BoostSuite, a DIY marketing optimization platform aimed at small businesses, hit 5000 customers this week, a mere six months after their public launch. BoostSuite runs like a plugin on your website, and provides a roadmap for improving online marketing results. Their typical users see improvements of 375% in a few weeks.
It wasn't too long ago, June of last year, when BoostSuite's co-founder and CEO Aaron Houghton showed up at an ExitEvent Startup Social and held an unannounced product feedback session in a back corner of the event. This didn't surprise me in the least, having known Aaron through most of his days with iContact -- the company he and Ryan Allis sold to Vocus for $167 million in 2011.
So when we caught up yesterday, that feedback session was the first thing I asked him about.
"We learned a lot that night," he said. "Specifically that the data formats that exist on the average website were much more varied than we thought. We had to build a system to manage a wide variety of edge-cases that we didn't initially expect. During the beta version our software worked on about 50% of websites. At our production launch on 8/15 it worked on about 85% of websites. Now, six months later, BoostSuite works on effectively 100% of websites."
BoostSuite came together when Houghton and Daniel Smith, a marketing manager at iContact, decided to build a company that could help small businesses market like big businesses at a fraction of the cost.
"Daniel has been working with small businesses for over 15 years," Houghton said. "And he's wicked smart and has an MBA in marketing and finance, the two exact things I'm weakest at. I'm a software/product guy at heart."
They started forming a team early in 2012. They were self-funded, then landed a $40K NC IDEA grant in the March, 2012, which was enough velocity to launch in August. Now they're up to four full time people, two part time, and have a six-person local advisory board.
BoostSuite picked up a nod in Inc Magazine last month, as the first of three easy SEO tools for improving your website. Having seen the product from development up and having used it on ExitEvent during the beta (go local!), I can tell you it's very slick, and we took the majority of suggestions it gave us.
Houghton has done everything from fix up bikes to mow lawns to start and exit product and service startups. "If you count a few others where I helped start them but didn't directly start them myself, then you get to BoostSuite being my 15th startup."
BoostSuite is free to try and paid plans start at $19 a month.