For nearly a decade we’ve seen companies like WordPress, Squarespace, Shopify and Tumblr do battle for the hearts and minds of non-technical website builders. The attraction is clear: An online world that demands a digital presence offers companies like these a near infinite runway for growth. Though none have translated their success into a billion-dollar business—or even $100 million in sales—there’s an obvious future in providing website-building tools to civilians.
With the desktop world rapidly transitioning to mobile, it was only a matter of time before the trend repeated itself on phones and tablets. A quick Google search of “make a mobile app” brings up a slew of unfamiliar company names: Widgetbox, Appmaker, iBuildApp. In other words, the race is on. Another competitor enters the already crowded fray today. Cofounded by CEO Dinesh Moorjani, the former head of IAC’s mobile incubator Hatch Labs, Kleverbeast aims to help non-techies design apps for iPads and Android tablets.
A tour through the company’s app-making software reveals a platform that remains intuitive and enjoyable even while offering broad functionality and customization. A grandmother would probably still have some trouble navigating, but anyone comfortable on the Web should pick it up in a matter of minutes. Users begin by choosing from among five templates designed for showcasing art and photography, building e-commerce stores and documenting travel. From there, the software takes you to a ready-made model, filled with content from actual, working apps. Users can plug in words, photos and videos into the existing format or tweak layouts to create their own presentation. A click of the“Test App” option lets customers access a working demo via the Kleverbeast viewer.
As this writer spoke to Moorjani during a recent meeting, VP of marketing Chris Jacob whipped up and published an app in ten minutes using pictures he pulled off the Web. Once you get the hang of the thing, it’s that easy. Chinese artist Zeng Fazhi and photographer Lawrence Schiller, known for his work with Norman Mailer and photos of Marilyn Monroe, are early adopters.
The company runs on a SaaS model, charging $29 per month for hosting and use of the software. In comparison, Moorjani points out that the cost of hiring an iOS or Android developer to make a mobile app from scratch is generally five-figures. Kleverbeast also offers monetization tools, like in-app purchasing for e-commerce stores and ad-serving for blogs. The 21-person company, based in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan, has raised $2 million in seed funding and $1.5 million in bridge financing from an undisclosed set of angel investors.