smart-app entrepreneurs who work for themselves at a company expected to surpass the $1 million mark in revenue next year.
A plan to make $2,000 each last year on the side by developing and selling software for a universal remote control app for iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch has morphed instead into their company, iRule LLC, with serious funding, international sales and a revenue stream that already has it in the black.
The goal of making $2,000? That was how much Ben-Gal, a self-described audiovisual geek, figured was enough to help pay for a family vacation and reward his wife for her patience and indulgence for the nine months and small fortune he'd spent in 2008 on his "man cave" in the basement of his Novi house.
Instead, Ben-Gal and Nemirovsky made enough last year -- with revenue of $110,000 through sales in 30 countries -- for each to buy a new four-door family sedan.
This year, iRule has raised $500,000 from investors, including the first investment from the fledgling Compuware Ventures LLC, a new investment subsidiary of Compuware Corp. IRule projects revenue of at least $300,000 this year and $1 million in 2012.
Compuware is also providing office space in downtown Detroit and two software developers to help meet the target of having an app available that supports Android phones and tablets in time for the Christmas shopping season.
The app itself is free, but the company sells the proprietary software needed to run it and also sells at a small markup the third-party hardware that provides the infrared signal electronic devices operate on. The software and hardware each have a basic cost of $100, although the software scales up in price depending on the complexity of the system it's operating.
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