On Monday, Rakuten Ventures, the investment arm of the Japan-based e-commerce titan, announced it has made a seed investment in a US-based startup OneSignal that’s made a push notification platform aimed at mobile app and game developers.
OneSignal is a startup that makes it simple for developers to add personalized push notifications to their app. It has raised a funding of $2 million in seed funding from Rakuten Ventures, Y Combinator and other angel investors that includes Justin Kan and Zack Coelius, the founders of Twitch and Triggit.
Made by Lilomi Inc., the platform will invest its new fund to hire developers and acquire more users. Previously the startup raised a seed round of $170,000 from Y Combinator, SV Angel and Start Fund. It is also introducing support for web push notifications using its Web Push API, which allows its user to select to receive personalized push notifications from websites on their PCs, tablets or smartphones.
More than 2000 developers have signed up for the services of this startup. The tools of OneSignal are used in 1,100 published mobile apps that reach more than 90 million users. Push messages are important for increasing engagement but also at the same time they cannot send too many push messages for the message may irritate the user and end up app getting deleted.
Founder George Deglin says the push messaging tools are generally expensive that pushes the developers to end up using cheap and less effective options. The company is working on a cheaper alternative that still provides app creators more control by allowing them to customize the push notifications to specific set of users based on a set of parameters like what they like, where they live etc.,
Deglin says, “The user experience of an application that sends smartly personalized notifications is a dramatic improvement over one that sends impersonal and unwanted messages. We want to help all developers delight their users through the most effective notifications possible.” He also added, “We believe all developers should have an intuitive platform for sending effective push notifications to their customers, and we believe this should not cost them five or six figures a year.”
OneSignal is different from Amazon SNS and Parse Push as it offers better features that helps the developers to set up complex campaigns quickly and effectively. Urban Airship and Appboy also have much more powerful tools, but Deglin says it belongs to different sector as they are targeted at enterprise clients who can pay much more.
Apart from the three main mobile OSes, the OneSignal’s system can be integrated with gaming engines like Unity 3D. The company generate revenue with three pricing tiers for developers based on how many devices and monthly notifications they want to hit. If it is less than one million devices, there’s a free tier for smaller developers to try out before expanding.
OneSignal’s first-party plug-ins intend to make it comparatively simple and fast for developers to add its tools to their apps. Currently, they are compatible with native iOS, native Android, Amazon Fire, Windows Phone, Corona SDK, Unity 3D, Adobe Air, Marmalade, Cocos2dx and Phonegap. The team was recently working n HTML5 push notification support in Google Chrome and Firefox. “With this, our developer audience will soon expand outside of mobile to include anyone with a website,” said Deglin. More and more platforms and frameworks are expected to be added soon.
This is Rakuten Ventures’ third investment in the non-Asian startup. It is something that has been spotted more often after the VC firm launched a US$100 million startup fund last summer. That has better global perspective than Rakuten Venture’s first ever US$10 million fund in 2013, which was aimed at Southeast Asia.