Five Questions for a San Diego Startup: BandFriend

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Screenshots of the BandFriend app for the Apple iPhone.

Stefan Immich turned his love of music and expertise as an app developer for hire into a product of his own, BandFriend. The mobile app helps amateur musicians connect to form bands, or just jam over a beer. The free, ad-supported app is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play. While not improving BandFriend, or playing his guitar, Immich is building touchbee Solutions, a company specializing in custom application development for clients worldwide.

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Why did you start BandFriend?

As an app developer I constantly think about new app ideas. But I also happen to play guitar and I remember when I first moved to San Diego in 2007, I had a growing interest in finding other musicians that weren’t semi-professional artists, but rather your average local drummer or guitar player that might want to get together have a drink and jam a little. Sure enough, I found a few websites which sort of performed this matchmaking I was interested in. I signed up, but over time I realized that it didn’t really work for me (too complicated, wasn’t free or just provided a horrible user experience ). In 2011, a year after I started working as an app developer for my own business, touchbee Solutions, and after receiving another potential musician matchmaking email from those websites I signed up ago years ago, it suddenly hit me. Was there an app that is able to connect musicians, in particular locally. There really wasn’t. In November of 2011, I started drafting the first user-interface design ideas. About nine months later, the app was first released on the Apple App Store.

Stefan Immich, creator of the BandFriend app.

What makes San Diego a good location to build a musicians network?

BandFriend has been released on the App Stores worldwide, so in that sense I don’t think it matters too much where you would start a social network for musicians. However, San Diego has proven to have a lot of musical talent and that’s certainly not something that is hurting us. Additionally, while we are not very active in the San Diego startup scene, we do appreciate the pool of resources it offers to entrepreneurs and tech startup companies.

How is the response to BandFriend so far?

The response has been mostly positive. We were able to build a solid user base all over the United States, with Los Angeles, San Diego and New York leading the way. Users in particular like the look of the app and the functionality it offers. In addition, the BandFriend apps are completely free of charge. Competing websites often charge a premium or subscription fee for connecting musicians. And we are also quick in adding new features that improve the whole user experience. For instance, earlier this year we introduced a chat feature that allows you to have private text conversations with other musicians right from within the app. We are also constantly trying to increase the number of musicians who use BandFriend, which is the major challenge for us and naturally for every new social network.

You also provide app development services. How is that part of the business going?

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I founded touchbee Solutions in 2010 with its goal to provide top notch app development services to local clients. It since has grown and we’ve been happy to provide those services to additional clients located as far as Germany, Italy and the UK. We offer iOS and Android app development and focus on native apps to provide the best user experience. On most projects I’m the sole developer but reach out to additional manpower either locally or overseas as needed for the project. Depending on the complexity of the apps we typically work on somewhere between five and 10 apps a year. To date we have provided development services for over 30 apps.

BandFriend isn’t your first app. What else do you have in the works?

My focus is very much on BandFriend. We have a huge feature list that would keep us busy for at least the next two years. Of course I always have new ideas and try to realize those into apps whenever time permits (which unfortunately isn’t very often). One of those ideas I recently developed has been the iOS app pixislide. It’s a simple, yet fun sliding puzzle games tailored to smaller kids.

Times of San Diego, a startup itself, regularly writes about startups in technology, biotech and other sectors of local business. If you are a startup in the San Diego area and want to tell your story, please contact news@timesofsandiego.com.

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