Interview: Meet Austin Kettner of Quixby

When Windows 8 Developer Preview was announced not many developers came forward to embrace the future of PC’s. DealFlux is one of the first wave of apps that broke the barrier and showed the world what this new ecosystem is capable off.

Today we’re going to talk with Austin Kettner of Quixby, the guy behind several apps like DealFlux and HackerNews Reader to know more about the story behind DealFlux and his experience with Windows 8. Join us after the jump to learn more.

Thanks for taking the time to do an interview with us, Austin. Could you tell us a bit about yourself and Quixby?

The folks behind Quixby.com

The folks behind Quixby.com

Absolutely – I am one of three founders of Quixby. You could count on me as the technical guy of three of us, though all of us are really geeks at heart. The other two founders are twin brothers, which makes for very interesting introductions normally. We got started with Quixby as a way to answer the problems associated with computer building, but have grown it into something much more. App creation, mobile development, and our original idea of a custom computer building site, all wrapped up in a neat little package.

Deal Flux looks great. How did you get started on this? What do you think makes Deal Flux different from its competitors?

DealFlux

DealFlux

We saw a need for a service that aggregated all the popular 1-Deal-a-Day sites, which we browse ourselves regularly. Between Woot and Steep and Cheap, there are so many offerings available, and so we just brought them all together. We spend a lot of time working on the design and functionality – we believe that simple solutions are always the best way to tackle any given problem. Its easy to create a site or app that looks great and sometimes it’s even easy to create an app that works great, but it’s much more difficult to create a simple solution to a problem that also looks and works great. At least that’s what we try to do, and hope our users feel the same.

What’s your work environment like at Quixby, and what keeps you motivated every day?

It’s really laid back. We are at an accelerator space in Cleveland, Ohio right now, which is shared with a bunch of other bright entrepreneurs and mentors. It’s a colorful, bright environment where we get to listen to music and have fun working. That is really the point – for my co-founders and myself, we have fun with what we are doing. It doesn’t feel like work for us. We are doing something good in the technology space, and it’s amazing.

In today’s world where every one seems to be focused on Apple Store, what inspired you to build an app for Windows?

We are a little drowned by all the Apple Store stuff. Apple makes great products, but we’ve been Windows fans for a long time. We figured we would rather be a part of a new and growing product than jump into the Apple Sea.

Which apps keeps you productive at work, all day?

Thats a tough question for me right now. I have been shuffling between a plethora of different apps recently trying to find a perfect combination. Dropbox is pretty essential for our business. I also need music; whether that is Xbox Music or iTunes, depending on the OS, music is very important. For mobile, Clearer is an awesome task management app.

Running a startup can be a nightmare, especially in the beginning. How did you manage to keep the pressure off bay?

Mentors, friends, and knowing that we are working towards something great. It really isn’t easy starting a company – the pressure is enormous on so many fronts. Dealing with stress is a part of the job. For me, it just feels right. Nothing worthwhile comes easily.

Windows 8 as an ecosystem looks a lot brighter than ever. What’s your thoughts on the new ecosystem?

I like it alot – though I do have my issues. It is definitely a growing system, and Microsoft took a big leap from Windows 7 to Windows 8. With that leap they made a host of improvements but also made a few mistakes that I hope they fix in the rumored ‘Windows Blue’ coming later this year.

What I am most curious about with Microsoft going forward is the effects of Steven Sinofsky’s departure. Losing Sinofsky will definitely be hard on Microsoft in the short-term due to his company-wide involvement, but I imagine it will ultimately make Microsoft a more agile and innovative company.

I’m pretty excited where Microsoft is going; the “three screens and a cloud” philosophy they began so long ago should be awesome.

As an early adopter of Windows 8, how was your experience with it?

I think it is a solid operating system that gets a lot of negative press. I see so many people bashing the OS having not even used it – it has its flaws, and as a PC user, I experience those more than any touch-enabled users. But really… it is an improvement, and with every step forward, there are bound to be some issues.

Windows 8 has received a lot of rave reviews from all corners, but many developers are keeping away, even with MS’s aggressive push. In your opinion, what makes it unattractive for developers?

I wouldn’t say it’s unattractive for developers, rather its just not quite as attractive to developers as Android and iOS/Mac are currently. Most developers have to pick 1 or 2 platforms to support, so when looking at all of the options available there are no largely beneficial reasons to pick Windows (8/WP8) as your single platform, or even as half of your platform offering, other than potential user base.

Microsoft has created a fairly unique platform by offering a unified codebase for mobile and desktop development, they haven’t seem to be loyal to the developers who have remained loyal to them. Microsoft needs some time to create unique value-offerings to developers that are platform exclusive. Once you see those hit, I think every other piece will fall in place.

Are you planning to make apps for other platforms as well?

It really depends – right now, we are sticking with Windows 8. We would like to expand in the future, but considering we have a lot on our plate, Windows 8 development seems like the direction we are heading right now.

I smell something brewing in your labs. How is the Quixby revamp shaping up?

The site is well underway – we are nearly done with completing version three of Quixby. We took a ton of feedback, and therefore are doing a lot of improvements. It’s definitely fun – the revamp is going to be pretty awesome. As you said though, we have a lot brewing in the labs, more than I can even share.

Secret stuff? Sounds interesting. What can you share?

We are working on a very big project – a huge thing. It involves gaming, mainly because we believe most custom computer builders and PC users are gamers too. In the near future though, we are working a new app for Windows 8, something that helps digest all those games on the marketplace. We are going to be entering a competition soon, and hope that turns out for the best.

More stuff for Windows 8 is always a good thing to help the market grow. Considering how big games are, what is it called and what will it do?

We are calling the app Prism. Our focus is to help people find games easily, based on interests and other factors. There are a ton of great games on the Windows 8 Store, but a lot of them get choked down. We think finding good games should be easier. In addition to that, people will be able to get game news tailored towards them. It is an app that focuses on Windows gaming.

Sounds great – looking forward to the release. What does the future look like for Quixby and the team?

Going to just keep on our road. We have a lot planned, a lot in waiting, and a lot of work to be done. It’s a rough road, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t fun!

Thanks Austin

We’re exited about the Quixby revamp as well. Hope you get it out soon. I wish you all the success with Quixby and your other endeavors on behalf of the AppStorm team and our wonderful readers. Thank you again for taking time out of your busy schedule for talking to us.


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