Mobile app platform Bluebridge raises $1M

Steven Loeb · September 16, 2014 · Short URL:

Bluebridge helps organizations like universities and churches to develop a mobile presence

As the world goes increasingly mobile, its becoming important for every business and organization to have a presence on the platform. But what about organizations that don't have the budget, or expertise, to create the kinds of online experiences that are necessary to drawn people in?

They can turn to Bluebridge, a mobile-apps-as-a-service (MAaaS) company, offers services to mid-market organizations that help them create, and maintain, mobile apps to help increase their engagement.

Now the company, which has been bootstrapped since it was founded in 2011, announced on Tuesday that it has raised its first outside capital: a $1 million seed round of financing, The round was led by notable angel investors including Bill Godfrey, founder of Aprimo, and Tim Kopp, former CMO of ExactTarget. Additional angel investors with "deep software and operating experience” also participated in the investment.

So why take money now? Because the company was finally ready to do so, said Santiago Jaramillo, founder and CEO of Bluebridge, told me in an interview.

"We wanted to nail down out business model, make sure that our company was sustainable, and that we could scale it in a sustainable way," he said. "We now have significant number of apps in app stores our clients are renewing subscriptions, and out sales and marketing is strong."

Now, with this funding, the company will have  "so much more opportunity, and more resources, to deliver a better product and client experience."

The idea for Bluebridge came to Jaramillo as he watched mobile first become more popular than the personal computer, then saw apps take over desktop Web, and then, by 2014, saw people spending more time using mobile apps than do they watching TV.

At the same time, though, brands and organizations have struggled to implement a mobile strategy that works, especially as it has become more fragmented, with more operating systems and devices. 

"Brands are left saying, 'we need to talk to consumers through mobile channels,' but they don’t have mobile presence whatsoever," said Jaramillo. And that is especially true for organizations that do not have either the money, or the expertise, to create their own apps.

"We want them to go to market with a compelling app presence and strategy. One that is affordable but looks like their organization and helps them to communicate."

While there are other similar types of companies out there, which help companies build their mobile apps, what separates Bluebridge is the way it approaches its clients: while many other app building services take a do-it-yourself approach, in which a client pays a fee to access an online builder, Bluebridge instead consults with the company but does all the work for them, giving them what Jaramillo calls a "white glove" solution."

Bluebridge will have a strategy call with the company, in which it discusses what the business goals are, the problems it is facing, and the pains they have.

"We want to have a firm understanding of why did they buy it, and what will the app do for their business," said Jaramillo.

Once that is done, Bluebridge will recommend features that it believes will help the business accomplish its goals. Once they become fully aligned on a strategy and the layout of app, including colors, logo and style, Bluebridge will design and build it.

"We realized our customer’s time is best spent doing what they always do, not learning how to create a mobile app," said Jaramillo. "We help them with design, interface with Apple and Google to get the apps approved."

The company charges an annual rate that start at $4,200 a year and can go as high as $20,000 plus a year, depending on the number of users, and the type of services that are required.

Bluebridge will use this new funding to continue to expand its team, which has been growing quickly. While it only had three people in January of 2013, it had 13 just a year later. Seven months after that, the number doubled to 26, and now the company plans to just about double it again, to 50 total employees.

As the company plans to make investments into product, it will be hiring mobile and Web developers, as well as more people for its client experience, and to its marketing team as well.

"We are really excited about our investors. This round was significantly oversubscribed," he said. "We are proud of the mix of investors. These are seasoned tech executives, who have been there and done that, and scaled businesses. We are thrilled to count them as investors and mentors."

The Fisher, Indiana-based Bluebridge is now used by hundreds of organizations, including Purdue University, Gatlinburg, Tenn. Convention and Visitors Bureau, and The Wesleyan Church. Organizations that use the service can see triple digit return on investment, Jaramillo told me, especially when it comes to print savings.

"Mobile is big, and it is going to stay. Brands will struggle to find their place to truly manage these interactions," Jaramillo told me. "We want to become a single place to go through for a compelling mobile presence to engage an audience."

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Bluebridge is now Emplify!

In November 2016, mobile app engagement platform Bluebridge sold its church and tourism units for $8 million to invest our complete focus and resources into Emplify, our employee engagement platform.

Emplify is on a mission to help one million employees do the best work of their careers. By giving organizations the insights to unlock the potential of their people, Emplify’s insights framework distills culture and feedback into employee analytics that enable leaders to make better data-driven decisions.

Bluebridge Digital was created to provide an easier, smarter way for businesses to harness the power of the mobile revolution. BlueBridge Digital creates customized, affordable, full-featured mobile apps that help organizations like universities, convention and visitors bureaus, churches and more connect with their audiences on the platform they use daily: their smartphones.





Santiago Jaramillo

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