Ever been frustrated that you can’t get your team to add stuff to your app fast enough? With this, even the technologically challenged may be able to rejoice
Insert, an Israeli startup that provides marketers and product managers with an easy to implement solution for engaging with their app’s users, announced on Thursday the close of their Series A funding round, pulling in $10 million in new financing.
The round was led by Battery Ventures, with participation from the previous $5 million seed round investors Shlomo Kramer, Rakesh Loonkar, and Mickey Boodaei.
With offices in Yakum in Israel and New York City, Insert was co-founded by CEO Shahar Kaminitz and VP Development Yaron Goldberg in 2015. Before starting Insert, Kaminitz ran the mobile application building platform Worklight, which was sold to IBM in 2012 for a price tag that was reported to hover around $100 million.
Their platform provides clients with a new way to add features, notifications, messages, and other kinds of inserts to interact with their customers, helping to boost sales and improve the user experience. The system works on a series of rules and triggers that the client can set based on a profile that takes factors like their history with the client, how they have used the app in the past, and the actions that they are taking at the moment of use. This allows the client to give their customers a personalized experience that can be very effective for improving desired engagement.
While Insert’s backend learns about user behavior and the client can integrate their own information about their users, Kaminitz makes the point that Insert does not receive any of the personal details about the user. As they work with clients like banks, retail and travel, this is an important feature for privacy, letting them provide better service without compromising users’ private details.
If say a bank wants to promote certain financial products within the app, they can use various tools that insert offers such as videos, banners, and surveys targeted at the right customers and triggered at the right moment in the customer’s session.
“We provide an online tool through which the company designs the inserts and can tweak any aspect of the insert’s appearance,” Kaminitz explains on how they make the features appear seamless within the client’s app. “The look and feel of the inserts would be completely identical to the design of the app and you would not be able to distinguish. They provide the content and design.”
Perhaps one of the greatest draws for this product is the fact that it requires no coding on the backend.
“What we saw is that there was a lot of frustration among marketers and product managers regarding how long it takes them to make changes in the application and introduce new features,” Kaminitz tells Geektime, explaining why this can be a game changer for companies operating in the fast pace world of mobile.
Adding small features can mean having to make a request from the technical team, who themselves are bogged down dealing with everyday bugs and larger scale projects. He says that, “In big companies, this often takes months to make any change in the app and get it into the hands of customers.”
Focusing on mobile
Engaging with users on a mobile platform is very different from on the desktop format for a number of fairly obvious reasons.
“In a way, mobile apps are a big step backwards compared to web, and they resemble the dreadful desktop applications of the past because they are downloaded and installed,” says Kaminitz, adding that, “It makes it much harder to be dynamic and experimental with apps.”
“The user’s attention span is much shorter on mobile, sessions are shorter. If you want to grab someone’s attention, then you have to do it right away.”
This can make life much harder for companies trying to have meaningful interactions with their customers on mobile and can affect loyalty to the brand. “We see huge churn rates with mobile apps and a fierce competition on the home screen real estate,” Kaminitz tells Geektime, “So it requires the mobile app owners to employ completely different techniques for customer engagement compared to web. Worklight tried to solve the development aspects of this while Insert addresses the marketing parts.”
Following this round, Kaminitz says that their plan is to double their headcount in the next 12 months, from 30 to about 60, to better address the diverse needs of their clients. This means more hires in Israel and New York.
When asked what appeal he sees in working in the city, he explains that his former company Worklight was based in New York. “I think that it’s a combination of two things. Easily accessible from Israel in terms of time zone and flights, and there is a large enough talent pool in New York for tech companies. It worked very well for me at Worklight and I’m replicating that here as well.”
Helping Insert grow are their experienced investors like Battery Ventures and Shlomo Kramer.
Kaminitz speaks highly of Kramer, saying that, “I think that he has an amazing ability to understand technologies and markets, and how the two converge. I’ve been working with Shlomo for over ten years now, and I’m constantly getting a lot of advice from him. Ranging from the most strategic issues to the day-to-day operations, he has the rare combination of being both an active CEO and an experienced investor.”
For their part, Battery has grown their portfolio of serious companies significantly in recent years. Kaminitz points to how the investors there like solving big problems, working with platforms and deep technologies.
“I’ve known them for several years now and we were looking for an opportunity to work together.”