5app Raises $5.1M Seed Round For Its BYOD Enterprise App Store And Builder

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As the BYOD wave continues to wash over the enterprise market, different companies are taking different approaches to having their employees use their own phones and tablets for work. Many clamp down completely on this practice, but others take a slightly more inclusive approach.

London-based 5app, which today announced that it has raised a $5.1 million seed round led by Beckman Group and a number of private investors, wants to help companies make it easy to offer a curated app store to their employees without taking full control over their devices (like our parent company AOL wants to do with our Android phones here at TechCrunch). In addition, the company is working on an Apache Cordova-based app builder for enterprises, which will use the 5app store as its main distribution channel.

As the team tells me, the idea behind the store is to simply make it easier for employees to find the right apps. “We don’t believe you should force employees to do anything on their own devices,” 5app’s CEO Stuart Mason told me earlier today. “What we do believe is you can make it easy for them to do the right thing.”

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The service comes in free and premium versions. With the free versions, enterprises can curate apps from iTunes and Google Play into their own store, which should just take a few minutes to set up. With the paid plan ($4 per month and user), enterprises can then also publish their own custom apps, as well as apps from other distribution points, to the store. Access to them is managed via Active Directory groups, and the company is mostly targeting mid-size enterprises right now.

The 5app app builder is currently in beta, and Mason expects it to go live by the end of July. Just like similar cross-platform services, it uses Apache Cordova to allow developer to use HTML, CSS and JavaScript to write these apps. It includes a basic cloud-based IDE, but as Mason told me, a drag-and-drop app for making it easier for non-developers to create basic apps is also on the company’s radar, but it wants to see if its customers are actually interested in this.

As Mason told me, the app builder was actually at the core of the 5app’s plans. Once the team started working on this, though, it realized that deploying custom apps isn’t all that easy. “So by integrating the Build Service with the app store, we solve this problem.”

IMAGE BY Flickr USER Jan Persiel UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0 LICENSE