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Novu is building an open source notification infrastructure for developers

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Notification overload may be one of the greatest scourges of the modern digital world, but the truth is that people need to know when critical communications land on their smartphones – manually checking the dozens of apps they use to see if they’re “on eBay” are overbid, or their flight is delayed, which is impractical.

Alerts are the cornerstone of almost any modern consumer or enterprise software. However, building and maintaining the infrastructure to support all of these notifications, whether it’s in-app alerts, text messages, or push notifications, requires significant development resources. That’s where a new startup called Novu joins the fray, offering a “notification infrastructure for developers” packaged as a set of APIs and front-end components. And it’s also completely open source.

The co-founders of Novu, who originally launched last June as Notifire at the time, were working on a problem they had at their previous company. In short, they couldn’t find an off-the-shelf product to manage the entire notification infrastructure stack across multiple channels—one with an easy-to-use admin interface. So they have to build the solution internally themselves.

“In a way, we feel like we’ve built Novu for the third time,” Novu co-founder and CEO Tomer Barnea told VentureBeat.

Novu entered the open source space last September, and in the months that followed, the project attracted around 4,000 community members — many of whom had similar experiences and had to build their own internal notification infrastructure. This just confirms what Barnea & Co. already suspected — companies would rather not have to build their notification infrastructure from scratch.

“The growing number of channels and customers’ demand for better, more personalized communications require an inordinate amount of time and effort from developers, one of the scarcest and most expensive resources for businesses,” Barnea said. “Novu handles the entire area of ​​managing and scaling these transactional communication channels.”

under the hood

The current incarnation of the Novu platform includes “priority management,” which is essentially an API that centralizes all communication channels, including email, SMS, push notifications, and direct (in-app) notifications. On top of that, Novu provides content curation tools for designing notifications, as well as monitoring intelligence to debug deliverability issues.

In summary, Novu’s various APIs and components allow developers to create a fully functional notification center, either “headless” by leveraging only Novu’s notification feed API, or using Novu’s own customizable UI.

Novu Notification Center

To help Novu take it to the next level and develop commercial capabilities on the core open source platform, Novu this week announced it has raised $6.6 million in seed funding led by Crane Ventures, Eniac, MXV, Entrée Capital, and a slew of individual angel backers .

open source factor

While there are some open source notification solutions that help developers manage parts of the notification infrastructure stack, Novu is setting out to provide a holistic product that spans all channels. It’s also worth noting that there are some proprietary alternatives, such as Courier and MagicBell, but Novu hopes its open source foundation will help attract developers who are usually attracted to open source products.

“Selling products to developers is not easy because developers tend to ignore promotional ads and traditional marketing channels,” explains Barnea. “As we’ve seen with Novu, making the platform open source helps us reach thousands of developers around the world who have experienced this firsthand. It modifies — open source software provides exactly that. It also helps build a high level of trust, which is built by seeing a large community of engineers working on solving this problem.”

With $6.6 million in the bank, the company is now able to support its existing platform with more features that are essential to any all-encompassing notification infrastructure. In fact, Novu is working on what it calls a “summary engine,” which basically means that applications will be able to aggregate multiple events into a single notification. Novu will employ “time zone awareness,” enabling the company to send transaction notifications based on a user’s geographic location and (potentially) business hours.

Novu will also focus on monetization, which will include selling a fully managed cloud offering that removes the inherent complexities of any self-hosted offering. Barnea confirmed that this will follow a usage-based pricing philosophy similar to Twilio’s, where companies are charged based on the number of notifications.

But all this will happen in the future.

“Right now, our main focus is building a developer community that’s excited about what we’re doing, and participating in building it by contributing to our open source project,” Barnea said.

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