This week we speak with Dror Ceder, CEO of Wibiya, an application marketplace for web publishers. He tells us how his current business developed out of a vertical search engine and how Wibiya came to be used by 2,000 bloggers with two months of beta-launch.
How would you describe what Wibiya does?
Wibiya is an application marketplace for web publishers to easily integrate apps and services with just a few clicks without any knowledge of coding. Today, one of the most popular tools is the Wibiya bar. Our main goal is to enable publishers/websites to focus on what they do best. For all the other things for your site, such as sharing your content and adding social media tools, come to Wibiya. If you’re a content site, write good content. If you’re a small business, create good leads. Leave you website’s needs to us.
How did you come up with the idea?
Our first company was Joongel which was a type of vertical search engine. But ultimately we decided that we don’t want to be in the search engine market because it was already oversaturated. So we decided to offer publishers a search option within their websites where they could select the search engine of their choice. We launched that aspect in September 2008. After 400 pitches, publishers were all saying the same thing – they wanted to easily add functionalities to their websites like games, viewing posts, or integrating Twitter. And at that moment we shifted. Until Wibiya, there was no marketplace for publishers to integrate all functionalities into their site.
How long did it take you to get the business off the ground?
We did early concept testing with bloggers who were the most interested in our solutions. We believed bloggers would also offer the viral component to Wibiya because bloggers like to discuss new things that they’re trying out. In June 2009 we launched a private beta with the hope of getting 50 bloggers. After two months, we had 2,000 bloggers. In January 2010 we launched our platform to the public.
What’s been the most difficult aspect of setting up the company?
The rollercoaster ride that is launching a startup. One day things are great, and the next day you don’t know what’s going to happen. You need to stay very up-to-date with the market. Also, educating the market is difficult. How do you convince publishers they need to add something new to their site? While the product speaks for itself, it still had to be made very easy to use for the publisher.
What applications or tools do you find most useful for your business?
We love using Zen Desk as our white label support service. Balsamiq is perfect for wire frames, Get Satisfaction is great for user feedback and ClickTale for analytics.
Can you tell our readers a bit about your business model?
We offer a broad range of options such as a premium a app store model where premium apps are offered on a monthly subscription basis. There is also an option for revenue sharing on ads.
What has been your biggest success?
With Conduit’s acquisition of Wibiya in May we are growing the company and taking it to next level. Wibiya includes the traction of 180,000 websites and 200 million unique monthly users which we were able to reach without spending a dime on marketing. It’s all been viral through social media and websites. We believe that when you create a good product, the product will market itself. And that’s the approach we’re offering to our publishers; excel at what you do and Conduit’s offerings will provide you with all the tools necessary to engage your users.
How are you promoting Wibiya?
Through constant Twitter and Facebook activity. From day one, anyone who mentioned Wibiya on Twitter or other channels received a personal response and to this day we always stay in touch. We also have a ‘Powered by Wibiya’ on the bars, which publishers can remove.
What advice would you give to someone setting up their own startup?
First, I would say if you are creating a web product, get it out into the market within three months. Features are your enemy; don’t pay too much attention to them. Rather focus on one or two things that you know you’ll do best. Use third party tools at the beginning. They’re cheap, you can scale with them, and they don’t demand a lot of resources on your end. Don’t read too much technology news. Sure, following the news is important in order to keep you informed and to inspire you, but just don’t get too caught up in it. And finally, don’t look too much at your competitors and it can bring negative vibes.
Where do you hope your business will be in the next five years?
We want Wibiya’s impact on the web to be even greater and for Conduit to become the source for web publishers when it comes to user engagement on multiple levels. Providing web publishers of all sizes with solutions to enhance engagement with their users is the essence of Wibiya and Conduit’s shared vision for the future. Ultimately when publishers use a CMS and create their website, we want the next stop for their website to naturally be Wibiya for a social bar on their website, Conduit for their community toolbar and browser apps, and Conduit Mobile for a native mobile app.