Whenever I am asked to look at a startup, whether as a mentor at an accelerator or startup event, or whether as a potential client for my web development firm, I always look at the same criteria. I first ask for a summary of the idea as well as the team behind it. I look at the problem and their solution, and then I examine its strengths and weaknesses. I like to know the landscape, so I research competitors, and, lastly, I look at what I would select for them as milestones. The following is a look at a French Startup:
Appsfire allows you to discover new apps. This is different from browsing for apps in an App Store – because it’s hard in an app store to figure out if the app is any good or not. You have the reviews, the number of downloads, but all that stuff can be faked. AppsFire uses a number of criteria and gives you the best app(s) for whatever type of app you’re looking for. It can also tell you what apps your friends are using, and what the free apps of the day are.
There are two use cases for this: the first is that you want a certain type of app (a photo editor, for example), and the app store gives you a million choices but you don’t know which one to choose.
The second use case is that you’re looking to discover ANY type of new app. Most likely this will be when you’re bored on the metro.
In both cases, the app performs well. How it rates apps, is, of course, a mystery, and a well-kept one. Co-founder Yann Lechelle describes it as “A mixture of app metadata (ratings, downloads, etc), web content such as reviews, social media data, etc”. This makes sense – if you gather data from diverse sources, you’re more likely to get a more accurate picture. They also track changes over time. This allows them to pick up on things like a sudden peak in positive reviews, or a sudden peak in the download count. Both are signs of “optimization” (read: fraud) and their algorithm judges accordingly. Clever stuff.
A novelty is that they now publish the actual scores they assign to the app! “Klout score for apps”, “PageRank for apps”, call it whatever you want – actually, they call it App Score, and reminiscent of Klout, it’s a 1 to 100 score. Since last week, you can actually see the score of the app, which will help you in your app selection decision process.
Appsfire is a 2 year old startup. Yann describes them as a global startup, as he lives in Paris, his co-founder is in Israel, and their target audience is global. However, their multiple rounds of funding are raised in Paris. Since Yann has spent a lot of time roaming the globe, we inevitably talked about their decision to be “Paris based”, and about the French startup eco-system.
The Paris startup world
Yann enthusiastically argued that in a very short time, there are tons of new developments in the Paris startup world. He points to the numerous new events, incubators, accelerators and active investors, and, of course, startups! Yet when he talks about raising funding in France, he gets a bit defensive and says it would’ve been easier to raise money in the US, however the investors would’ve forced them to live in the US, and for lifestyle reasons they wanted to stay in France.
When asked about the future of Appsfire, Yann gets excited, and talks about numerous new features that are planned in the pipeline. But when it comes to talking about their plans to raise more capital, he goes silent. Since they raised 3.2 million euros, and are at the verge of becoming profitable, they do indeed have the luxury of choice in that matter. The choice to grow organically from where they are today, or to do a big round (20 million or more) and “go big”. Yann hesitates when asked for his preference, and points out that either way, their road to success is similar.
The competition, such as FreeAppADay, is still bigger, and other potential competitors, such as the mighty Facebook also loom on the horizon. Ironically, a smaller competitor called Chomp was recently acquired by Apple for $50 million. Yann hides his disappointment well, and says that they were chosen by Apple because their office was “12 miles down the road from Apple”. Sadly, that’s probably true.
Appsfire has great potential, and is clearly going places. With an ace team, a clear roadmap, and a stellar product, and lots of income, they will slug it out against their competitors, and will probably come out on top. Their only weakness is their neglect of the Android universe, but they are certainly not the first company to make that mistake. Let’s hope they fix that soon and come out on top!
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