Italian startup and cross-platform development solution AppsBuilder today announced a €1.5 million (just shy of $2 million U.S.) venture funding round, following its undisclosed seed round from 2011 and led by Italian angel investors Massimiliano Magrini and Mario Mariani, with participation from Vertis Venture and Zernike Meta Ventures. The company, founded in 2010, wants to use the funding to help expand further internationally.
AppsBuilder providers web-based businesses a way to quickly and easily convert their online presence into native app solutions for virtually any platform, including iPhone, iPad, Windows Phone, Android and Chrome, as well as HTML5. AppsBuilder requires only 10 minutes to create functional apps that will work across those platforms, the company claims, with completely customizable visual design and the ability to update across platforms from a single source. It doesn’t require development expertise; essentially, users manipulate the look and feel of their app based on templates provided by AppsBuilder through a what-you-see-is-what-you-get visual interface. There’s also a plug-in that converts WordPress sites directly into native mobile apps.
Currently, about 60 percent of AppsBuilder’s sales come from outside Italy, but the company is clearly interested in pursuing even more growth outside of its home country, since it sees worldwide adoption as its biggest challenge. One of the hurdles there is that it runs up against a whole host of other comparable offerings from startups around the world, including PhoneGap, Appcelerator, Sencha and others. According to co-founder Daniele Pelleri in an email interview, AppsBuilder is aimed at a different sort of crowd, owing to its low technical barrier to entry. On the flipside, some might not be satisfied with the level of customization and control they’re afforded, so AppsBuilder’s appeal is likely more the segment of small businesses who want a cross-platform presence but don’t have the dollars to spend on development cycles.
That said, at the top end of its pricing model, AppsBuilder does offer a reseller level or subscription that’s completely white label, and includes total customization for €169 per month. But its basic and advanced levels offer much more generally applicable and DIY tools, at €19 and €49 respectively. In terms of traction, AppsBuilder says that it has seen an increase from 1.5 to 2.5 million downloads in the last 2 months, with around 3,000 apps produced monthly by over 250,000 registered users.
AppsBuilder has clear value for small businesses or independent web publishers, but it’s in a busy field that also includes folks like Onswipe. The company will have a considerable challenge entering the North American market, but might have better success tackling other less well-covered markets, thanks to its availability in French, German, Spanish, Dutch and Portuguese in addition to English and Italian. Smart hires and good promotional spending made possible with this latest round should go a long way to helping it improve traction in the areas it’s targeting.