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Chris Cardell

Interview with Kate Hiscox (Bablingo!)

Bablingo! is designed to be used by PR professionals and brand managers needing highly targeted news release distribution across newswires, the web and social media.

I interviewed Kate Hiscox, Bablingo! founder to find out more. This interview is the fortieth in a series of DW interviews. Big thank you to Kate for the interview!

What made you decide to found Bablingo!?

Gaining and managing significant publicity is a challenge for any organization. As founders, we have experienced this with our own startups, prompting a series of discussions with PR agencies and organizations of varying sizes. The results demonstrated a need for a solution that offered highly targeted press release distribution, reaction monitoring and media list management.

How did you come up with the name?

Bablingo! is a play on babble and lingo. Its one of those memorable, nonsensical web 2.0 names!

What technologies have you used to build Bablingo!?

Bablingo! is a drupal build. I can’t add much more to that but I can say we have some of the top Drupal engineers in Vancouver on our team.

What was technically the most challenging part of developing Bablingo!?

The most challenging (and satisfying) is the identification process we use for locating relevant journalists, bloggers and industry influencers to whom we distribute a release.

How long did it take to put together Bablingo!?

12 months.

You have quite a background in startups! Tell us how you got to be where you are now.

I’ve had hits and I’ve had misses. You definitely need the misses to enable the hits. Never dread or lament a miss, it will be your biggest learning experience.

What do you wish you’d have known 5 years ago that you know now?

This response won’t fit with Bablingo! because it was a lengthy R+D and developmental process. But I love the 30 day 1.0 Ha! I love a 24 hour 1.0! Agile is the only way to go with developing an app or solution. Its such a simple concept. Throw something out there and let your users finesse your product cycle. I’ve been caught in a couple of waterfall development nightmares with never ending billing. So agile.. wish I had embraced agile.

Where do you see Bablingo! in 5 years time?

Bablingo! would have played a pivotal role in the evolution of PR distribution from email and phone (or even fax believe it or not) to social media, primarily Twitter with smart distribution. Gone are they days where you choose distribution from perhaps the 100 top US cities or South Eastern Canadian cities etc. Bablingo! doesn’t work on pre-formatted distribution lists, it builds a list tailored to the content of the release. Simple and effective.

Has Bablingo! got the feedback and growth you expected during beta?

We are still in closed beta with a handful of users as we work out kinks. Bablingo! has a lot of moving parts and while we’d love to bring a ton of users in to use Bablingo! from the get go, it makes sense to roll out slowly. We have no shortage of interest and request for beta keys though which is a good problem to have.

Who would you say is your biggest competitor?

There are a few when it comes to press and social media release distribution and hosting in general. Our strength lies in the technological experience of our team and our ability to take a evolutionary approach resulting in a faster/better solution.

You say you eat, breathe and sleep product strategy! But what do you do to relax!?

I work out, I read, I cook, I spend quality time with my family. I actually trade equities from 4.30am every morning so quite often by the end of the day, I am zapped!

What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?

Time management.

What are you most excited about at the moment?

Work wise, obviously Bablingo! Family wise, we’re just starting the adoption process. That will be my biggest success to date!

Can you convince the reader to start using Bablingo! in under 50 words?

That’s easy, user feedback. We’ve had one user who says their release got more coverage than they have ever had. We also had another release picked up and shared by a journalist on Good Morning America. At $19.06 per release, its a pretty fabulous service.

Finished reading? Check out Bablingo!

Interview with John Dennehy (Zartis)

Zartis enables businesses to recruit employees using social media and other tools. I interviewed John Dennehy, Zartis founder to find out more. This interview is the thirty ninth in a series of DW interviews. Big thank you to John for the interview!

How would you describe Zartis in under 80 words?

Zartis helps companies grow by making it easier for them to attract and hire the best talent – including ones who aren’t actively looking.

By pushing your jobs to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other popular social media, your jobs will be found by the best candidates.

Zartis also helps you manage the application process, making it easy to narrow your search from a pool of top candidates to one great new hire.

What made you decide to found Zartis?

I’ve hired over 140 people in startups over the past decade. I don’t use recruitment agencies. I prefer to think that a direct link between an employer and a job seeker is best.

