WebAnt Analytics – climb inside your customers mind

WebAnt was a holistic web analytics and automation service servicing corporate clients on the Australian market. WebAnt proved to be a competitor (at the time) to Red Sheriff (now Nielsen NetRatings) when the Australian market was not overcrowded with analytic tools. Overthrowing Red Sheriff as the web analytics provider of choice for MBF – Australia’s largest health benefit fund.

Our service offerings

  1. Web Analytics tools and reports ranging from the standard client analytic type to website overlays, dynamic component tracking, email blast tracking, trend reports to footprints (heatmaps) et al.
  2. Automation tools and reports to allow WebAnt subscribers to generate “phantom customers”. Then sending them interacting through subscriber http / https site and report back on findings. This proved to be the hottest and most value adding service add-on since it identified problems before they escalated / affected the larger online user community.

Automation in more detail

Automation plugin called InSite
Automation plugin called InSite

Quick facts

Life span: 3 years.
Founder: 1 (me) + multiple outsourced contractors on a need basis.
Profitable: From the start – 20% in expenses and rest profits.
Why terminated: Google Analytics entered the market – hard to compete with free.

Some product screen shots

Trivial background history: WebAnt began its life as BlueArrow (logo below) which was built as a complementary offering to a web design business I and a former AMP colleague ran. The web design business was my 1st true business out of University. Former AMP executive management invested in BlueArrow and WebAnt was born with branding capabilities to allow anyone to resell the product.

Precursor to WebAnt
Precursor to WebAnt

Top 5 things I learnt from this venture

  • You need to spend money in order to make money. Sometimes more than you are used to / comfortable with. This was my biggest fear (initially) since the hardware cost us around USD 1,000 per month, yet it was only a fraction of what we were earning once we got it rolling.
  • Linux sh*ts all over Windows. We had both stacks (initially) and Linux always impressed me with its stability, up time, ease of maintenance without taking the site down and super performance. Need I say more lol.
  • Don’t get tied up in a “which language” debate. At the end of the day you are solving a business problem and whatever tools work at the time stick to them. BlueArrow was built-in classic ASP (remember this), then it was ported to PHP as WebAnt and later we introduced parts in C# & Java. It worked, we were profitable, it was fun to learn new languages and our clients were happy. Just make sure you monitor performance and stay on-top of the game (trends) and adjust as needed.
  • Results are everything and talk is just bullshit. Don’t get excited about a potential partnership / expansion unless you start seeing some results like customers signing up and/or your bank account dollars increasing. Everyone around you wants to make money off your idea and will talk it up like you will be a millionaire tomorrow. Just focus on your business and give them the tools to go away and bring those millions. Never lose focus of you goal.
  • Build a profitable business from the start. It’s alot more fun knowing that every sweat and late night you pull in is rewarded financially. The harder you work the more money you make (not always but you get the gist). Don’t hope that one day you will find a way to make money, do the hard-work now (at the start) and you will have more rewards. Take a read of 37signals/DHH style companies on being profitable and proud: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=169197

When I walked away from this venture I knew the ins and out of web analytics. I considered myself very well-informed. And to this day I still hold a very keen interest in data mining, analysis & analytics. Yes today I use Google Analytics for most projects which require tracking since it’s a lot simpler and easier than building your own home-grown solution + it’s a very powerful tool when used correctly.

Ernest

My entrepreneurial life in Australia

I love tinkering and bringing ideas into reality. Seeing that idea come to life is amazing. The energy, thrill, excitement and daily challenges faced in order to bring an idea into reality is simply amazing. It’s true what Don Williams, Jr once said “The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.”.

Below I share with you my entrepreneurial journey in Australia building start-ups and the lessons I have acquired by taking them. Without these I would not be the man I am today.

  • WebAnt Analytics – a quantitative service providing a holistic web analytics and customer metrics solutions that allows you to get inside the mind of your online audience. This also included the famous InSite module which could generate “phantom customers” for automation & monitoring. We used a lot of interesting models I learnt during the course of my MBA studies to provide a unique selling proposition and differentiate ourself from our only competitor on the Australian market (at the time), Red Sheriff. And then came free Google Analytics (Urchin) and the show was over. To read more click here.
  • Ramify – a company that provided tools and objective ratings of unit trust funds and Unit Trust Fund Management Companies using both quantitative and qualitative data. It was to be a valuable service to the Unit Trust Funds industry participants including retail and institutional investors, financial planners, agents, banks, Unit Trust Management Companies, regulators, etc. This one took me to Malaysia, presentations to board members of RAM (Rating Agency Malaysia Berhad) and dinners with CEOs of financial banks. To read more click here.
  • RockinTheShed – A weekly 2 hour Rock and Alternative radio station show delivering sounds from local and international artists blended with current news and happenings in the Rock and Alternative arena. The show played across 12 radio stations geographically in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and USA. We got to meeting & interview many interesting & famous bands and expand our broadcasting range. My band photography business span off from this venture. To read more click here.
  • Musichouse – A music ecosystem compromising of an Electronic Press Kit (EPK) for artists & producers with exclusive access to online & offline (radio) broadcasting channels via RockinTheShed. We developed a number of monetization models to appeal to our target market. RockinTheShed served as an initial hook to get leverage for Musichouse. We had a great team of smart entrepreneurs like Dave Manna (Sydney’s top Music Producer), Artur (RockinTheShed host) and Denis who is today the co-founder of embedster.com (Y Combinator 2010 Alumni). To read more click here.

What’s next?

You tell me…

Ernest