If you are a product manager in the pre-web world, you probably hated having to spend hours a day tracking and analyzing what was happening with the customer's interactions with the products. And now that we have the cloud, it's that much easier to get that data. You're probably still hating how long you have to sift through data in order to find out what is happening with the product and the customer.
This is why we were thrilled to discover the folks who are making TrackerBird. We sat down with Keith Fenech, the CEO and co-founder of TrackerBird, which provides Runtime Intelligence and BI tools to help software developers and product managers build products that resonate better with their audience in order to increase conversions and user retention.
BizSpark: Tell us who you are and your role in the company:
Keith Fenech: My name is Keith Fenech and I am the co-founder and CEO of Trackerbird.
BizSpark: What did you do before creating your company?
Keith Fenech: I worked as a Product Manager for an international software company where I was in charge of network security and web filtering software. I have also run an IT consultancy company for the past 10 years.
BizSpark: What is your company’s mission?
Keith Fenech: We provide Runtime Intelligence and BI tools to help software developers and product managers build products that resonate better with their audience in order to increase conversions and user retention.
BizSpark: In 140 characters or less, tell us what your app does:
Keith Fenech: A real-time analytics cloud service that anonymously tracks installations, user engagement, feature usage and conversions, with an embedded in-app marketing framework.
BizSpark: How did you get the idea for your app?
Keith Fenech: In my days working as a Product Manager, we used to spend hours sifting through surveys, download logs, call-home data, Support CRM and talking to Resellers and customers to get a better understanding of how people were using our software and what in reality was effecting our conversion rates. This was a very painful and time-consuming process which many times resulted inconclusive. Therefore many strategic PM decisions were simply based on gut-feeling and we had very little means by which to measure Engineering and Marketing ROI.
Marketing people could somehow rely on web-analytics, but Engineering and Product Management had no real choice apart from building their own solutions which would be very time consuming and require a whole infrastructure to maintain. Therefore we decided to build a tool just like Google Analytics but focused specifically on software applications. Whilst we were at it we thought it would be awesome to also include a direct-to-desktop messaging service by which Companies can push info/promotional messages to their audience and collect user feedback through in-app surveys. That is how Trackerbird was born…
BizSpark: Tell us about your funding history. Are you currently looking for funding?
Keith Fenech: Trackerbird is 100% self-funded, however we are on the lookout for external funding opportunities that can help us grow faster.
BizSpark: How many employees do you have? How many developers?
Keith Fenech: Trackerbird is run by a team of 5 people, 4 of which are actively involved in development.
BizSpark: Are you hiring? If yes, what are you hiring for and where?
Keith Fenech: Our focus for 2013 is to find sales and technology partners who can help us gain exposure mainly in the regions of US and EMEA. Although we do not currently have any open internal positions, as we grow we will be investing more on widening our platform support, so this places us on the lookout for developers who can help transition our tracking technology to other platforms, including mobile.
BizSpark: Which platform are you building on? Why?
Keith Fenech: We use a hybrid cloud where our analytics engine runs Python and MongoDB on a linux cluster. The front-end and reporting framework relies on Windows Server whilst our SDK can be integrated with any Windows application running Win XP and later. We have also just released a version supporting Windows 8 / WinRT. Currently we have public APIs for .NET, C++ and Python whilst other platforms will be added soon.
We believe every technology has its strong/weak points so we try to experiment with both established and emerging technologies that we believe can get the job done in the most efficient manner. Soon we would also like to start experimenting with Windows Azure given that Microsoft are officially supporting Linux VMs.
BizSpark: Where do you see opportunities today in the Software/Internet area?
Keith Fenech: One area that is becoming a major concern in today’s fast-paced environment is the information overload that consumers have do deal with in all aspects of the digital world. Having the ability to filter out all the useless information and view only what is actionable would be a great opportunity for both consumers and businesses. We hear a lot about Big Data and in some environments this is really getting out of control. Good opportunities exist to find ways how to stop generating useless data and use just the bare essentials to get to the same actionable results.
BizSpark: What do you think about the BizSpark Program?
Keith Fenech: I think this is a great incentive by Microsoft to make it easier for startups to develop for MS platforms. The fact that we get free access to all Microsoft products for testing/development AND for use internally makes it financially feasible for a startup to experiment with all the latest technologies as soon as they become available. The additional exposure gained through Microsoft’s marketing is also a welcome benefit when trying to increase product traction.
BizSpark: Do you have any advice for young Software entrepreneurs?
Keith Fenech: Passion should be the key driver for whatever you are doing. Don’t get blindfolded by the success stories you read on the media which usually revolve around money and fame. Sure you can build the next Google, Facebook or Twitter, but what drives people to build awesome products is the passion they have for whatever they build. The road to success is tough, and startup life is not easy. But in return, as an entrepreneur you will enjoy every minute of your 18hr working day and ‘Monday morning blues’ would become an alien concept you do not understand!
BizSpark: Who’s your role model?
Keith Fenech: I don’t really believe in role models because every person carries their own baggage, so whatever works for one person or company might not necessarily work in your case. Of course it’s good to learn from people’s experience to save time and unnecessary pain. However I believe one should be careful when following someone else’s footsteps because that kills innovation and you will always remain a step behind.
On the other hand I’m inspired by all people who push beyond their limit to achieve stuff that the people around them might label as crazy, risky or impossible. I believe the best path to success is always living a step outside your comfort zone in search for that extra challenge.
BizSpark: What’s the ONE THING you would like readers to take away from this interview?
Keith Fenech: If you want your software product to resonate you need to know who is your audience, what they are looking for and how they engage with your software. Trackerbird not only helps you get to these facts, but it also presents the data in the form of ACTIONABLE interactive reports that can be directly applied to your business decisions. Most importantly don’t get lost in collecting vanity metrics or big data you can never consume. Instead focus on your product and use professional tools such as Trackerbird to help you understand your audience and measure your ROI.