Interview with Amit and Bandhna Bajaj, from Envylope.

Envylope’s’ sole developer, Amit Bajaj & his wife as well as UI designer and marketer, Bandhna Bajaj, talks to TeckComesFirst about their inspiration behind the app, challenges faced in developing it, thoughts on Apple’s new Swift programming language and more.

 

 


1)    Can you introduce yourself and say what you exactly do at Envylope every day?

Amit: Hi there!  We are the Appily Married Team who developed Envylope.  Envylope is an app that organises money envelopes/vouchers, which is useful for anyone who pens down money envelope transactions and gift exchanges.  I’m the sole developer and my wife, Bandhna is the U/I designer & marketer.  We have been working on the iPad version and marketing daily ever since our latest update.  It’s an ongoing process!
Envylope on iPhone 5s (Image Credit: Envylope)

Envylope on iPhone 5s (Image Credit: Envylope)

2)    What is the meaning behind the brand name “Envylope”?

Bandhna: I wanted an easy, catchy name with some sort of pun that people won’t forget.  When someone receives a money envelope, there’s always a sense of ‘envy’ from others!

3)    What was the inspiration behind the Envylope app and how did you make it a reality?

Amit:  When the iPad was first released,  I had an idea to create a questionnaire app and I had this outsourced.  It was called iPoll and it was the first of its kind, but unfortunately we were cheated by the developer who ran away with the code.  As a result, we wanted to make our own apps in the future.

Bandhna: The underlying inspiration of Envylope was that I saw a need for it as I would frequently use it.  I used to use a notebook to store money envelope transactions between friends and family and with a search on the App Store we discovered a gap in the market.  Subsequenly, we both worked hard to make this dream of developing our own apps a reality.

4)    What is/are your biggest accomplishments?

Amit: Envylope is by far my biggest achievement.  Learning a development language from scratch and using that to create a real product that people use.  I feel accomplished when random people tell me how useful it is! Having my name in the App Store never fails to bring a smile.  Also, I can at least say I can speak one more language fluently, after English! Prior to my development days, I have achieved a Certified Ethical Hacker and Cisco Certified Network Associate accreditations.

Bandhna:  I’d say Envylope – there’s nothing quite like making an idea into a reality and filling a gap in the market.  A close second would be getting an award for topping the entire cohort for legal studies (pre-law) before being admitted into law school.

5)    What challenges did you face in making the app and how were these overcome?

Amit: Without any development knowledge, the first challenge was simply where to begin.  I had bought books and signed up to online courses to try get some direction.  The biggest challenge for me was time management as I work a full time job as a Mobile Security Consultant.  I didn’t want my studying to conflict with my working hours.  I decided to wake up at 5 am daily to self study.  I continuously did this for 1 and a half years till I was confident to start.  There’s just so much to learn and I never felt ready!  Writing one line of code is easy but piecing the code together was also a challenge. This was an entire new concept to me. 1843 lines of code later and Envylope was formed.

Bandhna:  I had no prior knowledge of photoshop or anything technical for that matter.  I never imagined being in this field.  To give you a brief example, prior to this, I didn’t even  know how to draw a circle on photoshop!  I self-learnt everything there was to know from online courses and it all fell into place slowly.  The icon design was probably the most challenging to create (not many people seem to take notice of something so trivial!)

6)    How successful has the app been for you, can you share some insight into the actual numbers of sales?

Bandhna:  For us – our app was successful the day it got approved by Apple on the very first submission.  We both had no prior experience and that was rewarding in itself.  Last month, Envylope was featured in a Singapore Newspaper, that too was a huge success to us.  The downloads remain a secret until we reach a million!

7)    How did you keep track of money envelope transactions before you had this app?

Bandhna:  Our wedding envelopes were documented in Excel prior to Envylope.  I used to record all other money envelopes in a notebook.  These entries included birthday vouchers, housewarming, christening etc.  One trip back to Singapore, I had forgotten my notebook in London.  That was how the idea of Envylope was born.  I thought to myself how useful it would be to store this information in an organised fashion on my phone.  In retrospect, I couldn’t be happier that I forgot my notebook!

