The BizSpark company of the day is BuzzMinder, LLC, based in the US. 2Reminders.com helps people keep track of their friends and families birthdays. You will find below an interview with Mark Looi, Founder and CEO of BuzzMinder, LLC. All the best to them and congrats for being the startup of the day!
Interview with Mark Looi, Founder and CEO of BuzzMinder, LLC
Who are you?
I’m Mark Looi, founder of www.2Reminders.com and its CEO, which in this case stands for "Chief Everything Officer". That’s because I have to pitch-in to do everything from the running of the business, web dev, marketing, promotion, and selling. 2Reminders.com helps people keep track of their friends and families birthdays. When we remind them, we make gift recommendations, which can aid people in building or maintaining relationships with the people they care about. We also are introducing a B2B service in which small businesses and professionals can send eCards and notifications to their clientele.
How do you feel being the most promising ‘company of the day’ per Microsoft?
It’s an honor! We built this service to be fun and useful to people. So, having Microsoft award us this position helps us bring the value of our work to as many people as possible.
What did you do before creating your company?
Frankly, I worked at Microsoft, where I was the GM of various Internet businesses. It was a fun and exciting career, but this new role is a blast!
How did you get the idea? What s the genesis?
When I ran MSN Alerts, we really tried hard to build a platform that would service the world using a notification platform, matching content and people in an opt-in, push model. What we did not figure out was the monetization. Eventually, I realized that notifications are not a business in and of themselves; they are a feature or capability that needs to be integrated into successful vertical applications. So, to validate that, I decided to build www.2Reminders.com.
What do you sell? What is your company’s mission?
For end consumers, we really don’t sell anything directly. We provide a free service that’s monetized because we have solid demographic data about the birthday recipient and so can target gift recommendations. For small business and professionals, we will sell inexpensive subscriptions that allow them to manage their customers and send them meaningful “touches” such as Ecards on birthdays or notifications about upcoming appointments.
What is your market?
As mentioned, we have a B2C play and a B2B one. The market for consumers is people for whom the social or personal cost of neglecting important birthdays (as well as other friend and family dates) is high (or the benefit great) and who want a simple way to remember and then possibly do something about it by sending a gift or Ecard.
Any clients? References? Partners?
We’re just about to launch, so we’re looking for more partners and clients.
Funding history? VCs? BA?
So far, this is all self-funded and there aren’t any immediate plans to acquire investors, since I hope we can bootstrap ourselves.
We are focusing on the North American market for now. Though we are investigating ways to leverage our notification engine to different applications in other rapidly growing markets, like China.
How many employees do you have? How many developers?
Four altogether, though a couple are part timers; 3 of them developers.
Are you hiring? If yes, what? Where?
We are looking for the right person to help us with marketing and also with biz dev for small businesses.
Which platform are you building on? Why?
We are using the Microsoft ASP.NET platform with MVC . We chose it because it is solid, has good integration with VSTS, and was very comfortable for the developers, as we have greater expertise in that area.
Do you have any Software IP? Is there something that you’re the only one to do on the market?
We are investing in the gift recommendations engine, which in addition to rules, also has a crowd-sourcing and learning capability.
Who’s your role model?
My role models are John Warnock and Chuck Geschke, who had long professional careers in a big company, then became entrepreneurs at what would be a fairly advanced age by today’s standards. Not only did they build a great company in Adobe, they invented outstanding products that significantly advanced the state of software and reinvented themselves and their company several times over.
Where do you see opportunities today in the Software/internet areas?
I see a lot of opportunity in reinventing traditional business models and services by leveraging the free or inexpensive platforms that are increasingly available whether from Microsoft or Google or Amazon or Twitter. The way I would approach these opportunities is to think about an existing business, especially an online one, and ask how incredibly cheap and scalable storage or computing changes it? Or how access to maps or visualization or other services changes the value that can be delivered and whether that leads to an entry by a new comer that can see and capitalize on this shift.
Looking for funding? If yes, how much?
Not at this time, though we’re open to talking about anything!
What about the BizSpark Program? What do you think? Are you going to join? Why?
We are part of the program and it has been great so far, even as we are only just starting. I think the support and community you are trying to build is very special and can be an important way to differentiate the Microsoft platform from others.
Any advice to young Software entrepreneurs?
We’re entering another golden age, much like the boom brought on by the advent of the PC 20 years ago or by the Internet 10 years ago. This will take a while to play out, so make sure you do your homework first and investing in building the life-long skills of understanding how technologies come and go and what really drives businesses. If you miss this boom, my guess is that in 10-15 years, another will come along that might be better for you.
Anything else you’d like to say?
We began www.2Reminders.com as a means to bring something fun to market quickly and to bring to bear many of the technologies and practices that are shaping how software and online services are built today. But, the next steps are to build some compelling ways that people can engage in social media, leveraging our notifications platform.