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How to expand to US and Europe market?

We are running a small software business, providing people counting and audience measurement services to digital signage and retail businesses.

The goal of the software is to count visitors of the store, so that owner can calculate conversion and motivate staff or optimize advertising campaigns.

Similar to this, digital signage networks owners use this to count how many people looked to the ad and charge their customers accordingly. In other words, they verify impressions.

Currently, we operate on the local market only, where we used to go and communicate with business owners directly, trying to convince them to buy our product.

We’d like to expand to global market, but seem to have got stuck. The thing is, people rarely search for solutions like this. ‘People counting’ and ‘audience measurement’ keywords are searched about 1000-3000 per month, globally. Usually, people do not know that they need such solution.

We’ve tried to contact some companies directly, but there were only 1% of answers and no sales.

And as usual, there are some competitors, who seem to do well. And we are wondering how they could promote their products globally, this is really interesting because the search query value is pretty low. What do you think on this?

Do you have any ideas? We’d like to know your opinion.

What would you do if you were in our situation? How would you promote the software like this? SEO or some sort of direct communications or smth. else?

Our product’s website is http://gocount.net

P.S. By the way, our software is able to estimate person’s age and gender using webcam, so you can make some fun using our trial version :)
Ratibor Rosin Send private email
Sunday, January 11, 2015
 
 
You product seems very interesting and I'm sure it's well done.

Are you cold calling into the US? Maybe you can find what is an average conversion rate for cold calls.

Your product is very high touch, in other words it's not enough to make a sale, but you would also have to guide the user in making the physical camera setup, which is nearly impossible long distance. What if you partner with a US company?

Have you thought of getting investors? On-site analytics would seem to me a profitable business with a lot of growth, so you could attract investors (specially if your tech is good and even patentable) and open an office in the US.
Sandy Wilkins Send private email
Monday, January 12, 2015
 
 
I have a friend who is trying to do this exact thing, the one who makes the ipcamera software mentioned in this thread from last month:

http://discuss.joelonsoftware.com/default.asp?biz.5.859816.3

From what he has told me, it is still a bleeding edge product, image recognition is one of the hardest areas of computer programming, its not an algorithm that is right or wrong, rather the question is to what degree it works and in many or most cases it just doesnt work or makes mistakes. Also the development cycle is very long, you make changes to your algorithm and then wait *hours or days* to test the results, most likely the result is poorer performance, then you start the development loop again. Very slow development compared to eg. regular apps, make change, compile, run, test feature in 30 seconds and repeat.

If you have software that is working reliably and adding value to shop keepers and display advertisers then you are ahead of the pack already.

Given the cost of the product and the nature of the target market, in order to sell in the US and Europe you will need sales people on the ground in those markets. Good sales people, who can cold-call dozens of potential customers per day and go and demonstrate the product to customers with a laptop and communicate the value of the product to them + as mentioned above help install it on site when they make a sale.

Billy
Billy Thorpe Send private email
Monday, January 12, 2015
 
 
Hi Sandy,

Thank you for response. We didn't do cold calling yet. We did some sort of "cold mailing" :) and arranged phone calls with those, who respond.

Getting VC funding seems to be a good idea. Several people also recommended this, reffering to high costs of marketing and promotion in our niche.

Thanks
Ratibor Rosin Send private email
Monday, January 12, 2015
 
 
Hi Billy,

Thank you for response.

We are different to the guys from the link, you recommended. They are making surveillance software, while we do so called Video Analytics. A bit different.

Though, what you said is very to the point: the developmen cycle is really long and risky. We have Phd with great experiense, arranged on this research.

We will definitelly try to contact some resellers, as you recommended. Though it is unclear how to reach them. What would you recommend?

Thanks
Ratibor Rosin Send private email
Monday, January 12, 2015
 
 
Conceptually I like the idea. I believe supermarkets have spent millions (upon millions) in monitoring and measuring customer behaviour including how customer "read" a shelf (most Westerners peruse a supermarket shelf in a similar fashion to reading a book).

I take it you're look at this more from the retail marketing perspective rather than say from a security perspective.

Rather than cold calling had you considered:

* Direct mail
There's many retail marketing orientated magazines (presumably read by retail marketing managers) you could buy the mailing lists for a direct mail solicitation. "SRDS" would be a good starting point for mailing lists in the U.S. There's also "HiLite" in the U.K.

* Trade Shows / Conventions / Seminars
Set up a stand and show off the product at retail trade shows(there's nothing like a live demonstration).

Either way, you'll probably need physical presence, especially if your service includes installation.

Assuming your target market are business users (e.g. retail marketing managers) you should seriously revamp the sales copy on your site and "brochure". Most business users' eyes will glaze over with "E3826/2GB RAM" but are eager to know that the cameras take razor sharp images which can provide an accurate and detailed daily (and live) breakdown of customer characteristics. If you can tie this in to what they spend at the till (e.g. by gender and approx age bracket) you'd have some powerful marketing data. For larger retailers, that kind of information is worth W-A-Y more than "$20 per camera" (is there another pricing model you could use?).

Finally it may be worth checking what (if any) privacy legislation you'd have to abide by on a country-by-country basis (in the U.S. it may even be state level).

All the best -
Marcus from London Send private email
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
 
 
Hi Ratibor,

As I mentioned, my friend is indeed trying to get into the "video analytics" market.

Anyway, I have no direct experience with expanding into overseas markets with a product that requires direct sales with alot of effort and a physical presence - so take anything I say with a grain of salt.

However I have been in "business school" lectures about growing a business, with actual entrepreneaurs with similar products and 100+ employees that did it successfully or tried to do it and failed.

The vicarious lesson I learnt is that if you want to expand overseas with such a product, one of the founders needs to move to that country and set up an office there otherwise it is probably going to fail.
Billy Thorpe Send private email
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
 
 
Hi Marcus,

Thank you for the inputs.

Direct mailing is what we are trying to do now. We are acquiring the emails from the internet, though, not buying the DB. We will definitely consider this.

Opening the office in the target area is a good point, but it is too expensive for us. We will try to start from looking for partners who could represent us there.

Thanks,
- Ratibor.
Ratibor Rosin Send private email
Thursday, January 15, 2015
 
 
Billy,

Thank you for explanation.

Yes, it seems like the most optimal way is "go there" somehow, to be in touch with the potential customers. Too expensive, so we will probably need to get VC funding for this.

Thank you for advises,
- Ratibor.
Ratibor Rosin Send private email
Thursday, January 15, 2015
 
 
Hi Ratibor,

"...We are acquiring the emails from the internet..."

Just to clarify, I'm not referring to emailing prospects but sending them real, physical mail that you have targeted to a very specific audience.
Buying commercial mailing lists will allow you to zone in on your broad target market such as people who subscribe to retail marketing magazine.
Or, even better, lists of people who have recent purchased something related to your offering.

All the best -
Marcus from London Send private email
Friday, January 16, 2015
 
 
Marcus,

Thank you for explanation. I've got the point.

- Ratibor
Ratibor Rosin Send private email
Friday, January 16, 2015
 
 

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