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July 13, 2015 Issue

The Most Powerful Name In Corporate News and Information


Developing Apps that Change the Way People do Business



Justin Esgar




Interview conducted by:

Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – July 13, 2015


CEOCFO: Mr. Esgar, would you tell us your idea behind Autriv?

Mr. Esgar: Originally, it was, “How do I go paperless with my IT company?” I own an Apple consulting agency in Manhattan, and we had these paper work tickets that I would bring to clients for them to sign and they would keep a copy. When I was living in the city, I had a studio apartment on the Upper East Side and I did not want to keep it cluttered with so many pieces of paper. After playing around with the iPad, I figured out that I could draw a signature on the screen. That was the inspiration for our first app, SignMyPad. SignMyPad is a PDF signature application where you can upload documents, sign them, add text, date, checkmark, radio button, pictures and send the documents out. We began using the app and instead of the paper work tickets and we were able to go paperless. From there, it just progressed with other things and different ideas that I had to help myself and my clients in our respective businesses. Our next app was TruckFood, because I really liked the gourmet food trucks in Manhattan and I wanted to be able to find them easier. We built this app that tracks the locations of food trucks so you can go find them and get some good food. We just recently expanded that to seven other cities like Austin, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco.


CEOCFO: Do the trucks move around much?

Mr. Esgar: Sometimes they do and sometimes they do not. I have one particular truck that always goes to 52nd and Park in the city and another company has five trucks that are all over the place all day long. It is one of those things where we really only update it like once a day, and the trucks can update their locations as they go if they do move. If the police are out or maybe a car is in the way, then the trucks can be hard to find. In LA, there is a park where the trucks can park, but that is for evening events so during the day they are everywhere.

We created another app called Email Phoenix, which is a backup email tool for people who run Kerio Connect mail servers. The idea for that app came about because Hurricane Sandy knocked out one of my client’s in-house email servers and they had no email, and when you are a business in Manhattan and you do not have email for a week, that’s bad. Our latest app is called GoodNight, which is a monitoring tool for parents. You can install it on your phone, set up your kids’ bedtimes and then you install it on your kid’s device. If they use their device during the bedtime wait time, the parent’s device gets an alert saying that his/her child is using their mobile device..


CEOCFO: Are you confident you can create an app for just about anything once you have figured out the idea or are there areas where the technology is just not ready?

Mr. Esgar: I would say 95% of ideas can be made only because the people who create those ideas only look at what is out there now and what we can do to move forward one step. Big thinkers like Elon Musk, who was able to create Tesla because he thought of the next fifteen steps, create the other 5% of ideas. When he was told that the technology did not exist to be able to create this electric car, he went out and built those components to make it work. Many people are limited by budget, so they maintain the mindset of, “What can I do that is one step further? What is going to be the next Angry Birds or Candy Crush?” as opposed to thinking further ahead to what is going to be the next five Candy Crushes. I do not know if it is a lack of technology, a lack of budget, or a lack of vision.


CEOCFO: How do you promote your various ideas?

Mr. Esgar: I get interviewed by CEOCFO magazine! There are many different ways to promote our apps and it depends on the response that we get. At one point, we did our own promotion, which consisted of a lot of emailing and contacting all these law and real estate blogs trying to get them to write about us. We got lucky a couple of times. Apple wrote about SignMyPad. They wrote a white paper, “Using iPads in Business,” and SignMyPad was one of their document signature solutions. Wired Magazine wrote an article about us back in 2011, and while it was not a good article, we were able to turn it around and turn it into something positive. That only came about because I had interns emailing all day, every day. Since then, it has just been about the hustle. Much of it is organic growth. Good apps will grow on their own because people will see the need for them, use them and talk about them. The day that SignMyPad came out, I got a phone call from someone at a major television network asking if he would be able use the app to perform a specific function. I had no idea who it was, even though he mentioned the company that he worked for, and I was shocked that someone from that company found me. I replied, “How did you hear about the app? It’s not even out yet.” He informed me that it had been in the App Store for about four hours. I was out for dinner and did not even know it had been approved and was live.


CEOCFO: Are there any types of organizations that do not think that is valid?

Mr. Esgar: We have checked with lawyers in many states and they all say that signing using the app is legal and binding, since it’s your actual drawn signature. Real estate brokers in Arizona must sign all documents with blue ink so we added blue ink as another option for signatures. We try to add features organizations need to make sure it is 100% valid.


