After seeing success with its first Build Fund last year, mobile rewards startup Kiip has decided to make it an annual affair. This year’s contest has the theme “Creation” and will award $10,000 in cash plus $5,000 worth of services to 10 winning developers.

Kiip hopes to identify and reward app makers who are coming up with new, industry-defining ideas. Co-founder and CEO Brian Wong believes this level of creation often starts with independent developers before eventually making its way to mainstream publishers.

“We really believe that we can actually bring the right exposure to the folks who are truly innovating and creating these new categories,” he told The Next Web in an interview.

This year’s winners will also have a chance to receive mentorship. Here’s the impressive list of mentors:

  • Phill Ryu, creator of Clear and MacHeist
  • Jon Jordan, Pocket Gamer
  • Phil Black, True Ventures
  • Adam D’Augelli, True Ventures
  • Lee Linden, Facebook Gifts (previously Tapjoy and Karma)
  • Lars Leckie, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners
  • Kevin Talbot, Relay Ventures
  • Mario Wynands, PikPok Games
  • Scott Kveton, Urban Airship
  • Matt Van Horn, Path
  • Matt Hunter, Jawbone
  • Derek van Vliet, Get Set Games
  • Markus Kassulke, HandyGames
  • Robert Kwok, Crittercism

In addition to the $10,000 cash, winners will also receive a $5,000 package of services from Parse, Urban Airship, Amazon Web Services, Crittercism and Localytics.

Kiip has also secured Pepsi’s Propel brand as a sponsor for a Fitness and Health portion of the fund, which will take up three slots. Wong noted that Propel had been instrumental in helping Kiip expand beyond just gaming rewards into lifestyle categories.

“They’ve been very close to helping to frame our fitness and health channel, we’re really excited to have them on board for this,” he said.
Wong says that Kiip has notched a record first quarter already, adding that the company has been “very lucky” to see the growth that it had been expecting. The company’s first rewards campaign in Japan launched in January and quickly became one of its highest in-store redemption campaigns.

Moving forward, Japan is expected to continue to be a strong market for Kiip.

“Our theory about Japan continues to be proven, which is that the mobile culture is much more mature over there and the way that the Japanese people use their phones in their daily lives is much more integrated than anybody would expect,” Wong noted.

Kiip’s own 7×7 game, which launched last month, has also done well, quietly racking up 1 million downloads. Wong says the company learned from the project the “true importance of retention and analytics” and is adjusting its dashboard to reflect that priority. For instance, it added to its dashboard last week a statistic for the number of unique devices in order to help developers track improvements to user retention.

Kiip touts a study from a University of California, Berkeley researcher that found apps using its platform more than doubled the length of user sessions and led to a 31 percent increase in the number of times users opened the app.

Kiip raised $11 million in a Series B round led by Relay Ventures last July. The company released version 2 of its product last November as it made the move beyond games.

The company has the ambitious goal of owning every achievement on the planet. Currently there are more than 800 Kiip-enabled games and apps. Wong says the products Kiip has in the pipeline for this year will “align toward that angle”. Realistically, the startup is still quite far off from its ultimate goal, but it’s definitely off to a solid start.

Interested developers can head to http://kiip.me/fund to apply. The deadline is May 30th.

Image credit: Thinkstock