A Q&A with Yapert co-founder and CEO Phil Kelly. The San Diego-based startup, an interactive ‘mobile magazine’ focused on pop culture and celebrities, closed a $1.2 million Angel funding round in mid-July from Tech Coast Angels, Desert Angels, and Pasadena Angels. The team previously raised $500,000 in Seed funding last summer.
SUB: Please describe Yapert and your primary innovation.
Kelly: Yapert is an interactive mobile magazine bringing fans the best video and image-based trending content from the visual web, all in one place based on the most popular interests of today.
Primary innovations are providing a mobile platform that curates the best and most popular content within the top interests of the social web, all in one place. This makes it very easy for people to keep up-to-date on their favorites, without having to check multiple apps, websites, accounts or pages. Secondly, we provide a platform where brands and entertainers can deliver messages exactly as they intend them without limitations or restrictions—no censorship or 140 characters.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Kelly: Target market is smartphone users around the world, primarily aged 13-to-34 who are active in social media.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Kelly: Today, fans need to check multiple websites, apps, feeds, streams, and more to keep up on their favorites. Many would check Facebook, Twitter, ESPN, Yahoo!, People, Men’s Fitness, ASOS, Hollywood Reporter, WhoSay, IMDB, and many others depending upon their interests, to find what they are looking for. We are the only company bringing fans the best video and image-based trending content for entertainment, music, sports, fashion, fitness, and lifestyle, in one place.
SUB: What differentiates Yapert from the competition?
Kelly: Our platform is designed specifically to organize, simplify, and structure the way fans track what’s happening with their favorite brands and entertainers.
Yapert is one of the only mobile apps in the iTunes stores approved to sell tickets via TicketMaster—a feature we will roll out soon.
Many apps are just push-based, without a selective curating process. Yapert finds the top interests on the web, and then chooses the most popular stars, brands, or topics within these categories to bring into the app.
Our platform allows entertainers and brands to deliver their messages the exact way they intended without any restrictions—i.e. no 140 characters, no censorship, and no EdgeRank algorithms.
SUB: What were the first steps you took in establishing the company?
Kelly: We validated the idea of the company with many focus groups in our target demographics with everyday fans. We listed to their frustrations and understood what they would like to see as a solution. We then visited major entertainment, fashion and sports companies to understand their issues with reaching fans. Putting these together helped us share the vision of the company. We then built a MVP and received further validating feedback.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Yapert? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Kelly: The ‘aha’ moment was around a frustration point. I use mobile Flipboard and Zite regularly, and they are great for keeping me up to date on news, but I could not find anything that would give me a similar experience with the rest of my interests. I love football, rock music, fast cars, fitness, to name a few, and knew I wasn’t alone. So we decided to build Yapert to help mobile users keep up-to-date on their favorites, no matter where they are.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the meaning, behind it?
Kelly: Yapert came from ‘Your App for Entertainment.’
SUB: You recently raised $1.2 million in Seed funding. Why was this a particularly good time to raise funding?
Kelly: We had great support from TCA [Tech Coast Angels] which was our lead Angel group. Desert Angels and Pasadena Angels were also great to work with, and many of my friends joined in the round. We raised more than we were originally looking for, so yes, it was a good time to raise funds.
SUB: How do you plan to use the funds?
Kelly: Continued platform expansion, and sales and marketing efforts.
SUB: Do you have plans to seek additional outside funding in the near future?
Kelly: Not in the near future.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Kelly: Nothing that hasn’t been planned for so far. We have challenges like developing on multiple platforms and getting through the noise in the mobile app area, but we knew about these when we started the company. Also, innovation in the mobile space is at breakneck speed these days, so you need great people, technology, investors, partners, vision, and a receptive market space to be successful.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Kelly: We have ‘Inside Pass’ subscriptions—$.99 per month—that allow fans to access exclusive content—exclusive content from our celebrity partners will start rolling out in late August—and affiliate links to iTunes. Yapert will be introducing another model later this year.
Yapert – www.yapert.com