Branch: Innovation-Led Solutions for Modern-Day Issues
The mobile app industry has grown into a titan in less than a blink of an eye, becoming directly interwoven with the future of humanity as we know it. And at the center of it all is one piece of land in sunny California, Silicon Valley.
One of the rare companies that managed to beat all odds and branch out into the mobile development industry is Branch – a mobile linking and attribution software.
Mada Seghete, Alex Austin, Mike Molinet, and Dmitri Gaskin are the brains behind the company. They started it in 2014, inspired by a class in their Business postgraduate program at Stanford. The four of them have entirely different backgrounds but share two common interests – innovation and software engineering.
Discover the company’s story of how a shared dream of four university students became a Unicorn company with an estimated value of $4B.
The Fantastic Four: Branch’s Roots
Branch is one of the few companies in Silicon Valley that can proudly state that it is women-owned. And the female co-owner, Mada Seghete, is a force to be reckoned with. Coming from a small town in Romania, she had to work extra hard to get access to US education.
Her ambition, math talent, and mother’s encouragement helped her earn a full scholarship at Cornell for Computer Engineering. From the moment Mada set foot in the US, she excelled in her educational endeavors and eventually enrolled in a postgraduate degree program at Stanford - the destined ground for meeting Alex and Mike, fellow students that matched Mada’s drive and ambition.
Alex is a California native who has wanted to be an engineer since he was 5 years old. From a kid obsessed with his Lego collection, little by little, he became a graduate of Electrical Engineering from Santa Clara University. While studying, Alex tried working for other companies, but one company shut down, and the other was toxically passive.
These unpleasant experiences inspired him to enroll in a postgraduate business program and start his own company. Talk about making lemonade when life gives you lemons!
The third co-founder, Mike, boasts a similar background as Alex. Before Branch, Mike worked for a 70,000-employee company but soon realized he didn’t want other people to control his success. Looking to test his entrepreneurial skills, he applied for a Business Master’s degree at Stanford, where he met the other members of Branch’s “Fantastic Four.”
The last one to enter the team was Dmitri - a software engineer prodigy who started coding at the age of 8 and is an expert at cheese making. Dmitri was a 19-year graduate at Stanford when the destinies of the other engineers aligned - Dmitri joined forces with them and dropped from Stanford. Thanks to all of his hard work, Dmitri was featured in Forbes’ 30 under 30 lists in 2015.
Out on a Limb
For the 4 founders of Branch, the stars aligned perfectly above the dense and super-competitive Silicon Valley in 2012. Each with a unique coming-of-age story, our four success-driven entrepreneurs finally got together, eventually creating Branch.
But this mobile industry giant wasn’t their first try! They worked together for almost 2 years and created 4 different apps before landing on their goldmine. One app they worked on was Kindred Prints, and even though it was a massive failure, it was the one that inspired them to get into deep linking.
Even though it was a headache at first, the Fantastic Four didn’t let this problem break their spirits. Their entrepreneurial cunning led them to focus on improving app linking itself. They eagerly sold Kindred Spirits, found investors, and went on to create Branch, eventually dominating the app-linking industry.
Today, the company embraces this part of its journey and uses it to motivate employees, showing how occasional failure doesn’t mean you should stop trying.
The rough backgrounds and the bumps in the road they encountered allowed these entrepreneurs to have more empathy toward employees.
They are known as one of the most employee-friendly companies in Silicon Valley.
Branching Out into the Mobile Industry
Branch is the epitome of the power of teamwork and innovation. However, in the beginning, the company only ran thanks to its 20 customers, and all of them were the co-founders' friends and acquaintances. But the team’s experience and knowledge, along with the benefits of their innovative software, quickly brought fame and fortune to the young students.
In just the first year, they integrated 1000 apps, reached 1M users, and had a revenue of $2.7 million. In the second year, the number of apps grew to 5,000 and their revenue to $72 million.
The young entrepreneurs didn’t let fame get into their heads - Branch still offers its software for free to clients with less than 10,000 app users. The ‘Fantastic Four’ started Mobile Growth in 2014 - a community of enthusiasts striving to make it big in app development. Every startup can get direct advice from growth experts worldwide through this program.
So, even though they have many competitors like Appsfire and Adjust, Branch remains a leader in its field, earning a reputation as a trustworthy, socially conscious, and result-oriented deep-linking company.
Securing the Financial Grounds
At the beginning of 2022, the value of Branch was estimated at $4B, reserving them a spot among the mega-successful Unicorn companies. Looking to expand, in February of 2022, Branch raised $300,000 in Series F funding with the lead investor being New Enterprise Associates.
So far, Branch has raised a total of $667.1 million in funding through 8 funding rounds. Apart from New Enterprise Associates, other crucial investors in Branch include Tripple Point Capital, Playground Global, and Zach Coellius.
Now, not having to worry about the finances, Branch was free to sprout even more.
How Tall Will the Branch Grow?
To say the least, a truly inspirational story, Branch’s journey shows determination and creativity can pay off, even when it seems everything is stacked against you.
But what are the next steps for the four entrepreneurs, and how large should we expect Branch to grow?
Each of the founders contributes to Branch in their way and based on their interests - Alex is the CEO, Mike is the COO, Mada is the Managing Director and VP of Marketing, and Dmitri leads the Discovery Team, which focuses on creating content inside apps.
Today, around 70% of the top 200 apps use Branch, and the company software has integrated over 50K apps, including top-tier companies like Airbnb, Buzzfeed, Reddit, Spotify, and Instacart.
Is Branch Done Growing?
Branch’s history shows the co-founders' determination and willingness to push their limits and grow beyond expectations. Currently, the company holds 16 offices worldwide with over 500 employees in total. Diversity, transparency, and employee growth are their core values, which without a doubt, will allow them to branch out even more.
Recently, Alex Austin announced how the company raised $300,000 in new funding, looking to invest in new software solutions and believing that “The mobile ecosystem is more siloed and fragmented than ever, despite our progress. We have a lot more work to do”.
According to this new announcement, Branch will focus on improving integration for mobiles as cross-device, providing customers with privacy-first measurement for mobile advertising, researching new solutions for bettering app discovery, and navigating toward a privacy-centric internet.
Given all the success and innovation, Branch is undoubtedly set out to reach a more significant customer base and help striving companies make a difference in the day-to-day living of everyone.