Only a few months after transitioning from company CEO to a partner at Viola Growth, I was fortunate to come across what would become my first investment in a category I believe will continue to boom in the next few of years.
In the era of the rise of Netflix, media companies and content providers have realized they need to step up their own direct-to-consumer content offerings. To compete efficiently, big guns like Amazon, Apple, Disney and HBO all the way to the mid-sized and even smaller players – require a solution for production, delivery and maintenance of D2C media applications that’s user-friendly, multi-platform, economical and fast to deploy. Unfortunately, the solutions available to date have not always delivered on all three of these fronts, making the process complicated, costly and slow-going. So when we first started looking into Applicaster – I realized they are on to something truly exciting.
Since its inception, Applicaster has evolved its approach and product to cater for the changing needs of content creators in a highly competitive market. Today, their robust SaaS app management platform – called Zapp –enables brands and media companies to prototype, develop and maintain high quality, scalable D2C apps autonomously, by providing them with the tools and insights needed to own and engage audiences across all platforms and devices.
Traditionally, most media companies have relied on external vendors and professional services to develop and maintain their content apps, and help with the complex integration of a variety of different features such as Google Analytics, ad management, payment systems, notification services, audience engagement & retention tools, interactive content formats, aggregated social and content feeds, etc.
But with Zapp, the most popular app features are already built in and available to incorporate as needed across multiple platforms (iOS, Android, Smart TV, Samsung etc.), simplifying the process for everyone involved, and allowing media companies to build engaging digital media experiences with far less fuss than would have been necessary previously. The platform is essentially a dev tool that allows SMBs with limited technical know-how to easily customize their own UI/UX, and also developers in large media companies to build on the platform’s existing infrastructure to incorporate additional customized functionality.
In addition, Zapp includes an extensive built-in partner marketplace of services and features that integrate with the platform, so as time goes by, app developers will enjoy an increasing selection of features and services to integrate into their apps, much like WordPress users who can tap into an ever-increasing plugin marketplace to simplify their web development.
This flexibility not only speeds up the time-to-market significantly, but also reduces costs and frees both time and resources for Applicaster’s customers to help them stay ahead of their competitors, by simplifying the technical challenges and allowing them to focus on innovation and content development, which is really what they’re all about.
Indeed, the company uses mottos like “we take the tech from your equation and put it into ours“, and “invest in your audience and let us handle the tech.”
As this is my first investment since joining Viola Growth, it was important to find a company that fits the main criteria of our investment thesis, and Applicaster ticked those boxes for me:
1. It’s a fast-growing company that’s disrupting a large, established market.
2. The company’s offering is consistent with our belief that you should avoid tying your fate to one provider.
3. Professional services are no longer a viable long-term solution for enterprises that need to maintain ownership of their D2C efforts through self-sufficient, robust platforms.
Modern media app services
Millions of viewers worldwide are already using Applicaster-powered apps every day (with 3 billion users served to date) when watching content by Time Warner, the New York Giants, Fox TV stations, Viacom, DirecTV, Televisa, Baby First, Dog TV and a variety of great content brands in their growing portfolio of customers.
We believe the category will continue to grow as more brands look for ways to expand both reach and engagement with their content, and that Applicaster will become the natural partner of choice thanks to their agnostic, flexible, open-stack infrastructure.
And who knows? Maybe my next blog post might even be delivered via our own app – “Viola TV”! (Stay tuned).