Welcoming Apptentive to the Founders Co-op Family

A few weeks ago I published a long list of Enterprise SaaS opportunities being diven by the massive global shift to “Mobile First” customer communications.

Most large enterprises have been caught flat-footed by the speed of this transition, and are now scrambling to catch up to their customers’ preference to access digital services via native mobile (iOS and Android) apps.

We’ve seen this up close at two of our existing portfolio companies — Urban Airship (in Mobile Engagement Management) and MobileDevHQ (in Organic App Marketing, a.k.a. App Store Optimization) — which are not only seeing extraordinary growth in customers and revenues, but also increasingly being talked about as C-suite priorities, not just tactical product marketing tools.

There are many startups chasing elements of this broad theme, and most of them tend to stumble on one (or both) of two significant choke-points in the mobile enterprise adoption curve:

  1. SDK Integration — Most 3rd-party enhancements to native iOS and Android apps require the app publisher to make code changes — and often design / UX changes — to their apps. This usually increases the size of the app (lengthening download time), requires app store approval (particularly painful on iOS), and injects new dependencies into engineering processes that are already stretched tight. With literally dozens of firms seeking SDK-level access to the best publishers and apps, the default answer from most product teams is ‘NO’.
  2. Enterprise Sales — Even if you can get the product team to integrate your stuff, turning those installs into money (in the form of monthly recurring revenues in the hundreds or thousands of dollars per customer) requires good old-fashioned selling skills that go way beyond what most early-stage Enterprise SaaS teams are capable of. Leveling up your sales capacity before you’ve proven your business model is a painful chicken-egg bottleneck that stops many gifted product teams in their tracks.

I pay close attention to this sector, and whenever I come across a team that’s attacking a critical piece of the Enterprise Mobile puzzle and has cracked the code of both SDK integration and enterprise sales — particularly among mobile publishers with millions of installs — I lean in hard.

Apptentive — a member of the TechStars Seattle class 2012 — is one of those companies, and today I’m thrilled to announce that they’re also the newest member of the Founders Co-op family.

Enterprise traditionalists might describe Apptentive’s offering as Mobile Customer Support (MCS) or even Mobile Customer Relationship Management (MCRM). But the guys at Apptentive aren’t your typical bean-counting business guys — they believe that great brands are built from customer love, not “risk management” (or worse, “damage control”) — and their mission is nothing less than bringing love back to the mobile customer experience.

Together, OS-controlled app stores and “native” apps (i.e., software that runs locally on the mobile device instead of connecting through the open web) have cut brands off from their mobile customers.

Apptentive helps brands built on customer love knock down these artificial barriers and get back to the business of “delivering happiness” through their mobile apps with the same skill and fidelity they achieve through any other channel.

Better yet, Apptentive doesn’t treat mobile as a separate vector for customer happiness, but integrates effortlessly with leading enterprise platforms like Assistly (now Desk.com) and Zendesk to deliver a unified view of the customer across all digital channels.

Congratulations to the Apptentive team on their graduation from TechStars Seattle and thanks for letting Founders Co-op play a small part in a future filled with mobile customer love.