The Makalu Story

Celebrating 10 years, here’s a behind the scenes look of how we ended up where we are today.

Makalu was founded in 2005 by American Matt Henderson and Finn Alex Bendiken. Having built a successful aerospace software company in Germany, Matt met Alex after discovering that the winner of the Wil Shipley blog redesign contest lived just down the road in Marbella, Spain. With a shared passion for design and technology, we set off to build digital products that would delight and deliver results.

We worked in relative obscurity until, in 2006, Alex entered, and won, a redesign contest for what was then the world’s largest tech news website, Slashdot.

Building a million-user product

In the wake of that exposure, Makalu was approached by a group of environmentalists from New York and Berkeley, who put their trust in us to design and build the original website for Catalog Choice. In its first year, Catalog Choice experienced periods of unheard-of conversion rates reaching 70%, signed up over one million users and received coverage on all major networks.

Working with Google

The success of Catalog Choice led to an opportunity with Google, who were planning a cross-marketing campaign with Virgin America. We were hired to design, develop and operate an online game that would be played during the first 24 hours of Virgin’s launch of in-flight wifi across their entire American fleet.

The Google/Virgin America “Day in the Cloud” campaign was one of our proudest moments, with executives at Ogilvy calling the tremendously successful event, “a glimpse at the future of marketing.”

From there, we went on to collaborate with the US Navy on an international educational platform, designed the game component for the largest online gaming platform in the middle-east, doubled the conversion rate for a California high-end properties agent referral network, and designed the user interfaces for a number of start-ups.

The exclusive years

Having already worked with them for seven years, we received an opportunity in late 2011 to work almost exclusively for the German concert promoter, Marek Lieberberg. Expanding our capabilities to include mobile app development, we designed, developed and operated the digital products that helped MLK go from start-up to become the world’s fifth largest entertainment promoter.

Creating for ourselves

During those years, Makalu also dedicated some time to the development of our own products. The first was RaceSplitter, an iOS app that has been used to time over one million participants in sports events around the world. The second was Rego, a place bookmarking app that Apple featured on the App Store home page in 127 countries—that’s like winning the lottery! And the most recent was ChessDrop—a cloud-based database for storing and analyzing your personal chess games.

Back in the game

In August of 2015, Marek Lieberberg Konzertagentur was acquired by Live Nation, the world’s largest promoter, with plans to merge MLK’s digital presence into their own, forming Live Nation Germany.

With that acquisition, we returned to our roots as a team providing services to multiple customers, and have since done some exciting work for Mimosa Networks, MyMalls and eBook inBox—all of which you can find in our portfolio.

If you have a project in mind and are looking for a great little team, we’d love to talk with you.