It’s the colours that get you when you’re out in nature. If you live in a city, you’re mostly dealing with drabs of grey speckled with Instagrams of exposed red bricks. If you live in the suburbs, you’ll see manicured lawns, potted trees, stucco and tile roofs until you’re myopic. But if you’re outside, like really outside, you’ll see ballets of pink, golden orgies, blistering diamonds, the honesty of red and mounds of dirt that are baked with life. It’s a wonderful world out there and we don’t see it enough.
A recent graduate of the Berlin Startup Bootcamp incubator program, 1SDK has one goal: To help mobile gaming providers win over more paying users. Founder Anil Kutty told us how…
Who are you and what do you do?
Hi, I’m originally from New Delhi in India. Throughout my career I have worked all over the world: Oman, USA, the Netherlands and, of course, Germany. Now I’ve moved to Berlin to work on my startup 1SDK.
At 1SDK we offer a SDK (software development kit) that developers can integrate into their mobile apps and games in order to optimize the sales of in-app purchases. Using our SDK, developers are able to divide users into different categories according to their behavior and then offer them customized promotions with the help of our analytics. This increases their likeliness to buy and therefore the overall revenue.
What did you do before 1SDK and what made you move to Berlin?
Before I started with 1SDK I was involved in building Vodafone’s app store – I was the chief architect. It’s the largest operator-built app store. We started in eight EU countries and Russia. That was a real challenge because the competition (other app stores) is, of course, just a click away. However, it was a lot of fun. Because of the things I had learned during that time, I decided to create something on my own with 1SDK.
I first went to Silicon Valley in order to check out the scene there. Unfortunately, at that time the product was not as developed as it is now, so I didn’t have much to show to investors. So I followed the call of Berlin, applied for Startup Bootcamp and was selected. That really helped me to get going.
How did you come up with the idea for 1SDK ?
As I said, I got the idea for 1SDK as a result of what I had learned while working for Vodafone. I noticed that game developers consistently demanded two things: an open in-app billing SDK that works with all app stores and the ability to set prices for digital goods-based user behavior.
Why is the pricing of digital goods in games such a problem?
This is a very complex issue. Ultimately, it goes back to the age-old question of what things are worth. What is an extra life worth that you buy in a game, an upgrade for your character, or something as banal as a new hat for your character? Different people will have different answers to these questions. Some are willing to spend more, some less.
If you set the price too high, you run the risk of missing out on sales. If you set the price too low, you aren’t tapping the full potential of your creations. We offer the opportunity to find out what different users are willing to pay and then use that information to optimise revenue – which is called dynamic pricing.
If we take a look at the mobile gaming landscape, what jumps out is that 25 companies account for 50 per cent of the revenue generated from in-app purchases. The remaining 180,000 companies have to divide the other 50 per cent amongst themselves. We believe that this discrepancy does not exist because the 25 big companies are the only ones making great games. We believe that this is because these large companies are able to hire enough data analysts to find out what they can charge their users.
For example, 50 of 400 employees at gaming company King – the creator of Candy Crush Saga – are data analysts. With our technology we want to make it possible for everybody to be able to compete with big studios. We see ourselves as the sling that allows David to defeat Goliath.
What makes 1SDK different from the competition?
Most of our competitors either provide an in-app billing solution or user analytics and customer segmentation or dynamic pricing. We deliver all of these things in a single SDK. That’s why our name is 1SDK.
How do you earn money and how do you finance yourselves?
Our business model consists of a base fee and a percentage of the revenue we generate for our customers. Thus we are only successful when they are successful.
How big is the team and is there anything you’re still looking for?
We have a great team of five people, including a back-end infrastructure guru, a veteran of the games industry and an expert in dynamic pricing. But we are still looking for a PHP and an Android developer. We also have plans to complete another funding round. We are currently in talks with several investors.
Imagine that you could win a lunch. Which figure from the Berlin startup scene would like to have at your table?
Philipp Möser, the CTO of Wooga – I’d find it really interesting chatting with him.
Where will 1SDK be in a year?
Firstly, we’ll have completed our next round of funding. Secondly, we’ll have acquired hundreds of customers from around the world. Lastly, we also want to integrate more payment options in our SDK.
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- Startup of the Week – Sharedesk – the “Airbnb for workspaces”
This story originally appeared on VentureVillage.
VentureBeat » Entrepreneur
Magdalena Räth, VentureVillage
Just ask any anyone: kindly asking someone to please bring you another beer from the fridge is one thing. Asking them to run to the store and get it is a whole other matter. But now, you guessed it, there's an app for that. Liquorun is an app that has a "bring me beer" button. [...]
The post Liquorun launches in Melbourne. It has a "bring me beer" button, people. Need we say more? appeared first on Anthill Online.
Facebook is determined to be your top content discovery destination, so it's making several tweaks to its News Feed including showing more links to articles, displaying a “related articles” box when you click those links, and bumping old links back to the top of the feed when friends comment on them. The goal is to make Facebook the hub for both news sharing and discussion.
Facebook says referral traffic to news sites increased 170% this year, outpacing its user growth. Still it's up against serious competition in the news discovery space from specialty services like Flipboard, Prismatic, Circa, and others, as well as social networks like Twitter and Google+.
