Kahuna launches with $2M in funding, looks to aid app engagement

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Ninety percent of mobile installs are currently generating zero value.

Those are the scary numbers revealed inside a recent survey calculated by Kahuna, a marketing startup that is launching a new consumer engagement engine, and is backed by $2 million in funding by some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley, from Tim Kendall (Pinterest’s head of product management) to Lee Linden (Facebook’s head of commerce).

“The next evolution of mobile apps is to go beyond the install and talk about engagement,” says Adam Marchick, Kahuna’s co-founder and CEO. “You can talk to 100 mobile app companies, and they’ll all tell you how many installs they have, but ask them how many engaged users they have, and they won’t tell you, or they just don’t know.”

Marchick, who used to be a part of Facebook’s growth team, is hoping to help companies change all that.

“If you get ten installs, nine never do anything you want them to do,” he says. “This felt a lot like what we saw with the Facebook growth team. When I was at Facebook, we were on a mission to get people to ten friends, then to four posts, then to three shares. Once we got them to do that, they were a Facebook customer for three years. But until they did that, they could leave in the next week. And a lot of that is what you see in mobile gaming today.

“So what Kahuna is, we’ve built the first of its kind customer engagement engine that understands user behavior and automates marketing campaigns to increase usage and revenue in mobile apps.”

And while Kahuna has been testing its engine with 20 companies like Gyft and Cleverbug over the last year, helping generate 20-percent growth in purchases across its customer base, the company officially unveiled itself to the public this week.

“We digest millions of user behaviors, and what we do is analyze all of that to produce real-time engagement maps of every single person using both mobile and the Web,” says Marchick. “Through that, we uncover huge opportunities to increase engagement. There might be 40,000 users who had been engaged but have now forgotten about your app, but you have a new feature and you should be telling them about it. We could easily send a million e-mails or push notifications in 30 seconds, so you have that marketing automation in mobile apps that is so important, but has never really been built before.

“When we started Kahuna, we went to go interview the best growth marketers across the world, and when they listened to all of the things that we had built, and then we showed them how the engine works, they all ended up personally investing in the company. But beyond that, we went out and listened to all of these best practices from all these heavy hitters in the industry, and we’ve baked these ideas into the product, so if you use Kahuna, you’re getting pre-built campaign templates that are generated by the best in the business.”