Follow up on the news about Movile, its market and latest releases.
The Brazilian-based mobile application and services developer Movile is continuing its push to dominate the Latin American market with the expansion of its on demand delivery and distribution service, Rappido into the Mexican market.Read more
When searching for the next big startup, the time has come to look beyond Silicon Valley!Read more
The mobile market opportunity is massive: more than 100 million people in Brazil are already online today, and there are nearly another 100 million more to go.Read more
A recent report noted that 39 percent of all mobile users in the U.S. had made a mobile payment in 2015. This is up from 14 percent in 2014 and by my estimations will in the 70 percent range by 2017.Read more
Apple just announced an App Store for its new Apple TV 4, and launch partners include tons of games, plus shopping apps, fitness apps, content readers, and video viewers.Read more
Apple just announced an App Store for its new Apple TV 4, and launch partners include tons of games, plus shopping apps, fitness apps, content readers, and video viewers. Apple Music will also be available through Apple TV, along with movies and TV shows like you’d expect. Here’s a list of some of the apps mentioned on stage:
Galaxy On Fire – 3D space combat
Rayman Adventures – Platformer game
Disney Infinity (Star Wars) – Starfighter game
Guitar Hero – Music game
Beat Sports – Musical Wii Sports-like motion games
Shadowmatic – Puzzle game
PlayKids – Children’s games
Zova – Fitness app that connects to Apple Watch
Madefire – Comic book reader
Airbnb – Vacation booking app
Gilt – Luxury shopping app
Zillow – Home buying app
Hipster Whale’s Crossy Bird – Old-school Frogger-style game
Major League Baseball At Bat – Sports viewer
The Apple TV App Store will let users download experiences like games and video content apps to the set-top box and play them on their television. There will be developer tools available to help app makers build these experiences. Developers will be able to release Universal Apps that run on iPhone, iPad and Apple TV. And If users are playing a game on their iPad, they can switch it up onto their Apple TV when they get home.
This is just the first wave of the new Apple TV. As the developer tools propagate, we’ll surely see more innovative uses of the big screen.Close
China represents a massive, un-ignorable opportunity for app makers across the world and has reigned as the world’s top mobile market for two years. It topped 500 million smartphone users in 2014, far surpassing the U.S.’s 163.9 million, and accounted for over 15 percnt (or $7 billion) of global mobile Internet ad spend in 2014, representing an astonishing 600 percent growth.Read more
China represents a massive, un-ignorable opportunity for app makers across the world and has reigned as the world’s top mobile market for two years. It topped 500 million smartphone users in 2014, far surpassing the U.S.’s 163.9 million, and accounted for over 15 percnt (or $7 billion) of global mobile Internet ad spend in 2014, representing an astonishing 600 percent growth.
Despite its promise as a goldmine for mobile apps, the Chinese market has been held back by a number of factors, including regulatory barriers, device fragmentation, fraud, and low-spending customers. While many of those issues have improved significantly in the past couple years, challenges remain. As with any market, cracking the code to the top of the app charts is not easy. It requires a thoughtful approach to the unique dynamics of the market.
App makers must first understand Chinese culture, as well as its dominant billing platforms, business models, and pricing strategies. In terms of the latter two, be prepared to compete in a market that is driven by sheer user numbers. Competitors could be well funded and willing to invest tens of thousands of USD a day to incentivize downloads in order to rise to the top of the charts and grab eyeballs.
It is also hard to compete with “free.” When your competitors are not pressured to monetize, you might have to think twice about your tradeoff between monetization and monthly active users.
The Android market in China is huge. According to Chinese web giant Baidu, Android has 79 percent market share. However, it is also extremely fragmented. There are more than 100 Android application stores and making your app visible is extremely difficult. With around 18 percent market share in China, the iOS market is extremely interesting, less crowded and as you may have seen on Tim Cook’s latest Apple announcement, is a growing point of interest for the company.
