I'm proud to announce that our company, Bazaarvoice, has achieved profitability! See our release below.
I wanted to share this with my personal blog audience because part of this achievement is practicing many principles and suggestions I’ve shared over the years here. I've even been called a "Cheap Ass Marketer" to help achieve this goal….but I take this as a compliment because it's really about hitting the marketing bulls-eye!
At the highest level, this achievement underscores the fundamental steps to build a startup that are sometimes forgotten in heady times:
- Find a need or a problem in a large enough market that needs to be solved
- Provide product or service of value to customer to solve that problem
- Keep costs low without sacrificing customer experience
- Continue to supply value to client (customer satisfaction), at a cost less than price, and profitability will occur
I like to all this “A Business"!
Prior to Bazaarvoice and Dell, I've been through 3 startups in the frothy late 90's in the Bay Area / Silicon Valley. While my first startup was profitable early on (largely due to Apple's help), the other two were built on what I like to call "Venture Charity". Here’s how those organizations work…
- Build something cool that may have value to someone
- Search for someone willing to pay for that value
- Keep searching.
- If still not found, try creating something else until money runs out.
- 9 times out of 10 -- notwithstanding the rare ebay/google -- money runs out
We're already starting to see a pool party of Venture Charity companies in TechCrunch's Dead Pool.
I’m happy to say that our clients are happy (and renewing their contracts), our employees are happy, and I'm proud of what we've built. An adventure like this is a lot of fun, and it’s one of the reasons I decided to come back to startups. I expect our continued success in the future, as we will focus on the same principles that got us here, many of which I share here. I will occasionally share Bazaarvoice updates here, but otherwise you can keep up with it at my 'other' blog (actually, many “Bazaarvoicees” contribute here) at www.bazaarblog.com.
Bazaarvoice Achieves Profitability with Unprecedented Client Growth
out of 10 of the Internet Retailer Top 100 who outsource ratings and
reviews select Bazaarvoice for technology excellence, product
innovation, and the industry’s
best customer service and support
Austin, TX – May 2, 2007 – Bazaarvoice, an innovator in helping brands use online word of mouth to build their businesses, today announced that the company continues to enjoy unprecedented growth and recently achieved profitability. Since coming out of stealth mode in February 2006, Bazaarvoice has signed more than 90 leading online businesses to its acclaimed rating and reviews solution. Bazaarvoice currently serves more than 250 million reviews per month for clients including Bass Pro Shops, CDW, Dell, HP, Macy’s, Overstock.com, PETCO, QVC, Sears, and The Home Depot.
The past 14 months have also marked a period of unprecedented industry validation and innovation for Bazaarvoice. The company was named to the Red Herring 100, and took home top honors as PETCO’s Vendor of the Year and ClickZ’s Marketing Innovation of the Year. Bazaarvoice also launched SyndicateVoice, the first open syndication network for ratings and reviews, and debuted photo and video reviews, as covered by the New York Times.
“We are 100% focused on our clients’ success as the key to our own success,” said Brett Hurt, founder and CEO of Bazaarvoice. “Bazaarvoice is extremely excited about our exceptional growth in such a short time period, and we are committed to reinvesting in the company, technology, and people that drive client success. I am very proud of our team’s focus and execution in quickly reaching profitability. Clients can rest assured that we are here to serve them for the long-term and that we are aggressively reinvesting our profits into further R&D, innovations, and services based on their needs.”
“As its client and partner list continues to grow, Bazaarvoice is ready to scale rapidly,” said Chris Pacitti, general partner at Austin Ventures. “Brett has carefully assembled his executive team to include seasoned industry experts accustomed to managing large teams and increasing complexity. Achieving profitability in less than two years since founding, on a large base of clients and revenue, is an extraordinary accomplishment. The company is poised and will continue to lead the market.”
“Like all of our partners, Bazaarvoice is an extension of our team,” said Vince Stevens, internet manager of planning & analytics at Cabela’s. “Despite being the youngest partner we worked with, we took the chance with them based on their reputation and existing client success. We’re happy to see them reach the level of maturity that reduces our risks and increases the opportunities for future growth together."
In just over a year, Bazaarvoice has experienced unprecedented global progress with clients and partners, and significantly deepened its presence in interactive and word of mouth marketing communities:
- Bazaarvoice now serves 8 out of 10 of the Internet Retailer Top 100 who outsource ratings and reviews.
- Bazaarvoice has signed over 30 partners in the areas of eCommerce platforms (ATG, Fry, IBM WebSphere, MarketLive); site search (Celebros, Endeca, Mercado, SLI Systems); Web analytics (Coremetrics, Omniture, WebSideStory, WebTrends); email marketing (CheetahMail, ExactTarget, Responsys); A/B testing and content optimization (Offermatica, Optimost, SiteSpect); personalization and recommendations (Aggregate Knowledge, Certona, ChoiceStream)
- Bazaarvoice moved aggressively into the UK and European markets with the opening of a London office in early 2007 as well as the internationalization of its complete solution.
