Know thy own faults and be prepared to stamp them out at a moment's notice – that is the lesson behind startup PagePulse.
Ben Buckland was working in the financial services industry in the online space when, one day, he overheard a colleague say, “If we find out from our customers that the site’s down before we know, I will start firing people”.
Buckland, a bit of a tech-head, thought it couldn’t possibly be that hard to simulate a customer using a site. He spent the next year working on it in his own time – and then he went hunting for new clients.
The result is PagePulse, a startup that lives at incubator SODA in Hamilton. PagePulse is basically an automated digital mystery shopper that gives owners real-time status updates on website and online transaction availability. So if your site is troubled by slow response times or transaction failures, you’ll know very soon after your customer does, via SMS or email.
This in turn minimises the risk of lost sales through frustrated users.
“The idea behind PagePulse is to minimise poor customer experience that can be brand damaging, and also damaging to the bottom line, by alerting people that there are problems on their site,” Buckland says. “This allows them to proactively resolve the fault.”
Buckland, who’s head of sales and marketing, had spent most of his life in software, starting as a junior developer and working his way to team leader and then application architect focusing on online in the financial services industry.
He finally went full-time on PagePulse a year before the GFC hit, which forced him back into corporate life again for a while, but he’s been full steam ahead on it for the past two years.
The PagePulse experience has not been without its hurdles.
“There are a million lessons,” Buckland says. “I pretty much learn a few things each day. The big one, though, would be to have gone harder, sooner, and made bigger bets. Hindsight is a 20/20 thing so it easy to sit here now and say that, but if I had my time again that’s what I would do. I know it is a balance but err on the side of risk rather than caution!”
Two others are on board – a platform support specialist, who looks after the platform from a stability point of view and commissioning customers onto it, and a quarter shareholder, Nick Crawley, who develops sales in Australia and acts as chairman.
Buckland believes the market is quite fragmented, as there are “a ton of players” in the freemium space, constantly offering more and more functionality.
“Then there is a quite a gap to the upper portion of the market, where we participate. We operate in the premium space and have large corporates as our target market. There are fewer operators in this space – two key ones are from North America who would have a majority of the market share.”