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Investors back Mobiquity and Apperian, Boston companies that support mobile app development in the enterprise

Posted by Scott Kirsner  March 29, 2011 09:01 AM

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Investors are putting almost $15 million into two different Boston start-ups today, and while the companies are different, the investment thesis is the same: that we're still in the early days of companies developing their own mobile and tablet applications, geared both to employees and customers.

Mobiquity is just launching this week, with a focus on selling consulting services to companies that need to craft mobile strategies and then create applications that tie in to their existing systems. Mobiquity's chief executive is Bill Seibel, an executive who did tours at the consulting firms Cambridge Technology Partners (acquired by Novell in 2001) and Zefer (filed for bankruptcy, also in 2001).

Seibel says that Mobiquity has raised a $5 million first round of funding from Sigma Partners and Longworth Venture Partners, and he expects to have about 22 employees by the end of April. In the short term, the company will operate out of Marlborough, Providence, and Philadelphia. Seibel says Mobiquity is already working with three early clients, in the retail, airline, and financial services sectors — though he isn't yet ready to name them.

"I think what sets us apart from a lot of people is that we don't think that mobile is just a stand-alone app that you can buy and download from iTunes," Seibel says. "You need to really take advantage of the new capabilities of mobile to drive changes in your business model." (Seibel compares it to the early days of the Web, when companies initially published online versions of their brochures, with little utility.) He says that bigger IT services firms aren't yet going after mobile projects aggressively, since "they tend not to enter in a serious way until there are $10 million or $12 million projects. Until then, we think we can build a track record and a roster of clients that will be the backbone of the company."

Working alongside Seibel is chief creative officer Andrew Hiser, who was previously a director at Cambridge-based Tank Design; Scott Snyder, a Wharton School senior fellow and author of the book "The New World of Wireless"; Joel Evans, founder of the Providence mobile development firm Cronk Software; and Jonathan Stark, author of two recent books on building Android and iPhone apps.

The other start-up announcing new funding today is Apperian, which focuses less on selling consulting services, and more on providing tools and templates that help companies develop and deploy their own iPhone apps. (The company's own buzzword-ese describes it as "a cloud-based platform for enterprise mobile application development and management.")

Apperian, which had previously raised just over $1 million, has just added $9.5 million to its bank account, from North Bridge Venture Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners, and Kleiner Perkins' iFund, which invests specifically in "market-changing ideas and products that build upon the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad." CommonAngels and LaunchCapital, the local firms that supplied Apperian's seed funding, also participated in this latest round.

Boston-based Apperian counts as clients Intuit, Cisco Systems, the American Automobile Association, Dupont, and Procter & Gamble. The company has 25 employees, and expects to be at about 50 by year-end.

David Patrick, an exec who'd previously worked at Novell and The Learning Company, joined Apperian as CEO last September, when founder Chuck Goldman took on the role of chief strategy officer.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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