Mobile app owner or product marketer? PasswordBox VP Product Marketing Ian Jeffrey will be speaking at VB’s Mobile Developer Roadshow in Montreal on April 2 where we’ll be sharing the latest trends and case studies in mobile app acquisition and monetization strategies. This event is invite-only: Find out if you qualify here.
The Roadshow’s four stops include: Seattle (March 24), Vancouver (March 25), Toronto (April 1), and Montreal (April 2). Get all the info here.
When native Montealer Ian Jeffrey moved to Silicon Valley in 2006, he helped launch two separate startups (Radar and Wink) before moving back to Montreal in 2010. On returning, he was pretty much blown away by the transformation in the city during those four short years.
The startup scene in Montreal has burst open, seeing the emergence of some significant startup successes such as Beyond the Rack (receiving almost $100M to date in several rounds of funding), Frank & Oat (just completed a $15M second round), and OmSignal (completed a Series A funding of $10M last year).
“In 2006, Montreal was pretty much a dead start-up community, not much was happening,” says Jeffrey. “When I moved back, I was expecting the same thing as when I left but I was really, really surprised to see that there was a ton of activity, and I jumped right into it.”
On his return, Jeffrey launched FounderFuel, the first Canadian mentor-driven accelerator for early stage startups, before joining PasswordBox to lead the growth and acquisition team. Launched in June 2013, PasswordBox was just recently acquired by Intel last December, only 18 months after launch. Its 14 million downloads during that time certainly got the giant’s attention.
Like others in the Canadian startup scene, Jeffrey is quick to credit the generous financial incentives available through both the Canadian and Quebec governments. With as much as 70% of engineers’ salaries refunded in tax credits through programs like the Scientific Research and Experimental Development Tax Incentive Program, Jeffrey says: “For the same price you’d pay a top developer in San Francisco, you can probably pay for two amazing developers in Montreal.”
He challenges the assumption that the Valley is the best place to raise capital. While he acknowledges there’s less overall capital in a smaller city like Montreal, for him it’s all a matter of scale. “Just because there’s less of it, doesn’t mean it’s easier to get capital in San Francisco or New York. There’s a lot more competition there. And a lot of people overlook the fact that in this day and age you can be building your business in Montreal — and travel once a month to San Francisco or New York — and build all the relationships that you need in order to build a successful business straight out of Montreal.”
Growing PasswordBox’s base and funneling them into the paid premium version of the password manager app is now Jeffrey’s focus. The password manager is free for its basic-level service of storing up to 25 passwords, after which users can move to the premium level offering storage of unlimited passwords and additional features. (To make some noise about the Intel acquisition, the company is currently offering new and current users a free six-month upgrade to the premium account.)
Acquisition for Jeffrey is a bit of a yo-yo strategy between organic and paid downloads. “Trying to maintain a good rank is the priority,” says Jeffrey. “It’s no secret that the better rank you get, the more organic downloads, and the better those downloads are.”
Organic downloads help you keep your rank up, but once you start slipping, that’s the time to bolster rank by spending a bit of money on mobile advertising and up your rank once again. “It goes up and down,” says Jeffrey. “You can stop advertising or increase advertising — and there are services out there that let you do a burst, or pay to drive a certain amount of downloads in a certain country; services that help you obtain the rank you’re looking for in any given market.”
As to monetization, Jeffrey pauses, and gets a bit silent for the first time in the conversation. It turns out he doesn’t want to share the company strategies in print, but he’s happy to do so in the setting of the coming Roadshow. Guess you’ll just have to show up to hear about it.