8)    I like the slogan “Making it hard for cheap relatives to get away”, have you ever used the app to question people if they do end up giving you less money at family functions?

Bandhna:  Thanks!  🙂  That slogan idea stemmed from one of our wedding functions where we received an empty envelope.  It was absolutely shocking.  No, we have never confronted anyone on that matter but am sure that our relatives will be wary now!

9)    How long did it take you to build the app from scratch using the Objective C language?

Amit: The learning of Objective C took a year and a half but the actual development of Envylope involved 5 of the most satisfying months of my life.

10)    Recently Apple unveiled Swift, its new programming language at WWDC. As a developer what are you most looking forward to about using Swift?

Amit: Swift is like a blank canvas for developers.  We’re all starting at the same position and it’s extremely exciting to see what it’s capable of. The real-time playground is something I’m very keen to get on board with. because it reduces collective hours of build times! Also some of the complexities of Objective C will be eradicated, paving the way for more robust code which ultimately leads to more functional apps.  I’m looking forward to writing less code!

11)    Have you thought about any new ideas for any potential apps?

Bandhna: Yes!  We absolutely have. We intend to launch a wedding app as our next project.
Amit & Bandhna Bajaj, the Appily Married Team.

Amit & Bandhna Bajaj, the Appily Married Team.

Look out for a new interview every 2nd Tuesday of the month here on TeckComesFirst! #TalkToTCFTuesdays

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Thanks to Amit & Bandhna Bajaj for participating in this interview. Questions were chosen by both co-founders of TeckComesFirst; Purav and Usman.

Feel free to share in the comments below what you thought of this interview as well as anything new or interesting you learnt about the company and their app.

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I’m a 23 year old Maths Graduate, who has a great passion for technology and in my spare time I make videos on YouTube to show my passion. I'm also co-admin here at TeckComesFirst and I joined this site back in January 2012.
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  • NaijaMan

    This is a very interesting concept that they have birthed.

    • Bandhna Kaur

      Glad you like it 🙂

  • What a fantastic niche! I wish this couple a tonne of luck and hope their app goes from strength to strength.

    • Bandhna Kaur

      Thank you Alice for the good wishes. That’s really nice of you 🙂

  • Alistair Lowe

    Loved reading this! The app seems interesting. Good job dude!

    • Amit Bajaj

      Thanks very much Alistair! 🙂

  • That looks really good, I’ll have to download the app. It’s a shame the developer ran with the iPoll code. But something great has come from it. Fantastic Job Purav and I’m looking forward to seeing what else is up their sleeves.

    • Amit Bajaj

      Thanks very much Jordan and absolutely, iPoll was a new concept at the time and it had real potential, but it was good learning lesson! 🙂

  • Superb interview Purav. It’s a shame they had to suffer at the hands of a thief before getting there but the rewards I’m sure outweigh. I wish them every luck for the future too 🙂

    • Amit Bajaj

      Thank you very much Robert and indeed, it was heartbreaking at the time but it was inspiration to progress with this!

  • Rbert Cper

    Quite an inspiring story, they made something great out of a bad situation. It does show if you put your mind too it you can do anything, and learning to code an app from scratch with limited time deserves a great deal of respect. Really great interview, it’s the quality content that keeps me hooked to this site.

    • Amit Bajaj

      Thanks Robert!

  • theryangoodman

    This is really interesting! Nice one! 😀

    • Amit Bajaj

      Thank you!

  • Gareth Bayard

    As always an interesting interview to read. A great set of questions, used to identify the pair and what they do. I really enjoy the #TalkToTCFTuesdays series, keep up the hard work guys! 😀

    • Amit Bajaj

      Thanks Gareth!

  • Amit Bajaj

    Thank you all very much for the extremely supportive comments and feedback! We really appreciate it

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  • I’ve had app ideas so many times but never wanted to learn programming/coding because I told myself it’s too late, how can I learn. Amit, you have showed me otherwise. This is an awesome, simple and useful app that deserves lots of praise. Wish you two the best in this and future endeavors. Very inspirational!

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