On the morning of April 3, 2010, the day the iPad was introduced to the world, Paul Canetti had an idea.
"We realized people would start consuming content this way, on the iPad," he says. "But we wondered: how are the content creators going to get it there? We saw a huge opportunity."
Canetti, a designer and creative director by trade, called his business partner (and former college roommate) Simon Baumer, a software developer, to bounce around some ideas. They knew that print publications would inevitably migrate their content to tablets and smartphones--and really any new device, for that matter.
Typically, a publisher might hire an outside agency to build an app for the new platform, but the founders had a different vision.
"We realized the much larger opportunity was to make software to empower publishers to make it themselves," says Canetti.
After about eight months of programming--and hiring Shikha Arora, their third co-founder and the company’s CTO--the founders announced the launch of MAZ Digital, a DIY platform for publishers to create an app, distribute it, and receive reporting and analytics on the app’s performance.
Since the company launch in April 2011, about 100 publishers from 26 countries have signed on--including Inc. In November 2012, the company raised a $1 million seed round of funding from Expansion Venture Capital, based in New York City.
The company doesn’t disclose revenue, but its progress is impressive--they’re growing 40 percent quarter over quarter. What started as a three-person team has now grown into 23 full-time employees, several of whom come from Adobe, Google, and Apple.
"Everybody has been reading magazines and newspapers for hundreds of years," says Joseph Melohn, a company investor. "I met Paul last summer when he went out to raise capital for the company. Before I look at the idea, I look at the entrepreneus. From our initial call, he was unbelieveable. I am extremely impressed with the company's growth."
"We’ve ramped up on sales and marketing," Canetti says. "And we’ve hired some incredible talent. We’re trying to create a dream-team."
Canetti says that, ultimately, the vision for MAZ is to enable anyone to publish content through whatever device is on the market.
"The way that we’ve approached it so far, we’ve started at the enterprise level, but we may choose to go to the consumer market," he says. "It’s a funny example, but Microsoft Word is an unbelievable scalable product. It can be used by such a wide spectrum. Eventually, that’s where we’d like to see MAZ. Creating a tool for anyone."
2012 Jeremy Johnson of 2tor, Ben Milne of Dwolla, Lucas Buick and Ryan Dorshorst co-founders of Hipstamatic, Zach Sims and Ryan Bubinski, co-founders of Codeacademy, and Amy Jain and Daniella Yacobovsky, co-founders of BaubleBar join our illustrious annual list. Plus the start-up stories of Pinterest, Spotify, GiveFoward, and Back to the Roots.
2011 Read about Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger of Instagram, Matt Mickiewicz of 99designs, and Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp of Birchbox. Plus the start-up stories of Quora, Onswipe, Dropbox, Foodspotting, and Gemvara.
2010 Meet Alexa von Tobel of Learnvest, Naveen Selvadurai of Foursquare, Jack Abraham of Mint.com, plus the founders of Rent the Runway, Airbnb, Crowdflower, Posterous, LivingSocial, and Urban Escapes (now part of Living Social).
2009 Pete Cashmore of Mashable, Elliott Bisnow of Summit Series, Danielle and Jodie Snyder of Dannijo, Jamail Larkins of Larkins Enterprises were included on our 2009 list, as were the teams behind ModCloth, Thrillist, IdeaPaint, Foodzie, and Justin.TV.