• Facebook
  • Hacker News


  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • RSS
Chris Cardell

Interview with Michael Wolfe (Pipewise)

Pipewise is a user relationship management solution for cloud-based companies who acquire, convert, engage and support customers via the web and mobile.

I interviewed Michael Wolfe, Pipewise founder to find out more. This interview is the sixty third in a series of DW interviews. Big thank you to Michael for the interview!

How would you describe Pipewise in under 50 words?

Pipewise helps e-commerce businesses and consumer web services understand their user base, gain insight into what makes their users successful, and create and automate campaigns to turn users into loyal, paying customers. We drive engagement, reduce churn, and create new revenue.

You launched as ccLoop January 2010 and received $3.5 million in funding. When and why did you pivot? How much convincing did your investors need?

ccLoop pivoted about 9 months after we started, after going into public beta and disclosing the product at TechCrunch Disrupt in May 2011. We got some very positive product reviews and user feedback but realized that it was going to be hard to build a big business. But along the way we uncovered what we think is a much larger opportunity.

My last company sold products directly to corporate IT. We used to drive our marketing and sales efforts and centralize our customer data. We ran our business off of it.

But ccLoop was a business selling directly to end consumers via a fremium SaaS model. We had a large number of users who tried the product and converted via self service. We knew little about them other than their email address, but we wanted to understand what it took to convert them to paying customers.

We compared notes with a bunch of other companies, and we found that most of them were building internal solutions to this problem. Since almost every new B2B market starts out with companies building their own solutions, we realized that this is a big opportunity, pivoted, and jumped on it.

As a triathlete and ultra runner, have you managed to compete since launching Pipewise?

Startups are tough, and we all work very hard. But my team is in this for the long haul, so we are try hard not to let our family lives, social lives, and hobbies go by the wayside.

I’ve kept up my training and racing, same as I have through all of my other startups. This is a Quora post I did on the topic, which I feel passionate about.

You have some impressive investors and advisors, including Ron Conway and Kevin Harvey. Are these relationships you’ve built over your past 4 startups?

All of my investors and advisors are folks I know well or know people in common with. My relationship with Benchmark and Kevin goes back three companies to 1997 when they funded Kana. I was an Entrepreneur in Residence at Benchmark in 2002, which led to Vontu, which I co-founded with Joseph Ansanelli, who is now on my board.

It helps that my previous companies were successful, but I also counsel anyone I talk to of the importance of building relationships and keeping a reputation for ethical behavior. Even though most startups don’t succeed, every company is an opportunity to expand your skillset, reputation, and network, and use them to launch your next project.

What technologies have you used to build Pipewise?

The Pipewise application requires us to store and process large amounts of data securely and serve up a great user experience to our users, who are mostly marketers. We use MongoDB, Ruby on Rails, Backbone.js, Bootstrap, Foundation, and several other tools that let us build a secure and scalable application and iterate quickly.

What do you wish you’d known 2 years ago that you know now? Where do you see Pipewise in 2 years time?

Two years ago I wish I had a better understanding of this problem. I had just assumed that effective commercial solutions existed, and I had to learn first hand that they do not. In two years this will be an established category with lots of spending and multiple competitors, and naturally I think we’ll be the leader!

Who is your biggest competitor?

Homegrown solutions. Businesses have gotten resigned to needing to do this themselves, so we need to show that we can do it better and at a fraction of the cost of their devoting internal resources to it.

What are some of the most difficult challenges you are currently facing as CEO of Pipewise?

It is a new category in a new part of our economy, so it requires education and evangelizing, but that has not proven too difficult since the pain is well understood by anyone who has lived it.

Where have you had the most traction? Web applications, mobile or enterprise?

For us it is really anyone who is managing a large user base, which means e-commerce and consumer web services. We literally have a waiting list of people who want us to solve this problem for them.

What are you most excited about at the moment?

This is a company where I’m not only excited about our technology and our team, but I also love our customers. They are a bunch of fun companies who are all setting out to do something new, break new ground, and build huge businesses. We like to think of ourselves as a disruptive business selling to other disruptive businesses!

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

We can give you actionable insights into your user base that will help you increase engagement, decrease churn, and drive more revenue. If you have users, you need us.

Finished reading? Check out Pipewise!

This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012 at 5:48 pm GMT. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Quick links

Print | Email this story

You might also like

    None Found

Most Popular

Recent Articles

What do you wish you’d have known 11 years ago that you know now?

Usability and user experience are extremely important, it’s no longer a luxury item — it’s a necessity. Prospective customers really only give you...
Matt DeLong (CoreCommerce)

Matt DeLong

Who do you see as your primary target audience? What methods do you use to reach out to them?

1 in every 10 households in the US rents a storage unit so our target market is very broad. Our strategy is to be wherever that person who needs...
Chuck Gordon (SpareFoot)

Chuck Gordon

What advice would you offer to any soon to be startup founders out there?

I think this notion of overnight success is an urban legend, and very misleading. If you’re starting something new, expect a long and challenging journey...
David Brannan (Exam Professor)

David Brannan
Exam Professor

How long did it take to put together Leankit?

The founders worked on it “nights and weekends” for the first two years, while we kept our day jobs. We got our first customers after about...
Chris Hefley (Leankit)

Chris Hefley

What was technically the most challenging part of developing ZoomShift?

Keeping it simple. Scheduling is a complex problem, and everyone seems to approach it a bit differently. We found out pretty quick that...
Benjamin Bartling (ZoomShift)

Benjamin Bartling

GitHub is completely bootstrapped, did you ever consider pitching for funding?

We never considered pitching, but we’ve always had interest from investors. Plenty of times we had serious discussions but the timing never felt right. We...
Chris Wanstrath (GitHub)

Chris Wanstrath

What are you most excited about at the moment?

Expanding internationally. Starting my day at 6AM with emails from Japanese clients and ending them at 1AM with emails from clients in California makes...
Emeric Ernoult (AgoraPulse)

Emeric Ernoult