One of the main drivers behind the hype of the Finnish startup ecosystem is Kristo Ovaska, who either founded or helped co-found Startup Sauna, Aalto Venture Garage, and Aalto Entrepreneurship Soceity among others. In the recent months he's been promoting his new startup, Metrify, and we decided to find out what it's all about.
I joined Metrify CEO Kristo Ovaska and CTO Osma Ahvenlampi for lunch, not really knowing what to expect. To be honest, the cynic in me wrote this startup off as only an excuse for Ovaska to run his own company, rather than watching more and more Startup Sauna teams shoot up around him. But I left convinced this is the real deal; Metrify is on a path to solve some really interesting business and technical challenges.
Metrify got its start around Christmas after Ovaska noticed that Silicon Valley startups very very data driven, but European startups still needed to catch up on their internal metrics. Built on this idea they were going in the startup metrics angle, but ironically after talking to people in different industries they found that U.S. gaming companies were deeply lacking in metrics, while Finland actually has some of the best gaming metrics talent to draw from.
According to Ovaska, with gaming analytics the state of the art is moving too slow for the industry, and Metrify, while still being built, has already shot past their competitors.
The mobile gaming is doubling roughly every two years, and nearly 60% of all mobile gaming revenues comes from in-app purchases. But monetizing users on a fermium model is still a challenge. Only 3-8% of game players ever commit to a game's first in-app purchase, and it can be difficult to retain valuable money-spending users.
To combat this, Ahvenlampi explains, "We ingest all of the data [the game developers] have. What progress players are making, purchases, and who's playing with and against them."
Metrify can then find the patterns apparent in the data to determine how to drive engagement and see where users are falling off. By doing so, the company can then run a predictive model to estimate the potential lifetime value of a user, pointing out the most valuable users to gaming companies as soon as they start playing a game.
Metrify is also designed to give back to the game by taking this data of where users are falling off, and then run automated campaigns tailored towards these users. This could come in the form of an email, an in app campaign, or even changing the actual game mechanics if the model determines the player is having too hard or too easy of a time. And then going back to metrics, Metrify will A/B test these campaigns and messages to find the absolute best ways to monetize each game.
"The world doesn't need another analytics dashboard," explains Ovaska. "Gaming companies want to know who is at risk leaving the game, and why."
The big challenge, of course, is implementing that vision. Creating a one-off system for just one game is a challenge in itself, but building a scalable solution that will support both large and small gaming companies is another thing.
The four person founding team (just finalized a week ago) is nicely set up for this type of challenge. CTO Osma Ahvenlampi spent around 8 years at Sulake, partially working on very similar challenges. He first only coached Metrifiy, but hopped onboard when the huge demand became apparent. Pyry Åvist is strongly focused on the back end, and came from Eniram, the Finnish optimization software company for shipping vessels. And co-founder Tuomo Riekki previously came from DealMachine, the sales force automation tool.
And they've seen huge demand for this type of services. After being selected as one of the five winners of the Stanford E-bootcamp, Kristo the team was blown away from the interest they got from the large Silicon Valley gaming companies in the form of the feedback they got, as well as the fact that CTOs of large gaming companies would take the time to sit down with them.
Metrify will be running a pilot with "one of the largest mobile gaming companies" this August, and plans to have their first pilot product ready at the end of the year.
The company is now reportedly looking for a little over half a million euros in funding, and is exploring options with both Finnish and US investors.