Magnetude Consulting gives you a closer look into the startup community. We interview tech startups and other entrepreneurial leaders to bring you their stories, as well as insights into marketing techniques that have helped them along the way.
Today’s interview is with the one of the founders of Insight InSite, Chris Stephenson. Insight InSite is a distributed search platform that let’s consumers find relevant information, social streams and money-saving offers simply by interacting with content keywords without having to leave the publisher’s page. This new experience is something the Insight team calls “journey-free search”.
Tell me about your background as it relates to your startup?
As a journalism major I had dreams of working for a big magazine or newspaper. But with no experience, finding a writing job in Boston at the height of the recession was very challenging and I was forced to take temp positions while I waited for my big break. I ended up landing a three-month temp position with a management consultancy in Cambridge, where I started as a “gopher” in their IT department – sending faxes, changing toner cartridges, organizing the server room, etc. The corporate culture was energetic, fast-paced and entrepreneurial, and within a few short months my computer knowledge went from 0 – 60. I caught the IT bug and I never looked back.
In 1995, my boss Mike Hadley and I decided to start our own IT services business, iCorps Technologies, which is still growing and thriving today. A couple of years ago I began to get the itch to do something new, something big. When the opportunity came along to start Insight I jumped at the chance. This venture allowed me to combine my technology experience, entrepreneurial skills and journalistic roots, to tackle some really interesting challenges in digital media.
How would you describe the current stage of your startup?
This is a very exciting time for our team. We’ve recently completed our minimum viable product (MVP), after making a major pivot about 18 months ago. Fortunately, we’ve been well funded by a great group of supportive seed investors. We’re now in discussions with a hand full of publishers who are planning to use the product as part of a closed pilot program. The metrics and feedback we collect from the pilot will be enormously valuable to ensuring the successful launch of our beta release later this summer. We’re now going through the important process of transitioning from building a product to building a business.
Who is your target customer and how do you describe your value proposition?
Our target customer profile is digital publishers who need to better monetize their content directly through advertising and commerce, or indirectly through marketing and lead generation. So really, we’re designed to help digital content creators of all kinds improve their businesses by better leveraging their existing content.
We help publishers engage their audiences for longer periods of time, thereby retaining their traffic and better monetizing their content. At the same time, we allow consumers to remain fixed on what they want to read, stay for longer, learn more, and have a better overall experience. That combination creates the differentiator for us, as most solutions that are out there now are skewed toward the publisher or the consumer but not both.
How do you define marketing as it relates to Insight InSite?
We’re designing Insight to be a socially distributed, self-service platform with a small sales team small and short sales cycles. So our marketing efforts must support this model. But until we go live, it’s still a little early to focus too much on marketing.
Once we’ve gained some traction, and secured institutional funding, we’ll have a more robust story to bring to the market.
Do you have any milestones the next few months?
After recently completing our MVP last month and securing our first patent last week, our next milestone is to go live with a closed pilot. The pilot will help us prove the model and start to build “the want”. Our platform is designed to collect highly granular engagement metrics, in addition to user feedback, so going live will help us in many ways. After getting live, the next milestone is securing the institutional funding we’ll need to release a public beta and build the business.
Do you have one piece of advice you would give to a first-time founder?
From my experience, the secret is to believe in yourself more than you believe in the original idea. Ideas will change and so will the market. The key to success isn’t in a particular idea, product, or feature – it’s inside you.
If you’re interested in being interviewed for the Magnetude Startup Spotlight or you would like to learn more about our marketing services for startups, please contact us today!
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