Today's move could be designed to box them out. It also ties in with Facebook's overarching initiative to become the global watercooler for real-time events. Facebook doesn't just want to host random commentary, but link sharing related to big moments as well.
Specifically, in an effort to help people find more interesting news stories, it will show more news article links in the feed, “particularly on mobile”. It will also show a Related Articles box below links you click. This can show other articles by the same news outlet or that a related to the same topic.
Facebook will also resurface links you might have already seen in the feed, but that have received new comments from your friends. Facebook believes the highest potential for engagement is not just in helping people broadcast news but giving them a place to talk about it.
Finally, Facebook also says it's going to work on distinguishing between shallow meme posts and true news articles so there's less click-bait in the News Feed. Facebook warns ”This means that high quality articles you or others read may show up a bit more prominently in your News Feed, and meme photos may show up a bit less prominently.” That's a big deal to content publishers who rely on Facebook for traffic. Facebook Pages may not be able to score as much easy visibility for their brands by just spewing Lolcats and other image macros.
While Facebook's relevancy-sorted feed works fine for discovering evergreen articles and the big ideas of the day, it lacks the immediacy of chronologically-sorted real-time feeds that excel at breaking news. To win the news discovery battle, Facebook may need to devise a way to recognize and surface not just what content is the best, but what's important right this minute.
TechCrunch » Social
Newsle Lands $1.8M From Media Giant Advance Publications, Bloomberg Beta & More To Be The News Reader For People You Care About
The Web fundamentally changed how people consume the news. On the one hand, it's now easier than ever before to create and distribute content to millions of readers; on the other, the Web has become an ocean of content and information, and it almost goes without saying that it's now more difficult than ever before to locate the signal amidst the noise.
Given the dizzying amount of content and news sources out there, most people now just fall back on their social networks to act as the filtration system that helps them find what they want - Facebook for friend-sourced news, LinkedIn for business-related content, an so on. Going one step further, thanks to Flipboard, Feedly, Circa, Techmeme, Prismatic, Nuzzel and more, there are now a million ways to access filtered news on our phones or based on our relationships, interests and so on.
Axel Hansen and Jonah Varon began building Newsle as undergraduates at Harvard to fill a nagging gap among today's news aggregators. The idea being that, as popular as Google Alerts may be, people want to read news based on who their friends and colleagues are and who they want to know more about. But, from Varon and Hansen's vantage point, the existing options didn't go far enough, so they decided to build one that would.
Today, Newsle's network (and person)-oriented news alert service tracks more than 100 million people and processes more than one million articles each day from over 100,000 sources, serving users filtered, personalized alerts based on their preferences. While that scale is impressive, building a great news aggregator isn't just solving the problem of scale, it requires both scale and awesome filtering mechanisms that work well enough that they can hold a user's attention when there are a million other tools that can be used.
That's why Newsle prides itself on not only processing enough news so that it can bring you stories from sources you actually care about, but the person identification, natural language processing and disambiguation algorithms that help it serve better alerts.
Since launching in 2011 and moving operations from Harvard to San Francisco, Varon and Hansen have managed to keep Newsle afloat with a team of five and $ 650K in seed financing they raised in early 2012 from SV Angel and Lerer Ventures. Newsle has even had its tires kicked by a few recognizable names in the news business, although the startup declined the offers, and naturally Varon also declined to specify which players those offers came from.
Nonetheless, having build what they believe is a solid foundation on which to create the next big news aggregator, the co-founders are eager to stay independent and are looking to expand their natural language processing and data mining efforts with new talent. With its user base now growing 20 percent month-over-month, Varon says, Newsle is adding some coin to its coffers to help it take the next step.
This week the startup finally closed a $ 1.85 million Series A financing round led by Advance Publications, the veteran media company, which owns a sizable fleet of newspapers and magazines, including Conde Nast and a 31 percent stake in Discovery Communications.
Participating alongside the strategic investor were Maveron, DFJ, Transmedia Capital, Launny Steffens and previous investor Rockwell Schnabel. The news of the startup's Series A raise first appeared in May, but the company has brought in additional capital and investors since, including Bloomberg Beta. The investor, as its name would imply, is the new early-stage investment fund and venture capital arm of Bloomberg, which launched this summer and is headed by OUYA chairman and former head of IGN, Roy Bahat. Newsle also happens to be the fund's first investment, Varon says.
In the end, strategic investment from two enormous media companies - or at least their VC affiliate - could be a huge leg up for Newsle, especially with Advance Publication's giant network of news content. This could make tackling seemingly huge problems on the technical side of personalized news discovery, like better disambiguation - in other words, being able to determine which “John Smith” a user wants to hear about - a lot more manageable.
For more, find Newsle at home here.
TechCrunch » Social
Even after spending a few hours at a museum, there's still a chance you could leave feeling uninspired. The human response to artwork is highly subjective, but what if a little "brain zap" could make viewing art more intriguing?
Neurologist Zaira Cattaneo explored this concept in an experiment conducted at the University of Milan-Bicocca in Italy last spring. Once experiment subjects received brain stimulation with a transcranial direct current, the volunteers responded more favorably to classic art depicting scenes such as landscapes than before the zap treatment.