Featured Pitch: SoftCity creates online community for software enthusiasts
Headquarters: Montreal, Quebec
Year Founded: 2008
Founders: Blaise Rabaud and Marc-Antoine Ross
Company Description: The world’s leading social commerce platform for developers and software enthusiasts to learn, grow and earn.
By Marc-Antoine Ross, co-founder and COO
SoftCity began, in its earliest form, as a project for Blaise Rabaud, a former employee of the software publishing company, Avanquest Software. Blaise had successfully launched an e-commerce business based in France that sold hardware and software as early as 2002. His belief in the Internet as a tool for communication and collaboration would eventually lead to SoftCity’s creation in 2008.
The concept for SoftCity was to build a new kind of software community, one where the developer and the user interacted. It wasn’t just about selling more products, it was about true social interaction, a comfortable and safe ecommerce platform and a community built on sharing and developing knowledge.
Enter Marc-Antoine Ross, whose passion for social networking, e-commerce and collaboration helped Blaise solidify what SoftCity could be. By harnessing ecommerce with a solid platform built on enterprise technology, the two set out to accomplish their goal.
The first social commerce site dedicated to software, SoftCity merges e-commerce with a social community, creating a unique setting where consumers and software developers connect online. Users can review software ratings and even chat with the developer before they make a purchase. The site hosts a constant stream of articles, discussions and comments from software enthusiasts and experts alike.
Bruno Vanryb, CEO of founding company, Avanquest Software explained, “It’s like a cross between Facebook and Amazon.”
Taking two years from inception to launch, SoftCity is an 11-person operation today. The team includes the two co-founders, five developers, one web marketer, one quality assurance person, a community moderator and one business development manager.
SoftCity is now a leading resource for consumers to discover new software as well as new tricks about other software packages or tips to help accomplish a particular task more efficiently. By pairing the developers and users together, SoftCity fosters a relationship that is built on developing better products with a client-centric focus.
SoftCity’s revenue stream is based on sharing the sales of software products with the developer. Every transaction is shared between the affiliate (for instance a power-user in the community), the developer and SoftCity. As the developer participates in the community and sells more products, their ranking will rise and they will keep a bigger portion of the sale. Developers start out receiving 50 percent of all sales and can increase to 75 percent based on participation. This unique business model directly involves the software developer in the sales process and encourages SoftCity’s partners to take an active role promoting software on the website. Breaking away from the traditional download site that is simply transactional has been a driving force behind the success of SoftCity.
A cornerstone of SoftCity’s creation was the idea that users benefitted from participation. SoftCity felt it was important to thank the “SoftCitizens” that help grow the community, but also incentivize members to encourage greater response. Currently, SoftCity is the only social network that offers rewards just for being a part of that growth. By offering users SoftDollars, a virtual currency to use on software purchases, SoftCity quantifies the user experience while rewarding members driving the community’s growth and success.
Currently, SoftCity is funded and fully staffed. From the official launch at the end of April, SoftCity regularly sees a steady increase in traffic, SoftCitizens participating and developers selling their products. A still relatively new venture, SoftCity’s goals include continual growth of SoftCitizens, experts and developers, while developing creative marketing, social media and promotional campaigns to attract further interest.
SoftCity – www.SoftCity.com