Mobile app development is some of the trickiest backend work out there. Creating a user interface from scratch that is both aesthetically pleasing and easy to use requires the skills of both an intelligent developer and a skilled designer. Companies nowadays are scrambling to find skilled workers that can blend the two together to make a smooth native mobile app.
That’s the challenge that Y Combinator-backed Pixate is looking to confront by automating part of the process and making app development as simple as web development. The startup, which boasts an app building engine that “dramatically reduces the amount of code required,” has just announced a $3.8 million Series A round of funding led by Accel Partners (disclosure: Accel is one of PandoDaily’s investors).
Pixate officially launched last January, after graduating from Y Combinator the previous summer. Since then the company has amassed a number of clients who use its patent-pending Pixate Engine to help support native mobile app U.I.
In laymen’s terms, Pixate has created a platform companies can use to more easily build mobile applications. Pixate’s engine uses CSS, a declarative marking language that focuses on look and style, to power its app development. This makes it easy to build an app interface using CSS style sheets as opposed to building a native app through other, more complex coding languages. CSS is an easy to use, ubiquitous script, thus making the process much easier for Pixate users, as well as focusing on the look and feel of the app.
The startup has been charging customers to use its Pixate Engine but now has changed its pay model, providing free access to the engine, and offering varying degrees of support at a cost. Prices range from $199 to $1299, depending on the type of business you are and the support your app needs.
According to Pixate’s co-founder and CEO Paul Colton, a “serial entrepreneur” who has founded companies that sold to heavyweights like Adobe, Appcelerator, and HootSuite, hundreds of companies have already started using Pixate’s service. While the types of businesses building out their apps range, he said that there has been “a lot of enterprise interest,” thus far.
Last summer the company engendered a bit of controversy. It commenced a Kickstarter campaign, then scrapped it for another, less ambitious goal ($200,000 to $25,000). And then, while running the campaign, ran a Daring Fireball paid sponsorship for its as-yet-unfunded product. (Sponsorships of that kind run for $7,500.) This caused some to scratch their heads, as well as raised concerns about the company’s transparency with the backers of the original Kickstarter campaign. But that was almost a year ago. Pixate has released its product, received positive feedback, and has officially attracted some real funding. Colton says the next hurdle is to “double down on Android” and expand the company – possibly by adding 10 to 20 new faces by the end of the year, as well as some new, undisclosed services.
Given Colton’s track record, though, some believe he may be looking for another exit. In his conversation with PandoDaily, he implied no such thing (although that is not surprising). But past is often prologue, and given how he has handled his previous startups, Colton seems like the kind of guy who likes to build something then move on – and Pixate would be an ideal candidate for that.
[Image via TeachThought]