Ooomf helps devs build a following before their app launches

Many mobile apps builds toward a big launch only to get lost in the marketplace and quickly forgotten. But a new service called Ooomf is hoping to help developers build a following for an app prior to launch by allowing users to provide input and get behind-the-scenes updates on upcoming apps.

The Montreal startup is announcing $500,000 in seed funding as it rolls out the public beta of its app discovery platform Wednesday. The funding is led by Montreal-based Real Ventures and also includes participation from BDC Venture Capital and some angel investors.

With Ooomf, developers will be able to list their apps as “coming soon,” giving users a glimpse of what to expect. Some developers will offer users a chance to help create the app, enabling them to give feedback on certain design choices or other decisions. It’s not exactly like Kickstarter, in which donors support a creator with cash, but the idea is to let developers engage with supporters early and let them in on select parts of the creative process. In return, Ooomf is working on different kinds of incentives for users, things like early access to an app or discounts on in-app purchases.

OoomfOoomf, which is expanding from a website to mobile apps soon, isn’t just for upcoming apps. Existing apps can also market themselves on the site, though there are plenty of other options for that as well. Mikael Cho, the co-founder and CEO of Ooomf tells me there’s about 200 apps on the site now, mixed between existing and future apps.

Mobile app developers have other tools like Wahooly to drum early buzz. Wahooly lets developers receive feedback and promotion from influential online users, who get a small slice of equity for supporting an app. But Ooomf works for developers who don’t want to give up a stake in their app. And users can get some immediate benefits rather than waiting for an app to sell somewhere down the road.

I think it’s tough for some developers to open up their app to a wider audience before launch. And there’s a danger that a competitor might be lurking to pick off some ideas. A larger problem is ensuring that Ooomf can attract both engaged users and promising apps, both of which are necessary for the service to work. And as I’ve written about before, the app discovery market is just getting more crowded with services, which just makes it harder for services like Ooomf to succeed.

But Ooomf believes it can attract developers to the platform by working with partners such as the Application Developers Alliance and Appitalism, a multi-platform app store. It’s also offering developers coaching on how to promote their apps. With good apps, Ooomf is hoping it can ultimately bring in users, who want to participate in the app building process and support their favorite app makers, said Cho. Ooomf actually started out as online marketing tool but pivoted to more of a discovery platform while in the FounderFuel Accelerator Program this past spring.