Interview with Jeroen Maljers (Swydo)
Swydo is a project management and reporting application for online marketers.
I interviewed Jeroen Maljers, Swydo founder to find out more. This is the hundred and seventieth in a series of DW startup interviews. Big thank you to Jeroen!
How would you describe Swydo in under 50 words?
Swydo is a reporting, alerting and workflow suite for online marketers. Swydo provides a holistic view on KPI’s that are fed by online marketing metrics like Analytics, Adwords, your own work/tasks and other sources. With Swydo online marketers work better and report more easily.
How did you meet your business partner Bert Catsburg?
We met via a mutual business friend.
Swydo is a very unique name, how did it come about?
Swydo is an Acronym for Show What You Do Online. I thought of this name because our Agency customers used to ask us every month: “what did you accomplish this month and what did you do”. Exactly the problem we now try to solve with our software.
What gap in the market did you discover that persuaded you to share Swydo with online marketers in 2011?
There are a lot of really good task management and project management tools out there. But they all focus on projects that have a start and an end, you know like building a house. You even see it in the testimonials of the PM tools that they are used by wedding planners, architects etc. But online marketing is not like that. It never ends. It’s an continual process of improvements based on results. We could not find a suitable solution to facilitate such a process, so we started to make it ourselves. We really facilitate recurring projects. Next to that we saw that native reporting in Analytics, Adwords is really fragmented and unsuitable for agency needs and online marketers needs.
Swydo was originally built in 2009, how does the current version differ from the original?
Our initial version was just to scratch our own itch. It was not built for third parties. We completely rebuilt it last year and the current suite is state-of-the-art, scalable and fast.
You have a growing team, are you looking to expand further?
Yes, we need more colleagues. We will expand in customer support, programming and marketing.
Swydo has 5 different pricing packages, which has been most popular?
The free one :) But seriously. People are migrating slowly up in the pyramid of our plans, starting with free and then choosing a paid plan to fit their needs.
You claim online marketers work better with Swydo, how do you differentiate yourselves from your competitors?
We focus on 2 problems we solve: reporting and workflow. Other tools do not have the workflow but focus on research/editing and on reporting. In their tools you can, for instance, edit adwords campaigns or write blog posts. That’s not our vision. We think you will always better manager adwords campaigns in the adwords system or write blog posts in WordPress. But to have a good workflow and reporting across these different tools is managed best with Swydo.
In January this year, you launched “the new Swydo”, what feedback did you get and have you had to roll back any changes?
We received a lot of positive feedback first of all, but also requests to included more channels like Bing, Facebook and LinkedIn. We are working hard to accomplish that soon. Next to that we really received a lot of detailed input to make the reporting and task management even smoother.
What is your primary focus in terms of new developments to Swydo at the moment?
We focus on 3 tracks in development at the moment:
1. Reporting should be a joy. The online marketing reporting part should be like a hot knife through butter. It’s good but can even be better.
2. A mobile app. See all your online marketing KPI’s while drinking coffee at Starbucks.
3. More channels like Bing and Facebook.
You also own an agency, do you find any difficulties spreading your time evenly?
I divide my time between Swydo and our small, local boutique agency. It’s good to have our small agency, because in that way we eat our own dog food. We invest all we earn in the product at the moment.
Because time is scarse I really have to weed out all other, distracting business activities and to be honest: that has been hard but has a positive effect. I hardly go to trade shows, conferences and am very focussed on spending my time right. Sometimes I would like to focus more on just one venture. We’ll see what the future brings.
What has been the biggest obstacle for Swydo to overcome so far?
We really had to make a transition from making a system like you make a website to making a really scalable suite.
I mean, the initial version had to refresh for every page and had a self built polling mechanism. Then our hosting provider called us to say that there was almost coming smoke out of our server. Hmmmm, then we discovered frameworks like Spine and Node.js and had to rewrite literally every single line of code. We were experienced marketers, but had no experience in building scalable software. We’ve learned a lot since then.
What’s the startup scene like in Amsterdam?
It’s good. Venture Capital is scarce (we are 100% bootstrapped), but there’s a good scene with friendly people that help each other. There’s a good conference (TNW).
What advice would you offer to any soon to be startup founders out there?
You really have to have a good mix of tech, marketing and action. In the B2B area, where we operate, the central question is: “What problem does our software solve for our customers”. If you don’t have a good answer, go back to the start.
Where do you see Swydo in 5 years time?
Either we will be a healthy independent bunch or part of a larger player. Since our customers are 99% from outside of the Netherlands, an international office will be mandatory.
Can you convince the reader to start using Swydo in under 50 words?
The online marketing space is maybe the fastest changing profession to be in. This is great but also creates a challenge to stay organized and accountable. Online marketers who want to stay in control and want to be accountable to themselves, their colleagues, clients or boss should try Swydo.
Finished reading? Check out Swydo!