Amsterdam-based SellanApp launched its web platform and iPad app this week to give anyone with an idea for a mobile application the opportunity to see it become a reality. The company has been in private beta since the beginning of October and tested the platform with 1,500 users, resulting in app ideas like GoodCoffee, a niche social network for coffee lovers, and StudyBuddy, an Evernote-like visual study guide, posted for anyone to back financially. Once the pledged amount goes high enough to catch a developer’s attention, the app is built out in a month and a half, and results in revenue sharing opportunities for all parties involved.
The company’s iPad app allows anyone to create a mockup of their app ideas, resulting in a demo version that has basic functionality for free. They then can proceed to create their own landing page and add a video and reward levels for backers. Developers are pre-screened by SellanApp and depending on their own interest, rate per hour, and ability can commit to creating the app once the amount raised meets their own financial criteria within the allotted time frame. Using the mockup, the developer works with the producer to get the app in shape to be submitted to the Apple App Store within 90 days. Producers, or those with the app idea, get to keep the intellectual property rights to the idea and can choose to enable revenue sharing opportunities for backers.
Like any crowdfunding platform, SellanApp’s business model revolves around the successful campaigns of the apps individuals pitch. It takes 10 percent of the total revenue from paid apps and 10 percent of the total amount pledged for free apps. If it is a paid app, then the developer keeps the total amount pledged and the producer can choose percentages for revenue sharing among backers, and to developers to further incentivize them to create the app or keep 90 percent for themselves. There is no maximum or minimum amount that needs to be pledged or met, the app needs to only raise enough within a limited timeframe for a developer to decide whether they want to build it or not.
“What you see is that we give ownership to all the people with an app idea, meaning everyone can do it, anyone can use our service. You’re not bound by any development effort, you don’t have to learn development, and it gives them a certain sense of ‘we can do it on our own and we can make it happen by gathering people, gathering friends,’” co-founder and Chief Creative Officer Milan van den Bovenkamp said in an interview.
BetaKit covered the rising trend of startups enabling DIY app building to help almost anyone get in on the mobile action. Other crowdfunding platforms for apps include the likes of AppBackr, which is geared more towards developers who are already building an app or have one available to enlist backers and provide revenue sharing incentives. Another startup, AppFunder, provides a listing of developers that people can tap into to build an early version of an app to put up on the platform. However, SellanApp’s differentiator lies in the iPad mockup tool it provides.
With the launch of the platform to the public, the company hopes to have at least 50 apps funded, developed, and out in the Apple App Store, earning the entire community of producers, backers, and developers a profit over the next six months. The company is debating how soon it will include the ability to build mockups on Android tablets, however for the time being is focused on the iOS ecosystem.
SellanApp raises several questions about app ownership, and what entitlement the person who comes up with an app idea, the person who produces it, and the platform that enabled it have to that app’s profits. For app creators, the platform is more of a way to see their idea realized than a path to app profitability, but for casual creators the fact that it gets produced might be enough. Anyone looking to make an app their full-time business is likely better suited to working directly with a developer or agency.