Q&A with Appsfire co-founder and CEO Ouriel Ohayon
Appsfire is an apps discovery engine that utilizes personalized guides for a variety of app marketplaces. The Paris and Tel Aviv-based company was founded in 2010 and recently closed a $3.6 million Series A funding round.
SUB: Please briefly describe Appsfire and the value proposition you bring to the apps discovery market.
Ohayon: Appsfire helps users discover relevant apps through personal guides for different app stores and marketplaces. We build unique discovery mechanisms and experiences that help people find great apps. All smartphone users are faced with the same experience when browsing an app marketplace. It is not personal, it too dense, it is hard to browse. We bring easy, customized and fun discovery to the users.
We provide a set of apps by device by specific needs (kids, cities, etc.) to help users find great apps. The engine behind is the same—the envelope changes.
On the business side we help developers better market their apps, today in acquisition and soon in retention.
SUB: How did the idea for Appsfire come about? Was there an “aha” moment of inspiration, or was it longer in developing?
Ohayon: My co-founder and I were immediately frustrated with the app store and the android market because we had a hard time finding apps. Moreover, our friends kept asking us for recommendations, which got us started thinking about the project.
Our first version was solving a simple problem: how can I share my apps with my friends easily. But we grew with a richer discovery engine: How to find the apps your friends have, How to find apps relevant to your city or proximity, What are the apps people love and not just download.
The “aha” moment arrived when we launched our first iPad app which was only composed of visual icon streams and it became pretty popular. We then realized people want a simple fun easy to browser interface. They don t want to spend time searching or processing requests or endless lists of apps.
This gave us the direction for the next steps: Set very visual, painless, fun, easy to browse experiences mostly designed for passive consumption and discovery, versus active where the user has to be explicit about what he wants.
SUB: When was the company founded, and what were the first steps you took in founding it?
Ohayon: We created the company in January 2010 and got it funded right away with a group of wonderful web entrepreneurs.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Ohayon: Any service that is promoting apps. We have indirect competition like mobile ad networks but their solution is not adapted for apps which require very low cost and efficient ad format. We have direct competition like the many discovery services (many of which are simple clones of what we do). Recently Apple decided to hit the company using incentivized download to promote apps—although those services are different than us in their form (we do not reward users for downloads), we’re competing for the same budget lines.
SUB: How are you marketing Appsfire?
Ohayon: We don’t. Ninety-nine percent of our growth is organic and due to the love our users have for our product. We’re often referred by users and influencers and our research studies are often quoted.
Developers also know us quite well. We organize regularly seminars about the app economy and participate to various events on mobile apps. We are very fortunate.
SUB: What have the biggest challenges been you’ve faced so far to building Appsfire?
Ohayon: Finding the right product experience. We’re still searching. We think with our next version we’ll introduce something really groundbreaking which will inspire a lot of services that try to build discovery apps.
SUB: What is your business model? How does Appsfire make money?
Ohayon: We help developers promote their app on our network of apps. We offer a range of solutions that are priced on a performance basis.
SUB: How many customers do you currently have? Is Appsfire available for all mobile platforms?
Ohayon: Over 100 paid customers. Appsfire is available for now on iOS and Android.
SUB: You recently closed a $3.6 million funding round. How do you plan to use the funds?
Ohayon: First we’re investing in good people. Second, we plan to invest in good people. Did I say we plan to invest in good people?
SUB: Do you plan to seek more outside funding in the future?
Ohayon: Probably around $200 to $300 million. Mode joke off.
SUB: Where do you see Appsfire in a year from now?
Ohayon: Approximately 365 days ahead. With much better products, wider range of discovery solutions and happy repeating customers.
SUB: Finally, a question I always ask: as an entrepreneur who has successfully navigated the down economy, what advice do you have for entrepreneurs just now starting a business?
Ohayon: Make sure you start because you are really obsessed with the problem you want to solve. Being obsessed = thinking about it 24 hours-a-day for at least 2 weeks since you first had the idea. If you don’t pass this test, don’t shoot. Building a startup is a tough journey. You need other reasons than ambition and money to keep you motivated.
Appsfire – www.appsfire.com