Japan’s DeployGate, test marketing tool for mobile developers, taking on the US market



See the original story in Japanese.

Japan’s DeployGate, offering a test marketing tool for smartphone app development under the same name, announced last month that it will establish a US subsidiary.

DeployGate provides a testing and marketing function that allows mobile developers to distribute beta version of their apps to testing users and collects feedbacks from them before the official launch. Spun off from Japanese internet company Mixi (TSE:2121) just a year ago, DeployGate has been providing this service for more than three years. Currently, it proposes service plans for individuals or SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) as well as the ones for big companies managing multiple apps or many developers involved. It has been adopted by various Japanese internet companies such as Mixi, Recruit (TSE: 6098) and Cookpad (TSE: 2193), in addition to some major game developers.

Together with AppBroadCast, a Japanese media company focused on helping mobile gaming developers reach potential users, DeployGate released a test marketing specialized service for these developers called SakiPre. Conventionally, development of console games often required prolongation in order to raise the degree of perfection thoroughly because user reactions or feedbacks could be obtained only after the launch. However, as the game industry gradually shifts toward the mobile field, it has realized a new development method which facilitates beta testing so that games are elaborated on by both developers and consumers, or sales promotion conducted before the launch.

DeployGate CEO Yuki Fujisaki commented on the positive response for their product:

Recently, people in the game business often tell me that they have been using DeployGate. The shift toward mobile in the game industry had much influence on DeployGate in providing them a new development environment.

The number of consumers who had downloaded apps from Saki-Pre has already exceeded 40,000. Also from clients, we have been receiving testimonials such as “it became possible to predict whether the game will be a big hit or not before launch” and “for a game which scored more than 3.5 at the Saki-Pre questionnaire, an average of 3.9 on GooglePlay store can be expected” as well as “since the response rate of Saki-Pre participants is more than 30%, points to be improved can be pinpointed at the last minute for the launch.”

Moreover, the company has started providing linking functions with business chat tools such as Slack, Hipchat and Chatwork since July of 2015 for easier communication within companies that makes feedbacks for development smoother as well. They were nominated for CEDEC Awards 2015 in August, followed by having spread its service steadily among global developer communities while participating in conferences in the US such as WWDC or Google I/O as well as holding meetups in tandem with Crittercism, a crash reporting tool startup in San Francisco. The team had been communicating closely with developers at Crittercism or Github, and emphasizing service development for developers from a global perspective.

The service is currently being utilized in about 100 countries. Even at launch, developers with diverse backgrounds such as Americans, Europeans and Scandinavians had used it, while only half of the users were Japanese. Since starting the service for Android first, it has gained esteem from developers in countries with much Android share, like Brazil.

COO Kazuto Yasuda looks back on the first year:

We spent most of the year enhancing the business core. Thankfully we have finished the first period of second year in the black, and have been organizing systems for management and customer supports.

In this situation, the team felt the need for local bases to gain customer support and brush up the product leveraging opinions from local developers as reference for service plans aimed at enterprises. As the first step to global expansion, they announced the establishment of the US while appointing Yasuda as its CEO.

Also the team aims at function expansion while cooperating with other service operators for developers that are under consideration. These days, the service is being enhanced under the theme of ‘how much the development environment for app developers can be simplified’ such as implementation of automated building function from source codes,  called Dg Command. These updates can be checked out on the DeployGate blog.

The team is intended to continue operating their business on a bootstrap budget because they already have a good sales prospect and want to more focus on team building, investigating users’ needs, improving the product and user support.

To improve the product upon hearing feedbacks from developers using it directly, the company will set up an independent office this spring to make it easier to hold user meetups periodically. In addition to the three founders, the company has recently acquired new developers and designers, plus customer support representatives who work remotely from the office.

Fujisaki concluded:

DeployGate has grown as a tool essential for developers. Since there is substantial need not only in the IT industry but also in the game industry, many companies and developers are beginning to understand the importance of pre-launch test marketing.

By giving them more opportunities to communicate between developers and their users through our tool, we want to help developers continue developing apps that meet users’ expectations.

Translated by Taijiro Takeda
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy

The DeployGate management team: From left, COO Yasuda the second one, and CEO Fujisaki the third.