Social media is making it easier to connect. But it’s time consuming and difficult to manage the recruitment process. So we built Zartis to help.

We also think that thousands of small to medium sized companies want help with recruitment and don’t want to pay out huge fees to agencies. I guess that’s a big motivator for us.

What was technically the most challenging part of developing Zartis?

Integrating with LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, WordPress and client web sites poses a whole bunch of challenges. We’ve got a really strong internal development team. They’re up for the challenge.

How long did it take to put together Zartis?

We decided to build the product over lunch on May 8th, 2011. We didn’t have a spec or brand name or anything. We launched with our first client, a Lufthansa subsidiary, on July 25th – ten weeks after the lunch.

Where do you see Zartis in 5 years time?

Our crystal ball has a range of only five months. We need an upgrade.

Do you have any new features in the pipeline?

We’re totally focused on making Zartis a global success. We have a ton of integrations with third party companies we need to get complete. We all subscribe to the Japanese philosophy of kaizen – constant improvement involving everybody. Mashing that up with Eric Reis’ lean methodology is pretty much how most of our new features become features.

Using social media for recruitment, or “social recruiting” is going through a massive growth phase at the moment. We’ll continue to make it easier for our clients to take advantage of it.

Mobile recruiting another growth area we’re focused on and already have some early success stories to tell.

Has Zartis got the feedback and growth you expected since launch?

Hmmm. We’ve had about 1,000 customers signup for the free trial in the past 3 months. The difficulty is converting more of them into paying customers.

We spend a lot of time trying to make the onboarding experience better and better. Once people start using Zartis they seem to love it and get value out of it (so they tell us anyway). We just need to get more people using it.

I think if more B2B SaaS companies were honest they’d say the same. Privately most CEOs I’ve spoken to have all said that building the SaaS business is tough and takes time. We all hear the “overnight successes” but most of the really big SaaS success stories have been around a long time and generally have pretty high funding.

You have had a string of successful tech startups in the last ten years. What do you wish you’d have known ten years ago that you know now?

Apparently it was Oscar Wilde that said: “Nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” Some things you’ve just got to learn the hard way.

Who would you say is your biggest competitor?

Our biggest competitor is inertia: people doing the same dingdong that they’ve always done. There’s always a time lag, that we always underestimate, between when something can and should be done and when it actually starts getting done.

Social media has incredible potential for putting employers in direct contact with employees. It’s dramatically changing the way companies attract and hire employees. But the mass market will be slow to embrace the potential.

Any big clients on your list?

Our first customer was a subsidiary of Lufthansa in Dublin. They’re fantastic to deal with.

All of our cilents are hiring. Which means they’re all growth companies. Some of them will make it very big.

A few really exciting ones to watch are Graze, a food company in London; IdealBinary and We R Interactive, in the digital entertainment sector; Ovation, a Sunday Times Tech 100 company; and GiggleGarage an animation company in Kuala Lumpar.

What is the biggest hurdle you personally have faced or are still facing?

Working in a startup is tough. It’s a constant challenge for everybody to keep focused on the ongoing development of the company rather than getting carried away with the ups or running away from the lows. That’s the biggest challenge (I think) every startup faces.

If you could only give one piece of advice to someone starting up a startup, what would it be?

Launch your product.

What are you most excited about at the moment?

Social media and the transformative effect it’s having. It’s a similar feeling to what was happening in the late nineties but now there’s critical mass of users.

Can you convince the reader to start using Zartis in under 40 words?

Do you want to hire the best people without spending a fortune on recruitment fees? If yes, goto Zartis.com. Else, throw away your money.

Finished reading? Check out Zartis!

Interview with Silvio Porcellana (mob.is.it)

mob.is.it is an affordable online tool for building mobile websites and mobile web apps. I interviewed Silvio Porcellana, mob.is.it founder to find out more. This interview is the thirty eighth in a series of DW interviews. Big thank you to Silvio for the interview!

How would you describe mob.is.it in under 50 words?

It’s an awesome online tool that in a couple of clicks lets anybody build mobile websites that look really beautiful on a huge variety of mobile phones, from iPhones and Androids to BB and even older Nokias.

