Gil Dudkiewicz is the chief executive officer of StartApp, a monetization and distribution platform for mobile apps. Gil holds an MBA from UC Berkeley and a B.Sc. in engineering from Technion. In the past he founded several successful companies and helped build up SweetIM, which achieved more than 100 million downloads and ended up being acquired for $41 million. In this interview Gil talks about the mobile ad space and gives us very interesting insights into open gaps in the industry.
Sramana Mitra: Gil, tell us a bit about yourself and StartApp. The audience hasn’t met you before, so it would be great if you introduced yourself and the company.
Gil Dudkiewicz: I am Israeli born. I moved to the U.S. about 15 years ago, did my MBA in Berkeley, started my first startup over there and then moved back to Israel. I moved to New York about eight months ago for my new startup. It is the third company I am running in the startup world. I have been in this world for about 15 years or more. I am still excited and still love what I am doing.
StartApp is a company that started about two and a half years ago, with the notion of enabling app developers in the mobile industry to make money out of their applications and also helping them distribute those apps in the marketplace. The company launched its first platform about half a year ago and was booming very nicely, mainly because of the need in the marketplace. In the last year and a half we reached over 25,000 applications. Since we went live with our product, we have reached over 700 million downloads as of today.
SM: I would like to hear some use cases about the types of applications you are using your product, how they are using it, and how they are monetizing on your platform.
GD: There are a few different use cases. If you look at app developers in the mobile world, there are few of them that make money out of lots of repetitions, like Angry Birds and others. But the vast majority of them, because of the high population of mobile applications, get a lot of different downloads. But on the other hand, they are not able to make money, because the typical advertisement doesn’t work well on mobile. I wish I could say that we have a typical app developer or a typical application. With 25,000 different applications, there is nothing that is really typical. Basically almost every application or app developer is typical for us. The way that makes us unique and successful is not only that we pay more than any other ad network, but we actually commit to what we pay. We do not say, “You get x percent of the revenue share.” We guarantee them a bounty per download. People know exactly what they are going to get for each download on the market.
SM: How do you make that assessment before making such a commitment?
GD: We have a very sophisticated BI system. We have been in the space of download applications for many years, and we make our own assessment of what the amount should be. We basically commit to a certain amount with the assessment we make beforehand. Later on we have the ability to change it if we see that the numbers are totally different than what we had predicted. We almost pay the same amount of money per download to every app developer. There are small variations. But generally speaking, we believe in simplicity. In some cases we make more, in some we make less, but we believe in simplicity and we try to pay all of them the same amount of money.