How many times do you check your smartphone every day? Or, put in another way, how many hours do you spend per day on your phone, whether for personal use or for business? We can guarantee two things: your estimated numbers will be high (like ours), and that that won’t change anytime soon.

Like any custom-app maker, Honesty Apps is banking on those exact scenarios. The longer we’re on our phones, the better, so the logic goes. But in our hour-long chat last month with Kassy Pajarillo, the company’s Sales and Marketing manager, we found out that its ultimate goal isn’t to keep people on their phones—it’s to get them to eventually get off it, and get to know people in the real world.

A history of honesty

When asked about the company’s name, Pajarillo had two explanations. Stating that the name is also in line with co-founder Valenice Balace’s nurturing attitude, she said that “one of [our] core values is transparency. We want to do business in our most honest form, so in all our dealings, we don’t do fishy stuff na mabubulaga ka na lang [that would surprise you]… We want to be clear about how we’ll deliver.”

The second reason has strong ties with its prior existence as BootFruit Inc. “We also focus on relationships,” Pajarillo explained.

In 2012, BootFruit and its co-founders Balace and Mara Ang launched its first app: the female-friendly dating app Peekawoo. “So, Honesty talaga ‘yun [So, that was really Honesty],” Pajarillo joked. She helped them out early on with PR and marketing duties—and witnessed the switch in modern dating. “When I entered Peekawoo, it was more of a passion project,” she said. “I was single at the time, and Val asked me if I wanted to make a dating app… before Tinder happened, we happened. Perfect timing.”

The app grew its user base through both media mileage and word of mouth. Peekawoo also held modified speed-dating events; and according to Pajarillo, at least one couple who met through the app’s Blind Date feature are set to marry this November.

As with relationships and startups, the company matured into Honesty Apps in November 2016. It now has “roughly about 100 employees” in the Philippines and Vietnam, a big difference from having only five in its early years.

Current lineup

Honesty Apps now has four apps in its stable—the original Peekawoo app, Twine (a religion-based social app), Academy (an app geared for schools’ students, faculty, and administration), and Summit.

Pajarillo called Summit the star of Honesty Apps: it’s for companies to use for their trade shows and conferences, and it targets every stress point that event organizers face. Summit’s also aligned with the company’s mission of building and enhancing like-minded communities.

Its main sales pitches are that Summit saves on time and monetary costs for conference printouts (including last-minute program changes); and uses built-in notifications and messaging for coordination. So, whether you’re handling a small group of attendees or a four-digit guest list, it can easily be done through Summit. Customers can then reallocate the extra costs normally incurred to other departments and concerns, which apparently can go as high as five digits.

Its value also extends to pre- and post-conference matters. People can use Summit for pre-buzz or chat with conference speakers on designated days. And engagement “doesn’t end on the day itself,” Pajarillo added. Attendees with access to the app can use it to chat and network privately with other attendees and conference speakers. This results in valuable business leads, all in one app. “You walk away with a gold mine: all the profiles of the people in the conference,” she added. This feature also caters to Filipinos’ non-confrontational nature: “we’re more comfortable with messaging people than addressing them directly [and personally].”

For the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Inc. (SEIPI)’s June 2017 event at SMX (the Philippine Semiconductor and Electronics Convention and Exhibition or PSECE), its Honesty-made app racked up impressive numbers. There were 237 total registrations through the app, along with 7,603 messages sent, 128 photos uploaded, and six videos uploaded. Overall, there was a high level of in-app engagement among the registrants.

Since clients pay Honesty Apps for a year’s worth of validity for Summit, they can also use the app for multiple conferences. All they need to do is change the details for speakers, venue, and schedules per conference. “You can monetize the app, get additional mileage… then use it again for next year! It builds up; hindi siya sayang [it isn’t a waste],” Pajarillo said.

App it your way

Honesty Apps’ biggest selling point is that unlike other developers, they can turn their apps into your very own in minutes. Because their apps have a modular structure, clients can pick which parts of the app they want or need to customize, and be done with the entire process in five minutes, according to Pajarillo.

The company is also setting up shop where their target market is: at the SMX Convention Center at the SM Mall of Asia. The App Bar (stylized as APBR) is “the first concept store in the Philippines where you can come in, we can build the app for you, or you can build the app and we’ll guide you through it, and then [you’re done] in minutes,” Pajarillo said. Through the APBR’s Dashboard app installed in your mobile device, you can create, edit, save, and publish your own app in real time. Including publishing on Google Play and Apple’s App Store, the entire process takes a week or less.

App customization with Honesty Apps is also more affordable, setting you back less than P100,000 if you do it through its APBR at SMX and if your event will be held at SMX. If you want additional features, Honesty has a menu for you to choose from, but it can also accommodate special feature requests. It will then requote accordingly. “It can go as high as P250,000 to P600,000, but definitely it’ll never be a million [and above],” Pajarillo clarified.

What’s next?

Honesty Apps is busy for the rest of 2017. It has two projects in the pipeline: the SME-oriented e-commerce app Market, and four upcoming community apps for celebrities to connect and interact with their fan base. Pajarillo said that Honesty is also working on two more apps for launch within the year.

For the Summit app, ticketing and built-in invoicing are planned additional features, along with having it act as a repository of all conference keynotes and resources. “It’s going to be integrated into the app; it’s a feature we take pride in,” Pajarillo said. A social media thread and interactive floor map with detailed information per room or stage are also forthcoming.

In the end though, it’s not solely about the apps. “We want more relationships to be built, solely because we’re missing out on that human factor already. The apps are there, but people don’t get to meet each other anymore,” Pajarillo emphasized. “So, we want [that]. That’s our priority in terms of engagement.”