Dan Norris was inspired to set up Informly whilst working in his previous company, a website design agency.
Informly is a free app that integrates with cloud services such as Xero and MailChimp, and presents information in a format that the average small business can understand.
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Norris is based at Gold Coast Coworking, which opened earlier this year.
He talks to StartupSmart about the pros and cons of being a sole founder.
Why did you set up Informly? Why is this service needed?
Small business owners are starting to put all of their info in the cloud, which is great and means more performance data is available.
But they have less time than ever so they tend not to log into the various systems to check their stats. Or they do and it takes them a lot of time to get their head around the reports and to navigate around, etc.
To date, most dashboard solutions have been targeting the people who love stats so much they want them all in the one place.
I want to target people who aren’t obsessed with stats but know that they are an important consideration in making good decisions and growing businesses.
So I want to get them this high-level information as simply and quickly as possible to enable them to get on with running their businesses.
Our app enables them to get all of the stats in the one place in a matter of seconds. Examples could be revenues/profit from Xero, website visitors/conversions (Google Analytics), email stats from Campaign Monitor, etc.
Our infographic explains this in a bit more detail.
How did you fund the business?
It is self-funded at the moment and I am talking to a few investors about potentially getting funded.
I sold my last company this year and I’m using the money from that to get me going for the first year or so.
My last company was a web design agency and I used to cultivate relationships with my clients by sending them reports like the ones sent by Informly. This was where the idea was born.
How many staff do you have?
It’s me and two full-time developers, and a few freelance contractors for design, etc.
You’re the sole founder. What are the pros and cons of that?
The big upside of being a sole founder is I don’t spend any time debating ideas, and I can get on and build the app in an efficient manner.
At least in the build phase, I don’t see too many disadvantages other than the fact that incubators and investors want to see at least two founders, so getting funding is not going to be easy.
How do you promote the business?
My main promotion is through content marketing. I have a blog, a podcast, I do videos, infographics, guest posting (ProBlogger, Think Traffic, etc.)
In three months since starting work on Informly, I’ve built up a monthly audience of 5,000 visitors to my site and more podcast downloads from around 100 countries.
I have been active in forums online and helping other people out as well, and people have been generous in helping me out with promoting the app.
I’ve also been reaching out to influencers and have been mentioned on shows like Startups For the Rest of Us, The Lifestyle Business Podcast and This Week in Startups, and often that leads to more people coming to the site and more interest.
Informly is a free app, so how do you make money?
Users who have more than six charts will have to pay $9 per month, and agencies who want to look after the data for their clients (send them branded reports, etc) will have to pay $29 and up.
The payment gateway is not integrated yet as I’m not 100% sure where I will be based next year – it may depend on whether I can get investment in Australia.
What are your revenue projections for 2012/13?
This will depend a lot on whether I get investment.
My goal for 2012/2013 is to build up enough of a user base and traction to get noticed by an investor, and from there the amount of funding will dictate what the revenue goals are.
What’s been the biggest challenge?
Just constantly changing things and putting the launch off has been the most challenging.
However, I’m sure from here the biggest challenge will be getting enough people to sign up, getting enough of those people to become active and then enough of those people to pay.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
I’m still not really sure if it was the best idea to not allow people access and do a proper launch like I did.
I had 1,300 people sign up to be notified about the launch but only a small percentage of these have signed up since the launch.
Time will tell but it’s possible it would have been better to just put it out there and allow people to sign up, and gradually improve it.
I did already have 1,000 people signed up for the beta though so I didn’t really feel like I needed more people to get the necessary feedback to build the first public version.
How do you intend to grow?
I want to build a world-class blog that helps business owners learn more about succeeding online and using data to make better decisions.
I also want to focus more on our integration partners. I’ve noticed that traffic I get from companies like Xero and Campaign Monitor, who have been very generous with us, is much better than other traffic (converting at 20% in some cases compared with 5-10% from other sources).
So I want to pursue these relationships further. I will also start testing paid traffic strategies once I have the agency plan up and running.