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November 20, 2014

Bizness Apps – A Chico Story

Andrew Gazdecki and his Bizness Apps team outside their San Francisco office
Alumnus Andrew Gazdecki ('10) and his Bizness Apps team outside their San Francisco office

We are a society smitten by the proliferation of mobile apps that have flooded the market in recent years, and we are growing evermore dependent on these apps to manage the details of our lives.

According to a recent study conducted by the Nielsen Company, in 2013, the average adult Android and iPhone user spent more than 30 hours each month using somewhere between 22–29 mobile apps to connect to social networks, search the Internet, place orders at restaurants and entertainment sites, search for deals, read the latest news, and schedule appointments—a single year increase of 65 percent.

This comes as no surprise to 2011 College of Business graduate Andrew Gazdecki, founder and CEO of Bizness Apps Inc., a leading mobile app and mobile website platform. Located in the heart of San Francisco, employing a staff of 70+ employees, and serving a rapidly expanding global customer base, Bizness Apps creates mobile apps that can be used across a broad range of mobile devices. In 2014, Bizness Apps was included on Inc. Magazine’s list of America’s fastest-growing private companies and named one of the 10 fastest growing companies in San Francisco, with over $6 million in revenue in 2013 and a three-year growth rate of more than 5,000 percent.

"Before I started Bizness Apps” says Gazdecki, “creating a mobile app would cost businesses tens of thousands of dollars or more and take months of programming. It was basically impossible for a business to reasonably create a mobile app.”

Designed specifically to serve small businesses, Bizness Apps maintains a sophisticated platform that allows subscribers with no specialized programming knowledge to create, edit, and manage mobile apps online. Subscribers keep their apps fresh by posting sales promotions and special events on the fly.

The Bizness Apps development team has cracked the code for creating apps across a variety of mobile devices, including Apple devices, which have very specific standards for content, user interface design, functionality, and use of specific technologies. As a result, Bizness Apps subscribers can get customized apps to their target markets without delay and Bizness Apps can serve a global client base with software applications that are written in more than a dozen languages.

College of Business faculty member Peter Straus, director of the CSU, Chico Center for Entrepreneurship (CfE) was one of the first to get a glimpse of Bizness Apps when, in 2010, Gazdecki entered the CfE’s annual Business Concept Competition, an effort led by Straus that provides CSU, Chico students with opportunities to work with faculty and successful entrepreneurs to turn innovative concepts into viable businesses. Top entries earn cash awards, mentoring, and start-up assistance.

Gazdecki’s entry in the 2010 competition presented his vision for a web-based company that would serve as a clearinghouse for mobile app developers. “I knew there had to be a better way than what was currently available for small businesses to create mobile apps,” says Gazdecki. 

His proposed online website would link cash-strapped small businesses with independent developers who would design mobile apps for a reasonable price. His entry earned him a third-place finish in the competition, seed funding from the Center for Entrepreneurship’s Accelerator Fund, and coaching from Straus and others throughout the summer.

"Without the help of the CfE I can honestly say Bizness Apps would not be where it is today,” says Gazdecki. “Peter Straus pushed me to be better, stay focused, keep learning, and create something of immense value.”

During the next several months, with advice from Straus and others, Gazdecki refined his business concept, and in 2011 he presented Bizness Apps to the Business Concept Competition judges again. He came away with the top prize. Straus then introduced Gazdecki to Chris Friedland and Robert Strazzarino, both successful entrepreneurs who got their start as CSU, Chico students.

“The introductions Peter made led us to our initial investors which have been instrumental to the success of the company," says Gazdecki.

A CSU, Chico computer science graduate, Strazzarino is the founder of College Scheduler, a web-based schedule planner for students. Strazzarino wrote the first version of College Scheduler as a CSU, Chico sophomore and launched his company in 2005 when the CSU, Chico administration purchased an annual license of his software. College Scheduler now serves universities throughout California and across the United States.

Chris Friedland, a former CSU, Chico computer science student and political science graduate, is the founder of Build.com, a company that he began as a graduate school project and grew into a leading online home improvement retailer.

In late 2011, with advice and investments from Friedland and Strazzarino, Bizness Apps was launched. Today, Strazzarino and Friedland continue to serve as Gazdecki’s mentors, and Straus stays in contact with his former student. 

“When you talk about the Chico Experience, most people don’t understand it,” says Straus, “but here is a story that illustrates it.”

Click here to learn more about Bizness Apps.