MobStac – Connects the Digital and Physical Worlds Through the Use of Technology
With reports stating that the number of proximity mobile payment users in the U.S. will climb 32.4 percent in 2017 to 50.8 million, and those consumers will go on to spend an estimated $62.49 billion through smartphone-enabled commerce, the market size and opportunity is extremely promising.
MobStac's mission is to make the mobile device the center of your offline experiences. Its products bring online-style customer intelligence & engagement to the world of offline retail through iBeacon (aka Bluetooth Low Energy beacons) and WiFi technology. MobStac is backed by Accel Partners and Cisco and has offices in New York and Bangalore. The company was founded in 2009 by Sharat Potharaju and Ravi Pratap.
In an interaction with BWDisrupt’s team, Ravi Pratap, Co-Founder & CTO, MobStac, shares details about the company.
What inspired you to start this business?
We started MobStac with a simple mission: to connect the digital and physical worlds through the use of innovative technology. With worldwide smartphone usage skyrocketing, we realized the need to address the world of mobile in pursuit of this goal. In June 2009, we founded MobStac in order to improve the accessibility and quality of mobile experiences offered by businesses and brands around the world. In these early years, we focused on helping publishers build adaptive mobile sites that would work seamlessly across multiple devices.
In 2014, we shifted our focus to the emerging field of proximity-based marketing and analytics as a new way to bridge online and offline experiences. Today, MobStac helps businesses and brands leverage BLE beacon technology to deliver context-rich experiences to their end users at as less at $49/month, even if they don’t have their own app.
At the start of 2016, we launched the WiFire app to help people stay connected at all times. The app helps users find and connect to public WiFi hotspots.
Brief us about MobStac’s business model?
Today, mobile is way more than just an additional screen that businesses could use for marketing purposes. It is a highly personal device that has over the years shaped the need for a personalized experience among consumers.
As a result, it has become highly vital for businesses to identify the right context and engage with consumers on their mobile devices at the right time, at the right place, in the right manner. This is where beacons and proximity marketing come into the picture.
At Mobstac, we offer an end-to-end beacon solution that includes everything - right from beacon hardware, to the Beaconstac app (both iOS and Android), to access to Eddystone and iBeacon compliant, cloud-based Beaconstac proximity messaging platform along with SDKs for both iOS and Android. Thus, any business that is interested in leveraging beacons can go ahead and purchase beacons, plan their campaign and run a trial, irrespective of whether they have an app or not.
At the same time, we also noticed the push being made towards ‘Digital India’ and decided to take a step in this direction by launching an app, WiFire, that allows users to discover and connect to free, secure public WiFi hotspots around them in one tap. Today, there are quite a number of efforts being taken by the Government (Railwire initiative) and businesses (recent announcement by Facebook) to offer free, secure and fast public WiFi to users in India. We aim to use WiFire to help realize the dream of a ‘Digital India’.
Also, having crossed 90,000 downloads on the Play Store and been featured on the App Store, we are currently in conversation with businesses who’d be interested in integrating with our app to offer enhanced consumer experiences.
What are the services MobStac providing to its customers?
Like I said before, we offer an end-to-end beacon solution that includes beacon hardware, access to the Beaconstac app (both iOS and Android) and access to Eddystone and iBeacon compliant, cloud-based Beaconstac proximity messaging platform along with SDKs for both iOS and Android. Thus, any business that is interested in leveraging beacons can go ahead and purchase Eddystone beacons, plan their campaign and run a trial, even if they don’t have an app in place.
We have adopted a revenue model that is based on the kind of proximity messaging platform that businesses are looking for. For example, it allows businesses to leverage our feature packed Eddystone-compliant Beaconstac platform for just $49/ month. If they are looking for a large scale deployment, then they can simply purchase additional beacons and leverage platform support for the same at $5 per/beacon/month. This plan is ideal for businesses that don’t have an app in place.
On the other hand, if a business is looking to leverage our feature packed iBeacon plus Eddystone compliant Beaconstac platform then they can simply purchase beacons and leverage platform support for a total of 9 beacons at $99/month. If they are looking for a large scale deployment, then they simply purchase additional beacons and leverage platform support for the same at $7 per/beacon/month. This plan is ideal for businesses that already have an app in place.
We also offer an app, WiFire, that allows users to discover and connect to free, secure public WiFi hotspots around them in one tap. It does away with the need to chase down OTPs and fill out long web-forms to connect to public WiFi networks in India.
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Our cloud-based Beaconstac proximity messaging platform has two sides to it:
1. Eddystone Platform
This platform is ideal for businesses that don’t have an app in place. It comes with the following power-packed features:
a. Engage customers on Google Chrome and send real-time offers based on location
b. Set up URLs on a easy-to-use dashboard and create a campaign in 15 minutes
c. Drive traffic to a URL of the business’ choice and conduct customer surveys, share special offers and more
d. Gather user analytics to analyse customer responses, survey data and more
2. iBeacon Platform
This platform is ideal for businesses that already have an app in place. It comes with the following power-packed features:
a. Bring beacon-enabled campaigns to life with images, URLs, multimedia and more
b. Integrate data from your CRM & other 3rd party tools to effectively target customers
c. Gain a deeper understanding of visitor behavior & campaign performance through user analytics
d. Drag and drop our SDKs for iOS/Android into your app to customise your beacon campaigns
3. Our WiFire app comes with the following features:
a. Easily & quickly connect to 6000+ reliable public hotspots: It provides users with a 1 step access to over 6000 free public WiFi hotspots across India and this number is rapidly growing.
b. WiFi Sharing: It allows you to share your wifi privately with someone by simply texting a link to anyone you want to share your network with.
c. Sync your favourite networks: It allows you to favorite your most frequented networks, and connect to these networks even if your 3G data or location services is turned off.
d. Check WiFi speed: It allows you to check the Internet connection speed at any WiFi hotspot, and rate that network.
e. DataWall: It allows you to selectively block the apps that have access to your mobile data and save up on data bills.
What are the future plans for the coming 5 years?
With Eddystone having done away with the need for businesses to have an app in order to leverage proximity marketing, 2016 saw a steep growth in beacon adoption among businesses across various sectors. Over the next 5 years, we will see businesses proactively experiment with Eddystone beacons and brainstorm over different use cases that are now feasible, thanks to the proximity marketing capability of beacons. As a result, we expect the next 5 years to play a critical role in shaping the face of personalized marketing that consumers have come to expect. This growth would also see us offering integrated solutions to businesses for proximity marketing.
What is the next big thing in pipeline? How do you look at expansion?
2016 has been a really exciting year, especially with the kind of excitement that Eddystone has been able to generate among businesses. This year, we have seen businesses, both large and small, come forward and give beacons a try alongside some personalized marketing campaigns. And going by the number of announcements that Google made on the Eddystone front this year, we expect to see a rise in the number of Eddystone deployments. Any kind of beacon deployment requires businesses to leverage a proximity messaging platform to better manage their beacons and campaigns. As a result, we are sure that our feature packed Eddystone compliant Beaconstac platform will soon be leveraged extensively by businesses across various sectors.
What is the market size and opportunity and what opportunity are you looking out in future?
There are around 100 million mobile data users in India currently and we are aiming at reaching out to at least 50% of this user base with our app - WiFire. On the beacon and proximity marketing front, Google’s Eddystone push has created a huge difference in the number of businesses using beacons. With reports stating that the number of proximity mobile payment users in the U.S. will climb 32.4 percent in 2017 to 50.8 million, and those consumers will go on to spend an estimated $62.49 billion through smartphone-enabled commerce, the market size and opportunity is extremely promising.
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