What made you decide to start working on mob.is.it?

I’ve always been fascinated by mobile phones – I created an online Blackjack game using WAP back in 2001 – so the mobile web revolution we are living today seemed like the “perfect storm” where I could put my skills and passion to the test.

How did you come up with the name?

Well, I wanted a name with a little bit of Italian spice along with a reference to mobile, keeping it short and easy to remember. The first idea was “mobile.is.it” but that sounded a bit too long hence: “mob.is.it”.

What technologies have you used to build mob.is.it?

The front-end and the CMS heavily rely on jQuery while we built the 1.0 version of our mobile websites using Sencha Touch. For a various set of reasons we then decided to switch to jQuery Mobile also for our mobile websites so it is fair to say that all of mob.is.it heavily relies on jQuery and HTML5.

What was technically the most challenging part of developing mob.is.it?

Balancing ease of use with flexibility and power.

We wanted to build a CMS that could be used by literally anyone – we strongly believe the mobile web is and needs to be for everybody – but at the same time we need to give our partners and power users freedom and maximum control over their mobile sites. Finding the right balance is a challenge that requires you to truly master the technology you are using.

Are websites built with mob.is.it compatible with all mobile devices?

Yes, we put a lot of effort in continuously testing all our mobile websites in a very wide variety of mobile devices: in my office I have an iPhone 4S, an iPhone 3GS, a couple of Androids, a BlackBerry Curve, an LG Windows Phone, a Nokia C6 and a Nokia 5000 – and I always test our sites on all these phones.

The other day I received a Nokia 3510: that’s or next frontier.

How long did it take to put together mob.is.it?

Well, it started as an experiment in Sencha Touch back in March 2011 and the official launch date was September 21st, 2011 (yes, the autumnal equinox…) so it took us about 6 months to put everything together. Obviously since then we never stopped coding and testing and deploying and testing and coding…

You don’t need not be a coding expert to use mob.is.it. Is this your USP?

Our main USP is: the mobile web is yours.

This is what we strongly believe in and this is the way we want to achieve it: by building a tool so easy that anybody can use it, by allowing people to create mobile websites that work and render perfectly on a huge variety of phones, and by doing all this at a very affordable price.

Who do you see as your target audience?

The audience of mob.is it are small/medium businesses who want to quickly and easily build their mobile website (B2C) along with marketing and web agencies who are looking for an advanced and reliable technological partner that will fulfil all their mobile web needs (B2B).

Do you have any new features in the pipeline?

The main focus in our current development pipeline is m-commerce: we do already have a couple of widgets for selling products and services but our goal is to offer our customers a complete and flexible mobile commerce solution at a very reasonable price.

Has mob.is.it got the feedback and growth you expected since launch just a few months ago?

That’s the main thing I would like to thank our customers and users for: the awesome and incredibly useful amount of feedback we get every day, which is the perfect fuel for our development engine.

In terms of growth, we are a bootstrapped company with a tight budget so having 500 active users in less than 4 months, well, doesn’t sound too bad!

What are you most excited about at the moment?

When you have a baby you are very excited when he gives you his first smile or the first time he grabs and holds his favorite toy. Little things, but for you the biggest events in the world. Well, with a startup, your startup, it’s more or less the same thing: the first paying customer, when somebody writes you “hey guys, your product is awesome” or a call from a big marketing agency. Watching my creature grow, day by day, that’s what excites me the most.

Can you convince the reader to start using mob.is.it in under 50 words?

If you haven’t lived under a rock for the last couple of years you know the mobile web is The Next Big Thing. Come and grab your piece right now at mob.is.it. Free (to try), easy (to use), awesome (to enjoy).

Finished reading? Check out mob.is.it!

Interview with Amber Rae (revolution.is)

revolution.is tells stories of remarkable people living unconventional lives. I interviewed revolution.is founder Amber Rae to find out more. This interview is the thirty seventh in a series of DW interviews. Big thank you to Amber for the interview!

How would you describe revolution.is in under 50 words?

At revolution.is, we tell stories of remarkable people living unconventional lives. Our aim is to motivate you to trust your gut, break rules that don’t matter, and be bold in the pursuit of your dreams.

