Interview with Gabriele Mittica (UpCloo)
UpCloo is a fully hosted indexing and correlation engine that helps increase pageviews.
I interviewed Gabriele Mittica, UpCloo co-founder to find out more. This is the hundred and fifty second in a series of DW startup interviews. Big thank you to Gabriele!
Describe UpCloo in under 50 words.
UpCloo is a cloud-based application that helps blogs and online newspapers to get quality traffic increasing pageviews and reducing the bounce rate. After a very easy integration, less than a minute, it starts analyzing your content and providing semantic based correlations (most related links) to your users.
Describe yourself in three words.
Nice Italian startupper?
What made you decide to start working on UpCloo?
UpCloo was the response to a specific need from one of our customers, a big tech blog: find a way to increase the pageviews and reduce the bounce rate, in order to make advertisements on the website more profitable. We started designing the core of the technology and providing the first API for the server-side integration. After good feedback by a small set of private beta testers, we improved the platform and developed SDKs and plugins for several languages and content management systems.
How does it work?
UpCloo is fully deployed on the cloud. Thanks to our SKDs and plugins, you can integrate it in all platforms and apps (web and mobile). After integration, UpCloo starts analyzing all your content, both old and new. Each time you publish a piece of news, review or an article, UpCloo analyses it and extracts the main sentences creating correlations between other content you published.
When a visitor comes to read the content, UpCloo shows the related stories in a box (floating or inline) providing great suggestions defined on semantic analysis. That’s all.
You can easily edit styles and options directly in the reserved area, where you can also get reports about performance of the service. It’s also possible to track UpCloo with Google Analytics!
How did you meet your co-founder Walter Dal Mut?
We worked together for 4 years in an Italian software house, developing lots of web apps. After a while, we started dreaming about a new business together. With plenty of courage we started our business one year ago, renting a small office in Turin. It was very exciting: to create something from scratch and watch it grow. Day by day, we developed UpCloo and other cloud based services, getting good feedback from our customers.
Tell us about your experience of the Oxygen Accelerator Program 2012.
After we applied to Oxygen (in July, just one hour before closing), they sent us an email saying that we were in the top 40. We were really surprised, but the challenge wasn’t over. We had to overcome two other selections to be accepted into the accelerator. Lots of Skype calls and pitches followed. But I can remember in exact detail the two moments when I received the notifications. The first in August, I was on the beach, they said we were in the top 20. And the last one, in early September, I received an email: “you made it”. I was driving and almost went out of road!
We arrived in Birmingham October 1st. Everything was different from Italy where the market is firmer and less open to startups. The first weeks were very hard, but the whole experience of Accelerator was something new, intense and exciting. A series of meetings and lessons with mentors from various companies followed. We bonded immediately with the guys from other teams. They looked at us in amazement at the amount of coffee (7-8 espresso per day) we drank, and we threw ourselves into the world of startups with enthusiasm. Week after week, with the help of Oxygen, the mentors and our teammates, we redesigned the business and opened the service to everyone.
How have you marketed UpCloo? Which tools and techniques have been most successful?
UpCloo is now on the market and everyone can try it. UpCloo is based on freemium model: it’s free for everyone and premium plans (with dedicated support and extra features) are available for bigger customers. Our goal is to talk about UpCloo, making it popular between bloggers and online magazines, so we’re trying to enforce our presence in developers communities and websites talking about blogging.
Has UpCloo got the feedback and growth you expected since launch?
We have collected a lot of feedback from our customers, improving the service and introducing new features each month. We started with just one thousand requests per month, and we now serve tens of millions. We’re growing fast!
Where do you see UpCloo in 5 years time?
Our main goal is to make UpCloo a worldwide product. We’re working a lot on marketing and thanks to the cloud we can scale up immediately serving new customers each day. We’re starting new marketing strategies here in UK, in Birmingham and London, and we’re designing the next steps to make it popular everywhere.
What else are you working on right now?
We are organizing a conference in Italy about Cloud Computing to let companies understand this technology better. It’s very exciting and puts us in contact with a lot of interesting people!
What do you love about your work?
Firstly, I believe it’s the possibility to play every day. Web technologies are growing so fast that you have to learn, grow and change continuously, without stopping. Secondly, the opportunity to get up the morning in a foreign city, being scared and not knowing how this thing will evolve but also happy to work on something that is truly yours.
Which entrepreneurs do you most admire?
Let me think about that… I would probably have to say Sean Parker; he raised two great tech revolutions, Napster and Facebook, that’s incredible! And… Bill Gates: a lot of people don’t like him: badmouth Microsoft and you collect a lot of applause but I think he really changed the world.
What one piece of advice would you give to soon to be startup founders?
If you’re a tech guy like Walter and me, remember that you can deploy the best app in the world but you also need to manage the business development. Try to get traction and work also on the presence of your project on the web.
What are you most excited about at the moment?
Investor day, the final event (in Jan) of the Oxygen Accelerator where the startup teams will introduce their projects to a large set of investors and companies.
Can you convince the reader to check out UpCloo in under 50 words?
If you have websites rich in content, you know how important it is to get quality traffic and better monetize your back catalogue. UpCloo is a smart technology that helps you to put more value into your digital content, making them more easily discovered.
Finished reading? Check out UpCloo!