A Q&A with Yotpo co-founder and CEO Tomer Tagrin. The Tel Aviv-based company was founded in early 2011 and raised $1.5 million in new funding in late October. Investors include Rhodium, Gandyr Group, Zohar Gilon, Tron Capital, Plus Ventures and 2bAngels.
SUB: Please describe Yotpo and your value proposition.
Tagrin: Yotpo was founded in January 2011 and is currently a lean 12 person machine. The company is based in Tel Aviv, Israel. Yotpo is focused on providing the best social review experience for every website in the world. With Yotpo, shoppers can read and write social reviews, get automatic reminders to write reviews and even have an automatic review loyalty program. Yotpo also includes powerful reports and analytics, giving online merchants actionable insight to improve merchandising strategy. The Yotpo social review solution is available through Yotpo’s website as well as top ecommerce platform providers including Magento, Shopify, BCommerce, Volusion and 3dCart.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Tagrin: Yotpo targets basically every ecommerce site out there. Because our technology is a plug-and-play solution, our nature is to tackle the SMB side of the market. We are extremely focused on helping every ecommerce merchant, regardless of size, to generate reviews and social reviews for his or her website. For this reason we partnered up together with Magento, Shopify, BigCommerce and now working on the next platform we are going to tackle.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Tagrin: Our target market is ecommerce. This means we are competing for the website owner, VP or anyone who is a decision maker’s attention. This means different solutions for ecommerce websites, especially social solutions.
As for direct competition, it depends on the platform. Inside Magento, for example, we see that our biggest competition is the default solution and our efforts are focused on explaining why the default Magento solution is not enough.
SUB: What differentiates Yotpo from the competition?
Tagrin: In terms of vision and company culture we are not focused on competition, we know our product is the best social review solution out there and we just want to make it much, much better. Every time a customer sees Yotpo the difference is very straight forward, from experience and point of view to the set of features and technology we have.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Tagrin: The company was founded in January 2011 and our first thing was to start and build it. Omri [co-founder Omri Cohen] and I both come from technology backgrounds so it was the obvious thing to do in our eyes.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Yotpo? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Tagrin: Actually the inspiration came from a crappy birthday present we bought for a friend. We did research on a digital camera that got top A reviews but turned out to be not that good. We were mad, and the reviews we listened to came from Brian123—basically users we didn’t know regardless if they were real or not. Is it the website owner? A competitor? A robot? After that we decided to solve it—we need real reviews from real people.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?
Tagrin: The name is something that comes up a lot. At the beginning we had a slogan: ‘Your opinion, the public opinion’—and these are the initials for that.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Tagrin: The biggest obstacles are finding the smartest people to join our team and being focused on the product. You have so many tasks and different issues, but the product has to be number one and we just have to keep on iterating until we will find the perfect product.
SUB: You just raised $1.5 million in new funding. What are your plans for the funds?
Tagrin: We plan to accelerate product development, invest in marketing and grow our team.
SUB: Why was this a particularly good time to raise more outside funding?
Tagrin: We don’t see it from a timing perspective. We still had money in the bank but we came across amazing investors that believe in the company vision and product. It just felt natural to make them part of the family.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Tagrin: We are doing a few experiments in terms of revenue. Today our focus is not revenue but improving the product to a point that its value for our customers is overwhelming, after that I am sure the revenues will come.
SUB: What are your goals for Yotpo over the next year or so?
Tagrin: Our goals are to really expand our growth—currently we have 2,200 websites using Yotpo—and to achieve around 8,000 websites using Yotpo. Add to that some new features we have on a product map and a year from now we will be at a point where Yotpo will be the de facto review solution for the SMB market.
Yotpo – www.yotpo.com