What made you decide to start working on revolution.is?

I was the young girl who stayed up late with a flashlight, reading Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Inspiring stories of overcoming challenges and doing what’s meaningful always deeply resonated with me. The idea for revolution.is came when I began my own personal journey. I quit my stable and comfortable job, sold all my belongings, gave nearly all my clothes away to charity, and booked a one-way flight from San Francisco to New York. I knew there was more for me to give, do, and learn in the world, and I set out to experience the answers. When I wrote about the experience, hundreds of people emailed me to tell me that my story had inspired them to take action toward something that mattered. This deeply moved me. In parallel with this, I was meeting a ton of incredibly inspiring people with remarkable stories and diverse journeys. I wondered how many more people I could inspire to take action through these stories. That’s when the idea was born.

What’s the most inspiring story you have come across so far?

This is such a hard question! Moses Sanga is definitely near the top of the list. He grew up in one of the poorest villages in the world. He didn’t have shoes until he was 13 and he didn’t see a television until he was 15. Despite this, he’s invented a technology that will give 40 million Africans clean energy by 2020. His story moved me to tears. If he can create change, so can you.

You believe that in order to change the world, we must first change ourselves. Give us an example of how you have changed yourself.

I imagine a world without a speed limit. Where human potential is not governed by what we’re told to be, the only fear is not giving enough, and the urge to share your gift cannot be restricted.

This is the world I imagine because this is the self I’ve created. To realize and actualize this, I’ve quit jobs, moved around the world, flown to cities on a whim without a place to sleep, cut off negative relationships, practiced meditation, done things I’ve hated to discover things I love, dated people who treated me poorly to realize what it feels like to be appreciated. And the list goes on (and is only getting started.) I’m obsessed with self-awareness and behavior change. And I believe it starts with me. If I want to teach others how to unleash their full potential, I first have to unleash my own.

In the last year you have been up to alot! Tell us about some of your achievements.

Yeah, this year was realllly intense. Intensely amazing.

A year ago this month, I was selected to help Seth Godin launch a new publishing experiment, the Domino Project. That was a wild ride. As the “Chief Evangelist,” I helped figure out how to get our ideas to spread as far as possible. I also had the opportunity to “CEO” Derek Sivers’ book, Anything you Want, which shot to #1 on all of its Amazon categories.

In parallel to working with Seth, I launched two passion projects: revolution.is and The Passion Experiment. I was getting hundreds and hundreds of emails from ‘successful’ people each week telling me how they hated their jobs, felt stuck, and were unsure how to make change. They had gotten to a point where they said, “Shit. Is this what I’m really doing with my life?” That’s when I realized there was a need and business opportunity to help these people. As an experiment for myself, I came up with a 4-week program, called it “The Passion Experiment,” and launched the opportunity on my blog. Hundreds of people applied, are still applying, and it’s now my main source of revenue. Unexpected but awesome.

From July to October I worked with Ryan Allis, CEO and founder of iContact, to launch a new social media division of his business, iConnect. And from November to December, I helped the Unreasonable Institute figure out some internal communications type stuff. Both experiences validated that I was made to work for myself. Now I’m working 100% on my own projects.

What’s next for Amber Rae?

Scaling the message and impact.

I have over 50 stories at revolution.is. I’ve been writing and sharing content for years at Hey Amber Rae. In the last nine months, I’ve helped over 30 people make massive positive changes in their life. This is only the beginning.

I want to positively impact the lives of millions. I want to create a paradigm shift in terms of what’s possible, what matters, and what “work” even means. I want to show people how to align their natural talents and true passions with what the world needs. I want to encourage people to create their own rules, live naked, and go make something meaningful happen.

Can you convince the reader to click on revolution.is right now in under 50 words?

If you want to wake up motivated and fall asleep fulfilled because you’re fearlessly giving your gifts to the world, start here at revolution.is. These stories will inspire you and make you think.

Finished reading? Check out revolution.is!

Interview with Oleg Gutsol (500px)

500px is a photographic community powered by creative people from all over the world that lets you share and discover inspiring photographs.

I interviewed Oleg Gutsol, 500px co-founder to find out more. This interview is the thirty sixth in a series of DW interviews. Big thank you to Oleg for the interview!