- Bazaarvoice has attracted industry thought leaders to its advisory board including WOMMA founding CEO Andy Sernovitz; Dell’s former senior vice president of global online business and global brand marketing John Hamlin; respected author and marketing guru Bryan Eisenberg; and customer experience expert Tamara Adlin.
“Bazaarvoice has played a critical role in evangelizing word of mouth marketing through its amazing client success and strong presence in trade organizations and industry conferences,” said Ed Keller, the respected author of The Influentials, CEO of the Keller Fay Group, and former Roper CEO who joined the Bazaarvoice board of directors last year. “In a short time, Bazaarvoice has helped transform the marketing landscape by empowering companies to court influencers in new and innovative ways to share opinions, write reviews, create ads, and build their business.”
Technology and Product Innovation
Bazaarvoice provides a risk-free way to incorporate ratings and reviews into the eCommerce experience through the industry’s most customizable technology, reliable and accurate content moderation, and seamless integration with over 30 leading eCommerce partners. Bazaarvoice amplifies the business impact of ratings and reviews through advanced analytics and branded content syndication to the world’s largest comparison shopping sites, increasing search engine visibility and improving overall conversion rates.
Bazaarvoice launches new functionality every 6 weeks and is committed to reinvesting capital in development capabilities to provide industry-leading functionality for its clients:
- SyndicateVoice, the first pay-for-performance online reviews marketing platform driving natural search results, launched in August 2006 and was named “the killer ad app” by Advertising Age. SyndicateVoice partners include popular shopping portals, such as MSN, PriceRunner.com, and Shop.com.
- Jeff Watts, a well-known, 7-year search engine optimization (SEO) expert from National Instruments, recently joined Bazaarvoice as a product manager to extend the innovation and impact of SyndicateVoice for clients.
- The Bazaarvoice Workbench, the industry’s most robust word of mouth analytics platform, provides insights into a multitude of performance metrics. The workbench allows clients to view individual reviews, and easily integrates with client-side Web analytics platforms.
- New product enhancements, including photo and video reviews, analytics alerts, and reviewer profiles, deliver significant sales and revenue impact to Bazaarvoice clients.
- Bazaarvoice has handled the large scale needs of its clients exceptionally well, now serving over 250 million reviews per month.
“Product ratings and reviews achieve a winning trifecta of increased loyalty, purchase frequency, and reduced returns for online retailers,” said Patti Freeman-Evans, senior analyst at JupiterKagan. Freeman-Evans’ August 2006 report, Retail Marketing: Driving Sales Through Consumer-Created Content, cites user-generated ratings and reviews as the second most important site feature behind search, and says that retailers who adopt ratings and reviews as a differentiator and retention strategy will gain market share. “Bazaarvoice has proven remarkably adept at understanding retailer requirements and building technology solutions that fit their needs.”
Client Services and Support Excellence
- Bazaarvoice offers superior community management, support, and content analyst teams to ensure each client’s success: Scott Muhlig, a 12-year operations manager from Dell who managed a team of over 150, recently joined Bazaarvoice as a content operations manager to ensure continued excellence in Bazaarvoice’s content and support operations.
- Bazaarvoice launched their new online content management system this year to help Content Analysts be more efficient and more exact in ensuring that each client’s specific needs are met and their brand is protected.
- Bazaarvoice regularly offers webinars, white papers, and best practices documentation to educate clients on the ways to maximize return from their word of mouth marketing investments.
- Bazaarvoice Community Managers regularly collaborate with clients to analyze review performance and impact to overall site performance.
- Bazaarvoice has helped its clients pioneer ways to leverage ratings and reviews and has demonstrated impact with over 20 case studies.
“It has been rewarding and inspiring to watch our clients embrace word of mouth marketing and social commerce, and build this new discipline together with us,” said Sam Decker, vice president of products and marketing at Bazaarvoice. “We will continue to reinvest our profits in order to expand all of our solution capabilities and deliver an even higher ROI for our clients.”
Based in Austin, Texas, Bazaarvoice offers outsourced technology, community management services, analytics, and syndication to encourage and harness word of mouth marketing, and bring it closer to a company’s brand and customer experience. The company’s flagship hosted and fully managed customer ratings and review service allows businesses to enable, encourage, and analyze customer ratings and reviews on their website. With Bazaarvoice, companies can empower their customers to share honest opinions and influence each other to make more informed and rewarding purchase decisions. Clients like Bass Pro Shops, CompUSA, Dell, Overstock.com, Macy’s, PETCO, and Sears benefit from a credible and reliable customer-to-customer community, without having to delve into complex IT work or the laborious process of community management. Bazaarvoice was named Marketing Innovation of the Year in the 2006 ClickZ Marketing Excellence Awards and received a “Red Herring 100 North America” award by Red Herring magazine. For more information, please visit the company’s website at www.bazaarvoice.com or email [email protected] .