Eric Greenberg says he has learned what not to do after watching billions of dotcom dollars evaporate in his Internet consulting business, Scient, 15 years ago.
Now he is back with a new San Francisco-based business called Wrap that aims to simplify and cut the cost of presenting mobile content. It promises to render content for mobile with applike capabilities but no programming necessary.
Wrap just raised a $12.7 million Series B round led by Raine Ventures and Germany’s ProSiebenSat.1 Media. Others involved include Christopher Crain of Crain Communications, Dream Incubator, FF Angel LLC, Salesforce Ventures and Transmedia Capital. The 35-person company has now raised a total of $18.7 million.
“Here’s something that kids starting businesses today don’t understand. It’s f—ing absolutely wrong to spend $3 to make $2,” he said. “You don’t buy market share and lose money on purpose.”
So Greenberg said his focus with Wrap is to be profitable and solve a basic problem for large customers. “I don’t believe in losses.”
“If you are in business today and you want to tell a story on mobile, you either have to do a custom application development, use some kind of tool that renders on one platform or you have to write an app,” Greenberg said. “There are already 3 million apps. Nobody wants more apps. Nobody keeps the apps on their phone and most apps are erased after 30 days. Most are used only once.”
Wrap is targeting three business markets now — ecommerce, publishing and direct marketing. It plans to introduce a consumer-focused version of its mobile story-telling software early next year.
“The problem with apps and content right now is engagement,” Greenberg said. “It just sucks right now. We are trying to fix the engagement problem and make presenting content less expensive.”
A Wrap can be created for about 90 percent less than it costs to present content on multiple platforms, he said. “When you make a Wrap once, it literally runs everywhere.You don’t have to update it for all those mobile platforms.”
Wraps are created now on desktop computers but a handheld, mobile version is expected in the first quarter that Greenberg thinks could find traction with consumers.
“It will let people create a Wrap in 10 seconds and share it,” Greenberg said. “If you are a real estate professional on a house call, you will be able to take some pictures of a house, Wrap that up with a map and a lead generation form, and send that out to everybody in your address book in seconds.”
Teens could also take pictures at a party, interact with friends and create a Wrap. “That could really go viral,” Greenberg said.
But the consumer market is secondary to Wrap’s business focus now.
“Many startups that are out there right now start out with a consumer business that goes viral and then they try to create a business out of that,” he said. “We are starting out with something that actually solves a business problem and we are just extending that to consumer demographics.”
When asked if this may be a bad time to launch a business-focused software startup in a volatile economy, Greenberg was blunt.
“No,” he said. “I’ll tell you when it is the wrong time to do something. When you have the seventh dog-walking app or when you have a feature masquerading as a company or if you have a slightly faster way to load a process or image or something like that and that is your entire company. None of those things are going to do necessarily well.”
Startups that solve real business problems and help save money will do well, he insists.
“We are going to have economic adjustments but fundamentally the economy is being driven by the adoption of mobile. That isn’t going to change,” he said “People aren’t going to throw their phones away just because the stock market goes down 2,000 points. It’s not happening.”