Alistair Crane and Jamie True graciously turned down $10 million of seed funding in the early stages of building their startup. Alistair explains "We framed the offer letter from the bidder and it sits in one of our toilets in our U.K. headquarters". The pair wanted to remain in complete control of their business, whilst simultaneously forcing themselves to create a profitable business, “When you've got $20 million in the bank, you lose some of that drive to make ends meet.” And their risk paid off.
In January 2010 the pair launched Grapple, which is quite simply a platform which develops apps for Blackberry, Android, iPad, iPhone, Windows phone and Nokia – from one source code. The company has grown from strength to strength, with the number of employees growing from three to 85 across London, Toronto and New York. Not only this but Grapple has also been able to invest $9 million back into itself in order to promote growth within the business.
The idea behind the business sprouted in 2006 when a group of mobile phone lovers queried how apps could be made for everyone regardless of their smartphone. After over four years developing the product, Grapple has now made apps for some of the biggest most dominant brands in various markets, including McDonalds, IBM, Xbox and Adidas. Their website boasts that ‘Everyday Grapple works with 1 in 5 of the UK’s top 40 brands’, and in 2011 there were more downloads of their clients’ apps than the entire population of London.
It seems despite the initial self-sufficient nature of the company, Grapple has grown along with its impressive client base.
It’s no surprise that Grapple has been awarded ‘Innovative Agency of the Year 2012’. Not only do they create, design and distribute apps at 75% cost to the clients of a typical iPhone app, but they also offer advice along the way and promote a close working relationship between themselves and the client. Not only that but even after the app has been finalised and distributed, Grapple provide their client with detailed analytics that show how many times the app has been downloaded and how it is being used, thus creating opportunities in the future.
Grapple has effectively utilised their strengths and even their weaknesses. Although on the surface it seems as though the business could be facing competition from others such as McCann Erickson and Ogilvy, they often end up collaborating! It will be fascinating to see Grapple continue to grow and expand internationally.