Buddy co-founders Jeffrey MacDuff and Dave McLauchlan are looking to help mobile developers build apps faster and cheaper
Buddy co-founders Jeffrey MacDuff and Dave McLauchlan are helping mobile developers build apps faster and cheaper.

It’s a big day for Buddy.

buddy1The Kirkland-based company, which provides back-end mobile app support, today introduced a new “Sound-as-a-Service” product that allows developers to choose from more than 20,000 royalty-free sound effects, along with the ability to measure engagement with a given app based on music choices.

Buddy has also brought on a big name investor today. Troy Carter, CEO of entertainment management company Atom Factory, is investing in Buddy via his investment vehicle AF Square, which has equity in more than 40 companies like Spotify and DropBox. Carter manages stars like Lady Gaga, John Legend. Terms of the investment were not disclosed.

“The measurement of audience engagement has historically been incredibly difficult,” Carter said. “Buddy has helped Atom Factory better understand how consumers of mobile apps are influenced by what they hear while using those apps.”

afsquareBuddy was founded in May 2012 by former Microsofties Jeffrey MacDuff and Dave McLauchlan. They saw positive feedback during their launch, but also started getting inquiries about usage data — thus the debut of an Analytics Dashboard last week to help developers and companies capture metrics.

“We quickly realized that the market was hungry for data — analytics and metrics, really — and with our enterprise-grade BaaS (backend as a service), we had the richest, highest fidelity way of capturing that data,” McLauchlan said.

The nine-person company’s enterprise-grade BaaS has more than 15,000 global developers with more than 16,500 applications on its platform. Major brands include Nokia, A&E Television Networks, and Microsoft.

We caught up with McLauchlan for our latest Startup Spotlight to learn more about Buddy:

buddy12Explain what you do so our parents can understand it (in a Tweet-sized statement): Buddy helps publishers and developers power, optimize and measure apps on any platform, OS or connected device.

Inspiration hit us when: “It hit us twice, actually – the first time was when we realized that most apps are 20% differentiation, 80% common components, and developers spend a huge chunk of their time writing code for the 80% piece, instead of focusing on the 20% piece. The second was when we realized that our platform was able to organically capture usage & engagement data richer than 3rd party toolsets designed to do that – a huge lightbulb moment for us.”

VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “Yes! We started off bootstrapped, raised some angel capital in early 2012, took on a little VC from the Bay Area in mid-2012, and then closed our seed round of nearly $1.1 million with the first investment from Microsoft’s Bing Fund.”

Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “By building an enterprise-grade (backend-as-a-service) in such a way that we can organically capture marketing-grade analytics, we have a product that naturally appeals to enterprise marketers and developers. You’d be surprised how many companies try to fit a square product into a round market hole. Instead, we’ve built Buddy from the ground-up to solve a very specific problem set that is nearly impossible to solve without custom-built technology like ours.”

The smartest move we’ve made so far: “It’s probably become clichéd, but building an incredible team is the smartest thing we’ve done. That means hiring, advisors and investors. We’re a small company, but our team is awesome, our advisors have been incredibly impactful and our investors strike exactly the right balance between support and insight.”

buddy121The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “As two ex-big-company founders, we’re still shaking some of the big company mentality, and on occasion we might over over-corrected a bit far in the opposite direction. In general we’ve taken a passionate but measured approach to growing the business. Sometimes we could have been a bit more aggressive, such as with hiring – we definitely started hiring later than we should have.”

Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Buddy will succeed by delivering a product that the market truly hungers for, powered by technical excellence. Jobs was brilliant at understanding what the market hungered for before the market itself knew it. Gates, amongst other skills, is a world-class technologist. So we’d certainly have a position open for Bill Jobs or Steve Gates.”

Our world domination strategy starts when: “Our world domination strategy will be realized as soon as the roughly $60 billion dollars in mobile app and marketing underspend (proportional to web & TV marketing spend, given time spent daily on all three platforms) is spent by brands, agencies and enterprises who now have the means to truly understand audience engagement and return on investment on their mobile investments.

However, our world domination strategy has already begun – because we’ve shipped the tools needed to measure that engagement and return on investment. We’re not stopping there – there’s a HUGE market we intend to disrupt – but we’ve taken the first few steps, and it feels great!”

Rivals should fear us because: “We’ve built a team and a product laser-focused on solving this problem – so, if this isn’t exactly why your product was built, and if selling to these kinds of customers isn’t in your DNA, then you’re not ready for this market.”

buddy21We are truly unique because: “We sit at the intersection of two huge markets – mobile backends as a service and mobile analytics. We’re unique because we believe that the market demand for the overlap of those markets is going to be bigger than either individual market. That means we’re a deeply technical product team selling to a deeply data-driven customer – and uniquely, we’re going to pull it off!

The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: “Selling customers a solution to a problem they didn’t expect could be solved. Sounds crazy right? It turns out that many of our customers didn’t know it was possible to curate the kinds of data that we can. We’re literally helping our customers think beyond what they thought the boundaries of mobile analytics were – which means we’re redefining their expectations of the product. All good news, but makes sales cycles slower as we’re educating as well as selling.”

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Imagine how hard startup life is going to be. Got it? Okay, good – because you’re wrong, it’s going to be 10x harder. Now imagine how awesome startup life is going to be. Got that? Yup, wrong again – it’s gonna be 10x more awesome than that. Now step back – are you okay with living on both ends of that spectrum, sometimes both on the same day? If so – DO IT (and call us if we can help!).”

Startup Spotlight is an occasional look at a Pacific Northwest startup company. Have an interesting new venture you want spotlighted in GeekWire? Fill out this questionnaire in a fun and engaging style that shows off your startup’s culture. (Remember to upload photos). Past profiles can be found here.

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