Flud (Quietly) Relaunches Its Android App

When we last checked in with Flud, the Web startup had just launched a new-and-improved version of its iPhone app, which allows users to aggregate, curate, and share news content. Bobby Ghoshal, Flud’s co-founder and CEO, says the company was riding high on widespread news coverage (Ghoshal says the accompanying spike in traffic briefly killed its servers), and preparing to launch its Android app.

Flud, which is based in San Diego and Detroit, went ahead with plans to launch its Android version even though the company didn’t have an Android developer on staff. Ghoshal says he thought that since the iOS apps it had created had been so successful, the Android app would naturally follow suit. “That’s the biggest mistake we could have made,” he admits. “We didn’t realize how fragmented the Android ecosystem is.”

After a month and a half of user complaints and a bit of a drubbing in the press, Ghoshal says, Flud unpublished its Android app and pulled it from the virtual shelves. Flud immediately reached out to Google and worked closely with them—sharing concepts, collaborating on design, and exchanging feedback for the relaunch.

“Now [Google loves] the app and wants to make sure it’s a success,” Ghoshal says. “I think a lot of developers underestimate the power of even a little help. It’s in Google’s best interest to make sure your app is as good as it can be because they want to prove to people that Android has more reach.”

In addition to seeking Google’s guidance on revamping its Android app, Flud incorporated user feedback and changed parts of its interface. Flud also fundamentally changed its philosophy of how it releases a new product. No longer will the company go for a big media splash, Ghoshal says. Instead, it will quietly give the app out to 40 or so people—investors and high-profile early adopters, mostly—ask them to use it for a month, and send daily feedback reports.

“This goes against everything we would’ve done seven, eight, 10 months ago,” Ghoshal says, clearly amused at how quickly things can change when you’re a hot mobile startup. “Back then, we would have done everything we could to make sure the press was talking about us.”

As part of the new release strategy, Flud relaunched its Android app for a few hours literally in the dead of night on March 14. This time, friends, a select group of reporters, and other interested parties were the targeted users. The final tweaks were made based on feedback and the Flud’s Android app was finally released for public consumption Tuesday.

Ghoshal says Flud plans to release its Windows app in the next week or two, followed by a web app, and both launches will follow the new, quieter strategy. Ghoshal says he also recently realized that nobody in the company had a news background, so he hired a former foreign correspondent for Reuters and a graduate of Northwestern’s esteemed Medill School of Journalism for Flud’s “evangelism department.” (They’re tasked with outreach, marketing, and other business development components.)

The company is also in the process of raising a $5 to $8 million Series A round of funding, which will partially be used to add three more people to its Detroit business development office. (Detroit Venture Partners and Detroit-based Ludlow Ventures are major investors.) “Flud is a huge supporter of Detroit, which is why we took Detroit’s money,” Ghoshal adds. “We’re committed to locating our entire business development staff in Detroit.”

Sarah Schmid is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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