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Engaging the content and brands on this Kirkland startup’s app pays off in points that go toward sports items for the app’s users.
How it started: Influence Mobile launched in 2012 as Affinity Influencing Systems — because it deals with people’s affinities toward certain things. The company used to reward users who interacted online with celebrity content and with brands associated with celebrities. Now it has shifted gears toward sports, creating apps for 50 teams — with a goal to have 400 teams by 2017.
How it works: The company targets women ages 25 to 55. Say, a woman loves the Seahawks; she can download Influence Mobile’s Louder Rewards ”Seattle Edition” app. She picks something from the app she wants — a Marshawn Lynch jersey perhaps — which is worth a certain amount of points. By interacting and engaging with content about the team and players, she earns points that go toward the jersey.
A new version of the app is on the way that incorporates more trivia and other games in which users can earn points as well.
Moneymaker: It’s all about branded advertising. As users read stories, like tweets or play trivia games, they not only earn points, but also see ads, which means revenue for Influence Mobile. The new version will have more options for video advertising, and some developers will pay when a user installs their game’s app from within Influence Mobile’s app.
The numbers: Todd said the company grew “ridiculously fast” in 2015, ending with revenue in eight figures, primarily from advertising. It also recently received $3.5 million in funding from angel investors to keep growing.
On the other hand: The company is not yet profitable, “We have at times this year been profitable,” Todd said. “We tend to continue to grow and push ourselves into an unprofitable state at times,” he said. But, “we strive to maintain a goal of profitability.”
Users: Todd said the company currently has about 500,000 users, 75 percent of them women. The users, he said, are not exactly “hard-core sports fans … they are not going to be the type of people who are going to be in the ESPN app.”
Employees: The company has grown from nine to 46 employees this year, and moved to a new 13,000-square-foot office in October. With women the target market, 60 percent of the company’s employees are also women.
— Coral Garnick