More than 200 companies representing a wide array of mobile and hardware technology entered TechCrunch Beijing’s (organized with TechNode) startup competition, but VMFive stood out with AdPlay, which lets users demo an app before purchasing it with no pre-installed software or SDKs required from developers.
VMFive, a cloud virtualization tech company, has already tested AdPlay in China and Japan, where it says it saw a conversion rate 50 percent to 300 percent higher than banner and video ads for apps. AdPlay’s main competitors are App.io, Voxel, and MNectar, but VMFive differentiates with several features. One lets developers customize app trials — for example, they can let users test out different levels of a game. AdPlay also offers 2D and 3D game support and is optimized for Unity and Cocos2D.
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Adplay demo from VM5 on Vimeo.
VMFive is currently doing internal testing of AdPlay with one of the top three app stores in China and plans to launch AdPlay in Taiwan in Q3 2014 and in Japan in Q4 2014.
“We are not an app platform, we are a cloud platform. Our core solution is mobile virtualization, real-time 2D/3D rendering,” said VMFive’s chief revenue officer Dominique Tu in his presentation. “Advertising is only first. We can do cloud app testing, cloud gaming. We are looking for ways to enhance the platform.”
VMFive’s prizes include trips to the Startup Nations Summit World Startup Competition in November and the Global Brain Alliance Forum in December.
The top four finalists were:
Roam and Wander, which creates smartphone- and tablet-powered toys that teach the fundamentals of reading, math, and other skills. The company, which TechCrunch profiled last year when its first toy, a stuffed bunny named TuTu, was on Kickstarter, is now on track to sell its products in more than 300 stores. Members of its team previously worked at HTC, Pixar, Apple, and Hasbro. Roam and Wander has already made over $100,000 in revenue and currently has a 16 percent month-over-month growth rate in the number of retail outlets that carry its toys.
EHang, which wants to make drones accessible to consumers. Its first product is Ghost, a quadcopter that can be controlled with an iOS or Android app. The Chinese startup is also planning to produce a one-meter long drone that can carry up to 10kg and is intended for interval logistics (like package deliveries, for example), disaster relief, forest fire detection, and other heavy-duty use cases. Ghost is already available in China and costs $500 to $900 depending on the model. The larger drone, which is still unnamed, will cost $5,000 and is intended for commercial use.
Coding Cloud Development, a cloud-based platform that wants to cover the entire development cycle of software by not only hosting a developer’s code, but also compiling and running code so it can be demoed, scanning it (with permission) and giving reports about potential defects, and integrating social networking features so developers can communicate with one another. Coding has been online for about a month and already has 10,000 users.
Diitu, an app that wants to differentiate from other smart photo albums with its patent-pending Time Wall, which lets users share photographs that were taken at the same time and the same place (which Diitu calls “auto-linked collective memories”) with their annotations. Diitu’s core technology is a search engine that aggregates photos by analyzing the relationship between photos and the people who took them.
The competition’s judges were: Sequioa Capital partner and managing director Steven Ji; LightInTheBox founder and president Wen Xin; Tokyo-based venture capital firm Global Brains’ founder and CEO Yasuhiko Yurimoto; TechCrunch and CrunchBase senior editor Jonathan Shieber; and Google APAC director of product management and display advertising Elliott Ng.