Familonet, a company that has been part of our portfolio since 2012, has finished a very successful year: They were awarded as one of the best apps for Android by Google, and they also started successfully monetizing the users of their mobile application. Reason enough to let their founding partner Hauke Windmüller share a few thoughts here at Venista Voices:

It’s always great to see an idea turn into reality – and then see reality turn this idea into a success. And of course it’s great to experience this with your own idea, which is what has been happening for us at Familonet over recent months. Our application for iOS and Android helps small, real social networks such as families and friends update each other on their current location, status, and initiate private chats – and makes sure everyone knows that their dear ones are safe. We first launched this solution in the fall of 2013, we’ve been updating and growing internationally to more than 1.7 million users in 16 languages, and now we believe that it’s fair to say: We have done a good job!

It wasn’t ourselves who said it, but Google, who recently handed out their coveted Best Apps awards for 2016. We were actually surprised: With so many great programs out there, we hadn’t necessarily hoped we were going to win. But win we did. To us this shows that if you pursue your mission to answer your users’ needs and stay your course you will be successful – and people will recognize your work. Such an award by Google is not only nice to advertise your product, but it is also a real asset for our colleagues working on the software. It is also great when it comes to developing a relationship with Google.

Speaking of development, it’s interesting to see how your project evolves over time. For instance, we did plan to launch hardware to extend our offer when we first started, but this is not really part of our roadmap anymore. Instead, we have been looking much more at ways to grow and monetize growth based on the actual strengths of our software – without spending money on online marketing. 2016 was also a big success because we started not only experimenting, but successfully establishing a monetization model for the app. Last July we started monetizing the audience when it wants to use premium features, such as defining certain locations for the family, or the emergency alert to be sent out to the network, or the network location history and other features. Five per cent of the new users of our app did start a paid membership later on, mostly signing up for annual subscriptions. It’s good to see that launching a monetization has not led to a negative effect on other KPIs.

While we will continue to work on the monetization, we are also going to work hard to add quality to the user experience. One big thing is that we will add context to data. This means that knowing about the last location of a member of your family is nice, but it may be even more meaningful when you combine it with other information. As an example, if you know that daddy is on the way home and you know there’s a traffic jam, this is context that can help make better use of data. We can then tell the rest of the family automatically that the father may be home a few minutes later than expected. In such a way adding context can add to the meaningfulness.

At the end of 2017, our company will be five years old. We were convinced that there’s not only a desire for mobile family security solutions with high data protection standards, but also a market to monetize them. Looking at the developments along the way, we’re very positive that this assumption was correct. We’ll continue to work hard to achieve what’s most important: Deliver safety and comfort to our members.