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Joe Mason: The Technoratti

His company Zyndigo is already upgrading Charlotte's digital game

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According to TechCrunch, people don't actually talk much on the phone anymore. They'd rather spend an average of 2 hours and 19 minutes a day using mobile apps, for gaming, scrolling Facebook and screening potential dates. So when mobile app evaluation company Zyndigo opened up shop in Charlotte, it made sense that it would pop up on our radar as one to watch for 2015.

The company vets and tests cellphone apps, a process that can be complicated without experts on your side. Joe Mason, who hails from Indiana, picked Charlotte to base his business because of the city's strong digital footprint, spurred by the number of designers and developers who live locally. He says Charlotte's rep as a banking town doesn't do it full justice.

"With Charlotte's young demographic and the increase in nightlife and new businesses, there's substantial proof in how this city is changing. Banking is becoming secondary to the innovators, the tech gurus and the entrepreneurs," Mason told CL via email.

Zyndigo is focusing on Charlotte's small businesses, which have a huge stake in the mobile app market and the most need for an increased mobile presence. A good mobile app helps a business fit more seamlessly into a customer's lifestyle, as users turn to their smartphones to decide where to go for dinner or which florist to order from on Valentine's Day. A well-designed app can do double duty, bringing revenue in the door and making money via scrolling ads at the bottom of the screen.

The company's first overture was a contest in January for Charlotte entrepreneurs: Bring an app, or pitch the idea for one, and the winner would get use of Zyndigo's services for free. The company would conduct market research on its competition, create or improve the app itself, provide a social media proposal and push its presence in the app store. Charlotte entrepreneurs flocked with apps for restaurants, shopping and an array of services.

Zyndigo's contest winner ended up being Guns vs. Ducks, a squash-style gaming app that is basically "just mutilating ducks for fun. But hey, if you can make millions off of a game where you try to get a bird through a small hole without failing, anything is possible, right?" Mason said. "I'm looking at you, Flappy Bird."

Zyndigo is gamifying the shooter app to increase downloads, adding levels and incentives such as coins to keep the users coming back for more. They're also pushing it in the app store for iOS, Android and Windows. There are over a million apps in the app store, so it can be hard for innovators to stand out. That's where Zyndigo is most valuable.

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