An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Eric Futoran (co-founder and CEO) of Embrace, which was honored in our:
- 2022 Best Tech Startups in Culver City
- 2021 Best Tech Startups in Culver City
- 2019 Best Tech Startups in Culver City
Tell us the origin story of Embrace – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
I am a co-founder and former CEO of Scopely, one of the largest mobile game companies in the world. During that time, I would experience issues playing the mobile games we created, such as a frozen startup, broken purchase, or slow battle. Our mobile engineers would take days to hopscotch between different tools with no promise of resolution. I wanted a platform where I could simply look up a user, inspect a session, and instantly understand what went wrong.
Mobile teams are building these incredible experiences, but the data needed to optimize them is very difficult to get. Think about how many variables there are when working in mobile. The sheer number of devices, app versions, locations, regions, and networks translates to endless combinations of possible failure points.
I founded Embrace to be the single source of truth for mobile teams to deliver flawless user experiences. Whether its consumer apps, workforce productivity, AR, point of sale, smart IoT, and even cars, mobile is disrupting every part of our lives. Embrace collects the voluminous data from every mobile user experience and transforms it into actionable data and insights so companies can create the best mobile experiences possible.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
I think the biggest hurdle, but also the biggest benefit, was COVID. And I hate to say that. We were lucky enough to have such strong relationships with our customers that we could see COVID coming. In late 2019, we noticed changes in the data for our customers that have large teams in China. I reached out to those teams to understand what was going on, and that allowed us to make big bets.
Before March 2020, we had an in-person go to market motion. We had to change that overnight as everything stopped being in-person. We hired a new Head of Sales and a new Head of Marketing. We built an entire SDR team from scratch going into COVID.
Those changes could have exploded just as well as they succeeded, and I’m lucky to say they succeeded. With 20/20 hindsight, I can give myself a pat on the back, but that was definitely a big bet. Many companies, especially in SaaS, had a harder time. They continued to try their same motions. They weren’t iterating fast enough, and COVID was painful. I feel bad for them, and I empathize. But we are lucky enough to be in a space like mobile where we can continue to innovate and grow as mobile itself grows.
At the same time, we truly made some big bets. I’m glad that we had the team members to make those bets successful.
What does the future hold for Embrace?
In the last ten years, there arguably has not been a larger disruptor than the concept of mobile. While there have been a lot of new technologies (e.g. containerization, edge computing, advancements in AI), mobile itself is the greatest disruptor. After all, it’s changed everything about our lives. The way we work. The way we process information. The way we socialize. The point-of-sale systems at coffee shops. The way we interact with devices like IoT.
And so, Embrace is on the forefront of what we define as the mobile continuum. And while it started with mobile apps, the future of mobile is anything that can be smart, disconnected, and has processing power. That’s where innovation lies.
Our expectations as users have never been greater. We expect our devices to perform seamlessly, and not in five or ten seconds like on the web, but in milliseconds. The data, the hurdles, and the requirements needed to meet that level of user experience are high, and that is what Embrace is trying to achieve.
We are making every experience for every user better, whether the user is an end-user of a mobile device, a mobile team, or the companies themselves that are transforming to mobile.
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Culver City?
As a founder of multiple companies in Los Angeles, starting with Scopely and now Embrace, and having moved to LA back in 2011, the startup scene is only getting better. Scopely in some ways started that trend. We first moved into a space on Jefferson, and then moved into our space on Hayden, and now we’re moving again to a space near the Platform.
The startup scene is exploding, and with every acquisition and IPO (and there have been many in Los Angeles), we’re seeing the number of startups, especially in Culver City, growing quickly. Culver City is great for startups because it’s central. That’s helpful for recruiting. It’s also helpful in the COVID world of remote work, where it’s easier to hop in and out of the office on a day’s notice or for a few hours of whiteboarding with your team.
There’s no other location in Los Angeles that’s as convenient or that has such a good environment. It’s incredibly walkable, with homes and commercial mixed together. And Culver City is growing not just because of the startup scene. With Facebook, Airbnb, Apple, Amazon, and many others investing here, it’s only going to get better.
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
The hardest thing about starting a company, whether it’s a startup or otherwise, is just starting it. Most aspiring entrepreneurs look for an amazing idea. They look for momentum. They look for a lot of reasons to start a company, but they’re really looking for reasons to not start a company.
No company ends where it starts. Facebook took a circuitous route to get where they are today, even though they may have started and ended in a similar business model. But that’s probably the only example I can think of where that’s true. Every startup ends with a different model than what it started with. You just have to pick a sector that you’re interested in, and you just have to start the company. Quit your job and go for it.