Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 01.44.28

Born: September 28, 1985
Birth place: Buenos Aires City
Sports: Taekwondo for 15 years, Crossfit
Hobbies: Adding the latest technological gadgets into my house, going out, movies
Music: Electronic
Blogs: Techcrunch, Business Insider

The spare office space in the textile company owned by Máximo Cavazzani’s father in Villa Urquiza is no longer big enough for his mobile application development company Etermax. Preguntados, or Trivia Crack as it is known in English, is his company’s crowning app and enjoys popularity around the world by allowing people to compete against friends and strangers. It has been downloaded more than 130 million times in the past two years leading to a hiring rush of more than 100 employees. Cavazzani says the key to his success has been harnessing the power of social networking. By making it easy and enjoyable for the game’s own very users to generate high quality content, it has allowed it to break onto different markets at light speed. In an interview with the Herald, Cavazzani spoke quickly and enthusiastically about his company’s future.How did you launch Etermax?

When I was still at ITBA university, I started a financial app and a few fellow students helped me finish its development. We then signed a contract with the financial trading company Ameritrade, and we used that cash to found the company in 2009. We started by developing financial apps for other companies, but in 2011, we decided to make our own products and started developing game apps.

How did you break into the game app market?

We first created Apalabrados which became the most downloaded game in Spain in 2012 and then created Trivia Crack toward the end of 2013. We realized it’s too difficult to create enough content to break into different regions throughout the world, so we designed a system for users to create and rate questions, allowing for an infinite number of great trivia. As a result, we became the most downloaded app in Latin America, and then in the US toward the end of 2014. We have 100 people to support just four mobile apps. The market is very aggressive.

How did you break into the US market?

After developing the question generator a bit, we decided to aim for Spanish speakers in the US. We geared the questions at “Latinos”, modifying questions to use yards instead of metres, for example. We also hired people to direct the content for each region.

Is the popularity of the app still growing?

We’ve reached a saturation point in the US and now we are number one in Holland and Spain. In Italy, France and England we are growing a lot. We’re concentrating on different regions. Markets quickly saturate when you have one million new users per day. We are creating new versions of the game so we can remain attractive.

How many global users do you have in the world?

We have 20 million people that use the app daily, around 60 million people on a monthly basis. It’s one of the most played games in the world.

How do you make money from the app?

We get 50 percent of our revenue from ads within the apps. The other 50 percent comes from purchases — lives, coins.

What do you need to develop mobile apps?

You need to know how to programme, it’s like learning how to write. It’s also very difficult for one person to make an app that is very popular and generates revenue. You really need a good team.

What’s next for Etermax?

We’re taking the chat feature of our applications to the next level. So, you can send files, pictures, videos. We also want to upgrade Trivia Crack so you can create your own games of self-generated categories — anything from environmental sciences to Breaking Bad trivia. The idea is to create a social network in game trivia form.

So, the idea is to compete with other social networks?

Yes, we want to liberate the social network that already exists in the games and make it live on outside the games. We have 20 million people that play per day, with 100 million messages. I want to evolve so we can capture more from our market, maintaining the users inside our ecosystem. We will probably give it a new name, and identity. But it would be a bad strategy to say that we are now competing against Facebook.

How do you see the startup environment in Argentina?

I think it has a lot of talent. Financing is difficult but there is a lot of entrepreneurial spirit. Argentines are used to quick changes so adapting to the Internet’s rapidly transforming environment is not as much of a challenge.

Isn’t it difficult to find mobile app developers in Argentina because of the high demand?

Yes, but that’s the case throughout the globe. The world has changed but education has failed to adapt.

What would you tell someone who is getting ready to start university?

We need to grab all the 18-year-olds and tell them to programme, don’t dedicate yourself to law, administration, psychology. Just learn how to programme. But that’s difficult to do, it involves a change in culture.

Do you think there could be other success stories like yours in Argentina?

Maybe, we’ve laid the path for other companies. But the real competition is global and it’s tough.

How does Argentina’s startup community compare with the rest of the region?

It has a large middle class, and good and free education system, which is important. The Argentine history of chaotic changes helps people adapt quickly. Colombia, for example, is the same size as Argentina, but there is less innovation. There is a reason Google has its research centre in Buenos Aires.

Are you investing in other companies?

No, we’re focusing on our own research and development, but in the next few years we will probably invest in other startups in Argentina.

How do you see the future for startups in Argentina in the next five years?

I think the market will keep on growing. Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone, there is a lot of pressure and a very small likelihood of success—one in 100.