Branch provides free deep linking technology for mobile app developers to gain and retain users. They're on a mission to help solve mobile discovery by connecting users to relevant app content through deep links.
Mike Molinet, Branch Metrics
A product guy and entrepreneur, Mike Molinet is a co-founder of Branch Metrics and Kindred Prints and formerly a product engineer at 3m where he launched dozen products and acquired 10 patents. He's using all the lessons he's learned to help other mobile app developers to increase installs, conversions and engagement through deep linking technology with Branch. One notable recent accolade for Branch Metrics was winning the 2015 GSMA Mobile World Congress Startup Innovation Competition.
Since you're the main decision maker for tools at Branch, can you tell us a bit about your methods, processes (or lack thereof!) for selecting tools? How has that changed as you've grown?
In the beginning, a lot of the tools we implemented were things we were already aware of either from past experiences or from word of mouth. However, as we’ve scaled from a team of 4 to a team of 60, we’re now in a new territory where we don’t know which tools we should be leveraging at this scale.
The way we source and select tools today involves first identifying where we have inefficiencies or needs and then actively talking to other folks 1-3x our size to see what tools they use and recommend. For example, we recently found out about InsightSquared by asking another company what the one tool they loved the most was. And for some of our HR stuff, we’ve started consulting with HR heads and COOs to see what they use. It’s challenging to identify the correct tools when you don’t know what you don’t know, but leveraging our network, using Stacklist, and generally being proactive is helpful.
As for evaluating tools, it’s usually a standard flow: (1) Identify a potential tool. (2) Research competitors. (3) Do discovery calls and get bids from the different providers. And then (4) select based on price, solution, and recommendations (including backchannel references).
What would you say is the most important tool in Branch's stacklist? How did you discover it? How/when did you realize you needed a tool like this?
Importance varies by team. For the sales department, the most important tool is Salesforce right now. For ops, it’s probably our HRIS system because it eliminates a ton of overhead with regard to employee and benefit management.
You work with a lot of mobile app developers. Can you recommend any tools that are universally helpful or even essential to mobile app developers? (In addition to Branch!)
In addition to Branch, some of the most critical and universally helpful tools include Localytics, Crashlytics, Mixpanel, and SDK platforms like Segment and mParticle. If I were a mobile app developer, those tools (plus Branch) would be in my app from Day 1.
How did you come up with idea for Branch Metrics?
We originally began as Kindred Prints, an app that allows you to print and ship custom photo books from your phone. The app did pretty well and was featured in the App Store several times. However, the team kept encountering problems that prevented us from further growth. Sharing, referrals, and deep linking were the three pieces we struggled with the most and for which there were no good solutions.
To tackle those problems we wanted to create links that users could share with others or reference later which would point to the specific content they created with the Kindred Prints app. What we found was that existing mobile deep links would only work if the users have the apps installed on their phones, which creates a broken user experience and loses all context for any new installs. Thus born the idea to make a smarter deep link - links that keeps users flowing through app installs in a way that’s similar to how the web works.
Who's your core audience? At what stage do companies tend to implement Branch?
Our core audiences are mobile app developers, PMs, and marketers who want to grow and maintain a high-quality user base with increased conversions and retention. What’s amazing about our tool is that it’s useful for app developers of all sizes, from the brand new app launching for the first time to the large brands that have been around for years, such as Pinterest, Microsoft, and eBay. The technology is very advanced and difficult to build, so it’s definitely one of those solutions that everyone chooses to outsource (or “buy”) rather than ever attempt to build. We’re fortunate that we’ve been able to build a technology that’s broadly beneficial to apps and companies with mobile initiatives in every stage.
What sets you apart from your competition?
Branch deep linking is the most complete and robust deep linking solution that works across platforms - and thousands of edge cases - with the ability to deep link through the install process.
We exist to serve our app partners, which means we’re always dedicated to providing the best services and developing new features to ensure their success in mobile growth.
And our deep linking SDK and API are free and open-source, making it a no-brainer for app developers and PMs in every company.
Where do you see yourself a year from now?
A year from now, we plan to have even more features built on top of our core deep linking technology that help apps of every size to grow and retain a high-quality user base. Those new features will continue to make Branch the de facto deep linking solution for mobile apps, help us achieve our mission to help mobile apps grow and ultimately connect mobile users with relevant content.