Max Lynch of Ionic

An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Max Lynch, the co-founder and CEO of Ionic, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of Ionic – what problem were you trying to solve and why?

We started Ionic back in 2012 because we were frustrated at the lack of options available to help professional web developers transfer their skills over to the fast growing mobile app economy. We built our flagship open source project, Ionic Framework, as a mobile toolkit that enabled these web developers to build quality mobile apps using their existing skills. We saw a huge opportunity as a business to cater to web programmers, as they are the most numerous in the development world and make up a significant portion of enterprise app development teams.

Today, Ionic powers 15% of all apps in app stores, with millions of web developers using our technology to build for mobile and web.

What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?

Monetizing open source software is difficult and needs to be done in a highly intentional way. We always knew the best way to grow this business was to build the best product in the world, make it free, and find compelling ways to provide more value to enterprise app development teams using our open source technology. Getting there took a while, longer than I expected, but is really starting to pay off as we add security and scalability features to the platform for these teams.

What does the future hold for Ionic?

Our focus right now is to become a world class enterprise-focused developer tools company. We have nearly 200 enterprise customers from brands like Burger King and Popeyes, to AAA and Amtrak, with many thousands of other teams and startups like Shipt and Untappd using our technology. Providing the support and technology these companies love and depend on to build secure and successful mobile apps is our passion, and our next challenge is to bring that to more teams across companies all over the world.

What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Madison?

The term “local startup scene” has taken on a totally new meaning in 2020, with so much of the world going remote! Regardless, I am excited about the success we’ve seen recently with local startups raising big rounds, exiting to well known industry leaders, and forming partnerships with some of the most well known brands in the world.

To be sure, the ecosystem is young and has a lot of growing to do. I’m concerned about the pandemic impact on UW-Madison, which is the bedrock of the startup ecosystem here in Madison, and the primary reason there are startups here at all.

What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Don’t focus on what other companies and founders are doing. Focus on providing value to your users and customers, build something they love, and be smart about capturing that value. Ignore as many things as possible that don’t directly contribute to you working on and building your business.


For more exclusive interviews, see our full Profile of a Founder series

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