What's the big deal about closing another round of funding? So many companies have received funding over the last two years so that's not a reflection of the viability or success of a venture. In fact, Erick Schonfeld over at Techcrunch just posted a nice article on venture funding of new-age (web 2.0, web 3.0 whatever you want to call them) consumer internet companies. Wow, so many companies and so many ideas (and yes so much investment). What's so significant about Retrevo's funding? It is a simple fact that Retrevo is relentless about solving a really hard consumer problem.
Since our launch, we have been winning consumers' trust, received tremendous feedback from customers, risen above the noise, and delivered on our promise to our customers and shareholders. As a result of our innovation and successful execution, we were in a position where our current investors wanted to put lot more money so we could accelerate the pace of innovation and consumer adoption.
We launched the Retrevo Product Advisor last fall. This product was extremely well received by both consumers and industry influencers in consumer media. With this product we worked very hard to make shopping for complex and confusing electronics products easier for everyday consumers. Try it yourself and tell us what you think.
The Retevo Product advisor is one example of the innovation we introduced last year. But how does Retrevo approach the problem space in general? It was best summarized by Rudy over at The Simplify Company, "talk about feeling empowered to make an informed decision in a product category where over-choice is the relentless villain...simplify. Don't dumb down. Simplify". Yes, we had this in our sub-conscious all along but Rudy put words to describe it. You can read Rudy's whole article here. We get hundreds of specific ideas and comments from our users every month and we make it a point to read every one of them and respond appropriately. At the end of day, we are determined to make electronics purchase and ownership enjoyable for everyday consumers. We have taken a couple of steps so far but we know many more are needed.
Many people have asked me what our traffic numbers look like. They are great as you can gather by looking at all the external reporting services, be it ComScore, Alexa or Compete (apply a good multiplier to those numbers). I am not going to start the meaningless number war. But let me share with you the ramp.
The first graph is for the user ramp. We had steady growth and then rapid acceleration resulting from our fall release last year.
The second graph shows the revenue ramp. We make money from merchant referral and branded advertising. We expect revenue to continue to accelerate while we keep our focus on providing the best product experience to our users.
We are cognizant of the fact that some of our interaction with our users is not monetizable and some of it is. The driving principle for us has always been (and will continue to be) to provide our audience a wholesome experience - whether a particular touchpoint is monetizable or not. This is a significant statement but one that drives our behavior as we venture on to bigger and bolder projects.
With this funding comes the realization that we are still scratching the surface and have much to do! Enterpreneurs take pride in taking up more challenges, challenge the status quo and do the impossible. Taking more money can add lot of stress because a lot more is at stake and that can make investors nervous (and look for return/exit). The relief I have here at Retrevo is that our investors Alloy and NVP continue to challenge the status quo, encouraging us to think long-term and build a service that "matters" to everyday consumers. They both have been around long enough so as not to look for quick exits. Add to that the passion and determination of the team, and it starts to shape the character of the company that empowers every individual to make the right decision without lot of micro-managing.