Interview with Michael Mayernick (Spinnakr)
Spinnakr is platform that allows websites to automatically display relevant messages.
I interviewed Michael Mayernick, Spinnakr co-founder to find out more. This is the two hundred and sixth in a series of DW startup interviews. Big thank you to Michael!
How would you describe Spinnakr in under 50 words?
Spinnakr is a new kind of web analytics that does all of the work for you – from insight, to recommendation, to action. Forget about messy charts and digging through data for what’s important. Spinnakr lets you focus on building your business and being creative.
What made you decide to start working on Spinnakr?
When working in digital strategy for political campaigns, my co-founder and I were amazed to see the difference in value people got out of their analytics. Truly sophisticated strategists could create enormous value, but even savvy users were completely lost with what to do with their analytics charts.
We were inspired to build a product that could enable anyone to use their data in powerful ways that immediately could make an impact on their business.
How did you come up with the name?
A spinnaker is a giant sail flown at the front of the boat when sailing high speed downwind. This idea – of being powerful, fast, but effortless – is at the core of how we think about problems and technology.
What technologies have you used to build Spinnakr?
At the center of Spinnakr is a complete, predictive analytics engine. Pulling this off involved taking some bleeding-edge database, queueing, caching, and processing technologies in a sophisticated, novel mix, and pairing it with some of our own custom built software. To date, there has never been a web analytics product architected like Spinnakr and that’s very much at the heart of what enables Spinnakr to make sophisticated analytics easier than ever before.
What was technically the most challenging part of developing Spinnakr?
To generate insights for our website owners, we need to look at a huge volume of data. In this sense, we’re very much a “big data” product. But in web marketing, it is especially important to respond to events as they happen – press hits, traffic spikes, social media trends. The result was we needed to generate our insights in real time. As data is generated by a website, we run it through our insight engines, enabling us to alert website owners about important events the moment they happen. Working with such large volumes of data in real time has been a fun challenge.
Congratulations on making it into the ‘500 Startups’! What have you got out of the experience so far… the good and the bad?
The best and most significant part of my time at 500 Startups was the great friends I made during the three months in Mountain View – just an incredible group of people and a very special experience.
How long did it take to put together Spinnakr?
Spinnakr has been around for almost two years now.
Do you have any new features in the pipeline?
We’re constantly looking at new ways to generate recommendations and insights for our users. We know there are a lot of pain points in getting value out of analytics data and we have a number of new features designed to address them.
As well as Spinnakr, you also founded Proudly Made in DC, curate the DC Startup Digest, and co-organize the DC Tech Meetup. How much time do you spend on each?
As an entrepreneur, I’ve benefited from a lot of wonderful support and advice. I think it is important to give back to your community and make time to help other entrepreneurs. That being said, Spinnakr is my passion and my most important obligation, and I devote all but a few hours each week to it.
What appeals most about being your own boss?
Starting your own company gives you a chance to change the world. Working as part of a small team, you know your daily efforts have a huge impact on the trajectory of the company, and thus that change. That’s very exciting to me.
What do you wish you’d have known 5 years ago that you know now?
That as impressive as it is to built something on your own, it is even more rewarding to recruit a team of amazing peers to work with you on it and make it a thousand times better.
Has Spinnakr got the feedback and growth you expected during Beta?
Our early adopters have been immensely important to the development of our product and continue to excite and motivate the team to improve the experience.
Where do you see Spinnakr in 5 years time?
The world is filling up with data, creating an endless stream of opportunities. The game changer is technology that can discover them instantly and react in moments. We see a future where all data analytics systems will work this way, and we believe we’re building the product that will define it.
Who would you say is your biggest competitor?
There is no shortage of existing web analytics products, many of which offer sophisticated features and capabilities. But I think reducing complexity and instead focusing on automatic insights and recommendations is not just a superior approach, but really the core promise of technology.
How have you promoted Spinnakr?
Our users have always been our best advocates, but we also work to maintain an active blog and social media presence.
What is the biggest hurdle you, personally, have faced or are still facing?
There’s just so much more we want to add to the product – so much room to change the way people think about data in their lives – it can be hard to stay focused on the immediate tasks!
What are you most excited about at the moment?
The increasing abundance of data will literally change the way all systems in our lives work. Intelligent, real time application of data driven insights offers huge potential, not just for websites.
Can you convince the reader to start using Spinnakr in under 50 words?
Do you run a website, but don’t feel like you’re getting everything you can out of Google Analytics? Then throw Spinnakr on your site in one easy step and start getting notified about what’s important and what you should do about it.
Finished reading? Check out Spinnakr!