CEOCFO: What is ahead for the company?

Mr. Esgar: People come to me every day with ideas. I wrote a book called Appitalize on Your Idea. It is the story of how I build my apps at Autriv. I am not a coder so I talk about outsourcing, marketing and social media and everything that I do to make my business work. Whenever I do presentations or people read the book, people come to me and say they have a “great idea for an app”. When anyone says that to me, I immediately discredit them because everybody thinks they have a great idea for an app. Then they go and essentially say that it is going to be an app that already exists plus something else that they think is new. At that point, I don’t even bother because it is not an original idea. You need to be able to come up with something and not have it be a mix of other people’s stuff.


CEOCFO: Is it a gut-feeling when somebody comes to you, over and above how they present it?

Mr. Esgar: A lot of it is asking myself internally if I would buy that. I tell people that they need to be able to use and love their idea, and they also need to be able to back their idea. Many people have come to me and said they had an idea, but when asked, have admitted that they would not use it themselves. When I reject an idea, most of the time it is a gut feeling, but there are other times when I know a bit about trends and what is happening. If they can pitch me an idea and show me that they really love it, then my feeling might change.


CEOCFO: Have you ever passed anything by that you are sorry about now?

Mr. Esgar: I try not to live with regrets like that. I do not think anyone who has ever heard me speak or do a presentation has presented an idea that I feel like I missed out on. There are a few people I regret helping in certain ways because they have messed it up or they have taken the wrong part of what I have told them. I do not think I have ever regretted missing anything. I try not to live that way.


CEOCFO: What has changed in your approach over time?  What have you learned?

Mr. Esgar: In terms of building my own stuff, I changed my approach about how quickly we need to build an app. We created an app called BlackBook, which was a shared contact address book for companies. A company that did a well-made version of the same concept went out of business. I thought we could pick up these pieces because people are going to need this. It took a year to build it because I kept getting into what we call “feature creep,” adding so many little features that we didn’t need to add. Instead of turning it around and getting it out in two months to capture that market, we took a year and I spent $80,000. We only sold three copies and it just did not work. We were late to market and the features that I thought people wanted had already been provided by other apps. I learned to not fall into feature creep. I also learned that when you are dealing with apps ‑ create a minimally viable product. Get version one out of the door. You can always add to it and you might get bad reviews, but at least people are buying your stuff and you are making money in order to pay for more programming to make it better. If you cannot make a profit out of the gate, you are losing money and I will never lose that much money again.


CEOCFO: What is next for Autriv?

Mr. Esgar: Next, we are going to start pushing our latest product, SignMyPad Cloud, which is active document management for SignMyPad Pro. It is great for companies that have people out in the field because you can essentially take a PDF, upload it to the website and push it directly to the recipient’s iPad. Let’s say you are someone who needed to get something signed. Someone in your office uploads the PDF, chooses your name and the document just appears automatically on your device. You can get it signed, save it and it goes back to the home office. We are going to be competing with some big players in this game because with our software it is your actual signature and not you just typing your name and calling it a signature. We have a couple other ideas in the works as well. I am working on starting an accelerator in Summit, New Jersey and Autriv is going to have a lot to do with that.


CEOCFO: Why pay attention to Autriv?

Mr. Esgar: We make amazing products, and I’m not just saying that because I am the owner. The fact is that SignMyPad has changed the way people do business. I know that because of the stories that people tell me about how they have used SignMyPad and it is our biggest app out of all of them. You are saving money by not losing documents. You are saving money by not using paper. You are saving money by not losing time. All these things add up. I have a great story about an ex-girlfriend who is a lawyer living in Miami. She was in court one day and opposing counsel was talking to her and telling her about this great app that lawyers should be using. He showed her SignMyPad and she said, “My ex-boyfriend from high school built that app!” That alone proved to me that people need and want this program. It is a great way to change your business if you do anything with document signing. I talk a lot about real estate and law because those are our two biggest markets. I signed my entire mortgage with SignMyPad when I bought a house. If you do any sort of signing, do it digitally. It is faster, saves time and is paperless, and that is why we try to get people into this.


CEOCFO: Final thoughts?

Mr. Esgar: Building apps is tough, and if you are thinking about building an app, reach out to me and we can talk about it.


“Building apps is tough, and if you are thinking about building an app, reach out to me and we can talk about it.”- Justin Esgar








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