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Leapfactor: Latin-run enterprise develops business apps for burgeoning mobile device market.

When Bolivian-born Lionel Carrasco, who has worked in IT for more than a quarter-century, got his first iPhone several years ago, he was pleased to find he could access applications--such as weather reports--in two clicks.

"Can we do this with business apps as well?" he said.

This was the starting point for Leapfactor, an innovative company that develops and sells easy-to-use business apps for increasingly popular mobile devices.

Leapfactor--which takes its name from Light Enterprise Access Point--offers businesses a variety of useful, easily installed "cloud"-based apps, which eliminate the cost and complexity of standard enterprise mobility systems. Leapfactor's mobile cloud services securely distribute content and route transactions, permitting the development of customized, robust and scalable apps that can be used on any type of modern mobile device, the company says.

Customers, whether large companies or small businesses, do not have to invest in their own servers and IT departments since Leapfactor's cloud-based apps are used and paid for as a service.

Costs can range from $1.99 per month for large-scale customers to $19.95 per month for small businesses with only a few employees. Charges varies depending on the economies of scale.

Since customers don't need to buy servers and connect programs to individual employees through an IT department, the savings are considerable, Leapfactor says.

Working with a team of colleagues from Latin America, Carrasco--who was born in Bolivia, brought up in Mexico and has, in his words, "lived everywhere, including China"--founded Leapfactor in San Francisco in 2009 and recently moved its headquarters to Miami. The company, with a core group of Carrasco and five co-founders, began developing a platform for its products, created its first business applications and then made its first sale to AXA, the insurance and financial-services giant, in the fourth quarter of 2010.

"In less than 18 months, we have developed 48 apps and have 25 customers," said Carrasco, who has degrees in history and computer science. He spent 10 years working in Silicon Valley, building software, and almost a decade as a consultant at Neoris, a global IT and consulting firm and unit of Mexican cement giant Cemex.

Today, Leapfactor has 50 employees and maintains offices in Miami, San Francisco, Mexico City, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, as well as a group of developers based in Buenos Aires. Besides AXA, it also supplies apps to Avon, Bayer, Audi, Chase credit cards, SAP and other companies.

Avon, for example, uses a version of Leapfactor's "Stencil" app in Mexico. A salesperson using an ipad with Stencil can show customers the complete Avon catalog online, choose products and place an order by touching the screen. Bayer sales representatives in Mexico also use iPads equipped with Stencil to show physicians new medications and place orders.

Leapfactor, which so far has raised $13.4 million in private capital, uses Terremark in Miami as its cloud base.

BUSINESS: Develops and sells cloud-based business applications for mobile devices; ESTABLISHED: 2009; HEADQUARTERS: Miami; FOUNDER AND CEO: Lionel Carrasco; OWNERSHIP: Privately-held; EMPLOYEES: 50; OFFICES: Miami (head office), San Francisco, Mexico City, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, plus a development center in Buenos Aires; FINANCING: Private investors; SOURCE: Leapfactor; WEBSITE:
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Title Annotation:TECH TRENDS
Author:Mann, Joseph A., Jr.
Publication:Latin Trade
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:Mar 1, 2012
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