Today’s interview is with Benjamin Watanabe from Cobypic.  He’s in the process of running a Kickstarter to gain funding in order to release his app.  His new app helps your children realize all the colors of the world, rather than teaching them colors, they can experiment and use your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch to take pictures of different colors/textures and items to color in a picture.  It’s a way to take learning from paper into a whole different dimension.

cobypicThank you for participating our interview. Please tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a happy uncle, an amateur artist, and a rookie indie app developer named Ben.  Right now, I’m working to finish up an iPhone and iPad app called Cobypic, and have just begun recruiting artists and parents of little artists on our Kickstarter.

How did the idea for your app come about?

There are literally 3 different sized notepads with me at all times, right now 4! And I love sketching ideas & illustrations. Because I love paper so much and think its perfect, I knew I didn’t want to compete with it in app form. (Although I do love Paper by FiftyThree!)

Instead I wanted to bring together the different parts of the iPhone in a new artistic way, making something that would inspire dreams of the possibilities in the world around us. That’s what Cobypic: “Color by Picture” is, its the combination of the iPhone’s camera with the computer element providing original and classic art.

Maybe easier than my inspirational founder message though is saying: “Cobypic is what would happen if you smashed Instagram and Draw Something together into one app!”

And how long was the process from the original idea to the release of the app?

At this point it’s month 3, with hopes of releasing in month 4 (September).  Right now Cobypic’s Kickstarter making progress to raising the funds to speed up the development, so we can meet our mid-September goal!

Did you hire a developer or do it yourself?

At first my brother shared a couple good iOS dev books that helped me learn enough fundamentals of Objective-C/Xcode to build a early prototype app. From there others began to believe in Cobypic, and a good friend got on
board as a contracted developer helping to build a dream and provide a whole lot of moral support.

What has been the hardest obstacle you have had to overcome in the development process?

Catching the wrong train and getting stratnded at a station in the mountains of Japan overnight! Probably not what you’d expect, but working in Tokyo can be distracting, so we planned a few weekend trips to the
countryside for “hackathons.” One Friday didn’t go as planned and we ended up working on Cobypic outside a countryside station for the night!

The actual developing though has been surprisingly smooth, probably cause Lee is great! Some of the illustrations have taken some time though, I think the cobypic of “The Great Wave” woodblock took 3 days total! I don’t even want to remember how many attempts and days Starry Night took…

Have you had much support during the development process (from family, peers, Apple Inc.)?

Yui, a great friend since my second year of university, really made all of this possible through her constant support and belief. I don’t think the “development process” starts the day you open Xcode, but long before, and
she was there the whole time.

Lee has gone way beyond being a contracted developer and become a great friend.

And so many new friends, including your very own Alison, who has helped Cobypic so much!

If this was televised the music would probably be telling me to stop, so of course have to add one of the best Cobypic artists yet! My Mom!

(Sorry I know I haven’t won anything but these people’s support Cobypic makes me feel like I have)

What are your plans for the future? Will you be developing any more apps?

Hopefully will! There are a lot of ideas that came while creating Cobypic that I wanted to chase, but had to just quickly sketch in my notebook and leave them at that… for now!

What sort of feedback has your app been receiving so far?

Our Kickstarter has some of my favorite quotes that we’ve gotten on so far, including Alison’s. Everyone though has been overwhelmingly positive… except for that one guy 😉

After a few moments of confusion most parents, artists, and children are having an “Ah Ha!” moment and discovering what Cobypic is to them, making it their own, and creating in ways we hadn’t imagined before.

And finally, what advice would you give to anyone considering creating their own app?

K.I.S.S.! Keep It Simple St… Steve?

Can’t stress it enough, and its a mistake I’ve made many times before, but don’t try to grow a rose garden, just nurture one perfect small rose to start.

You’ve really got to resist the temptation to keep planting new seeds, even if they’re great seeds, and just focus on the one in the small clay pot on your windowsill.

Keep the idea small and simple. Later on their will be time for gardening.

Thank you so much for talking with us today and sharing a bit about your company.  We really appreciated the chance to get to know you! To see the app in progress, be sure to check out their video demo and consider donating to their Kickstarter.


Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her two sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.

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