By Lauren Keyson and Sarah Grieco
“Most banking apps are pretty bland,” according to Jerry Rudisin, the CEO of Flybits. “They know where you are, and who you are, which is great. You can transfer money and do the usual things, but that’s not enough to really be competitive. Enterprise mobile app users get tired of having a cookie-cutter, one-size fits all app, and that puts the enterprise at a competitive disadvantage.
Flybits is a software product company with a unique cloud-based offering that’s aimed at Enterprises who want to offer truly personalized experiences through mobile channels. Mobile apps, wearables, even mobile web pages can all be personalized using the Flybits pre-packed infrastructure.
JR: I think the idea is pretty clear that most enterprises today, certainly in banking, use mobile apps as a key way to engage with their customers — people of all ages — but especially millennials. So a lot of big banks like TD Bank, who is one of our customers, are very keen on offering a much more personalized experience through their app. Then they find that using the Flybits software, they can deliver more personalized engagement in a very, very easy way. They can slash the amount of coding required, bringing them to market faster.
This makes for a much more compelling app experience. It’s more personalized when you can easily integrate things like location, customer data, the kind of customer you want, maybe even a mortgage history and things like the weather, Fitbit info, calendar info…think of all that as being available because it is.
So what we have is a set of prepackaged interfaces, providing access to common context sources. Customers can create their own to harness their proprietary data and integrate that it into their app using our SDK (Software Development Kit), and use it in a very harmonious fashion. Basically, you take an existing app, like TD is doing, and you plug in the Flybits SDK. Once you do that, you have access to our visual Experience Studio that lets you change what the app actually does in real time, on the user’s devices anywhere in the world, without any further coding. It allows you to set up the contextual elements that you care about and say, ‘Here’s what I want to deliver based on the rules we set up’.
LK: Why did you get involved in Fintech and mobile?
JR: Well, I got excited because I’m a start-up, software kind of guy. This is my fourth startup coming in as CEO after the fact. I love enterprise kind of customers. I love the idea. This is a big, big market. For me, I love the fact that Flybits can help enterprises increase their top line sales. It can help people sell effectively and increase revenue for customers instead of being a cost-saving vehicle. Being able to actually grow their revenue and become more responsive to customers is a fun thing to get involved in. I love it. We have a great, great team and the founder, Dr. Hossein Rahnama, is fantastic. I fell in love with him as far as his vision and passion.
I think Fintech is a huge market. I think the sales cycle is maybe a bit longer. But I think Fintech people tend to spend money to make money. In that sense, I think it’s more predictable. The key thing to say to anybody in a startup, competitor or otherwise is, is to focus on a minimum viable product, get something to market that you can get real feedback early, from anyone in the marketplace. Something that’s 70% there is way better than waiting another year for something that’s 90% there.
LK: Tell me more about how Flybits is different from other Fintech platforms?
JR: For one, we can make it very easy to specify your business rules. Here’s a good example: let’s say you’re a bank and you care a lot about mortgages. So what you want set up in the app is the following behavior for when I as a consumer walk into your branch. I want the app to understand who I am, the fact that I have a mortgage refinancing that’s due. My calendar says I’m not that busy this second, and I may even be notified by my app: ‘Hey Mr. Rudisin, we see that you have a mortgage renewal due in two months’ time. You’re 200 yards from the nearest branch, you might want to come in now because you’re not very busy, your calendar is free for the next half hour. No waiting for an appointment, just see the manager now’.
You may even want to go further and say, ‘Hey Mr. Rudisin, thanks for coming in’ just as I’m leaving the branch. Also, our enterprise customers can use contextual data from their customer’s phone. Weather is one of the context plugins, so you may get an offer saying, ‘Hey Mr. Rudisin I see that you walked in the branch and you live nearby. Since you’re a premium customer, and it’s about to rain, we’ll send you home in an Uber with a discount’.
We have some cool personalization that marketers like to think of, but with Flybits they can do this on their own without further coding. They can indulge their wildest use cases and try them. And with the existing Flybits app, they can do those changes in hours or a day. There’s incredible agility and reduced cycle time. This makes the whole app experience far more valuable to the company.
LK: Do you make changes according to customer feedback?
JR: Absolutely. Part of the challenge there is sometimes customers look at something and they see small changes that they can make, which is interesting, but they can miss the big picture. The classic joke of Silicon Valley is, ‘Steve Jobs wouldn’t have ever come up with the idea of the iPhone if he looked at minor refinements to a typical cellphone before and listened to what customers want.” Customers couldn’t even think of the iPhone, he had to think of it. We’re not as grandiose at Flybits, but we have to listen and sometimes ignore what we hear.
One thing I love about Flybits is that consumers see this and they kind of get the delight factor. ‘Oh this is cool! My app just did this for me and its giving me something really neat that maybe I didn’t expect or know that I needed!” That’s why the banks and other brands really like us. TD bank is a great customer and Vodafone built a corporate campus app using Flybits. Their issue is integrating things like security, facilities, visitors and employees. Fintech is our biggest vertical but it’s a very broadly applicable solution.