How would you describe 500px in under 50 words?

500px is a photo discovery and photo sharing community with the focus on the highest quality photography in the world.

What made you decide to start working on 500px?

In the early days of digital photography (circa 2003) Evgeny and I were looking for a platform to share our photos and discover great photographers, see their work and learn and get better at taking photos, but we could not find anything. So we decided to build it.

How did you come up with the name?

It all started with the Livejournal community, which had two rules for photo submissions: your works had to be of the highest quality (the best photos you ever produced) and the photos had to be 500 pixels wide. At that time (2003-2005) the monitors were smaller resolution, so this width was adequate. Since then the monitors got better, but we kept the name, because we liked it and it stuck with our users too.

What was technically the most challenging part of developing 500px?

I think the algorithm to determine the best photos from all the photos uploaded was the most challenging task. Also, as the site grew, we had some scalability issues.

How long did it take to put together 500px?

We had several iterations of the site. In the current form — it took about 6-8 months of active development to complete.

Do you have plans to develop a mobile app considering the popularity of phone photography?

We developed an iPad app in 2011 and saw a few apps created by third party developers using our API. We are considering developing an iPhone app ourselves. This is probably all the details I can share at the moment.

Do you have any new features in the pipeline?

Yes! However, I would like to keep quiet about them for now.

What I can say is that I have been waiting for these things to come to existence for a number of years and they are mostly done, so I am super excited.

Has 500px got the feedback and growth you expected since launch?

Yes, but I think we are still largely unknown to North American users.

How many users do you currently have?

This is the information we are not sharing at the moment as well, but I can tell you that the number of users is growing fast.

How many photographs are uploaded on an average day?

Last time I checked we had 20-30K photos uploaded a day.

Do photographers keep the copyright to their work?

Yes, absolutely.

Who do you see as your target audience?

Anybody interested in photography.

Who is your biggest competitor?

People say it is Flickr, but I don’t think Flickr is a direct competitor to 500px.

I think there is no real competitor in our space (yet), since I have not seen any company doing exactly what we are doing.

What advantages does 500px have over its competitors?

Quality of photos.

What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?

Growing the company from 2 people a year ago to 16 people at the moment (and it will probably need another 10 soon).

What are you most excited about at the moment?

Our current product development — there are so many things we wanted to do over the past several years, but did not have the resources to do. Now we are much stronger and have the resources to finally implement all the ideas we had.

Can you convince the reader to start using 500px in under 50 words?

I think pictures speak much stronger than words, so just go to 500px.com/popular and see for yourself.

Finished reading? Check out 500px!

Interview with Neil Patel (KISSmetrics)

KISSmetrics is a person-based analytics platform that helps online businesses turn analytics into insights that guide decision-making and growth.

I interviewed Neil Patel, KISSmetrics co-founder to find out more. This interview is the thirty fifth in a series of DW interviews. Big thank you to Neil for the interview!

How would you describe KISSmetrics in under 50 words?

KISSmetrics is a customer analytics software that allows you to understand and optimize the user experience throughout your entire customer lifecycle from first click to the last conversion.

How did you come up with the name?

It was a team effort. We all thought that metrics should be simpler, hence the “K.I.S.S.” part and “metrics” because we are an analytics company.

Has your initial vision changed since launching KISSmetrics?

It has. We first started out as an analytics tool that was based around Facebook applications and now we are a customer analytics platform.

You spent 6 months pitching Crazy Egg to investors. What did you learn?

If an investor doesn’t give you money, it’s because you did something wrong. In most cases you couldn’t get them excited enough or you could help them understand how you were solving a big problem and creating a big enough company that they could get a good ROI from.

In addition to that, investors typically like investing in people they know or people that their friends know. So get to know them.

How did you get True Ventures to fund KISSmetrics?

My business partner had a talk with Om Malik, and he highly recommend that we get funding from True. He brought us into the firm and helped us get the money.

Because of him we were able to get funding from True, which has been a blessing for us.

You’re working on creating a 100 million dollar company. If KISSmetrics becomes that company, what next?

