I recently spoke with Jim Mueller, co-founder of Propadoo and Shark Tank caller during TWiST #37. For those who don’t remember Propadoo, is a tool that allows users to collect real time positive testimonials. Since the show Jim has applied to TechStars, pivoted slightly, pivoted back and is conducting some A/B tests. He openly shares his experiences I think you’ll enjoy the Q&A.
Catch me up to date?
Well, we’ve been doing a lot we are currently A/B testing two different websites and analyzing the data. Unfortunately, the results seem to be split down the middle. We were testing messaging that put emphasis on SEO versus testimonials but I think we will focus on our core original idea of positive testimonials. SEO is still a huge benefit but not our core product.
(below are the two landing pages they are testing, left is the original and the right is more SEO oriented, which do you like?)
So what is the status of the company are you still in beta?
No, we are out of beta and have a complete product. That doesn’t mean we won’t try new things but we are happy with our platform right now.
I know you applied to TechStars can you tell us about the process?
I think we were a little late in the process of applying, the first thing you do is fill out a 3 to 4 page application. There are some very simple straight forward questions and some essay type questions. From there, 40 companies are invited to TechStars Day where you get to hang out at the Techstars building, listen to advisors and former members speak and meet the other applicants. I was surprising to see so many people from all over the country, not just Boulder. The group is then widdled down to 25 and then to the final 10 that are selected for the summer program.
What did you learn from the event, did Brad and Dave give you feedback?
We learned a lot and surprisingly they said the same thing as Jason, the idea is a good idea. One in which a business can be built, however, they didn’t think it was big enough to build a business the size they are looking for.
Do you have any advice for the next group of hopeful applicants?
I recommend that everyone try build a relationship with Brad, Dave or Seth before they apply. I think it’s also important to know who you are and what strengths each member brings to the team. I feel they look at the team more so than the product to a point. More and more companies have a working product, I don’t think just an idea will cut it…also, get your application in early.
So what is next for Propadoo?
Well, going through TechStars helped us realize that the best way to position our product is to show people how it can make their platform or service more valuable. This realization also helped us define some of our distribution channels. We’re getting web design companies interested in including our testimonial widget on their platform. We are also getting SEO companies who want to resell our service or buy it from us and include it in their existing product offerings. Lastly, we do have viral attributes in our product…we have businesses signing up because they’ve been exposed to the product in many different ways.
Verticals – we can sell Propadoo as a feature to web design companies that focus on reputation based services like Real Estate. Some of these web template companies can roll our product out to 2500+ websites in one transaction. We recently were able to get Propadoo attached with the Parrallels cPanel.
Parallels – we just built an integration for Parallels’ APS standard. We are included in the APS catalog.
Lastly, it’s a small but important thing. We will be removing the Penguin from various parts of the site for purposes of reducing the “playfulness” of the site. As we move into different segments of business, I think a more professional tone is expected.
So who are your competitors and how are you different?
Our biggest competition are companies that do “reviews” like Bazaarvoice. The fact is, they are not really competitors in terms of the product, we are all about communicating the “positive”. We are really just competing for the dollars spent on services like this.
Can you show me a couple good examples of your product?
Sure we actually created a page for TWiST, we did another for Zappos they even called us and said the appreciated the page. Harvest Eating is a good example of someone using the product, look on the left sidebar toward the bottom. One thing we learned along the way is by just adding a link in an email doesn’t work, you need an easy to use tool and ask for a testimonial and Propadoo makes that an easy process. We do have companies that have decided to use Propadoo differently Hosting.com uses it as a peer-to-peer recognition toll. One client uses it as a reputation management tool this link describes how they do it.
How can the TWiST community help?
To date TWiST has been our best promotion, being on the show gave us that initial push to help get our name recognized. For that we thank Jason dearly. As far as what can the community do, if you or someone you know is in a reputation based business, try us out. We would like to extend a 60 day free trial for our full featured version. All you need to do is send us an email to sales [at] propadoo.com and in the subject line put “Free TWiST” and because I truely appreciate This Week In Startups I’ll do a free SEO website analysis with real tips for you to implement.
I would like to thank Jim for taking time out of his day to share his experiences with us and for the great offer. If you or a friend is in the reputation based business Propadoo is worth a try. For that matter what business doesn’t care about their reputation?