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Telecom Digital Ventures invests in App La Carte

7 July 2014

Telecom Digital Ventures invests in NZ applications development startup App La Carte

NZ startup app services company to benefit from Telecom investment.

App La Carte is a new and affordable way for companies and organisations to produce mobile apps to reach and engage with their customers.

Telecom Digital Ventures has made a strategic investment in startup application services business App La Carte in a move that recognises the rapid growth in the use of mobile apps by customers, and to accelerate the company’s product development pipeline.

Connecting to and engaging with customers through a mobile platform is now a vital part of many businesses’ service offerings. App La Carte allows businesses to easily build a professional mobile app without the significant development costs associated with traditional builds.

App La Carte was launched in November 2012 when the owners spotted a gap in the market for providing quality applications. Businesses and organisations can simply log in, pay a monthly subscription, and utilise an easy-to-use app builder to put together their app.

“Businesses don’t need to be intimidated about developing an app. These days apps are like the front window for your shop or as important to your brand as an advertisement in the paper,” says Telecom Digital Ventures CEO Rod Snodgrass.

“It’s well known our business is refocusing away from the home phone line to the world of the mobile internet where apps play a key role in the communication process. It’s part of the reason we’re changing our name from Telecom to Spark, to reflect the new ways people are communicating across increasingly mobile platforms.

“Part of Telecom’s strategy has been to look for businesses to partner with where we can bring our telecommunications, marketing, networks and commercial expertise to the innovation and ingenuity of new startup companies.”

In 2013 Telecom Digital Ventures signaled its intent to invest in a number of companies to extend its traditional business. The first was a $5 million investment with Sir Ray Avery’s biometric technology company Vigil.

Telecom Digital Ventures has made a modest investment in App La Carte for a minority 20 percent stake, with options to increase to 40 percent. The product also represents an additional product offering to Telecom’s SME and corporate customers.

Chair of App La Carte John Holt says the partnership with Telecom Digital Ventures is a huge opportunity to take the business to another level.

“App La Carte has the potential to do something special and revolutionise how businesses and organisations communicate with their customers through a mobile device,” says Mr Holt.

“This is a software-as-a-service platform. Customers, who range from large corporations, plenty of SMEs and even non-profit and public sector organisations, can log in and create a unique looking mobile app without needing to code.” App La Carte’s platform has a range of easily selectable features and functions for each app that are immediately useful for generating more revenue for the user through increased customer engagement (loyalty), sales (push notifications and special deal advertising) and ease of use (payments, shopping carts), customer account management, location services, barcode scanning and much more.

“App La Carte allows customers to register their app in both Apple and Android stores and have them verified in a much quicker timeframe. This is because App La Carte’s apps go through a standardised vetting process and meet the requirements of both app stores.”

App La Carte has been in business for 18 months and already has 150 customers ranging from the Wendy’s national restaurant chain to local cafe loyalty schemes. Services start from $60 per month, which includes the cost of keeping the app up to date on the app store or Google Play. Traditionally apps with similar functionality to App La Carte have cost as much as $60k to produce and required expensive maintenance and updates on an ongoing basis.

App La Carte also has the benefit of automatically keeping your app up to date whenever Google or Apple make changes to their requirements. This means customers do not have to redo their app each time there is a change. Customers can also log in and make their own changes to their app anytime, anywhere and it updates in real time often without needing to resubmit to the app stores saving more time and money.

The company has had interest from a number of global telecommunications companies, such as Telstra, Swisscom and KPN, who see potential in the model. App La Carte is based on Auckland’s North Shore and currently has 20 employees. More than 60 percent of mobile customers now use a “smart phone”, with the ability to receive and upload data. The average data use per data-using customer on the Telecom mobile network in April 2014 was 465MB per month, up from 411MB in March – representing a 13 percent increase.

“Businesses are increasingly bombarded with marketing around “must have” technology for their customer’s needs - particularly around mobile. With Telecom’s investment and support, App La Carte provides a "one stop shop” for a business app that can immediately increase new and repeat sales and keep pace with the changing needs of the customer and their mobile technologies.

“It’s far from just a pretty way to show your business contact details and directions - a quality mobile app essential for reaching customers where they are now. App La Carte has a lot of scope to grow and develop, given the massive increase in smartphone use matched with how customers now connect with businesses,” says Mr Snodgrass.


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