San Francisco App Strategy Workshop Recap

Networking on the W Hotel terrace.

Networking on the W Hotel terrace.

What a week! After rubbing elbows with the best in the mobile marketing scene at our Happy Hour with AppsFlyer on May 6, we convened more than 20 leading industry experts on May 7 to share their journeys and app strategy knowledge. Over 150 developers, publishers, and app enthusiasts eagerly listened as stories and tips for success were neatly woven into a narrative of positivity and support for the app community. Armed with their newly acquired tools for success, attendees enjoyed conversation and an open bar on the W Hotel’s beautiful terrace.

We are continuously inspired by both our App Strategy Workshop speakers and attendees, and the San Francisco workshop was no exception. Here are our takeaways from the amazing event:

Apps should solve a problem.

From L to R: Jarah Euston (Flurry), Prathap G. Dendi (Ship.io), Amanda Richardson (HotelTonight), Paul Cutsinger (Amazon Appstore), Jarek Wilkiewicz (Google), Mike Brough (M2Catalyst)

From L to R: Jarah Euston (Flurry), Prathap G. Dendi (Ship.io), Amanda Richardson (HotelTonight), Paul Cutsinger (Amazon Appstore), Jarek Wilkiewicz (Google), Mike Brough (M2Catalyst)

Although steps to success can depend on the type of app you are building, one thing became perfectly clear in our Build It, Test It, Ship It! The Art of Building Mobile Apps panel: developers should aim to solve a problem with their apps. As Amanda Richardson from HotelTonight noted, “Be willing to really solve the problem and invest in that solution...Don’t give up on your first try.”

How will developers know if the problem they want to solve is relevant? “Cultivate an audience before you even develop your app,” said Paul Cutsinger from the Amazon Appstore. Feedback matters, both internally and externally. While customers rely on what other customers think, apps can continually improve and develop when placed in front of people.

Ads should be relevant and appropriate for the app.

From L to R: Mike Schwartz (App Developers Alliance), Barry Dorf (DeNA), Sean Webster (AppLovin)

From L to R: Mike Schwartz (App Developers Alliance), Barry Dorf (DeNA), Sean Webster (AppLovin)

Our Keeping Monetization in Mind: How Advertising Fits in Your Apps panel and Fireside Chat with Barry Dorf of DeNA and Sean Webster of AppLovin featured lively debates regarding the best types of mobile ads, types of users, and app improvement via advertising. Much like our first panel, the overarching lesson was quite clear early in both sessions: not all ad formats work for all apps, and developers should implement what works for their apps. More specifically, “think about the long term, about user experience, and insert ads in a useful way,” as Martin Price from OpenX explained.

From L to R: Dave Swartz (MEDL Mobile), Martin Price (OpenX), Brendan Auvil (Millennial Media), David Kurtz (AdColony), Yannis Dosios (Flurry)

From L to R: Dave Swartz (MEDL Mobile), Martin Price (OpenX), Brendan Auvil (Millennial Media), David Kurtz (AdColony), Yannis Dosios (Flurry)

Despite the recent explosion of native advertising in the mobile space, Brendan Auvil of Millennial Media defended the use of banner ads. As he pointed out, “the reality is that there is still demand for banner ads, so let’s make them better. Not everyone can implement native ads.” However, developers and publishers can focus on keeping users engaged by planning their advertising strategy from day one, making sure the ads don’t detract from the overall user experience.

“The right time to raise money is when you need it.”

From L to R: Adam Corrado (Heyzap), Mike Molinet (Branch Metrics), Brad Griffith (Gametime), Michael Agustin (Weaver), Andrew Thomas (Skybell)

From L to R: Adam Corrado (Heyzap), Mike Molinet (Branch Metrics), Brad Griffith (Gametime), Michael Agustin (Weaver), Andrew Thomas (Skybell)

Attendees were more than ready to uncover tips and tricks from our Startup Funding: Secrets and Strategies from Successful Startup Founders panel. Each panelist brought unique perspectives and experiences to the dialogue, illustrating a vivid picture of the benefits and challenges of funding startups. While some panelists enjoyed more funding success without a finished product, Brad Griffith of Gametime explained that “you should have a product first, even if you just have a subset of users.”

After sharing stories of both success and failure, Andrew Thomas of SkyBell summed up the panels comments by claiming, “the right time to raise money is when you need it. Think about which funding methods are appropriate for your product and business model.” By focusing on the correct strategy for your app and business at that moment in time, developers and publishers can work to “protect yourself against risk,” as noted by Michael Augustin of Weaver. This strategy also opens developers and publishers to all available funding options, including crowdfunding.

From L to R: Heather Blanchard (CTIA), Christina Claure (Sprint), Jameson Buffmire (Orange), Faraz Hoodbhoy (AT&T), Jay Onda (Docomo Capital)

From L to R: Heather Blanchard (CTIA), Christina Claure (Sprint), Jameson Buffmire (Orange), Faraz Hoodbhoy (AT&T), Jay Onda (Docomo Capital)

Our final panel of the day, How to Be Successful Pitching and Partnering With Carriers, emphasized the need to be creative when looking into partners. While app developers may first look to venture capital firms, telecommunications carriers can also provide support and act as a quick way to market by opening dialogue with the right people. According to Faraz Hoodbhoy of AT&T, “We help a lot of businesses actually do what they really want to do, which is real business - get customers, get distribution, get revenue, get PO’s.”


We’d like to offer a special thanks to our wonderful sponsors OpenX, Millennial Media, CTIA, AdColony, Amazon Appstore, and AppLovin. We hope everyone had as much fun as we did, and we can’t wait to see you at our upcoming events. Make sure to check out our photos from the San Francisco App Strategy Workshop below!