Instead of launching on both platforms, prioritize one that fits better with your business goals and focus on it. In my experience users on iOS tend to spend more than Android users. If your business model requires paying users – meaning it is premium or subscription-based – it is better to focus on this platform over Android.
A great way to get up to speed fast is by hiring local talent. Many companies choose a firm like iDreamSky that does all the work to bring them to China. Another option is to hire a local partner with a great understanding of the market and empower them to make decisions.
Local partners not only bring expertise, but also help overcome language barriers. Most meetings will happen in Chinese, and so it is almost impossible to run the business without local help. Evernote has gone a step further and even has a whole Chinese product team tweaking their app for the market.
In addition, make sure you don’t tackle the Chinese market without good UX and content that will inspire your audience. For example, Chinese parents are more education focused and more concerned with nearsightedness than parents in the U.S. or LatAm markets.
Addressing this concern, PlayKids launched audio books for kids that introduce English language content to children without requiring more screen time and we hired a Chinese native to lead the project. Our country manager proved vital in supporting us to understand the local culture, differences and opportunities.
After deciding on the platform you’ll focus on, think about how to advertise. There is no Facebook or Google in China, so you have to be creative when trying to get app installs. Investigate other platforms like search engines and chat apps. And while Apple operates a global model working with developers, the Android ecosystem varies considerably from country to country.
Google Play is restricted in China, which means reaching those 400 million Android users necessitates dealing with 20+ large and small Android App Stores to distribute your app. You need to rise to the top of the charts in order to get organic growth, but this requires ongoing investment with ad networks. Invest in Chinese ad networks such as Tencent DSP, Baidu DSP, where developers can market and monitor their installs.
Marketing should also entail establishing a presence on Chinese social networks and messaging apps, including QQ, WeChat and Weibo, as well as on major Chinese Youtube sites which still have 800 million monthly active users in China. A presence on these sites and apps will help engage your audience and reinforce word-of-mouth.
Equally important as solid research and strategy before launching is what you do once you’ve launched and found traction. If you experience success in China, you will quickly find knockoff competitors building on what you did right, and more importantly, what you’ve done wrong or neglected. To have a fighting chance, you need to stay ahead of them by frequently updating.
Take Uber, for example. While the dominant player in the U.S., Uber has struggled to gain a solid foothold in China where Alibaba-backed Kuaidi Dache and Tencent-backed Didi Dache recently announced a merger that has led to them controlling 99.8% of the on-demand ride market.
This fierce competition means it is critically important to listen to local users. Uber’s competitors were able to gain so much ground so fast because they launched features that made their apps better for the local market, such as the ability to book a driver and evaluate the quality of the car, the smell, the driver, etc.
Speed is also critical. Chinese competitors have abundant, affordable talent and move extremely fast. This means that spending too much time planning or getting caught in year long business cycles is a mistake. Foreign publishers will have to plan early and execute swiftly. Take risks, fail fast, fix it, and start again.
Furthermore, once you have found traction in the market it is taking extra steps to integrate into the country, like creating a legal entity in China. This is because companies can only use Chinese servers if they have a legal entity or partner in China. When first launching, it is best to use your existing infrastructure rather than setting up a legal entity. Because it takes time for data to travel, it’s important to find creative solutions to keep things moving fast.
Similarly, if you’ve found traction it’s a very smart idea to create a Chinese-language name for you app to enable easier searching. Evernote again is an excellent example of how to do things; it now hosts its servers locally in China and has a Chinese version of its flagship app called “Yinxiangbiji” (印象笔记).
This is a good start but what strategies and tactics do you think should be used when entering China?Close
You might think that YouTube has the kid video demographic locked down, particularly since it launched a dedicated video app for kids, but a company out of Brazil is aiming to challenge that asumption. And it’s putting another $15 million where it’s mouth is, too.Read more
You might think that YouTube has the kid video demographic locked down, particularly since it launched a dedicated video app for kids, but a company out of Brazil is aiming to challenge that asumption. And it’s putting another $15 million where it’s mouth is, too.
