By Moses Musilu
Cary native Ritwik Pavan was a 16-year-old junior at Enloe High School in Raleigh when the must-have app was “Flappy Bird,” a simple one-button game in which you navigate a bird over obstacles by tapping the screen to make the bird jump. Around the same time “Flappy Bird” went viral, a Vine video of a boy, later named Lil’ Meatball, dancing in a circle surrounded by his friends yelling “Yeet!” was gaining popularity as well.
After watching countless tutorials on application development, Pavan thought he could create his own.
In April 2014, Pavan combined elements of the viral video with the concept of “Flappy Bird.” He built a game that featured a bird, too, but also Lil’ Meatball.
In the game, Lil’ Meatball sat on top of the flying bird, jumping over each obstacle as you tapped the screen. With every tap, Lil’ Meatball would yell, “Yeet!” Pavan called the game “Flappy Yeet,” and released it to the app stores.
For Pavan, it was just something to do for fun. But he had no idea that his own app would, too, go viral.
In the first couple of days, “Flappy Yeet” recorded over 80,000 downloads. After a couple of weeks, that number grew to 250,000. Soon, the number exceeded over 350,000 downloads. Ritwik says he became one of the first North Carolina residents to have their app on the top three charts for Apple and Android.
“Soon everyone wanted an app made. ‘Ritwik, I want this idea! Ritwik, can you do this?’ People started to reach out to me to make their apps when I literally used tutorials to make this game. It just went viral unexpectedly.”
Inspired by his success, Pavan saw an opportunity to learn more about app development. Many people were asking for help with their ideas, and Pavan saw a big market.
Knowing he needed help, he reached out to one of his high school classmates, now head of graphic design, Casey Riemann. Pavan heard Riemann was studying computer science and already knew how to build apps.
“It didn’t take that much to convince me,” Riemann said. “It was a good idea.”
And four years later, a party of two developers became a party of 30. Linker Logic Technologies Inc. was born.
Setting up Shop
Now the company provides clients with branding, marketing, web development, app development, software development, Apple Watch development and other services. The price to have an app made by Pavan and his team ranges from $25,000 to over $100,000. Pavan says his company is valued at more than a million dollars, and will only continue to grow. They’ve developed over 50 applications for clients, including Cary Cardiology, WakeMed and other startups.
One of the first big contracts they signed with was WRAL-TV. Pavan says his experience with them changed the whole mindset of Linker Logic Technologies Inc.
“WRAL saw an article about us on the News & Observer, and around that time the Apple Watch was just hitting the market,” he recalls. “They asked us if we could create an application for them on the Apple Watch, and we agreed to tackle their challenge. We created the first local news Apple Watch application for them. That got us to the next level.”
From there, many opportunities began to unfold for the team of app developers. Pavan says it gave them a new mindset. Being adjusted to the professional environment at such a young age gave him insight on what to expect down the road.
Playing as a Team
Pavan takes his employees out for weekly lunches or dinners to keep the team’s morale up. But when bigger deals are signed and completed, Pavan enhances the reward.
“If we win a big deal or contract, I’ll take the whole team out to a nice dinner spot,” he says. “Sometimes we travel. I’m definitely trying to get company retreats happening as we expand. We work hard, play hard.”
Every Sunday, Pavan spends the day in his Franklin Street office. Pictures of himself and past clients surround the walls. Meetings with the UNC Board of Trustees, shaking hands with Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman and even business entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk can be seen smiling back at you. In his phone, he has pictures of his trip to Portugal, and after a couple of swipes, you’ll see him meeting Portugal’s Prime Minister, António Costa. Pavan says all his encounters with successful people made him realize one thing.
“They were all normal people at one time,” he said. “They just had a vision or a goal. Now they’re just normal people who have met their goals allowing for them to be successful and famous or whatever you want to say. They’ve made me realize that the challenge and struggles will be worth it by the end.”
Pavan doesn’t intend on stopping any time soon. His team of developers continues to grow, while adding new projects every few weeks. He says they’re working on nine ongoing projects and expect more to come.
So, what’s next for Linker Logic in the future?
“I see the company expanding rapidly in the next five years,” Riemann said. “We have just opened offices in Raleigh and India, and are in the process of building a dedicated, full time team to service the triangle area. I see only greatness coming our way, and I look forward to the road ahead.”
Pavan wants the company to expand on their own ideas.
“I hope to bring a lot of in-house developments for Linker Logic,” he says. “There’s a lot of good that can be done in this world with technology, and over the past four years, my team and I have gained the funding, connections, and experience to do that.”
Edited by Lily Stephens