I probably will end up working for someone else. As sooner or later we have to create an exit for our investors and ourselves (either go public or sell). In most cases, when you sell a company, you end up working for the acquirer.

After that I probably will start another company. I just don’t know what else I am good at and enjoy other than starting companies.

What does a typical day consist of?

I have a pretty hetictic schedule that is full of calls and meetings. My day is broken down here.

Which article on your blog (Quick Sprout) has received the most views?

I wrote an article about business quotes years ago and it still gets tons of visitors each day.

To date it is the most popular article on Quick Sprout.

How do you find the time to respond to almost all of the comments on your blog?

I rarely sleep. ;-)

To be honest I just work a lot of hours. At one point I responded to all comments and these days I just respond to new comments. As I still get comments on posts that I did a few years ago… at this point it is impossible for me to keep up with all comments so I just stick with new blog posts.

What do you love being most – a blogger, entrepreneur or investor?

I love blogging. For me it is a stress reliever and I enjoy teaching others. Plus I learn so much from readers of Quick Sprout… so it kind of is a win/win situation.

I also do enjoy being an entrepreneur and investor, but I probably will always blog even if I am not an entrepreneur or investor.

You often push things to the limit. What’s a good example of this working and another of it failing?

A good example of this is my personal brand. I push it to the limit by doing whatever it takes to brand myself. From speaking at over 50 conferences a year to blogging on Quick Sprout to participating on the social web… I do whatever it takes to create a strong personal brand. And over the years it has worked well.

A good example of this not working is YouTube. I figured out how to game it and at one point I had a top 100 YouTube channel with 0 videos uploaded. Sooner or later I got caught and YouTube removed most of my subscribers.

What are the difficulties in working with big companies like AOL, General Motors and Hewlett-Packard?

They move REALLY SLOW. It’s hard to get things implemented and there is a ton of bureaucracy. If I had my choice I would only work with startups… but big companies tend to pay a lot better.

How do you think formal education can be improved?

They can teach you more things that would be valuable in your career. I can’t say I learned much in college… I kind of did the minimum amount of work and just cruised by, so it could be my fault.

You were a top influencer on the web according to the Wall Street Journal. How do you keep a zero inbox?

I have someone who works for me that helps me manage my inbox. That’s all she does for 8 hours a day.

Sadly, I still can’t keep a zero inbox. :(

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?

I lost over a million dollars into a hosting company. It was my worst investment to date. The idea we had was great, but the people who ran it weren’t rockstars.

The big lesson I learned… ideas are a dime a dozen, it is all about the people.

If you could only give one piece of advice, what would it be?

Learn from your mistakes. The number one reasons I see entrepreneurs failing isn’t because they make mistakes, but they keep on making the same ones over and over again. Learn from them and avoid making the same ones over again.

Are you where you expected to be 10 years ago when you were 17?

I am not. I was hoping I would be much further along, but there isn’t much I can do other than to keep on pushing forward. :)

What are you most excited about at the moment?

I am really excited about KISSmetrics. We are making some cool product changes in the next few months. I can’t say what they are… but stay tuned.

Can you convince the reader to start using KISSmetrics in under 50 words?

What do you use your analytics for? To see how you can boost your traffic, right? But does more traffic mean more income? In most cases, it doesn’t.

KISSmetrics helps you see what causes your revenue to go up and down so you can focus on boosting your income.

Finished reading? Check out KISSmetrics! If you’re interested to find out more about Neil, check out his about page.

Interview with David Turner (PageLever)

PageLever a Facebook analytics app that can gather deeper, more meaningful data and tell you information about that data that you wouldn’t get from Facebook Insights.

I interviewed David Turner, PageLever co-founder to find out more. This interview is the thirty fourth in a series of DW interviews. Big thank you to David for the interview!

How would you describe PageLever in under 50 words?

PageLever is the leading analytics platform for measuring your brand’s presence on Facebook.

What made you decide to start working on PageLever?

In late 2009, we started working together to help brands understand how to use Facebook as consultants at BrandGlue.com. We were constantly in and out of Facebook’s Insights application, but were feeling like our hands were tied because it was severely lacking. In late fall of 2010, we threw some charts together and were using them in-house for our clients. They loved it, so we decided to commit full time to developing PageLever as an analytics platform.