That company is Movile, a mobile app development firm responsible for a range of different services including Playkids, its video-meets-education app for young kids. Playkids, which was first launched two years ago, is getting the cash boost to develop new business ideas and features over the next nine to 12 months. (The money itself comes courtesy of Movile’s recent $40 million raise from Naspers.)
The $15 million matches the total of previous investments made by Sao Paulo-headquartered Movile, which acts as incubator to a range of different projects. The organization put $5 million into Playkids in March 2014, before adding a further $10 million later that August.
Movile — which operates a range of Latam-based services include iFood (food delivery), Superplayer (music streaming), and Rapiddo (a Fandago rival) — is putting serious focus on Playkids after the service made a breakthrough in numerous international markets over the past year. Playkids is global, but its premium content is available on iOS and Android in 27 countries worldwide. Movile said the service has clocked over one billion episodes played (in six languages) and it has been particularly successful in China and the U.S., where it has been the top ranked kids app (per App Annie data). It is also the overall top grossing children’s app in the world.
Initially billed as a video/TV app for kids, it has evolved beyond that to cover a range of different entertainment formats, including books, puzzles, games and audio. That varied array of content is how the service makes its money, basic features are available for free, with other — premium content — requiring users to pay for subscription-based access.
It isn’t just content for kids where Movile has develop Playkids, it has also branched out to offer new features designed for parents. That includes more obvious things like watch time limits and selecting specific videos, and interesting features such as messaging and a parental dashboard. The dashboard, as you’d think, gives parents an overview of their kids’ activities, while the messaging feature — called Rocket — lets them send short messages such as ‘brush your teeth’ or ‘tidy your room’ reminders via the service. Kids can respond with videos.
Rocket Messaging is initially available for the Apple Watch app only, but Eduardo Henrique — head of global expansion at PlayKids — told TechCrunch in an interview that the company will expand the feature into accompanying apps for regular iOS devices.
“We want to be a hub of educational entertainment,” Henrique said. “The idea of a passive experience where kids just watch videos is not exploring the technology can we can offer today. Kids can interact with the screen, play educational content, read music, and more.”
“This is first version of many things that we can create to bring parents to the platform. Our intention is to invest more in information for parents and tools for parents and kids,” the Brazilian added.
I test it with my two kids — aged four and six — and, to my surprise, Playkids was as popular as the (few) games which I let them play. The content is designed up kids up to the age of about four or five, and that showed as my youngest was most engaged while the elder found it all a little too easy.
Playkids expanded into China and most recently Japan in recent months. Henrique explained that these launches were its last for this year, and that now the team is focused on developing the technology and services to push the service on in its existing markets.
“Our challenge is to become largest platform for kids in the world,” he said. That goal could see Playkids become an independent business in its own right.
“We treat Playkids like a small company inside Movile — it has its own team but is also supported by Movile,” he added. “But we are thinking about spinning it out — maybe it will happen one day.”Close
Latin American mobile commerce powerhouse Movile and Just Eat, the global online take-out service, have announced a $50M investment in Brazil’s leading food delivery service, iFood. The raise brings iFood’s total funding to $62M.Read more
Latin American mobile commerce powerhouse Movile and Just Eat, the global online take-out service, have announced a $50M investment in Brazil’s leading food delivery service, iFood. The raise brings iFood’s total funding to $62M.
Movile and Just Eat are responsible for investing in all but iFood’s original $1.6mm Series A. Movile invested $4.6 million in the company’s B and C rounds, and last year Just Eat funded a $5.7M Series D and merged its Brazil operations with iFood. Movile CEO Fabricio Bloisi and CFO Arthur O’Keefe sit on the board with Jerome Gavin from Just Eat and Dan Faccio from Naspers, which owns a majority stake in Movile.
