User uptake is one of the biggest challenges a digital-based business will face. With increasing competition in the market, Kite has led the way and is now installed on more than 50m devices across 57 countries in only a year since its launch.
(1) Please tell me a little about you and your business
Kite is a platform that integrates with photography-focused apps and websites, enabling them to introduce new revenue streams by providing the functionality to turn customers’ smartphone images onto physical prints and products.
To do this, we partner with existing app companies to embed our SDK, enabling users there to easily create, order and print digital photos onto a huge variety of products. We then source the best print suppliers to provide customers with unique, personalised products on demand.
As well the B2B offering, we have our own suite of consumer-facing apps; Huggleup, Posterup and ZenCam – all of which help users to bring their digital photos to life by offering various printing options.
I personally launched my first boot strapped startup out of university – which massively failed – but I learned many lessons from that phase of my life. Going from there, I stepped into a digital agency life where I landed myself a career in mobile delivery. There I got to work with some awesome brands including ESPN, McDonalds, Lloyds Bank and Tesco.
However, I always knew I wanted to build my own products that people love, so I got together with my co-founders, and friends, and started Kite.
(2) How is it different from anything that has come before?
Kite’s bespoke offering puts us into a category of our own. We are a mobile-first company and experts in what I like to call “integrated ecommerce”, which means we specialise in turning app users into paying customers.
Our technology nurtures users through the sales funnel, using data collected from live in app experiments to present the most optimised journey. This leads to higher conversion rates and ultimately more revenue. On top of that, we provide all the marketing and CRM tools a business needs to help engage users and bring them back to the app. In short, we are a full ecommerce print on demand solution.
We handle customer service in eight different languages through our print partners then provide a print-on-demand service – with no minimum orders – and take care of all aspects of the transaction including order, payment and worldwide shipping. We offer more than 150 different styles of printed products. This includes prints (including posters and albums), objects and gifts (such as phone cases and cushions) and apparel (including t-shirts and hoodies).
(3) What do you think are the unique aspects of building an app-based company?
The mobile industry is fast paced. Software operating systems evolve at an astonishing rate which means if you want to be a leader in this sector you need smart, and have agile engineers and product teams who have a keen eye on what’s new to keep you on top of your game.
User experience is another thing you have to think about – it’s paramount. Your app has to feel natural and navigation has to be straight-forward and quick. I’d also recommend adopting a native user interface if possible. This isn’t a golden ticket to success though, so use your common sense. Keeping it simple should be your focus.
You have to be clear on who your service is targeted at then choose an appropriate device and OS support matrix. This will help focus your development efforts and remove any issues within this minefield.
Last of all you always have to test, test, test! Apple’s approval period for apps varies from five to ten days, so the last thing you want is a silly bug sneaking in that ruins your key metrics whilst you scramble to get in a fix.
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(4) What are the main obstacles you’ve had to overcome?
We have two main challenges that work hand-in-hand with each other. Firstly, there’s the integration process. Integrating Kite into an app is super simple, a developer can have it up and running in 15 minutes but getting companies to take the first step is the hardest thing.
Secondly, integration is not enough – educating and supporting apps and companies around our integrated ecommerce solution and how we can help them effectively turn users into customers, is what sets us out from our competitors.
(5) What do you think makes a successful app that millions of people want to download?
There are so many things that go into making a successful app that it’s so hard to narrow down into a couple of paragraphs. What I know you need though is an incredible work ethic – you’ve got to be willing to work morning, noon and night to make your app a success and be willing to make sacrifices you may not necessarily want to.
If you believe your app is great but you are not seeing the results you wanted, my biggest piece of advice would be to experiment. The tiniest of things, even that thing that may seem completely insignificant, could move the needle from failure to success. Be sure to A/B test, validate your assumptions and throw in a random experiment every now and again. You will definitely get shock results – I know we did.
We make decisions based on data. We initially make a call, but we validate the business decision and pivot quickly if our gut decisions are wrong. I love my team and believe in a good family culture (inside and outside of work), however business is always conducted directly, transparently. If everyone know’s what they are doing and how to pull together when needed, the outcome will always be success.
Visit page two for insight on marketing to different countries, raising investment and how smartphones could be bettered.
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