Startup of the Day!

Hello everyone

Today the BizSpark Startup of the day is Gridsum, a very promising Chinese software startup developing SEO solutions. GridSum is actually one of the first companies in the world who can index rich media content based on Silverlight.

GridSum is hiring and will soon be looking for funding to expand.

Interview with Guosheng Qi, CTO of GridSum

Who are you?

We are China’s leading SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) company. We are also developing breakthrough technologies, based on Silverlight, to measure the effectiveness of rich media advertising.

How do you feel being the most promising “Company of the Day” per Microsoft?

We are thrilled! We’re inspired by Microsoft’s extraordinary success, and very grateful for the on-going support that Microsoft has extended to us.

What did you do before creating your company? Team? Track record?

Our CEO (Mr. QI Guosheng) was a summer intern at MSRA, before graduating with top honors in Computer Science from Tsinghua University. Mr. Qi then recruited three Tsinghua classmates to form Gridsum, hired several others with deep business experience, and received the support of two famous Tsinghua professors.

How did you get the idea? What’s the genesis?

We started by building websites for clients. We quickly realized that getting traffic to those websites is especially challenging in China, and that the standard SEO and SEM methods from the US and Europe don’t work well in China. So we built our own methodologies and tools, which quickly became best-of-class. That investment helped us win many more SEO and SEM contracts. We re-invested the profits into breakthrough technologies to measure the effectiveness of rich media advertising.

What do you sell? What is your company’s mission?

We help leading marketers, publishers and agencies achieve the highest ROI from their investment in SEO and SEM. We also help them to measure marketing KPIs. We do this by providing excellent client service, powered by our powerful and proprietary technologies and tools.

What is your market?

We have two markets: websites that focus on the Chinese market, and companies that need better ways to measure the effectiveness of rich media advertising.

Funding history? VCs? BA?

We are 100% self-funded.

Growth? Internationalization?

We have been growing rapidly, both in terms of revenue and team size. From the outset we have pursued partnerships with leading global companies. We are working on a number of exciting projects with Microsoft. In addition, we have established exciting strategic partnerships with iCrossing and Efficient Frontiers, two leading American companies.

Any clients? References? Partners? You want to quote.

Our current strategic partners include Microsoft, iCrossing and Efficient Frontiers. Our better-known clients include Hewlett-Packard, Baidu, UNICEF, Global Sources, and Xiaonei.

How many employees do you have? How many developers?

We currently have 23 employees, of whom 13 are developers.

Are you hiring? If yes, what? Where?

We are always looking for talented software developers.

Which platform are you building on? Why? (No taboos)

We develop based on .NET and Silverlight. Silverlight is a great solution for building a cross-browser, highly-interactive, rich-media application that can be delivered online and to mobile phones – which is exactly what we do. Because Silverlight is a subset of WPF and the .net framework class library, Silverlight provides a rich set of classes that are less error-prone, and which help our programmers write better code. Silverlight provides enterprise-level functionality, such as data binding and layout management. It also provides low-level control, such as background thread management and direct socket communication. Other platforms lack these features, and none of them have the level of support that Microsoft offers to developers. Simply put, we love .net and Silverlight!

Do you have any IP? Is there something that you’re the only one to do on the market?

We own all of our IP. We invented the cost-per-action charging model for SEO in China, and we were the first ISV in the world to figure out how to index rich media content based on Silverlight. In addition, we have developed breakthrough technologies to measure the effectiveness of rich media advertising.

Who’s your role model?

Microsoft. Its perfect combination of technology innovation and business smarts is amazing.

Where do you see opportunities today in the Software/Internet areas?

We are focused on two opportunities: first, SEO and SEM will become ever-more sophisticated and measurable, driving the need for powerful tools and high-quality service. Second, rich media content and advertising will dominate the online world, creating the need for specialized search indexing and measurement technologies.

Looking for funding? If yes, how much?

We plan to seek professional investors in the first quarter of 2009 for a Series A/B round.

What about the BizSpark Program? What do you think? Are you going to join? Why?

We love the BizSpark program! It is tailor-made for a young company like ours. We greatly appreciate this opportunity.

Any advice to young software entrepreneurs?

Work hard. Innovate.

How do you feel about the crisis? What are YOU going to do?

It’s a good opportunity for us. Our services and technologies are proven to improve the ROI for clients and their agencies. We help the same budget go much further.

Anything else you’d like to say? (Remember this is a global audience)

China is now the world’s largest internet marketplace, with some unique requirements, especially in the area of SEO and SEM. To become the market leader, we have had to innovate, both with core technologies, tools, and service approaches. We believe our innovations are applicable to other markets, and are looking for partners who would like to work with us.