PowWow looks to revolutionize mobile applications with new platform, CEO, channel focus

PowWow’s platform for turning legacy apps into native Mobile ones with relative ease has just been upgraded, and the company is looking to increase its channel business through a select partner channel.


Kia Behnia, PowWow’s CEO

LAS VEGAS — San Francisco-based mobile app platform vendor PowWow Mobile, which won last year’s “Best of Citrix Synergy 2015” award in the enterprise mobility category, was back at this year’s show with significant momentum. Their new SmartUX platform, which recently went into beta, is due out in June. The company has just announced new investment and new leadership. They also are in the midst of expanding their channel presence to continue to drive sales momentum.

PowWow [the name is an acronym of the Power of Wow] makes a platform that lets organizations run their legacy apps in a native way on their mobile devices, including features like the ability for a user to pick up an app in the same place on different mobile devices. They fall into what Gartner terms the Rapid Mobile Application Development [RMAD] category, which is all about transforming the app development process to deliver a lot more apps with a lot less code.

“The real problem with enterprise mobility is around applications,” said Kia Behnia, PowWow’s CEO. “Most customers can’t take their large app portfolio and mobilize it. We are the missing link that helps these organizations run their apps in a native way on their mobile devices.” He noted that a Gartner survey from last December found that while many large organizations have over 250 apps, most have only mobilized around seven of them.

Behnia said what PowWow provides is unique from the standard mobile capabilities like MDM and EMM that many customers have now anyway, and is completely complementary to what Citrix and VMware do.

“Neither VMware nor Citrix have a product that addresses what we address,” he said. “What we do is very difficult. The technology is complex, relying heavily on machine learning, and we have a lot of patents. It’s a multi-year journey to develop something like this, which puts us in a very strong position and a very complementary position. We are Switzerland strategically, and we work with everybody, but we are driven by customer input and customer desire for choice. We have deep integrations with Citrix on certain use cases, especially around Receiver.”

Behnia said that while it is common and expected in the consumer world for applications like Yelp to provide broad functionality without the need to leave the app, and to do this in such an easy way that users use them more frequently, the enterprise has been something else.

“Mobility apps on the enterprise side have been like running a black and white movie on a 4K TV set,” Behnia said. “It will work, but you aren’t using any of the advantages of the device. There is a huge opportunity for partners who build scalable Citrix or VMware environments to take this and build a new exciting and front end that simply connects to the back end and leverages all the power of the smart device.”

PowWow’s SmartUX platform lets users transform Windows or Web-based legacy apps into modern mobile apps that deliver on consumer experience. Its machine learning engine puts the legacy app’s features and UI components into a drag-and-drop menu which allows users to quickly make them modern mobile applications, The SmartUX platform also facilitates smart roaming, where a user can access the same session of a mobile app from different devices.

“Our go-to-market model is highly focused around verticals, because there are some that are extremely complementary to what we do,” Behnia said. “Health care is at the top, but also transportation, financials and education. Organizations with more than1000 users of the application are our sweet spot, with the higher the percentage of mobile devices the better.

“We have particular appeal where the mobile employee stands to gain the most from a rich application experience,” said Marco Bussadori, PowWow’s EVP of Worldwide Sales. “We can deliver them a mobile application that is 100 per cent focused on their workflow.”

Both Behnia and Bussadori, as well as ex-Citrix exec Ravinder Braich, the vice president of product management, are new to the company, with their announcements formerly being announced at the beginning of May. The two original founders remain with the company, one as Chief Technology Officer, the other as Chief Customer Officer.

“I had left BMC after ten years of being the CTO there and became associated with PowWow as a consultant to the two founders,” Behnia said. “As the product continued to mature and evolve it became clear to the board that we needed to put more investment in [$4.25 million was secured to accelerate product and company growth through sales and marketing] and I was asked to join as CEO. The company has a very solid foundation. We didn’t have to get in and fix things.”

Bussadori, who also came from BMC, and had earlier been acquired twice by IBM – with Tivoli and BigFix – was brought in in part because of past channel experience.

“Being partner-friendly is key to our channel, and he has demonstrated how to build a channel,” Behnia said. “Part of Marco’s charter is scaling us in a way that doesn’t have channel conflict and a lot of overlapping partners, which will give partners best practices and allow them to add their own secret sauce.”

Approximately 40 per cent of PowWow’s business comes in through partners.


Marco Bussadori, PowWow’s EVP of Worldwide Sales

“Our goal early on is to get to 60 per cent channel,” Bussadori said. “That’s high for a generic startup, but we have a management team that has done this many times before. The plan is to get to that level of channel in one to two years. Given our growth rate, we believe we can build a channel that can deliver that level. In the first quarter, we added as many customers as in all of 2015. The second quarter will double the first quarter, and the second half of the year will double the half.”

Bussadori indicated that they are looking to create a relatively small and highly profitable channel rather than a volume one.

“You can’t do it wrong at first with channels and put it right after,” he said. “Do we want volume or go thin to have partners with the maximum returns? We elected to ensure all our partners can make a reasonable amount of return. We aren’t just flipping them services because we don’t want to do them. We need to make sure they can get great returns and predict what their business looks like down the line. They want predictability so they can focus on growing. So we are creating a small, highly focused, highly profitable channel.”

Behnia said that PowWoW is fairly simple for partners to learn to sell.

“After PowWow won Best of Show here a year ago, we immediately had two Citrix partners that wanted to resell us, and they got us into multiple accounts,” he said. “We trained them quickly and they were able to sell it.”

Behnia stated that PowWow offers several services opportunities for partners.

“Because most customers can’t take their large app portfolio and mobilize it, this opens the door for solution providers,” he said. “They can first provide consulting and advisory services around which are best to mobilize first, because many organizations struggle with which apps give them the best bang for the buck. The second set of services are transformation services, where the partner takes the legacy apps and transforms them into native mobile apps. We have seen partners interested in doing this as a managed service. We have also seen a lot of interest from larger global SIs in setting up an app factory – a service that is leveraged across multiple customers and geos. It is highly repeatable and has good profit margins because you only do the core work once.”

Bussadori said that while they have no partners in Canada yet, they are aggressively pursuing options.

“I have a couple candidates in mind,” he said. “We are very interested in pursuing one or two relationships, and are also exploring some others.”

While Canada as a whole does not have a reputation as being on the cutting edge of tech adoption, Bussadori – who lives in Vancouver and commutes from there to San Francisco – said mobility can be an exception to that.

“In Canada, there are some areas that are early adopters where organizations are looking to differentiate themselves against other international competitors,” he said. “Mobility, given Canada’s big geos, is something that plays there. We are at the beginning of a new age of computing, in which mobility is now an experience. We not only enable people to build net-new capability quickly but also transform old capabilities into a net new paradigm. That’s a game-changer.”