How did you come up with the name?

We had the domain name lying around and it sounded better than the others – no crazy story here, unfortunately.

What features do you offer that Facebook Insights doesn’t?

The two major points where we have advantages over Insights are depth and day-to-day usability. For instance, where Insights covers 7 different metrics on Reach, we cover 38 different breakdowns to give a deeper understanding of how people are viewing your content. Our users are very actively logging in and measuring their Pages, so we’ve made extensive efforts to allow them to get to the data they need quickly, find out what happened, and get back to doing more awesome things.

Is there a chance that Facebook could develop these features itself free of charge?

There is, but Facebook is focused on allowing the third-party ecosystem to develop. “Facebook scale” is much different than any other company in the world which gives developers a chance to really push out great solutions that solve problems for specific markets and niches. Facebook’s Insights application is a great example because it has to be accessible to Pages across all verticals and sizes, which allows us to hone in on providing serious analytics for the folks that need the deeper measurements we provide.

What was technically the most challenging part of developing PageLever?

I’d say the most challenging part of developing PageLever isn’t exactly technical, but a mix of technical along with product design.

Finding the sweet spot with how much to actually expose to users because the education level around social marketing is lagging behind some of the tools. We’ve realized this after talking with hundreds of customers and built in very digestible education segments into almost every section of PageLever. We realized our job wasn’t just to provide the best analytics possible, but to be the top resource for measuring brands’ presences on Facebook.

How long did it take to put together PageLever?

The initial version that went out to our customers went up in 2 weeks. It was super simple and didn’t do very much, but it got us hearing feedback. We released a beta version to around 500 people soon after, developed a waiting list of ~6,000 people and launched on August 3rd, 2011.

Do you have any new features in the pipeline?

Always! We’re releasing new incremental features on average of every 2 days and major features once a week, so the product is always fresh and evolving.

Also, we’re working on a free version of PageLever that will allow you to see how your Pages fit within our PageLever Lifecycle, as well as some other top secret applications that will fit within our entire suite of products.

What does a typical day involve?

Not very much sleep :)

Moving the product forward is my core focus, but I’m also actively recruiting new developers, helping our partners develop their core strategies, taking sales calls, writing articles for our blog, managing the support queue, and the other “stuff” that comes along with being a founder.

Has PageLever got the feedback and growth you expected since launch?

We’ve had an overwhelming response to PageLever. By the end of our launch day, we were a profitable company. There’s no way you can (or should) expect that to happen.

We’re still seeing very solid growth, especially in the enterprise level deals, and expect to see that continue as marketing on Facebook keeps moving out of experimental budgets.

Any big clients on your list?

YouTube, MTV, Mint and Kayak are just a few of our “household name” clients. Four of the top ten Pages on Facebook are using PageLever right now.

What are you most excited about at the moment?

Our possibilities are very wide open. The Facebook ecosystem is still incredibly young and growing significantly. We see plenty of other areas to branch into with the PageLever brand, so much of 2012 will be focused on expansion.

Finished reading? Check out PageLever!

Interview with Oliver Bremer (Founder2be)

Founder2be is a co-founder finding service; a Match.com for co-founders.

I interviewed Oliver Bremer, Founder2be founder to find out more. This interview is the thirty third in a series of DW interviews. Big thank you to Oliver for the interview!

How would you describe Founder2be in under 50 words?

Founder2be is the match.com for finding a co-founder.

What inspired you to come up with the idea of Founder2be?

Originally, I had another idea for a start-up I wanted to start. Now, I honestly don’t remember what it even was. And that’s because I never even got started which was due to not being able to find a co-founder for it. This was how the idea for Founder2be came about. Fortunately, I found a co-founder for that.

Could you tell us about the Founder2be Global Alliance Program?

The Global Alliance Program comprises incubators and accelerators who are working to help entrepreneurs launch successful start-ups. One common experience seems to be that they receive many applications from single founder ‘teams’. Unfortunately, starting a successful start-up all alone is even more challenging than with a team of people. Rather than rejecting single team applicants, members of the program can now encourage applicants to find a co-founder first and apply again as a team. But Founder2be has advantages not only at the application stage; any start-up will reach the point when it is time to grow the team and Founder2be can help with that as well.

