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With focus on monetizing mobile for media, Kickanotch Mobile aims big

Kickanotch’s RevKick platform helps clients manage and analyze campaigns through Kickanotch-produced apps. Screenshot from kickanotch.com.

Beware, media outlets without monetizable mobile applications: chances are, Kickanotch Mobile has you in its crosshairs.

Kickanotch, a Prairie Village, Kan.-based startup that makes native mobile applications and provides a one-stop shop for the management of those apps’ content and advertising, recently discovered a sweet spot working with radio stations, publishing companies and other media entities. And Kickanotch hasn’t slowed down since.

That’s not to say Kickanotch isn’t interested in working with non-media companies — there are plenty of those among its stable of clients. But, as Kickanotch founder and CEO Andy Lynn says, “We’ve really honed in on our vertical.”

Kickanotch grew out of Scanlutions, a company that specialized in QR codes. In late 2010 Lynn began working with Kansas City’s Carter Broadcast Group on a mobile solution. One year later, Kickanotch has some 80 media companies among its more than 100 clients.

Last month, Kickanotch closed a $1.1 million Series A round (total funding now stands at $1.6 million), and the company now has 10 employees to keep up with growth that Lynn says “has been insane.”

Kickanotch builds customizable, native apps at a price that Lynn says is below the market rate, then banks on making up the difference by splitting advertising revenue with clients. Lynn said the exact split depends on the specific customer and its goals, but what’s most important is Kickanotch has some skin in the game.

“We’d rather go with you long term and make money,” Lynn said of Kickanotch’s model. “We’re willing to take the hit (up front) … because we know it will pay out.”

Once Kickanotch creates an app, clients use the company’s RevKick platform to manage the app’s content and control advertisements. RevKick allows clients to do things like customize banner ads, send text advertisements and distribute deal of the day coupons, all with the aim of generating revenue from their apps. Plus, Lynn says, RevKick offers robust analytics, so clients can see what’s working.

“We just created a CMS tool that allows an intern to log in, manage it easily, upload banner ads, track the clicks, track your analytics — how often it’s opened, what features they use …” Lynn said, “so you can monetize it just like you do your website.”

“We’d rather go with you long term and make money. We’re willing to take the hit (up front) … because we know it will pay out.” – Andy Lynn

42 Ventures, a venture capital fund based in Salt Lake City, led Kickanotch’s Series A round. In a release last month, Ned Stringham, the managing partner of 42 Ventures, cited Kickanotch’s strong presence in the media vertical and its success with user engagement as big reasons for his firm’s investment. 

“Andy and his team have developed a mobile platform and business model so in tune with the needs of broadcasters and publishers that customers are flocking to Kickanotch,” Stringham said. “Even more impressive is the engagement and impact their mobile solutions have with their customer’s audience. I’ve only seen download and usage rates like these in the absolute hottest internet markets. When you combine their passion for mobile and their smartly designed technology with the unprecedented rates of mobile adoption, you have the potential for something amazing to happen here.”

That infusion of funding and the influx of human capital it has brought about gives Lynn confidence that his company can continue to expand the scope of its crosshairs.

“We had so much business it was stretching us,” he said. “Now with the funding we’re able to bring on the best people at what they do … offer our clients more and grow the company more.”

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