Yesterday at the Launch conference, which I did not attend, Steve Espinosa launched AppStack. It won a prize for “best business model.” It’s an SMB (DIY) mobile site and app builder that requires only a phone number to create the mobile site/app.
It’s template driven and the sites/apps look good from what I’ve seen. They have a number of features, including the ability to publish deals and push notifications.
AppStack is the first in what may be a new wave of mobile site and app builders targeting the SMB market. To date Duda Mobile has been the leader in the SMB/DIY segment, and MoFuse has gone after enterprise SMB channel partners to resell its services. But there are a dozen others that offer mobile sites and apps for local businesses — and the market is about to get more crowded.
The two major differentiators for AppStack are 1) the fact that the site can be created with just a phone number and 2) a tie-in with AdWords. Just as it can automate site creation, AppStack automates AdWords campaign creation.
The company has “A-list” investors including Dave McClure, Google Ventures and Tomorrow Ventures. Andrew Shotland is also an investor. (Shotland is on the B+ list [kidding].)
The challenges for AppStack are familiar and two-fold: the perennial challenge of reaching SMBs (notwithstanding its simplicity) and the issue of AdWords campaign management. Ordinary SMBs have limited ability to successfully manage AdWords campaigns and compete for much more limited mobile “inventory” (placements in SERPs). Mobile AdWords campaign management requires additional skill above and beyond typical AdWords campaigns.
In order to appear for any given mobile query, AdWords advertisers essentially need to win one of the top two spots:
AppStack will thus need to pursue a dual DIY-reseller strategy. But its simplicity as an entry level mobile site/app product gives it a leg up. AppStack will undoubtedly soon join the ranks of the other SMB-centric mobile site developers listed on the Google “HowToGoMo” site, including Google’s own “site builder.”
While it’s tough to see AppStack as a long-term stand-alone business it’s easy to imagine AppStack being acquired in the near or medium term and incorporated into a larger suite of services.