Artisan: Functional tools for mobile apps

CEO of Artisan, Bob Moul stands in his office in Old City, in Philadelphia, on Tuesday, June 18, 2013. ( Stephanie Aaronson / Staff Photographer )

BOB MOUL, 49, of Devon, is chairman and CEO of Artisan, an Old City company developing functional tools for mobile apps. Retailers, e-commerce pros and publishers have long been able to test and tweak website designs without writing computer programs. Artisan recently launched a platform allowing users to redesign apps to maximize effectiveness.

Q: What's your background?

A: I was CEO of Boomi, a software-as-service-provider that integrated applications allowing for the easy transfer of data between cloud-based and on-premise applications. I sold Boomi to Dell in 2010 and stayed on for a year but wanted to build a mobile software product. I met Scott Wasserman, who founded appRenaissance [Artisan's predecessor] and I joined them in 2011.

Q: And the name Artisan?

A: You have smartphones and tablets, and users want apps to be as compelling as the devices. Mobile blends technology and art and we see ourselves as mobile artisans. We built the Mobile Experience Management platform we call "Artisan Optimize."

Q: How's that work?

A: It allows you to change the look and feel of an app without need for a computer programmer. A marketer or product manager can take an existing app, try out different designs, colors, messages and survey customers [about] which is more effective.

Q: More effective at what?

A: More effective at time in app. More effective in having them register or subscribe. More effective in having them buy things.

Q: Who are your customers?

A: We have a retailer who does online flash sales every day at 1 [p.m.], and you have an hour to respond. We have 40 to 50 of the top 100 Internet retail brands in our pipeline as prospects.

Q: How many customers have signed up to buy service?

A: We have a couple of paying customers right now. We launched the platform in March.

Q: How much do customers pay for your service?

A: It's based on the number of apps and monthly active users. You pay from $1,000 per month to as much as $10,000 per month.

Q: What distinguishes Artisan from the others in this space?

A: There are other players, but their platforms are for technical people who write [software programs] for a living. Our platform is built for business users. It's point-and-click, drag-and-drop.

Q: Do you have revenues yet?

A: We don't disclose that, but it's less than $1 million.

Q: How many employees?

A: 25.

Q: How about startup funding?

A: We got $1.5 million in seed funding from FirstMark Capital. I plowed some of my Boomi earnings into Artisan.

Q: What's ahead for Artisan?

A: I want to build an independent software company in Philly, and mobile is ripe now. Why not be the IBM or CA [Computer Associates] of mobile software?


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