Movile, which has a 60% controlling stake of iFood, bills itself as the largest mobile commerce platform in Latin America by a number of indices: Gross Merchandise Value through mobile, net revenues, profits and market share. They’ve seen 80% growth year over year since 2008. Their portfolio of B2B and B2C companies includes some they have invested in, like iFood, Apontador, the “Brazilian Yelp,” and MapLink, the “Brazilian Waze”; or baked from scratch, like Playkids, the number one grossing app worldwide for kids. The company has six co-founders, and Fabricio Bloisi serves as CEO.
British food delivery giant Just Eat is a global player in online takeout ordering, and owns a 30% stake in iFood. Jesper Buch founded Just Eat in Denmark in 2001, and boostrapped its way to a Series A by Index Ventures in 2009. Greylock and Redpoint Ventures invested in 2011, and the company went public in 2014.
“At the time of the IPO,” a spokesperson for Just Eat says, “we estimated the Brazilian online takeaway food market to be worth at least £1bn annually [$1.5 billion] and potentially multiples of this, making Brazil the most attractive market in our industry in Latin America. While we had built a great position in Brazil over the years as the second biggest player, RestauranteWeb, the network effects that come from being a clear leader are significantly better. The merger with iFood to form our Joint Venture was a pragmatic move.”
“We made all sorts of errors in the beginning, but by the start of 2013 we had a good team in place, we were gaining some market penetration, and were very strong on mobile, which we believed in strongly.”
— Felipe Fioravante
iFood’s genesis pre-dates both of its investors. An engineer named Patrick Sigrist started a food delivery company called Disk Cook in 1997. iFood’s current CEO Felipe Fioravante quit a consulting job in 2009 to join the company with some of his friends. “If we met certain metrics, we’d get some equity in the company,” Fioravante explains on a call from São Paulo. “It was a really informal agreement.”
The idea of creating a modernized take on Disk Cook, a search directory for take-out in your neighborhood, was put on the back burner until 2011. “We realized we were already behind the market, there were already competitors, and we were losing the market that should be hours,” Fioravante says. iFood launched that same year as a spin-out from Disk Cook, and by 2012 they raised a $1.6M Series A from São Paulo-based Warehouse Investimentos, which lasted till 2013.
“We made all sorts of errors in the beginning, but by the start of 2013 we had a good team in place, we were gaining some market penetration, and were very strong on mobile, which we believed in strongly,” Fioravante says. Then Movile invested the Series B, and iFood’s growth curve took a dramatic turn upwards. “When Movile entered the deal we were doing 30,00 orders per month, and we ended the year with 110,000 per month.” Then, last year, iFood bought out Disk Cook.
“In these last three years we’ve seen amazing growth,” says Fioravante. “iFood is now #1 in Latin America, with more than 80% market share in Brazil, and amazing performance on mobile.”
That puts them in an envious leading position between two massively quickly growing industries: mobile and ecommerce. Brazil is the world’s fifth largest mobile market, with 283mm mobile phone lines, or 1.39 per person, and is growing faster than anywhere else in the world, according to data from IDC Worldwide. Brazil also has the the fifth largest smartphone market in the world. And Brazilians are significantly more tethered to their devices than their American counterparts.
Meanwhile, e-commerce is growing faster in Latin America than anywhere in the world, besides China, and Brazil is leading the charge with 21% year over year growth. Add the fact that 20% of all e-commerce purchases in Brazil originate on mobile and you’ve got a hot market opportunity.
Riding the amplitude of these massive waves, iFood says 75% of their orders, and nine out of ten new users, are coming from mobile. “I think it’s one of the highest rates in the world, at least of the food delivery companies we’ve heard about,” says Fioravante. (By comparison, GrubHub says that over half their orders come from mobile; Eat24 is just under 50%.) “People know us as an app they can use to order food,” says Fioravante, “and that makes the entire difference. Especially in Brazil, most people are buying cell phones before having computers, if they have one at all. Web is important, but the future is mobile.”
With the launch of the world’s most expensive iPhone in Brazil a few years ago, smartphones started off as a status symbol, accessible only to the nation’s wealthiest segment, or “A” class. But with Android phones entering the market at significantly cheaper prices, access is spreading. “There are over 60 million smartphones in Brazil,” reasons Fioravante. “It’s a lot bigger already than our “A” and “B” [upper] classes combined. We’re limited today by smartphones and who has them, but our vision is to make this app for everyone.”
