OnSwipe’s Platform for Beautifying iPad Web Pages Attracts Investors

5/4/11Follow @arleneweintraub

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navigate with a few swipes of a finger (hence the company’s name). If they want to go back to the home page, they can just pull two fingers together while touching the screen, and voila, the home page pops up.

The ads in OnSwipe sites are almost as attractive as the regular content. In his office, Baptiste pulls up an OnSwipe-enabled Cadillac ad that features not only video of a brand new Cadillac on the road, but a button viewers can push to find the nearest dealership offering test drives.

Baptiste may be young, but he seems to have been embraced by the business community as a natural-born entrepreneur. He contributes to a website for software entrepreneurs called OnStartups. And he nabbed a deal to write a book on entrepreneurship for Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin. He owes the publisher 60,000 words by August 15, and he’s about a third of the way there, he says. (Baptiste has also signed on as an Xconomist for our New York site.)

Baptiste is well aware of OnSwipe’s competition, and he’s not bashful when it comes to expressing his opinions about them. As Baptiste stepped on the stage at TechStars’ Demo Day, a huge slide behind him read, “Apps are Bullshit.” OnSwipe’s biggest competitors are app developers, including many ad agencies, which are churning out iPad applications that serve as surrogate websites for brands, magazines, and the like. But Baptiste contends that apps cost thousands of dollars to develop, and they’re difficult to build on any scale. So he conceived OnSwipe as a platform for transforming websites into app-like experiences. “What we’re trying to do is make this self-serve for Web publishers,” he says.

OnSwipe’s seed round came from Spark Capital, Betaworks, ENIAC Ventures, and several angels. On March 23, Baptiste announced a deal with Automattic for OnSwipe to power the iPad versions of 18.6 million WordPress sites. The company intends to announce more customers in June, when the product will launch officially.

By then, OnSwipe will have moved to a new office, which Baptiste says will likely be in striking distance of TechStars. “Our goal is to stick around the East Village,” he says, mostly to feed off of energy that’s coming from New York City’s revived tech scene. He doesn’t regret leaving Miami, he says, and he no longer believes tech startups need to be in California. “There are a lot of startups here,” Baptiste says. “It’s like being on an urban campus.”

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