Karthik Ramakrishnan says winning awards is nice but winning customers is even better.
Ramakrishnan is the CEO of Gallop Labs, a Toronto-based startup that provides a prescriptive marketing solution for app makers. It’s also one of the finalists for Startup of the Year in the Canadian Startup Awards.
This isn’t the first time in recent months that Gallop Labs has been nominated for an award. In June, Facebook recognized the startup with an innovation award.
“It’s great to be recognized,” says Ramakrishnan, but his focus is on the business.
“You can get a lot of awards but if the business isn’t strong, if you’re not building the foundation,” he says, “it doesn’t matter.”
Ramakrishnan says 2014 was a year when “many things came together.” That includes closing a $2 million seed round in December. But even with the awards and investment, Ramakrishnan says the hight point for him was the first time a trial user of Gallop Labs’ product converted into a full-fledged customer.
Gallop Labs got its start as an internal project at Toronto app-maker Bnotions.
“Once they built an app for a client, they didn’t know how to market it,” Ramakrishnan says. “Big brands didn’t know which channels” to advertise on.
He says that brands would spend months researching where to advertise an app and who to market it to – a process that took far too long.
“We just don’t have the luxury of time anymore,” he says. “You have to react quickly, especially when your business depends on it.”
The solution Gallop Labs, which was spun-off from Bnotions in late November 2013, came up with was to automate that process as much as possible.
The product takes in data on an app’s users to see which users are engaging with it and which users aren’t to answer the question “how do I get users profitably and how do I get profitable users?” Ramakrishnan says.
It then provides app marketers with prescriptive recommendations about which channels they should use to promote their app, allowing them to iterate rapidly.
“It’s almost A/B testing for marketing,” he says.
“So far, our product has been focused on helping big brands,” Ramakrishnan says. Among its users are The New York Times, RBC, Kobo and AccuWeather.
Ramakrishnan says being incubated by Bnotions helped open doors for Gallop Labs but that only goes so far.
“Experience gets you through the door,” he says. “but if the product doesn’t back that up, that client is not going to last.”
While big brands have been the target so far, a self-serve platform for smaller companies is currently in the works.
The next step for Gallop Labs, Ramakrishnan says it making sure it can support client success and on-board new clients quickly.
“It all comes down to product,” Ramakrishnan says.