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Using mobile apps to connect businesses with customers

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Businesses battling to stay connected with
customers could find some help from a new company started by
University at Buffalo engineering graduates.

Mogabi (formerly Ethos Studios) was a semifinalist in the Henry
A. Panasci Jr. Technology Entrepreneurship Competition at UB in
2014 for its idea of keeping customers engaged with mobile games,
and the company worked on developing a product it could take to

Co-founders Rob Barber, an electrical engineering graduate, and
Joel Little, a computer science graduate, started the company three
years ago.

When a business signs up for Mogabi’s service, the
business receives its own customized mobile game, branded to fit
the company, in the App Store and Google Play store. The business
also receives access to a web portal allowing it to interact with
anyone who installs the app.

The platform focusses on three programs: customer reach,
customer loyalty and customer engagement.

The customer reach program allows business owners to send
messages directly to a user’s phone inside of the mobile app.
It also gives businesses insight into how and how many users are
responding to those messages, taking actions such as reading them
and sharing them.

The customer loyalty program sends customers coupons and
incentives via the in-app “wallet.” Users can also save
the coupons to their bonus card for easy access the next time they
make a purchase.

One of the most unique features of the Mogabi mobile platform is
the engagement program. The app includes branded mobile video games
that continually expose users to the business logo, products and
imagery. Businesses can even offer coupons or rewards for users
that reach exceptional levels of game play.

Why mobile games?

“Games are just part of what we do, but they are very
compelling for marketing,” Barber said. “Websites are
good to build traffic, but apps are better for long-term
engagement, and we believe games can be better still.”

Games expose customers to the company’s brand in
innovative ways, he said. For example, a customer shoots at
asteroids with logos on them, or flies through a series of
products. Most traditional marketing or advertising techniques
don’t reach this level of interaction, he said.

The games Mogabi builds are based on current popular games and
are designed to reach a variety of people.

“When mobile gaming entered the forefront, it introduced a
new type of gamer,” Little said. “The mobile apps are
simple cute games you can play with one hand, and they kind of
democratized games. Anyone can play them. It doesn’t matter
if you are a 95-year-old grandfather or a five-year-old.”

Who can benefit from the platform?

The platform is best suited for businesses with a fun atmosphere
and a need or desire to better connect with and engage with their

Mogabi has a few clients
now, including Oogie Games, a local retail chain that bills itself
as “everything video games.”

Designing and building mobile apps can be cost prohibitive for
many companies.  Games in particular have been very expensive,
so only giant companies like McDonald’s and Red Bull have
been able to use them for marketing, said Ryan Fiust-Klink,
Mogabi’s sales director and an aerospace and mechanical
engineering graduate.

“If a restaurant wants to build and maintain an app and a
game, they have a huge cost to overcome” he said.
That’s where Mogabi comes in. The platform allows them to
deliver quality mobile apps quickly and affordably. It also enables
them to efficiently handle app maintenance for clients, he

Maintenance includes adapting to any changes Apple or other
system providers may make to their platforms. “As developers,
we get notice of the changes, and we go in and fix the apps so our
customers don’t see any change,” he said.

Little said the company can launch an app quickly. Mogabi
clients just need to provide a copy of their logo. Then creative
director Amanda Lamardi, a Daemen College graduate, incorporates
the logo into the game and customizes the artwork throughout the
app and game to fit the new client’s brand.  

Eventually, Mogabi wants to create a full one-click service.

“We’re building a system where people can go to our
site and get an app in minutes,” Little said. “If
you’re a business owner and you want a really effective
customer engagement tool that’s out of the box, we can do

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