Ed Robinson specializes in designing and bringing to market software that builds business value for developers and IT professionals. He has developed specific expertise in making big sales to Fortune 500 companies. He has worked for major technology companies including Microsoft where he designed and helped market Microsoft Visual Studio, Microsoft Content Management Server and Microsoft SharePoint; and also for smaller companies through the start up phase.
Ed is the CEO of Aptimize, a New Zealand-based company that develops and sells the Aptimize Website Accelerator (WAX). WAX is a software product that helps companies dramatically increase the performance of their websites and intranets.
Aptimize is a young company. Out of the box, you have a laundry list of huge and well-respected clients such as Google, Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, Fidelity, and on and on. How did you manage to land these giants? What is the secret of your sales technique?
From the beginning we didn’t worry too much about building up automatic systems and things like that. We just connected with people. We e-mailed everyone we knew utilizing our networks. Anyone approaching our website, we offered to just talk to them to help them with any web performance questions that they had. People buy from people and from the beginning we’ve tried to build relationships rather than just sell and I think people sensed that we genuinely wanted to help them do better business online.
Also, we developed a product that people needed, one that quickly developed a reputation for being the best at what it does – speeding up websites. The internet giants and Fortune 500’s tend to be well informed about the benefits of fast page load, for example when Shopzilla increased the speed of their website by 5 seconds it resulted in a 25% increase in page views, a 10% increase in revenue, a 50% reduction in hardware, and a 120% increase traffic from Google. The ‘big’ companies are constantly looking for ways to improve visitor experience, be more competitive, and increase their bottom-line – as we can see with the Shopzilla example, increasing the page load speed of a website is an effective way to do this
So here’s how I pitch our product: We’re a software product. You download it, put it on your web server. It will immediately double the speed of your website with no code changes and no extra hardware, and that’s all it does. And so that’s very simple for people to understand, and some people will say, “I’m in the Marketing department for a company,” or the IT Engineer, and can instantly see how this can help their business – so you can see how simple it is.
Here are three important rules – especially for a start-up company:
1. Have a very focused value proposition: Aptimize’s products instantly accelerate websites and intranets.
2. Be good at it: Our software works really well – a lot of our customers instantly see a reduction in load times of 50%. This is powerful
3. Love your customers. We work across the internet, but pride ourselves on providing better support than most companies you’d deal with locally.
With these three rules you’re equipped to sell to small and big companies.
You were a program manager at Microsoft and then Intergen before being involved in Action This, a catalyst to Aptimize. How would you describe the difference in working for a large corporation to leading your own company?
You’ve got to experience both. If you don’t work for a big company you’ll never understand process and how to move initiatives through a large organization. If you don’t work in a start-up, you’ll never understand the highs and lows of making/losing deals that truly affect your future.
Although many businesses are global today, have you faced any challenges launching a business from New Zealand, as opposed to the United States?
We focused a lot on our service and support – and made sure we’re more responsive than almost any domestic company. This is important no matter where you’re based. To be honest when people know that you’ve got the best product that can help them it doesn’t matter where you are in the world.
WAX seems to work wonderfully. In fact, Aptimize.com loaded up for me in just a snap. Can you talk about where the idea for website speed performance came from?
Some colleagues and I started a software-as-a-service website (actionthis.com), and found it was fast locally but slower for people accessing the website over long distance – our customer base was global so page load speed from our major customer locations around the world was extremely important, if it was fast for us but not as fast or slow for visitors in the US or UK then that was a problem for our business and we needed to fix it. So we invented a software product that sped up our own site – reducing the load times from New York from 30 seconds down to 4 seconds. People started asking how we got the site so fast, and soon we realized we’d have more success with our speed-up-website software than our original website. That’s how we started.
Other than eliminating the frustration of impatient viewers when a site is slow to load, are there hard facts that support the benefits of increasing website speed?
Faster ecommerce websites generate more revenue. Faster social networking websites result in more pages views per user. Faster intranets mean more productivity per employee. So – speed correlates directly to business outcomes. It’s common sense too – you’d rather spend your time surfing a fast site than a slow site. As I mentioned before Shopzilla has talked a lot about the difference increasing the speed of their website has made to their business, there’s a presentation here that your readers might be interested in blip.tv/file/2290648. There is also an interesting paper written by Forrester Consulting called An Updated Look At Consumer Reaction To A Poor Online Shopping Experience.
With web speed now taken into account in the latest Google algorithm change, do you think there will be growing importance placed on the need for speed? What strategies will you position Aptimize to capitalize on this?
Interestingly, most businesses don’t know how fast their own website is. They’ll look at it from somewhere close to the webservers, with a full browser cache and assume that if its fast for them then its fast for their customers too. In reality, your speed is not your customers speed. Try testing your website speed to see how your website performs. Google’s April announcement that website speed is now a ranking factor in Google’s search algorithm will also have significant implications for business online. Fast websites are now favoured over slow websites in Google search results and this has meant more and more companies are optimizing their websites for high performance, so fast page load times is becoming an essential part of every company’s online strategy.
Find the right Domain Name for your business at Fabulous.com!