Hey fellow entrepreneurs and marketing wizards! Startup Radius interviewed Omar, founder of Monitoro – developers and vendors of a platform that monitors web pages for changes (prices for e-commerce users, for example). This is quite useful in terms of monitoring competitors, product prices, multiple markets and many more.
Read below to learn more about step-by-step creation of the product, most effective marketing channels, why it’s important to focus on the product, why automation matters and more. Enjoy!
Can you tell us about what you are working on? What is Monitoro?
My name is Omar, founder of Monitoro. We are a young startup that monitors web pages for changes on behalf of the users, and sends fresh and up-to-date data to them.
We enable you to know if a price has changed for example, and exactly how much is the new amount. We can also notify you that a hotel has new vacancies, that your competitor has stopped selling a product, or that the terms and conditions of your favorite company have changed – as soon as it happens.
Our goal is to unlock the data that is held captive in websites all around the world. We want to enable people to make faster and better decisions, to create new data-based automations, and to build a platform where innovation happens and new opportunities are unlocked for everyone.
Why are you building this? Was there a particular source of inspiration or money-making idea?
It all stems from my background in software automation, and my experiments living a data-oriented life. For example, I tried before to create a grocery optimizer for personal use, that would tell me where to buy each item at the cheapest cost.
This, and many other similar endeavors fell flat because I found out I didn’t have access to what I needed the most: data.
I decided to scratch that itch, encouraged by a very warm reception from many professionals and companies operating in relevant industries.
Time for bragging! How big you are – traffic, users, anything else?
We are still a very young company – 1 week old at the time of writing. Nevertheless, this week has been incredible, as we already have 350 users (weekly active, mind you 😉 ), and more than 3000 visitors to the website so far.
The amazing conversion rates we have observed so far seem to translate to the enterprise, as we received several inquiries already from large companies willing to integrate Monitoro to their current infrastructure for data extraction and market intelligence to watch 1000s of websites at once.
Who are your main competitors, and how good/bad they are?
We are trying to position ourselves in a relatively unique niche, which is data-driven website monitoring services.
The existing services, while great at their intended use cases, are not equipped to deal with structured information, such as extracting the exact amount of the price, or the next tour date for an artist. They’re more appropriate when you only want to know if something has changed at all.
We are making it possible to connect an automation on the other end of the monitor, so that something simple or sophisticated could happen upon the change of a value in a website. Therefore we are equally adept at notifying people and notifying machines, ultimately in service of the people.
Who uses Monitoro? What is your perfect buyer persona?
The perfect user of Monitoro is someone in need of information that is present on a website, and who needs it up to date. Using Slack, Zapier, or IFTTT and the likes, they can leverage the data that is sent by Monitoro and receive notifications for example, or update their database.
We have several hypotheses on the business cases that Monitoro can critically help with. Here’s a non exhaustive list, some of which we’re already exploring with prospective customers:
- E-commerce: Watch competitor prices, consumer sentiment and reviews
- Software Engineering: Watching new software releases and change logs, license changes, a data source for ChatOps
- Healthcare: New clinical trials for drug testing and medical procedures,
- Insurance: Risk calculation, watching competitor coverage plans, prices in second-hand markets
- Recruitment: Keeping track of applicant whereabouts, open and closed positions from other companies
- Data Science: Real-time Analytics, Process mining, Time series dataset creation,
- Journalism: Newsroom and news aggregation,
- Legal / Information Security: Changes in legislation and regulations, Warrant canaries, Terms and Conditions
Were there any early ‘growth hacks’ or tactics that have contributed to your current success?
The best growth hack it to stay authentic, instead of relying on canned launch strategies.
So instead of spending time orchestrating the perfect launch schedule where all the stars align, spend that time instead on your product and your target users.
From current and past experience, a unit of investment into the product is worth 10 units of marketing or more.
What were some of the biggest challenges while building Monitoro early on and how did you solve them?
A company at its earliest can be so demanding!
While working on getting the infrastructure up and running reliably, we also had to focus on building a coherent brand and visual identity, and building a delightful user experience.
Throughout this process, it was critical to stick to the core value proposition of the product, and resist the temptations that would dilute it, such as an endless stream of feature proposals that “make perfect sense” for example.
Once launched, the biggest challenge turned out to be keeping up with the user demand without the house of cards falling apart.
One tip I wished I knew before launching: Once the product is live and visible, any downtime on your website means you’re constantly bleeding visitors and would-be users, worse if you mess up the update and your product goes down.
Make sure you have a zero downtime deployment infrastructure, otherwise expect that you cannot change your website under launch duress unless it’s a critical fix – and even then, ensure you have a testing environment as well as a testing strategy before deploying to production.
If you could give a marketing advice to other companies, what could it be based on your experience?
The product is key. Marketing is there for you to get the word out, but if your product is bad (for whatever bad means to your users), then your conversion rates will tank and any marketing effort will be much more costly and yield little value.
A more practical tip: Most common marketing techniques can actually be thought of as “at scale”. Sticking to the Lean Startup spirit, before you fully invest in any marketing strategy you should always test it out in small, testable, and financially inconsequential trials. Do things that don’t scale at first, to spread the word out, and then when your approach or available time doesn’t work out any more scale it up to advertising, social promotions, etc.
In any way, your product should always “speak for itself”.
Which marketing channels you prefer and why?
I like to explore less conventional channels. For instance, most recently we’re exploring specialized communities and marketplaces (say themeforest, if you’re a design agency) that overlap with our target niche, and can provide pre-screened traffic, more likely to convert.
We’re also constantly receiving traffic from scraping and data related communities, who actually spend more time and end up converting into users more often.
Is Monitoro monetized? Why did you choose the current monetization method?
As we are in an early stage, we are still experimenting on the monetization. The current strategy is to offer a limited Free tier intended for trial, an Unlimited all-you-can-eat plan for a moderate price, as well as a custom on-premise offering with an Enterprise grade support.
We want to understand how our users are leveraging Monitoro before deciding on the dimensions that the price should depend on, as well as the different usage tiers.
What are the top products/services you use in your company and why do you like them?
As a company, we use Google Apps, and for our executive dashboard and metrics, we use Metabase.
On our Sales and Marketing front, we’re using a mixture of Streak CRM, SendGrid and Google Analytics, as well as a couple of in-house tools.
We’re also proud to be using Svelte as our front-end technology, which helped us progress much more quickly relative to React (of which we’re experts, originally).