Q&A with Apsalar co-founder and CEO Michael Oiknine about helping mobile apps gain better user traction and engagement

By Editor September 26, 2011

Apsalar_logoApsalar is an engagement management solution for mobile apps providers. The San Francisco–based company was founded in 2010 and recently raised $5 million in Series A funding.

SUB: Please explain what Apsalar is, and the value proposition you offer to mobile advertisers.

Oiknine: Apsalar is the leading Mobile Engagement Management, or MEM, solution on the market. Apsalar is a SaaS provider. Approximately one-third of all apps downloaded will be used once. This is the most pressing issue for mobile app publishers, it prevents them from creating relationships with their customers and from any monetization opportunities. So, as mobile is rewriting the customer engagement playbook, Apsalar enables mobile app developers and publishers to fully manage customer engagement.

Our solution consists of 3 components: 1.) Analyze to measure and learn (advanced behavioral analytics). 2.) Optimize—test and personalize the user experience (A/B testing and tailoring of user experiences to behavioral segments). 3.Monetize—turn engagement into revenue (in-app dynamic targeting and cross-app retargeting).

SUB: How does the technology behind Apsalar work?

Oiknine: App publishers install an SDK or use an API to “tag” events (i.e. user actions) and send them to Apsalar’s servers. From there, the service is available over a web interface with a dashboard and detailed reports.

SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?

Oiknine: Kontangent, Flurry and other analytics providers try to compete with us on the first capability, but most of them, if not all, fall short on the two others.

SUB: What do you offer that differentiates Apsalar from your competitors?

Oiknine: The key differentiation is that we offer a comprehensive Mobile Engagement Management solution. Our vision is that such a solution should offer the three integrated capabilities mentioned earlier. Most of our competitors are just looking at the first capability, overlooking the integrated approach to the single most important problem for mobile app developers and publishers: low customer engagement.

SUB: What was the inspiration behind Apsalar? Was there an “aha” moment, or was it longer in developing?

Oiknine: The founding team has a long history in BT and conversion optimization on the web. We saw the enormous growth of the mobile app ecosystem and quickly understood that the ratio of apps that provide similar functionality to potential users was heavily skewed against the apps. We have worked with web apps and sites trying to stay above the noise and helped them do so by building intelligence on their users and tailoring experiences to capture their attention from the first click. The aha moment came when we realized that all the lessons and best practices from our web days could be applied to the mobile app world but by thinking “mobile” from the ground up, for instance, engagement is less of an issue on the web.

SUB: When was the company founded, and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?

Oiknine: April 2010. The first step was to quickly release a small but useful free product called ApFeedback—sort of a survey monkey for mobile apps—to establish a dialogue with long tail app developers. From there we built more knowledge about the engagement problem and how to fix it. This approach is now fully integrated in our product development process, where we constantly listen to market needs, prioritize feedback, and release on a frequent schedule.

SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building Apsalar?

Oiknine: Finding the best people for the job.

SUB: You recently raised $5 million in Series A funding—how do you plan to use the funds?

Oiknine: Product development, marketing and sales.

SUB: Why was this a particularly good time to raise new funding?

Oiknine: The mobile market is experiencing tremendous growth and with this growth comes an ever growing engagement problem. Since engagement is directly correlated to monetization there is high value and fast ROI in adopting our MEM solutions.

SUB: Do you plan to raise more outside funding in the near future?

Oiknine: If needed, yes.

SUB: Where do you hope to see Apsalar in a year from now?

Oiknine: Established leader in the MEM industry.

Apsalar – www.apsalar.com