This week I profiled my friend/entrepreneur Brendan Lyall, Co-Founder and CEO of GrowMobile, a San Francisco-based startup focused on mobile application advertising technology. GrowMobile essentially helps advertisers run ads across the mobile ecosystem and helps them track the efficiency and performance of their marketing expense. The company was founded in 2012 and has an international client base with 15 employees and counting.
To provide some industry context, the mobile ad distribution space is fairly developed, competitive, and highly fragmented. GrowMobile is disrupting this existing space by solving a problem that larger scale advertisers face. Medium to large advertisers have historically faced a challenge in that they cannot obtain adequate scale/volume through a single mobile ad distributor, which creates inefficiency and excess cost for larger scale users. GrowMobile was created to serve these higher scale users as a single point of contact that channels advertisers’ marketing dollars to multiple mobile ad distributors (an value-add intermediary of sorts). The value proposition for advertisers is twofold as GrowMobile 1) creates efficiency and reduces cost for the client, and 2) tracks marketing performance metrics such as ROI, yield, and success rate to help clients understand the extent their marketing is working. The latter is a major component of GrowMobile’s value proposition and success.
The company’s hypothesis was effectively that the industry needed a mediator between advertisers and mobile ad distributors, and could 1) could provide better performance, efficiency, and analytics for their advertiser clients, and 2) could obtain leverage in this space over time as their scale increases (advertisers currently carry all leverage over mobile ad providers). GrowMobile’s hypothesis has been validated as it continues to acquire new customers who find the firm’s product and value proposition attractive.
GrowMobile has 3 primary competitors that occupy a similar niche as intermediaries between advertisers and ad distributors. GrowMobile is positioned as a youthful, efficient, and more technology-oriented and data-driven alternative than its competitors, which perform a similar service but generally rely more on human interaction and less scientific methods of performance tracking. The company’s distribution channel consists primarily of a sales team that makes direct outreach to target companies. The value proposition is generally apparent to advertisers, so the primary hurdle for GrowMobile’s sales team is actually getting in front of clients to schedule a demo and prove out the cost efficiencies that can be gained. Like many startups, GrowMobile’s marketing expense gets considerable scrutiny. The company employs a variety of marketing tactics but appears to constantly be refining the best way to reach customers as it continues to mature. Historically most outreach has been done directly through industry contacts and referrals from existing clients, however other methods include conference/event sponsorship, press releases centered around case studies, and using social media.