BUSINESS PROFILE

Mobiquity methodically building its presence in Gainesville


Senior Vice President Andrew Norman, left, and Development Director Daniel Cohen are shown at Mobiquity at 606 SW Fourth St. in Gainesville.

Erica Brough/Staff photographer
Published: Sunday, January 19, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 17, 2014 at 1:14 p.m.

In a former doctor's office southeast of the Innovation Hub, Mobiquity is training its fourth class of new hires since opening its Gainesville development center in June 2013, with a fifth class starting next month.

Having outgrown that space, the Boston-based mobile application developer also took over a building across the parking lot in November, a former optometrist's office that was gutted and given a bright coat of red paint. There, the first 35 of a planned 260 hires over three years are at work building mobile applications for companies such as Weight Watchers, The Weather Channel, The Boston Globe and Fidelity Investments.

In one room, a row of developers is at work in the Android bullpen, separated by a wall from the iOS bullpen. A smaller room houses a ping pong table. The iOS team has built an iPhone app to keep track of scores. A smaller lounge area includes a video game system to unwind from late-night work sessions.

The office is the development and support center for a company that has grown to more than 300 employees and 11 locations in just 2 years.

Mobiquity builds mobile applications for large companies. When the company was looking for a home for its development center, it was introduced to Gainesville by Mindtree and ultimately moved here for the same reasons Mindtree did — access to computer engineering talent from the University of Florida, the relatively low cost of doing business and closer proximity to customers than an Asian center would provide.

Andy Norman, senior vice president of delivery, is tasked with scaling up Mobiquity's offices around the nation and world. Hailing from the United Kingdom, he worked as chief operating officer for a Boston company for four years after it bought his data center equipment business before he went to work for Mobiquity.

He tapped Development Director Daniel Cohen to lead the Gainesville office. Cohen, an early Mobiquity hire, had worked as a software developer for different Boston startups. Norman said Cohen did a great job on a big, complex project for a large customer and brings "this-is-how-you-actually-get-it-done talent."

"It was really important because to start, if you hire your first class and it falls on its nose and your reputation gets out that it doesn't work, you don't recover from that," Norman said.

Unlike the free downloads of dubious quality that many people associate with mobile apps, Norman said Mobiquity is building complex mobile applications that work seamlessly with a large company's existing software applications and provide a compelling user experience.

To prepare new hires, Mobiquity has created a two-month training program for classes to bring on five to 10 people at a time. Senior developers teach the company's software development methods, some of which are universal. The idea is to make the original office space the training center for the entire company, Cohen said.

"The more people we put through that program, the more qualified candidates we're creating right here in Gainesville, so it's a win for Mobiquity but it's also a win for Gainesville, because we're training and bringing in people to this community who are now skilled at building mobile applications, and mobile is definitely, indisputably on the forefront of technology," Cohen said.

The company shared its curriculum on iOS development for a free class at the Santa Fe College Center for Innovation and Economic Development and has worked with SFC on its mobile app development classes, Cohen said.

Also, like Mindtree before them, Mobiquity did not open in Gainesville in time for last school year's recruiting cycle at UF. It has managed to hire about 15 UF graduates so far, as well as people from other schools and cities, and software developers who were already in Gainesville.

The new office has room for about 50 people. As the Gainesville office continues to grow, Cohen said they are looking at their options but would prefer to stay in and around Innovation Square.

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