Ahead of the CED Tech Venture Conference 2012, we sat down with a few of the executives that will be presenting as Demo Companies to find out what makes them tick…
|Houghton, left, and Smith, right, co-founders of BoostSuite|
Today's interview is with Daniel Smith and Aaron Houghton, co-founders of BoostSuite. Houghton, CEO, and Smith, CMO, discussed what small businesses can do to increase their marketing results with Ann Revell-Pechar, who serves on the CED PR/Marketing Committee. BoostSuite is a Demo Company at the CED Tech Venture Conference 2012 and the founding team is looking ahead to big milestones.
Ann: Daniel and Aaron – thank you for doing this interview together, and giving the CED TechVenture crowd a look at Boostsuite from the perspectives of two successful entrepreneurs. Before we talk about Boostsuite, tell us a bit about the entrepreneurs that you are.
Daniel: Well, I’ve been in software for over 15 years, and developed my first Web-based offering while in college. Over the years I’ve developed a passion for small businesses because I was that small business. Aaron and I worked at iContact together, and now at BoostSuite we provide tools that help small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) avoid costly mistakes in their Web marketing programs.
Aaron: And I feel like I’ve been in software forever. In fact Preation, my first company, was initially launched in 1997; I’ve launched about 15 companies now in total. I guess I’m best known for iContact, which I founded in 2002-2003, and sold earlier this year for $169 million.
Ann: We are excited to learn from your successes, and follow your newest endeavor. Tell us about Boostsuite. (editor’s note: Aaron and Daniel interjected throughout the interview; therefore the comments hereon are attributed simply to Boostsuite.)
Boostsuite: Boostsuite is a Web marketing solution for small businesses. In fact, it’s the only Web marketing product that allows small business owners to optimize their websites on their own. Google Analytics, Hubspot, complex data, all those charts, graphs, tables -- web marketing experts need this, but small business owners just get overwhelmed by it all. BoostSuite is the solution to that problem.
Before BoostSuite, there was nothing simple enough for non-marketers to use. Many existing products require lengthy get-started courses and long-term contracts starting at $2,500/year. The complexity and the cost put these products out of range for small businesses.
By contrast it takes a small business owner about 30 seconds to learn BoostSuite. Our product uses the exact same data that the other guys do, then we automatically analyze that data and present our results as a simple marketing plan, unique to each small business. We hold the SMB’s hand every step of the way, tell them what to work on, and verify that it was done right.
Our revenue model is SMB-appropriate, too. BoostSuite starts out free and grows as your traffic increases, so you’re driving new business before you start to pay. Paid plans start at $20/month, but users can also refer others and, by doing so, keep it free to use.
Ann: It sounds like the perfect model for small businesses.
Boostsuite: That’s the whole idea. We have three major advantages:
1) Our business strategy is built for scale. We have, for example, a go-to-market plan with a customer acquisition cost of $15, in an industry that averages $300 - $600 per paying customer.
2) Our product is ridiculously unique. BoostSuite is the only Web marketing solution that doesn’t have a single graph or data chart in the product. So the business owner doesn’t have to interpret data, but is advised what to do.
3) The founders know how to build a company with real value. In just the last 24 months we’ve produced over $75 million in SMB marketing software revenue and sold a company for $169 million.
Ann: Any key milestones we should be aware of?
Boostsuite: Sure. We incorporated December 2011. The alpha version of our product was available February 9, 2012, and we went into beta on June 5, 2012. Our full launch is this week – we’re excited to be able to show off the full product at the CED Tech Venture Conference.
Ann: That’s impressive! So, why is ‘now’ a good time for your product?
Boostsuite: Big Data is affecting every kind of business. Large companies have marketing experts and analysis tools that make mining their web marketing data much easier. Big Data is making the gap between large and small businesses bigger, and it’s critical to keep that gap from growing. BoostSuite allows small businesses to participate in the Big Data revolution and levels the playing field for acquiring new customers and revenue online.
Ann: Where is BoostSuite hanging its hat?
Boostsuite: Our office is located on the American Tobacco campus. It’s important for us to be in Downtown Durham because we’re big proponents of building real value in the region. And we’re committed to North Carolina in general because of its value, in terms of what it takes to build a software company here. There’s less risk, lower cost, easy access to others facing similar problems. Besides, it offered us the opportunity to float down a river in tubes last year, which is when and how we came up with the idea!