The Story of Visual Website Optimizer “Startups Are All About Markets”

Delhi based VisualWebsiteOptimizer won the first PowerPlug contest. Here is an interview with Paras Chopra, founder of VWO who shares the journey of the company which has managed to grab clients like 4sq, Groupon etc.

Tell us about your life prior to starting Wingify.

I did my engineering from DCE but had started loving programming since my school days (typical history of a geek!). In my college days, I dabbled with couple of webapps like Kroomsa, Precimark and MyJugaad.in — all of which were good products but failed to get traction. After 2 years of working at another startup after graduating from DCE, I decided to do a serious startup and that’s how Wingify was born.

You dabbled with few web2.0 ideas and got great press coverage. But it all failed. What was your major learning.ParasChopra

Major learning was this: startups are not technology problems, they are marketing and customer acquisition problem. Those web2.0 projects were all about ideas, but since then I have realized startups are all about markets. I write about this on my blog, a couple of relevant posts:

http://paraschopra.com/blog/entrepreneurship/how-to-find-startup-ideas-that-make-money.htm

http://paraschopra.com/blog/entrepreneurship/webapp-is-not-going-to-make-money.htm

http://paraschopra.com/blog/personal/how-making-money-changed-my-perspective-on-startup-ideas.htm

How did the idea of VWO came to you?

I used Google Website Optimizer and it was very difficult to use and integrate even for a technical person (let alone for a marketer). I thought A/B testing should be marketing team’s responsibility, and not IT teams. Hence decided to make a tool that will dramatically simplify creating A/B tests.

What were few activities you did prior to starting VWO? Share some of those activities which you think led to VWO’s success.

I did not know that it was called “lean startup” approach back then but I now realized that I adopted it and it was very successful. For example, first version of VWO was barebones but I released it as beta. I then sought feedback from key beta users and iterated on it rapidly. The strategy that worked well was having an innovative product coupled with exclusive beta invites for bloggers to share with their readers.

How did you close your first sale? How have you marketed VWO?

As I said VWO was in beta for 6 months so I got a good database of users and naturally and we came out of beta a couple of them converted. (I was initially scared about the response from transitioning from free beta -> paid but surprisingly it was phenomenal.)

Most of your marketing has been mostly inbound. What metrics have you kept for yourself?

Revenue. Ideally if your revenue has been increasing every month, I believe that’s the best indicator that you have been doing good. Conversion rate by different sources is another important metric that can provide actionable information. If you find that visitors from your guest posts are converting the best, it is time to put more thrust on it.

Working from India, cracking the US market is a huge pain. How do you plan to solve that.

Webex and Skype have solved a lot of things. If you are willing to work late (say 1-2 am), most of your customers in US won’t even notice that you are not even US based.

You have built a global product – share some thoughts on what product aspects you have taken care of while building VWO.

The most important point is having feedback loops built into the product. We try to seek feedback from user from at least 5 different touch points. If you sign up for VWO, you will get emails asking for feedback, we have buttons screaming for feedback inside application, even the support replies have signature that asks for feedback.

In my opinion, it is vital to keep learning how users have been finding the product and keep improving on it. That’s the key!

Anything else you want to add?

We are growing extremely fast. Our revenue has been increasing 10-15% every month since last 1 year. Because growth has been fast, we are now looking forward to smart people joining us for positions of: software engineering, customer support and sales/BD. Link to careers page: http://visualwebsiteoptimizer.com/careers.php

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