Congratulations on surpassing the $20m mark of co-founder funding! What co-founder success stories has Founder2be had so far?

Thanks! We don’t monitor the private interactions between co-founders on the site. So, we rely on people coming back to us and telling us ‘Hey, thanks so much! I found someone on your site and now we started working together.’ That has happened a few times which makes us very happy.

One thing we are seeing is that most of those who let us know after they found someone, prefer us not to say who they are or what they are working on. I think a preference for stealth mode is common, especially with first time entrepreneurs. It’s up to everyone to decide for themselves. Of course, we’d prefer if people would be more open as we could share more success stories then. Because latest when you launch you want all the attention and coverage in the world, right? So, why not start already earlier?

Anyways, one of the companies that came together with Founder2be and is already out in the open is Ziliot.com.

Users share their ideas for start-ups on Founder2Be. Are there any issues around protection of these ideas?

Founder2be takes no part in protecting ideas. We focus on bringing people together and matching them based on their skills and profiles.

My personal opinion is that ideas are just ideas. What matters is the team behind them and their ability to execute. Telling others about your idea can be the best way of finding a co-founder. If you don’t tell much, how can you expect anybody to want to join you? I see ideas is an extension to co-founder profile. What do you want to do and why.

The only reason when you do not want to share your ideas is when you think you have something that can be patented.

Do you have any new features for Founder2be in the pipeline?

Absolutely! We are doing a major revamp of our ideas section to allow co-founders to find each other even better based on what they want to do. We’ll introduce some very nice features to make the connections around the what much more engaging.

Has Founder2be got the feedback and growth you expected since launch?

At the beginning, we really did not know what to expect. Before even we got started, a number of people told us that ‘finding a co-founder can never be done online’.

IMHO, if two people can meet online, go on dates, form a relationship and eventually get married, then it must be possible to also find a co-founder online. So, we did not listen and went ahead anyways.

Services like match.com and founder2be.com are very different especially in one way: dating is fun, you have butterflies in your stomach, etc. and then after a while reality settles in. Starting a start-up is very hard and reality slaps you in the face from day one.

Of course, you want growth to be faster always. It’s never enough. We are very pleased with our sign-ups going up every day. The most amazing thing is the feedback: People love Founder2be. They take the time to write to us to just say that, they offer their help, and this is just amazing. So, we are fully focused on delivering value to anyone who is looking for a co-founder to start a start-up with or to join one that has already gotten under way.

One thing that totally surprised us is the amount of money people can chip in to get things of the ground. With one or two co-founders, there is a good chance you’ll have as much cash as most of the famous incubator programs offer you (of course, they offer things as well; but then they take equity, too). And these are realistic figures if you look at age, country, previous successes, etc.

Who would you say is your biggest competitor?

People always ask us about LinkedIn. We’d be silly to compare ourselves to them. Everybody wants a job with a salary; very few people want to quit their jobs, live on Ramen noodles. So, it’s a totally different audience. Codacademy is interesting because they are about teaching programming to everyone, which is kind of competitive at least for those people who are looking for a programmer co-founder. And then there is Techcofounder which brings together people who are programmers and people who need programmers in a good old job posting type of fashion.

What are you most excited about at the moment?

The start-ups we will see in 2012 that nobody is even thinking about right now.

What are you most excited about for the future?

The prospects 2012 holds for everyone who is willing to take the leap into start-up life. Marc Andreessen predicts “SW is eating the world” and it has never been easier to launch a start-up in that area. Take those two together and 2012 can be very powerful.

Can you convince the reader to start using Founder2be in under 50 words?

Don’t start a start-up if you are happy and satisfied in your current job. But if you think you can do more, maybe even have an idea, then go find a co-founder and make it happen.

Finished reading? Check out Founder2be!

Interview with Elemi Atigolo (Whatfolio)

Whatfolio is a web application that provides you with the ability to easily create a personal profile or portfolio page for your or your business. I interviewed Elemi Atigolo, Whatfolio founder to find out more. This interview is the thirty second in a series of DW interviews. Big thank you to Elemi for the interview! […]

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