Brent Hoberman: How to get investor interest in your app #AppsWorld

For an investor or venture capitalist looking at an app, credibility is just as important as the idea, according to founder of PROFounders Capital and former Lastminute.com exec Brent Hoberman.

Hoberman was speaking at an engaging developer keynote at Apps World Europe, alongside two app company founders with whom he has a more than passing interest: Sampo Karjalainen, arguably most famous for the social network Habbo Hotel but currently CEO of tracking app Moves; and Rytis Vitkauskas, CEO of event app YPlan.

For a great example of how credibility gets companies results, Hoberman cited AngelList’s “social proof” – in other words, a big section which screams to the investor: this extremely credible guy’s involved, so you’ve got more confidence in this bet. “Many investors won’t take, for example, LinkedIn approachers,” he added.

Hoberman explained his investment in Moves and YPlan as primarily because “they’re playing into megatrends” – but also recounted the “astronomical” rise of Shazam, another company with which he is involved.

“When it was [calling] 2580 on your mobile, it was really a struggling business,” Hoberman said. “Suddenly, these platforms come along. When the iPhone existed, these guys were saved.

“It’s more than app now, it’s a platform for music, and TV ads, at the heart of the ecosystem.”

The keynote also examined different strategies for app companies and developers monetising their businesses.

One of the key tenets was one that Moves and YPlan shared: both started on iOS, only recently rolling out iterations for Android. YPlan announced compatibility with Android only this morning.

In not going multi-platform straight away, this sense of biting off more than you can chew is something devs should think about, the panel argued.

“You can do a ubiquitous app on multiple platforms, but those tend to become a little slower,” Vitkauskas said. “User interactions are not as neat, typically, and users don’t reward you with as high an engagement as you would otherwise had you built for a specific platform.

“That debate still goes on today, but we decided to launch for iOS first, and then launched for Android today,” he added. “We think we made the right decision.”

Karjalainen cited being featured by Apple as the key driver in Moves’ rise.

“It was pretty easy to pitch this story to tech media, because there’s something new,” he argued. “That’s why we got a really good launch at the beginning of this year for iPhone.

“Apple really wants to feature apps that are really doing something cool, with their new APIs, something that shows what the phone is capable of.

“For us, the Apple featuring was a really good kick start to get the growth going.”

Hoberman, however, stresses that if you really want to get your app noticed by the investor community, you’ve got to make it obvious to them.

“You need very quickly in the opening paragraph – ‘here’s why you want to use my app, here’s why we’re doing it better than anyone else’,” he explained.

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