Custom Made Easy
DM: So Marci, tell us about EachScape please.
MW: Sure. EachScape is a platform for building mob apps. It’s a simple, drag-and-drop environment, that enables the user to bring in components, or ‘blocks’ as we call them, with various functionality, to create customised, high-end apps for smartphones, Tablets and other smart devices like TVs We also generate native code for Android and iPhone apps, and for HTLM5 web apps. We have been around for three years, mostly self-funded, but at the end of last year, we raised some money to accelerate our growth.
Usually, the decision is between a custom-developed or template approach. If you don’t go down the custom-developed route, there’s a broad range of platforms, ranging from highly template to highly customisable, but the more customisable platforms tend to require more technical expertise. Our system allows for lots of customisation, but you don’t need developer skills to use it.
DM: So who are your customers?
MW: We work with a lot of entertainment brands like NBC, CBS, and some of the E! brands like The Soup and Fashion Police. We also work with a lot of CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) companies. For this year’s New Year’s Eve festivities, for example, we create an app with an Augmented Reality (AR) component for Nivea, that enabled users to plant a digital kiss and then using the app, you could see where the kisses had been planted. To create that part of the app, the AR block, we partnered with an AR provider, so now we have that block, we can use it in any other app. We are also looking to build an open ecosystem, where developers can contribute their own blocks.
The one thing I would say is that we are not set up as a platform for creating games. Media and entertainment have traditionally been our primary strengths, but the platform is applicable to many verticals and we are looking to diversify. The focus on media really stems from the fact that founder of the company came from a media background, so we ended upo working with a lot of media companies, because as you probably appreciate, once you work with a couple, you end up working with more and more of them.
DM: So if you so much are more customisable than most template-based platforms, but at the same time, easier to use than the platforms that usually allow greater levels of sophistication, I’m looking for the catch. Presumably your platform must cost more?
MW: We are definitely pricier than the typical, template-style system geared to the small- and medium-sized market, though that said, we are working on a Lite version. Our customers are in the mid to upper tier, but we are still a lot less expensive than going to a custom developer. The base cost of entry on our platform is around $25,000, but it depends what you are trying to do.
Also, it’s not only about building the apps; we have a robust back end to manage the apps, so you can easily bring out new versions, roll it out to new devices etc. It also includes cloud hosting, push notifications, analytics, and integration with ad-serving platforms. This is an important point actually, something that a lot of clients overlook, the amount of maintenance required for an app. Also, while we build the apps for many clients, for many more, they take the build in-house. They buy a licence, which includes a given number of apps, and then do their own development in-house.
DM: And just how customisable are apps developed on your platform?
MW: They are just as customisable as a bespoke solution. If someone wants to do something we don’t currently support, we can add that in to the platform. Before we built the AR app for Nivea, for example, we didn’t support AR. So we might not have everything today, but because we are open, we can easily add functionality.
DM: So looking beyond your own platform, what trends do you see in the marketplace right now?
MW: It’s clear to use that brands are really starting to see the power of mobile very clearly now. A year or two ago, it was a case of: “Let’s try this” almost as an afterthought, but now, people know they need to be there. They are expanding what they do on mobile, and making sure it complements their other activities, such as TV and online. And especially when it’s well executed, people are seeing the power of mobile as an ongoing engagement and CRM function. We had one client, a Consumer Packaged Goods firm, who wanted a consumer app to help people find their products. Since then, we have also done two internal apps, one to manage sales, the other to manage inventory, because they saw how much usage there was in the pilot program.
How companies are using mobile varies depending on the sector they are in, but we are seeing people getting more creative, and we are seeing people viewing mobile as a long-term investment, and using it to meet campaign-specific goals, in equal numbers. The important thing is that we are seeing the uptake of mobile increase rapidly.
Marci Weisler is COO of EachScape