Start-Ups.Co really enjoyed interviewing the brilliant entrepreneur; Mr. ‘Mark La Fay'; Founder of the – USA start-up “Conversion In A Box”.
Below, is the full interview that we have conducted :
1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?
In short, Conversion In A Box (CIB) is a web-based niche marketing tool that turns virtually any webpage into a lead-generating machine! Unlike Hubspot, Unbounce, and other giants like them, CIB is easy-to-use, flexible and requires little-to-no-training to be able to launch killer marketing campaigns with measurable results in minutes.
Here’s how it works: Find a great piece of content and upload it into CIB. We’ll give you form code that you can embed into a webpage, blog, Tumblr, Facebook and more. Post your form and start driving traffic to it. Users that fill out your form will receive a unique link to download the content.
Companies also have the option to use CIB to distribute coupons with user-specific, dynamically-generated QR codes that can be scanned with the CIB iPhone application. All customer interactions are tracked so that you can monitor the success of your campaigns.
2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?
Conversion In A Box was founded in early 2013. Currently we are doing some customer acquisitions through adwords campaigns, monitoring their behavior and modifying the software based on their level of engagement with the platform. We will begin actively seeking investment in Q2 of 2014
3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?
Conversion In A Box is a Saas product that is extremely easy to use. Customers can create an account through www.conversioninabox.com without the assistance of a sales person. We offer a free account that has limited features and capabilities and we also offer paid tiers that unlock integrations and more.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
Conversion In A Box was birthed from Sonar Studios. Sonar Studios is a creative and technology firm located in Indianapolis, Indiana. We service several types of clients in several different industry segments. In providing client services, we also identify potential solutions to problems that span entire industries. This is essentially how we generate ideas and then we utilize internal resources (and sometimes external) to create prototypes of new products, test the products and either kill them or drive them forward. That said, the CIAB team is currently the executive leadership team of Sonar Studios, Vince Freeman and myself.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
Conversion In A Box is a simple-to-use tool that focuses solely on the act of conversion. Hubspot, hatchbuck, unbounce and others have entire suites of tools that are useful but require more professional development to utilize them. Our tool is platform agnostic meaning we’ve built it to work with facebook, wordpress, tumblr, your own website, etc. We’ve also begun expanding our integrations so that you can dump data into mailchimp, constantcontact, zoho, sugarcrm, campaign monitor and more.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?
We are currently in a public beta. We are testing different means of acquiring customers including earned media and paid media. We are currently at 300 users and 7 software integrations. Our next goal is to overwhelm the user with help videos and documentation so that every step of the way if there is a question, it can be answered without searching the site. Our next goal is to get average account utilization up to 30% or higher.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?
The Competition: Indirect competition is in the form of large marketing automation software suites like Hubspot and Hatchbuck. These tools offer a slew of features and functionality that require extensive training to ensure proper implementation. The entry price point for Hubspot is $199/mo and for Hatchbuck it is $99/mo. Unbounce and Kickoff Labs, are landing page software tools that directly compete with Conversion In A Box. They require users to design complete landing pages within their platform. Pages are hosted within their own environments and both are somewhat inflexible. Neither platform offers content distribution. The entry price point for Unbounce is $49/mo and Kickoff Labs is $29.99/mo.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
We’ve faced several technical obstacles dealing with scalability, effectiveness of the platform, changes on 3rd part platforms, etc. We’ve always adapted to the change and in short order I might add. Our current obstacle is the level of account usage. We’ve found that it is not difficult to acquire users. Where our trouble lies is in whether or not users that sign-up for free accounts actually use the service. So we are currently testing different methods of engagement from increased help and support materials, drip email sequences that service users with helpful information on how to use the platform and what to do with the harvested information and next we will actually be manually reaching out to every user to ask questions.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
We’ve found that even the savviest of marketers don’t really understand what conversion is and why it should matter to them. It would appear that a lot of marketing types still focus on frequency and reach. The vanilla, mass-market approach to marketing brands and products. They don’t seem to understand that conversion isn’t just the act of purchasing. It’s really the first step in permission marketing. Suspects you dont know turn into prospects you do know and have permission to communicate with directly. This is a valuable step and measurement to gauge the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.
