It’s been a good five years since the iPhone was launched. Today, Apple’s iconic phone and its iOS platform boasts of over 700,000 apps. But you know what Apple forgot to build into its ecosystem? An app to test drive its apps.
Consequently, users have had to rely on screen shots and, may we say, poor app descriptions to make decisions on whether or not to download an app.
From the perspective of the developers – as discovered by Kickfolio’s co-founders Chris Nolet and Edward Dowling, both experienced iPhone and other mobile app developers – it was “annoying and time-consuming” to test the iPhone apps, and it was hard to effectively market the apps on the web.
This April, Kickfolio decided to fill that glaring gap in the iOS ecosystem. It developed software that runs the apps on a web browser, offering users a hands-on experience before making their buying decisions. The Melbourne startup last month won validation, and recognition, from 500 Startups, the U.S.-based incubator.
“500 Startups gives us an incredible global boost in visibility. The strength of the network and mentors at 500 Startups cannot be ignored – it truly is humbling to be amongst some of the smartest people in tech at the moment,” Diesel Laws, one of the three founders, told Anthill in an interview.
Kickfolio was the only Australian startup that made the cut as the U.S. incubator picked 33 companies for its accelerator program. Each startup will receive $250,000 in funding besides mentoring from high-profile entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. Over the past two years, 500 Startups has backed 300 Internet startups.
Kickfolio’s founders had a rather dramatic acceptance into the incubator’s program. When Laws and his co-founders went to the U.S. for a program with Angel Cube, squeezed out some time with 500 Startups founder Dave McClure. While they found no assurance, McClure “recommended we get in touch with his network and if Kickfolio comes back to him through someone else in his network, he’d be interested.”
Laws believes Kickfolio got in because of “the multiple points of contact (meeting Dave in person, recommendations in his network and our application)” they made with 500 Startups. Kickfolio applied through AngelList, a platform for startups, as 500 Startups began to accept online applications for the first time. On the day, Kickfolio got picked by 500 Startups, it also found an additional $50,000 in funding from PALGenesis, on top of the $50,000 secured from 500 Startups.
The 500 Startups program brings a new dimension to Kickfolio’s prospects. Laws believes the American approach focuses on “traction and user growth,” rather than revenue and profit, as favoured by more conservative Australian investors.
“One of the major challenges is the difference in mindset from Australian startups to American,” said Laws. Kickfolio needs to leverage its “platform to allow for faster traction and cast a wider net to reach a larger base of people.”