App ahead is a software studio led and founded by Martin Lexow. I craft opinionated apps that are honest and functional. My work is informed by German Sachlichkeit.

Martin Lexow, 2018

Founded in 2015 in Berlin, App ahead GmbH originally operated under the name “IXEAU”. Today, my software studio is based in the historic old town of Aachen, Germany. App ahead has the sole purpose to enable me, Martin, to publish my work. Since the beginning, I operate investor-free and fully independent. Guided by curiosity and empowered by a deep understanding of my craft, I build opinionated and distinctive software with a devotion to the highest standards in engineering and design. My solutions aim to inspire.

The wonder years

In a previous life I managed the development of internal apps in Europes’ largest publishing house. I found joy in exploring all things related to human interaction design. It was fulfilling to constantly question the status quo and to solve complex problems. During this period I realised that things don’t become great by accident. Makers need to care, listen, evaluate. I inherently knew I had the empathy and willingness essential for this. In addition, I’ve been fortunate to have a certain degree of talent to articulate my thoughts clearly, visually and verbally. Those were fun and enriching times. But a few years in, I felt faint, due to a lack of new challenges and little opportunity to bring novel thoughts and critical attitude to the table. I sensed that it was time to pivot—so I quit.

Mastery of craft

I started studying Interface Design in 2013 at the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam. I taught myself programming around that time, and my first app-release followed shortly afterwards. Designers with coding skills were a scarcity. But to design software without a solid grasp of how it functions seemed unprofessional to me. In 2017 I received my bachelor’s degree, grade 1.0, with distinction. Two years later I got my master’s degree, grade 1.1, without distinction. I dared to criticize Dieter Rams’ design theses, and we don’t do that in Germany. Jokes aside—I remained committed to Potsdam and shared my expertise as an associate lecturer on the side until 2021, when I experienced that there is truth to what David Foster Wallace aptly stated: “Teaching, you learn an enormous amount. The cliché turns out to be true. (…) You do for about two or three years and then the curve falls off sharply”. My thirst for knowledge and the urge to build apps was far from quenched, so I stopped teaching and focused on crafting. I invest every spare minute to pursue this passion. Since my work is significantly influenced by my attitude and therefore is very much self-expressive, I prefer to call myself a Software Auteur. Some of my apps are well-received, beloved, even plagiarized. Others are heavily criticized and ultimately failed. This seems to be the prerequisite for personal and entrepreneurial growth. This is the way.