"Mad Men" to App Men 

This past Sunday millions around the world tuned in as the last and final season of Mad Men premiered on AMC. I watched anxiously waiting for that “regularly scheduled moment”, the one in which Don emerges a transformed man, revealing a stroke of genius that almost makes you forget about the three marriages he just ransacked in the scene prior. So I sat, waiting for “it” and hoping that this moment of maddening creativity would awake my own artistic brilliance saving me from a terrible bout of writer’s block I had been having.

Alas to my surprise it wasn’t Don whose creativity was on display for everyone to envy this week; but, rather it was Peggy, Don’s unrequited protégé, who coolly took center stage and enchanted the client, Burger Chef, as she so eloquently illustrates a pitch all her own. The scene that Peggy painted was a welcoming one, a warm and humble hostess, a father, a son, and a daughter all gathered around a table fit for June Cleaver. And, the honored guest? Why,you of course

With that 1960’s gentle womanly smile Peggy delivers a firm message to the boys at Burger Chef-- the market is evolving, and so must you. She speaks confidently and clearly, explaining to the million dollar men sitting around the table that if they want to survive, and even more than that if they want to make a killing on their investment, well then their grocery store ads and supermarket displays simply just won’t do. Their customers, Peggy explains, well their attention will not be stolen so easily from the new color TV that boastfully dons the den these days seamlessly occupying the entire family for hours upon end. And, if you can’t beat them-- which she insists they cannot-- well, then your only choice is to join them. Peggy enlightens the client as to what the opportunity of paid broadcast media presents for Burger Chef. That is, an invitation to join the modernday family’s dinner table; and, more importantly their dinner conversation. Peggy slows her words as if to spell it out for them, ‘prime time television is your opportunity to become the conversation.

There’s a parallel here in Peggy’s address. A parallel between the changing world of advertising in the 1970’s, and the rapidly evolving marketplace in which we live today. Over the past few seasons of Mad Men we’ve watched as the advancing technology of broadcast media stealthily became the most unguarded platform for reaching the day’s average consumer. Similarly this resembles the reality that has transpired in our own market over the past several quarters, as mobile apps have emerged as the modern day mogul’s invitation to “join the conversation” or, rather become it.

There’s no arguing that mobile technology has undoubtedly served to disrupt the traditional investor’s rise to glory. Empowered mobile users have adopted a new vehicle for consumption, and one in which they occupy the driver’s seat. Like never before people everywhere can now access information, share experiences, exchange knowledge, and voice their opinions on products, people, places you name it!-- with a global community of stakeholders and potential stakeholders; and, all at the touch of their fingertip. 

The misconception bred today is that anyone with an idea and a little tech savvy can simply become a millionaire; but,you know better. You’ve been around the marketplace a time or two, and even hit a few home runs. You’re smart enough to know that it’s all about the numbers. Data tells us, that today taking the marketplace by storm requires a venture that is more than merely accessible via mobile. Rather, data reported via Nielsen shows that consumers actually have a prefered mode of mobile consumption, and that mode is the mobile app.Nielsen reports that, 89% of time spent on media is done through mobile apps, which can be speculated when one considers the most popular media platforms today are social networks, like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, as well as news platforms, email and games, like Candy Crush Saga.

When we think about this in terms of investment mobile apps provide an exponential opportunity for return; yet, why do accredited investors seemingly shy away from investing in mobile apps? According to the latest 2014 release of Dalbar’s Quantitative Analysis of Investor Behavior (QAIB), in 20-years the “average investor”, investing in a mix of equities and fixed-income mutual funds, garners a 2.5% return on investment annually. Yet, although we continue to see the average mutual fund seriously underperform in return and time to exit investors continue to place their money in traditional commodity investments as opposed to the alternative of entering the mobile marketplace.

Whether it’s coming from me in the form of this blog, or from Google with their latest analytics decree on mobile ranking, there’s no denying that the current opportunity for return in the marketplace is in mobile apps. In fact, if the below statistics don’t shake you out of your comfort coma then please, by all means enjoy the 24% (and still dropping) slope your investment will return on commodities.

