The app that allows you to create your own native apps, Propeller, has raised $1.25 million from Andreessen Horowitz, ffAngel, Menlo Ventures, Foundation Capital, Max Levchin, Ashton Kutcher, Keith Rabois, Scott Banister, Jason Portnoy, Lee Linden, Rothenberg Ventures and Alfred Mandel.
Like a less-complex Appsify.me or a Testflight for normal people, Propeller aims to democratize the app store. When launched, Propeller will eventually let people who don’t know how to code build their own native, not HTML5, mobile apps. Normals can design their own apps for their weddings, fraternities, businesses, whatever through Propeller’s drag-and-drop interface and templates. And then deploy those apps to others through the Propeller app on an iPhone or Android.
“Ever since smartphones came out, we’ve seen so many people looking for help creating apps,” founder Brian Rowen tells me. “From things like ‘I have a great idea for an app; how do I learn to code?’ to the ubiquitous search for a ‘technical co-founder.’ There are many people who want to make apps, but they just don’t know where to start, and if you’ve never built one before, the whole process can be pretty intimidating (and expensive).”
Rowen and his fellow co-founder Clay Allsopp met at Likealittle, a startup that became Circle after a pivot in the fall of 2011, and decided to do their own thing in September 2012 (fun fact: They met their first investor at Eric Eldon and I’s birthday party). “We’ve seen how tough it is for anyone to build a great app,” Rowen explained, “and we want to make that experience frictionless for everyone.”
Rowen tells me that the rest of Propeller’s competitive landscape has one or two or both problems. “Either the experience of making an app is complex and unintuitive, or the apps created by the product are low-quality because they use non-native technologies like HTML5 (or both). These apps don’t look and feel like the native apps we enjoy using every day.”
The company says that its attempts to build an accessible experience and solve the technical problem of dynamically building native apps has led to some “key innovations.” They plan to use the new coin, like every other seed-funded startup, to staff up and refine these innovations before launch.