Did App Devs' Hope Of a Dream Exit Just Come True With This Aggregator?
Alon Waller is hungry to buy great apps. Founder and CEO of Bluethrone, an app aggregator startup, Alon shares how Bluethrone became an 'exit factory'
Things are changing fast in the app world. The young mobile industry enjoys a 21 per cent growth per year. Well-funded tech players are appearing in the iOS and Android arena. Opportunities for mobile developers are appearing in the market.
Alon Waller, and his startup Bluethrone, are one of them.
״One became three. Three became nine. Then reality stroked”
Alon is a ‘digital assets guy’. He started on a different platform: Amazon. “I opened a FBA store with a humble $10,000 investment, just to give it a go. After a rough start, I applied some old-school conversion methods, and my store grew. One became three. Three became nine. I began fantasizing about maybe a hundred stores. Then reality stroked.”
Alon experienced the ‘platform entrepreneur’ syndrome. At some growth stage, you get stuck, unable to maintain and grow the business.
“I couldn’t give my stores the attention and investment they needed. The constant marketing--graphics, paid ads, micro-copy. The product...you must improve, update, and renew. The numbers. Too many to follow. I suffered from anxiety. Afraid my account will get flagged. Policy changes and competition diminished my earnings and some stores lost money. I closed the weak ones, maintained the healthy ones and moved forward to grow my apps on the Appstore. Too bad I didn’t wait a year or two.”
“Friends of mine enjoyed a exit...”
Alon’s misfortune was he didn’t foresee the appearance of Amazon aggregator Thrasio, now valued at $10 billion, and its competitors. What these heavily funded companies do is acquire quality stores and grow them within one, concentrated operation.
Alon Waller remembers,“A couple of months later, a friend of mine sold a store and got his exit. One just took the money home to cover his mortgage. Another spent it on his dream car and took three months off abroad. Others invested in growing their teams and businesses.”
That’s how the idea for Bluethrone was conceived.
“See, constantly to maintain, improve and market an app is like fighting three fronts, day in, day out. And what if you have three or five or ten apps? Or operating in the AppStore and Google Play? Your problems compound.”
Alon pulled connections in the Singaporean and Israeli tech industries. His idea was to build a company which buys, appreciates and grows apps. Seasoned tech entrepreneurs-investors jumped on the wagon and Bluethrone started purchasing apps in February 2021.
“We heavily invest in the apps we acquire to make them category kings”
“In general and above all, we only look for PMF (product-market-fit) apps because our strategy is to raise the app through the charts. Bluethrone invests in the app’s marketing, UX/UI and functionality by careful analysis of key metrics.
Waller says,“The golden metric is retention. Yet today, even apps that provide value struggle to achieve average retention (24 per cent on D1, 7 per cent on D7 and 3 per cent on D30). So beyond app retention, we look for two basic metric ‘proofs’ for product market fit.
Bluethrone calls the first one the‘5k’ rule. This means the app has either (or both) $5,000 monthly profit or 5,000 organic downloads--a sign users find the app valuable.
Another metric Bluethrone is looking for is RPD (revenue per download). Here, Bluethrone’s analysts will compare the RPD to the rest of the category. That’s how Bluethrone knows if the users believe the app is better than its direct competitors.