In 2015 Uber, the world’s largest Taxi Company owns no vehicles, Facebook the world’s most popular media owner creates no content, Alibaba, the most valuable retailer has no inventory and Airbnb the world’s largest accommodation provider owns no real estate.

From the very beginning, this new wave of consumer driven products has turned the tech market, as we knew it, on its head. Such ventures as the ones discussed above emerged on the economic market unannounced and unparalleled in growth and expansion. Yet, as the opportunity to invest in this new goldmine of market offerings becomes increasingly more plausible for the average accredited investor, the majority of hot handed stakeholders swipe left on the opportunity to invest in mobile apps. Or, rather continue to stamp consumer tech ventures with a scarlet R for RISKY business (common practice for saying “thanks, but no thanks” in the Pre-Tinder era).

Ironically, when I initially walked away from the episode I was left thinking, “That’s it? What am I supposed to do with that?” But then, like most good pieces of socially transcendent communication the significance of the cultural and historical context of this episode began to marinate; and, then I started thinking like an App Man

Immediately out of college I somehow found myself immersed in the startup world. Completely unplanned or premeditated, and really before startups had become the sexy environment it is today that draws brilliant talent, and thrill seeking businessmen and women, like a moth to a flame. I was working like a dog, seldomly sleeping, and making far less than the majority of my friends who sat comfortably in the corporate lap of luxury. As I began to “make my way up the foodchain”-- or so to speak-- I was poached from my at the time current venture by a technology startup whose HQ was a few floors above mine.  

I had been procured for the company by the VP of Sales. A stealthily brilliant business savant, who for some bewildering reason decided that he was going to bestow upon me all of his Mad Men quality skill, strategy, and business intelligence. His plan was to transform me into his protégé; and, his reason, he would say, was to sustain his empire. You see, my mentor also had a mentor; in fact, he had an entire tribe of mentors with different strengths and areas of expertise. He had a source; a well of ideas, a proven brain trust to increase his precision, minimize his risk, and ensure his time was spent in pursuit of the greatest opportunity for reward. This crowd? A wealth of knowledge; a source for ensuring one’s success. 

Much like Peggy in her transition from secretary to copywriter, I had been given a glimpse behind the curtain. Of course not far enough in advance to have any opportunity for intervention or action; but, just so that I could see the chips fall and know which spark had lit the fuse. They were teaching me to think reactively, and on my feet. Everything was a test of wit, loyalty, and ultimately the greater intelligence I needed to make all around me “mad money”.

In lieu of the SEC’s recent announcement regarding Reg A/title 4 of the JOBS Act, this got me thinking about equity based crowdfunding. Doing some research I found, that in 2013 the equity crowdfunding market generated $3.98 billion in revenue. And, even more intriguing is, that projections show this number as likely to reach $93 billion by 2025. A mind blowing 2236% increase in 12 years! And, when you think about that in the context of the mobile app market, for whichprojections show that 12 disruptive technologies-- led by the mobile Internet, have the potential to deliver economic value of up to $33 trillion a year worldwide; now, that’s mad money. We’re talking about an exponential reward that would drive even the most conservative of investors to take a walk in the shoes of an “App Man”.

The idea of equity based crowdfunding seems like the perfect cocktail of brilliance and brawn (financial brawn that is). The exponential opportunity for return that awaits in platforms like AppVested-- a “niche” equity-based crowdfunding platform that connects serious accredited investors to carefully vetted, mobile application ideas primed for funding-- well, that’s Don Draper meets Robert Sterling with the precision and strategic execution of Joan Holloway. It’s Peggy. It’s the perfect mix of risk and reward. It’s the ultimate market flip. It is co-optingthe crowd; a non depletable source of demand, supply, and burn. If you ask me the ultimate opportunity to gain on investment capital points to investing in mobile apps.

Would you agree? Let's chat about it @millennovator.

Find more at AppVested.com