It’s going to be difficult to pick winners and losers in the mobile computing applications space; it is so, so crowded and noisy. The market is absolutely enormous and more on that doesn’t need to be written here, it has been so widely documented other places. From an investor or entrepreneur’s standpoint, the question today is how to play it without investing millions of dollars in a “spray and pray” strategy hoping that enough bets will result in at least one home-run. Around the mobile applications eco-system there are a myriad of services businesses, including professional services, that make the mobile value chain possible.
UEI is interested in niche specialty application players where the management team has developed years of experience in a narrow domain and has discovered that a mobile application is just an ancillary service offering and revenue stream for them. They may need capital to develop it as part of their existing business or, preferably, want to set up the mobile application offering as its own company. UEI’s portfolio company ClikMedia is such an example (see our portfolio page). A talented entrepreneur from the static sign design business realized his large commercial real estate signage customers needed to replace their “kludgie” lobby kiosk directory and sign systems with a mobile app that lives in the Cloud and is custom fit for their property and its tenants. Seems like common sense but was an insight born of years in the static sign business. Investments like this are right in UEI’s wheelhouse.
In addition, we like services businesses focused on mobile billing, payments, consulting, marketing and information collection. Subscription or contracted services that take friction out of the mobile computing process tend to have the sort of unit economic leverage that UEI finds attractive.