While Brazil has traffic and transportation infrastructure hurdles that make timely delivery a logistical challenge, Brazil also has a strong culture of same-day delivery already in place. In Rio, I’ve had everything from prescription drugs to a 50-kilo bag of dog food delivered for free or nearly free by delivery men on street bikes. Similarly, iFood relies on a fleet of 900 moto-bike drivers through a partnership with Movile’s app, Rapiddo, to deliver their orders. “I was in the US this month and saw that the culture of delivery isn’t as big as here in Brazil,” says Fioravante.
iFood closed 2014 with over 500,000 delivery requests per month, capturing 80% of the online restaurant delivery market. With 10-12% growth month over month, they expect to hit one million deliveries per month by the end of the year.
“If iFood were local to the US would be second only to GrubHub,” adds Movile’s Bloisi. “Across the world, we would be second only to Just Eat in the UK, Delivery Hero in Germany and Turkey, and local players in South Korea and Japan. At the same time, we are growing two to six times faster than them — they grew at 50-100% in 2014, and we grew 350%.”
But it’s a digital drop in a very big analog market. Fioravante estimates iFood is capturing less than 4% of the potential volume, and food delivery doesn’t even rank on the list of Brazil’s top 10 ecommerce categories. “Most people don’t know they can order online. But we’re confident Brazil is one of the biggest markets in terms of growth.”
Moreover, $50 million is a drop in the bucket compared to the estimated $1.28 billion that has been invested this year in delivery companies worldwide, according to data from CrunchBase. Fioravante says the capital infusion will go towards closing the online ordering gap and communicating the service better with marketing investment; growing quickly in cities they don’t have a presence; and building out the team and technology.Close
The on-demand delivery market has now raised more money in the first four months of 2015 than it did in all of 2014, and the latest beneficiary is the Brazilian mobile application and content developer Movile.Read more
The company has received a $40 million commitment from the South African technology investor and media company, Naspers (whose other investments include global technology giants like China’s Tencent, India’s Flipkart, Russia’s Mail.ru, and Latin America’s OLX).
Movile’s latest $40 million financing, which brings the company’s total commitments to nearly $100 million, is just about keeping pace with its competitors globally. A ridiculous amount of money has been invested into delivery companies of all stripes this year, with totals reaching $1.28 billion so far this year, according to data from CrunchBase.
Technology companies like Rocket Internet (Germany’s “startup factory”) have made some of the biggest bets, but venture capital firms have also been taking big swings on the delivery space. Investments in companies like Instacart, which raised $210 million at the end of last year, and Postmates, which just raised $35 million in financing, show that investors think this is an industry that can deliver returns.
“We believe this is a billion dollar opportunity,” says Fabricio Bloisi, Movile’s chief executive. “Everyone will start to use the mobile phone to supply what they want within 30 minutes to an hour.”
In addition to all of the venture money pouring in, Bloisi points to the delivery services launched by the largest technology companies like Alibaba, Amazon, and Google.
Over the past several years, Movile, which still operates a successful content distribution business (mainly educational and entertainment apps and content for children), has made ten acquisitions to bolt on delivery services. Bloisi and his investors see the trend of online-to-offline commerce as the future of the business.
“Movile is focused on local commerce and content,” he says. “We raised this round from Naspers and we expect to double our investments in [online-to-offline services].”
Currently Movile offers food and ticket delivery services, through its iFood and Cinepapaya subsidiaries, as well as delivery logistics and online reviews through a suite of acquisitions made over the last two years. And in some ways, its expansion mirrors that of its German rival, Rocket Internet.
“We want to expand from cinema to other verticals and we want to go to Latin America,” says Bloisi. “The big thing for us is we see the synergy of local commerce. once we sell the user food we can also sell tickets or they can also buy grocery delivery. We have 65% of sales on food through mobile.
