They grow up so fast, don’t they? It’s been just five months since IAC announced Hatch Labs, a “technology sandbox for mobile start-up”, as part of its push in into the new app economy.
Today the incubator has its first launch: Blu Trumpet, a platform for mobile apps that helps publishers monetize and advertisers increase distribution. It’s already got IAC apps like Daily Beast and College Humor signed up as clients.
The ad-network works by setting up an app wall into the strip of tabs at the bottom of an app (or in the Daily Beast’s case, you can find it under the “Partner Apps” tab, also at the bottom of the app). From there, users can browse new apps to download. Publishers add the wall as a way to monetize and advertisers pay every time a user downloads an app. It’s a way for them to push downloads without those annoying pop-up or display ads. With just the College Humor and Daily Beast, Blu Trumpet has already picked up 1 million impressions and boasts an install rate from the wall of about 10 percent.
Betabeat chatted via IM with CEO Nina Sodhi, who sold her previous start-up BumpTop to Google, about where she got the idea, working in Hatch Labs, and what the future holds for Blu Trumpet.
What’s Hatch Labs like?
We’re in the IAC building on the West Side Highway (that big white frosty one) so the premises are really nice.
“Frosty” is a good way to describe it.
When I say that, people usually figure out what building I mean quickly.
It’s great. We’ve got a bunch of smart people here, many from startups (like myself), so we have a fun start-up feel. We’re tasked with coming up with new businesses in the mobile space – the mandate is pretty open, which leads to fantastic innovation (and lots of fun). Our group is about 11 people now.
Tell us more about the fun, please.
We are pretty free form here. The lab just started in December so we are fairly young as an organization. I was here on day one, and it’s been great to see it grow. We work on different projects (Blu Trumpet being one of them), and ask questions cross-projects when we need help. That can come in the form of tough to crack bugs, archetiture questions, product ideas, feature tuning, etc. The group is pretty awesome – we make fun of each other, laugh a lot, and we a love to just build good products. We’re looking to grow the group some more, and as businesses spin out (like Blu Trumpet), they leave openings for new folks to join.
Does that mean you’ll be moving out?
Not yet. Depends on how we grow. Its pretty comfortable here for now. Plus, we get to leverage the fun atmosphere at Hatch.
What made you think people were looking for a platform like this?
I spent a lot of time with IAC businesses to understand what was missing in the mobile ad space. Those conversations led to Blu Trumpet. I felt the mobile ad space continues to need more innovation. Many existing solutions are ported over from the web, which often don’t work well on mobile, especially in native apps. And as an avid mobile user myself, I get that ads are an important part of the ecosystem and I got tired of the banners and pop-ups. I wanted to help create a solution that worked for the ecosystem as well as for users.
Who would you compare yourself to in the online advertising space?
We are 100% mobile so we are different from the traditional ad players. (That’s what allows us to create an awesome mobile solution, we aren’t bogged down with legacy web systems). Also, we are 100% performance based (cost per install), so that also makes us different.
The IAC connection must have helped getting College Humor and Daily Beast on board?
Absolutely. That’s one of our competitive advantages. We are starting with the IAC properties, though we are also ramping up our network outside of IAC too.
Anyone you can name?
Well, we are just launching today so the number isn’t huge yet. We have a few non-IAC properties live, with several more in the pipeline that will go live soon.
What do you have lined up on the advertiser side?
The advertiser side is booming. Our value prop to them is a no-brainer – we are a performance based system so they only have to pay when an install actually happens. Because of that, we have a healthy backlog of advertisers waiting to jump on our network while we build out our publisher base. The folks we are looking to line up are any app that wants more distribution. That includes all categories – games, entertainment, news, etc.
Also, the way our platform works is that a publisher can easily be an advertiser. For example, Daily Beast is doing just that. They want to monetize their app and also get more distribution as well.