A Q&A with Roojoom co-founder Yuval Shemesh. The Tel Aviv-based startup, which offers a web-based dynamic presentation tool for businesses that want to increase customer engagement, announced last week the closing of a $600,000 Seed funding round from 2B Angels and unnamed private investors. It was founded in early-2013 by Shemesh, Rami Ricanati and Or Meirov. The company is a graduate of Tel Aviv’s The Junction accelerator and the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator in Tel Aviv.
SUB: Please describe Roojoom and your primary innovation.
Shemesh: Roojoom is the ultimate web presentation tool, enabling you to use both offline and online content to create engaging presentations in under five minutes. With Roojoom you can utilize content from across the web, whether it is your own content or external content, to guide your readers through a topic step-by-step. Even as you use external content, your branding and comments are presented alongside so you can increase brand awareness.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Shemesh: We target SaaS companies that seek to educate their customers about their products and solutions via content marketing, in e-newsletters and online presentations. We also have offers for publishers that are looking to re-purpose their content and increase time spent on their website.
Shemesh: There are a lot of companies that serve as presentation tools and content aggregators; however, none of them provide the guided learning experience of Roojoom. Our advantage is that businesses can increase brand awareness and re-purpose available content to suit their customers, while leading them through the content step-by-step.
SUB: You just announced that you’ve raised $600,000 in Seed funding. Why was this a particularly good time to raise outside funding?
Shemesh: With our beta launched in August, and our official launch at the Microsoft Accelerator Demo Day, we established that our technology works and answers a true need. This was the critical time to raise funds.
SUB: How do you plan to use the funds?
Shemesh: We plan to use it to further develop our offerings for businesses.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Roojoom? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Shemesh: A few years ago, one of our founders was researching how to jailbreak his phone. After five hours combing the web and finally finding the best information, he realized that this must be a common problem—many people spend hours searching for relevant information when someone else has probably found it already. How can you organize and share the information to guide others step-by-step through a topic? Thus, Roojoom was born.
Once we launched the product, we discovered that companies and publishers find great value in organizing and disseminating content—engaging their customers longer and more effectively. So, we decided to focus on B2B while keeping the core essence of the product.
SUB: What were the first steps you took in establishing the company?
Shemesh: First we gathered the core team, which included myself, Rami Ricanati, the head of product, and Or Meirov, our CTO. We then joined The Junction accelerator, where we created an MVP to prove the technology works.
Shemesh: Roojoom—in English: ‘Cairn’—is a pile of stones used as a way for people hiking in the nature to mark an interesting spot in order to guide those who will follow after them. We took this analogy to the web. Roojoom is a way for you to guide your followers through content via interesting cyber-spots.
SUB: Do you have plans to seek additional outside funding in the near future?
SUB: What have the most significant challenges been so far to building the company?
Shemesh: The core technology of Roojoom is versatile, and for each user it answers a different need. People use Roojoom to create reading lists, plan trips and to organize information. Teachers are using it to build lesson plans. And businesses use it for anything from content marketing to more effectively delivering content from newsletters. The biggest challenge for us was to decide where to focus our business, as this decision has major implications on our development roadmap as well as the marketing strategy.
Additionally, penetrating international markets becomes critical when we are located in such a small country as Israel.
SUB: How do you generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Shemesh: Our freemium model enables any user to begin using Roojoom immediately. We have subscription-based fees that include upgrade options such as branding, deep analytics and storage.
SUB: What are your goals for Roojoom over the next year or so?
Shemesh: Our goal for the next year is to become the number one tool that companies use for educating their customers.