If we are driving people somewhere, we should be gathering their information. I think of it this way: A company that runs a PR campaign or a content campaign to draw attention to their website they don’t try to capture information about that traffic is not unlike a business development guy going to a networking meeting and not gathering business cards.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
The product is spreadable. Not like peanut butter is spreadable, but like viruses are spreadable. It’s a useful tool that is easy to use and when use correctly it can validate every ounce of marketing that organizations do. Great minds + drive + great product = success.
11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
The coupon feature that we rolled out is not a focus for us right now but it could be. It was very easy for us to create the feature that we went ahead and created it and made it a premium feature. But the idea of a custom groupon that you control is intriguing. We have other technology pivot options but I can’t disclose them.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?
I have a 12 year background in music marketing and promotion. I managed several artists that I signed to record deals and toured around the world (26 countries to be precise). Everyone did the same thing to market new music: Put a song online to stream, spam your fan network and watch the counter go up. I always thought it would be nice to get a name, email and zip code in exchange for the song. This would be a qualifying step for your fans and that information would be valuable. The idea birthed from that. Everyone has content to give away. Content isn’t just for content, it’s for identifying sales prospects. The content you release reveals something about the person that wants to download it. Why not make a tool that simplifies this for everyone.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
The field of dreams only happens in the movies. It takes a lot of extremely hard work to build ideas, validate ideas, launch ideas and monetize ideas. The faster we can launch, test, revise, the faster we can get on with our lives.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
Six months from now we anticipate crossing the 1500 user mark. We anticipate account utilization being something to be constantly improved. With that comes the need to scale to support the increased usage. SO we will see what vertical and horizontal scaling looks and feels like
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
Validate your marketing in real-time. Generate leads for your sales team and push them into your CRM in real-time. Create measurable value for your customers.
16. How did customers / users find out about you?
Currently we are acquiring customers through word-of-mouth, Search Engine Marketing and organic web traffic.
17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?
Currently we are targeting musicians and music professionals. As we grow we will be focusing on acquiring pr and marketing services agencies. They tend to manage several accounts that could all benefit from our platform.
18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
We run adwords that target certain keywords and drive traffic to landing pages. For instance, you might search google for music marketing software. Our ad might pop up and take you to www.conversioninabox.com/music-marketing where you will see a video, read some text and create an account.
19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?
The customers that understand how to use the platform love it. We’ve had several musicians from around the world use the platform and identify hundreds to thousands of fans. The musicians that use the platform and see success understand the value of knowing who their fans are. They love it.
20. How are you going to scale?
Once we’ve identified the most effective ways to acquire customers and then ensure their success with our platform, we only need to throw gas on the fire ie. money. Our technology will scale with ease.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
More custom features. Users would like to be able to customize auto-generated emails, the download pages and some would like to remove some advertisements.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
We are internationalized. Currently we are running ads almost exclusively in the UK because the brits have been the most responsive to the technology. We’ve had some success with advertisements in the US so we’ve continued to run ads in the US.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
We believe we can scale to acquire millions of users. There is constant turnover within music, marketing services, and business in general. Our tool will continue to be useful for a long time and we plan to adjust to changes in the world that would require us to do so. We believe that if we throw money at the marketing of the product, we can acquire customers at a high-rate and we are currently engineering the process to ensure their success.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
We hope to be to the point of needing to hire full-time support personnel, product specialists, developers, sales and business development staff, etc. We currently have no vacancies but there should be options soon.
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
We are looking for funding opportunities absolutely. Our hope is to grow the company and make money. Our greatest hinderance right now is our lack of money to invest into the product.
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
27. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
No, Thank you for the opportunity!