App discovery service AppGratis has announced today the closure of a Series A funding round worth $13.5 million, which will allow it invest in new staff, expand its research and development efforts and also grow internationally.
The round was led by Iris Capital, a pan-European venture capital firm specializing in digital economy, although there was also some participation from the Orange Publicis Fund.
AppGratis revealed today that on average, it’s earning more than $1 million in monthly revenue at the moment, and wants to use the funds to further establish its “stronghold as the worldwide leader in app discovery.” It currently has 7 million users in over 30 counties, and has employees from twelve different nations.
AppGratis is an app for iOS devices that helps users discover and download new apps for free. Behind the scenes, the team works hard to negotiate with various developers and persuade them to turn their paid app into a free version. The beauty in this model, for users at least, is that it really is free; there’s no additional advertisements in the app, no subscriptions or any other hooks that might damage the original app experience.
“AppGratis is a champion in the fast growing app marketing market which is expected to be worth $25 billion by 2015,” said Sophie Dingreville, Partner at Iris Capital. “The AppGratis team has built a successful, profitable business in a short period of time and they are in a strong position to become the global leader in app discovery.”
The only caveat with AppGratis, at least that we can see anyway, is that each app offer lasts just 24 hours. It’s essentially the same as the daily deals scheme offered by online retailers such as Amazon. As a user, you need to know that an app is available, and also remember to go back to the store on a regular basis to see if there’s an app you might be interested in downloading.
To try and sidestep this problem, when you first open the app AppGratis recommends that you activate Push notifications for it on your iOS device. They only come through once a day, and offer a quick reminder not only that new apps are available, but what they’re called in case it’s something you recognise (and may have been holding out on due to the price).
When you open AppGratis, a featured app takes up roughly three quarters of the screen, offering an extensive description and an expandable arrow that allows users to see screenshots and other additional information. It’s very similar to the App Store, although there are a few other deals hidden underneath; at the time of writing Angry Birds Rio and InstaWeb for iPad was also free in that section, and there was also All-in Pedometer with 65 percent off. Clearly then, there is also the occasional deal which isn’t completely free.
AppGratis began in 2011 as an email newsletter created by its founder Simon Dawlat to share among friends. Now, his company says that when they feature apps in their own discovery store, they regularly move into the top five in the App Store.
“AppGratis featured our app, iFunFace, in January and really moved the needle for us,” said Jean François Mitchell, CEO of DryGin Studios. “We saw over 550,000 downloads in one day and were boosted to the #1 spot in the App Store in over a dozen countries.”
The firm says it’s benefited greatly over the New Year period, averaging 100,000 new users per day worldwide, increasing to 300,000 on its best days. It delivered over 100 million referral clicks to the App Store last year, and with this new injection of funding, it looks set to contine in 2013.
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