With 90% of apps now free to download, it is getting harder and harder to make money with mobile apps and games. Apple alone has recently crossed the 1 million apps mark. Under such circumstances developers have to come up with creative forms of generating revenue. Thankfully there are startups out there who want to help developers find a monetization strategy. One such startup is called 1SDK, a participant of this year’s Startupbootcamp Berlin. I sat down with Anil Kutty, founder of 1SDK, to talk about his mission, the Berlin startup scene, and the Startupbootcamp experience.
Tell me about 1SDK. What does it do?
It is Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) startup for mobile app and game developers. Our platform helps developers make more money from in-app goods by changing prices of those goods based on how the user interacts with the app and his/her profile. For instance, if you publish a F2P (free to play) game, such as Angry Birds, you will have different types of players. Some will play it a few times, some will play it regularly, some will play it all the time. All of them will react differently to the prices of your in-app goods. Some are willing to pay more for certain items, some are not. This is where 1SDK comes in. We help find the best price for each item in order to convert non-paying users to paying customers. We want to present smaller app and game developers who don’t have a whole department in charge of monetization with the opportunity to compete with big studios. We see ourselves as the sling-shot that allows the small David to beat Goliath.
Anil Kutty at TechCrunch Disrupt Europe 2013 (Photo by Jan Proppe)
How did you come up with the idea?
I was the chief architect of the Vodafone’s app store, the largest one built by an operator. It was launched in 8 EU countries and Russia. I learned from that experience that game developers (who generate 80% of in-app purchase revenues) want two things: an open in-app billing SDK that works across all app stores and the capability to set prices for virtual goods based on user behavior.
There are other app monetization startups out there. What sets 1SDK apart?
Most competitors are either doing in-app payment solutions, analytics & customer segmentation or dynamic pricing. We do all three with a single SDK – hence the name 1SDK.
What is your business model?
Our business model is based on a monthly subscription fee and a transaction fee based on the actual revenue that we help grow.
What are you currently looking for? What are your biggest needs?
Our first priority is finding initial customers with whom we can build and improve our product. We have two game development companies who are implementing our SDK right now, but more are always welcome, of course. We are also on the lookout to close another round after Startupbootcamp’s Demo Day. We have a seed investor, but if we want to expand, we will need another € 500,000.00 in investment. Lastly, we are looking for talent. We are still in need of an Android developer who understands in-app billing, a PHP developer and a Java developer. So anybody who fits that profile drop me a line (firstname.lastname@example.org).
You are part of this year’s Startupbootcamp Berlin. Tell me a little about the experience at Startupbootcamp.
Startupbootcamp is a great experience. From day one you learn things that you can apply immediately, like how to approach customers. You will feel a little swamped at first because you are meeting mentors every day who give you feedback that you have to process. But it really helps to have many different perspectives on what you are doing. I got some great guidance from Alex Farcet, the founder of Startupbootcamp Berlin – from closing our seed round to generating sales leads. Apart from the tremendous benefits for my startup it is also a great atmosphere here. They organize a lot of events, like a stylish boat ride on the Spree, they supply us with lunch everyday, and there are a lot of great people here. For instance, Startupbootcamp’s head of operations, Aaron, likes to mix cocktails with liquid nitrogen. So yeah, all in all this is a complete package. The investment you get from them is good, but it is really just the icing on the cake.
Team 1SDK (Photo by Jan Proppe)
Tell me about the startup scene in Berlin. You went to Silicon Valley before you came here. How do the two places differ?
When I conceived of the idea of 1SDK I wanted to go big right away. So what do you do if you want to go big? You go to Silicon Valley. I found out though that if you are not a serial entrepreneur, ex-Google, ex-Facebook or ex-Apple guy, it is difficult get to the right VCs, unless you can show serious traction. Being in an early stage, I didn’t have that. What I liked about Silicon Valley, however, was that a lot of people were passionate about their ideas however crazy they might sound. After that I heard the call of Berlin. I found it a lot more hospitable to early stage startups. The companies here might not be as hyped as those in SV, but they are serious about business. A key point I have found important is that living costs and hiring costs are much more affordable here in Berlin. This makes it a lot easier to get started. I still want to go big and I think Berlin is the place to do it.
Where does 1SDK stand in a year?
Ideally we will have a good number of international customers, we will have integrated more payment options and we are also looking to get some of our technology patented. But right now we are focused on Startupbootcamp’s Demo Day. It is the final presentation of all the startups participating in this year’s program and we want to rock it. Over 200 investors have already booked a ticket. It is going to be one of the biggest startup events of the year. For anyone who wants to get a feel for the startup scene in Berlin this is the place to be. The community tickets that were available on Eventbrite are already gone, but 1SDK still has 10 tickets to give away. So we want to offer these to the readers of Startüberlin.