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How Mobile Roadie Became a Leader in Do-It-Yourself Apps This self-service app creator aims to make it cheap and easy to go mobile. Plus, a look at other game-changers in the mobile space.

By Jason Daley

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

For many businesses, creating a mobile app is akin to what creating a website was 15 years ago--it's expensive and time consuming, and you can probably get along without one for a while. But then again, if you don't invest now, you'll regret it when you're playing digital catch-up in a year.

Enter Mobile Roadie, which, when it launched in 2009, was the first self-service app creator on the market, allowing businesses to customize and publish apps on all formats for a tenth of what it would cost to develop an app from scratch. Though many more app-creation services have jumped into the game lately, Mobile Roadie still has the advantage by being first to market.

"Being first had even more advantages than it normally does. We're six months ahead of the competition, and six months in the mobile world is like five years in any other industry," says Michael Schneider, the former web design agency owner who co-founded Mobile Roadie with Brock Batten. "Our other advantage is that we're the only service that supports our apps on Android, BlackBerry and iPhone. And BlackBerry is not the easiest thing to develop."

But just because Mobile Roadie is relatively cheap--about $500 to develop the app plus $30 dollars a month to manage it, versus tens of thousands for a custom app--doesn't mean it produces a cheap product. In fact, Madonna, Taylor Swift, the Dallas Mavericks and the Wynn Las Vegas have all used Mobile Roadie to build their apps.