You may want to consider a dynamic French start up, Butterflive to help your conversion rate go way up when visitors come to your site. Also check out a few interesting things CEO Michel Durand learned along the way.
Hometown: Paris, France
Current Residence: San Francisco, CA
Occupation: CEO for Butterflive, Partner at The Coding Machine
Areas of Focus: Online Prospects Engagement, Real-time Web Analytics, Live Chat.
SF New Tech highlighted the most exciting French startups this month. Your company was invited for a demo. What is it like speaking to a crowd?
Scary! Especially with this big red timer just next to you, telling you your time is almost up. But at the same time, it’s very stimulating and all the people who were in the room came to hear about your product, so you have to be good and interest them. The funny thing is I belonged to several music bands before and I used to perform on stage at a very amateur level. But I found it more intimidating to present Butterflive at SF New Tech than to perform songs for an audience.
For those unfamiliar with the French start up community, how would you describe it?
I think in France, it’s more difficult to make some bounds between start ups. However, things are starting to change. Some people are importing the Californian co-working style in Paris to create a more structured network within the start up world. Take La Cantine, for example, located right in Le Sentier area; where many IT start ups are. Since 2008, they’ve been offering co-working spaces and they also organized IT-oriented events where one can present one’s project or make a demo of one’s product.
Another important point is that unlike in the U.S., raising funds in the first steps of the creation of your start up is not something so common in France. Most of the time, start ups, like Butterflive, are self-funded and have to show that they are profitable before getting any attention. This makes things slower for start ups unless they manage to get some public subventions. Public agencies like OSEO support the IT innovation and you can get some substantial help if you can show a solid business plan and your dedication to innovation. When it comes to exportation, Ubifrance introduce start ups to most of the foreign markets. Thanks to them, we managed to present Butterflive at SF New Tech!
Butterflive is sales oriented platform, what sparked the initial making of the start up?
Like most of what we have done so far, Butterflive was created because we needed it for ourselves!
Almost everyone on the team has a very technical background. When we founded our first company, The Coding Machine – an IT consulting start up, we started developing the tools we needed for internal use. We coded our own CRM and our own email campaign manager, for example, because we couldn’t find products simple enough for a start up use (and well, also because we love to code…). In 2008, we realized that our website didn’t bring us many opportunities, though we knew we had some visitors. Without an internal marketing team, we found it complicated to improve our website, so we thought of a tool which would help us contact our visitors and help them or give them more information.
We first came up with a very small version of Butterflive and asked some of our clients for their feedback. They helped us build the actual version, by selecting the good features and discarding the unnecessary ones – they even suggested some of the recent features, actually!
We realized that Butterflive had a big potential, especially for Small & Medium Business who can’t spend a lot of money in building a sales team. We decided to create Butterflive as a distinct structure and aim at markets where customer relation is very important, like in the U.S.
Could you walk us through a scenario of a potential customer who has gone to a site where Butterflive is being used?
Let’s say a visitor is looking for headphones on your e-commerce website. You have maybe 40 different references for this in your catalogue, and this visitor doesn’t manage to find out which product fits him better. For a non-expert, going through all the technical details and comparing the products can be time consuming and it can lead to cart abandonment for many.
Butterflive automatically detects those visitors who are struggling on your website and sends you a computer alert. You can then engage them in a live chat session to help them with their buying process and thus increase the conversion rate on your site. It also provides automatic actions that are triggered when the “struggle” potential of a visitor increases. For example, it can be a small frame sliding up from the bottom right part of his browser, asking him if he want to chat with an online agent.
What are 3 lessons you’ve learned so far since the initial launch?
1 – Talk about your project: When starting, some entrepreneurs think that protecting their ideas is more important than getting feedback from people. We got precious advices from friends, clients or other professional acquaintances and it helped us fine-tuning Butterflive.
2 – Try to solve real problems, not problems you think people have. Sometimes you’re just too focused on your personal view of the product, but most of the time, these are problems that require expert solutions. Again, listen to your end users to provide a more ergonomic solution.
3 – 1 step at a time, if you do few, do it well. It’s better to be good with one feature than average with 5.
3-5 websites you follow?
VidCaster.com This is a very good product if you want to publish video on your website and distribute it on multiple platforms. Very promising!
Scanandtarget.com This is also a French start up and they have an amazing product which enables you to be alerted in real time when someone is talking about you on the web. Not only that, they highlight the posts you should respond to. This is a very good way to increase your customer satisfaction rate.
Brandfolium.com A system to gather and reward brand ambassadors. Also a nice tool to work on customer loyalty.
What is next for Butterflive?
San Francisco! We’re opening an office here in May to be closer to the American market.