And, while the focus now is on consolidating in Brazil and moving into the rest of Latin America, Movile definitely sees their strategy in global terms.
“Probably you saw we have a food war running in the world,” says Bloisi. “There are other players including German players who are trying to beat us in the world.”
While these big competitors indubitably create obstacles in certain markets, it’s a big world, and Movile’s investors think there are still pockets of opportunity.
It is a global opportunity and we look very carefully at where we go. When we look at these opportunities we look to see what is worth buying and what is worth growing internally,” says Veronica Serra, a partner with Innova Capital. “In general you look at size and scale and what’s least penetrated in the market. It’s a touchy subject where we’re looking because we don’t want to call attention to where we looked at because of competition.Close
China’s mobile market is notoriously difficult to penetrate. Case in point: right now, nine of the country’s top ten highest-grossing iPhone apps come from Chinese developers. But in February, an app from Brazilian developer Movile called PlayKids managed to crack the top 5 grossing list in the “kids” category. How did a foreign entertainment and education app start raking in downloads and cash in the Middle Kingdom? I spoke with PlayKids head of global expansion Eduardo Henrique to find out.Read more
First and foremost is licensing local content. Henrique called this “the most important adaptation.” “All content that you see on PlayKids is different country by country,” he said, “because we bring in local content to adapt the platform for the local market.” That might seem obvious, but which content will appeal to Chinese kids isn’t always clear, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of offering only foreign content and marketing the app as one of the billion other “English learning” educational apps out there.
To find the right content, PlayKids did its research and came across Chinese content provider Beva. Beva was perfect for PlayKids, Henrique says. “Their content is very focused on kids under five, [which] is our target,” he told me, “and they’re a huge success in China.” Beva’s 20-billion-plus views across China’s streaming platforms convinced PlayKids that they were the right content provider to partner with, so the company licensed a lot of Beva’s content. The result, as PlayKids’s app rankings bear out, have been very well received.
Wholesale translation into the local language is another important step, according to Henrique, and that doesn’t necessarily mean going word-for-word. All of the app’s spoken audio was re-recorded in Chinese; no corners were cut. But PlayKids also came up with a Chinese-language description and screenshots for the Chinese app store, and these marketing materials aren’t just translations of the English app store content. “The [Chinese] description is totally different,” Henrique said, because it places more emphasis on the importance of educational entertainment and the educational activities in the app. That’s hugely important, he said, because the app description and screenshots on the app store are usually the first thing your users see. PlayKids hired local experts and did focus groups to figure out what sort of marketing appealed most to Chinese parents.
PlayKids has also partnered with local ad networks including Tencent’s and Baidu’s, and Henrique said the app is also moving into Chinese social media. “In the West we use Facebook a lot, but we don’t have Facebook in China so we have to adapt the marketing to the local players.” That’s why PlayKids is setting up a WeChat account that will begin operation sometime this month.
Another key to success: adapt to the local culture! PlayKids is a Netflix-like app that allows kids to watch episodes of various education kids shows, Henrique told me. But because young children can’t read, the app is navigated visually with a cute train: each boxcar attached to the train can be tapped to open up a show or educational game. But in honor of Chinese new year, PlayKids gave the app an (optional) visual overhaul for Chinese new year, complete with traditional colors, lions, dragons, lanterns, and fireworks. That may seem like a simple thing, but for children—who are often drawn to and comforted by the familiar—it’s a big deal.
I asked Henrique what he would recommend other app developers interested in China do if they want to enter the market. “My advice first is to understand the local differences,” he said. “So hire a Chinese country manager that will help you to plan how to localize the product. That’s mandatory.”
“The other advice is that you have to move fast,” Henrique continued. “In China, competitors are extremely agile […] You have to adapt fast and innovate fast because your competitors will copy you, and if they are more adapted to the local market you will lose the competition. So launch, iterate fast, launch new versions, listen to your users, and innovate fast.”Close