Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He a Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He also served as The Next Web’s blog’s first blogger and Editor in Chief, back in 2008. At De Correspondent, Ernst-Jan serves as publisher, fostering the expansion of the platform.
Every week we publish an interview with a start-up. We ask five questions, hoping the answers will give you inspiration and new views.
This time we’re interviewing Sam Desimpel, founder of IntroNiche.com. That’s a Belgium-based start-up which helps webmasters and bloggers to find a match for cross-promotion. I absolutely dig this idea, since cross-promoting is a perfect way to reach your target audience…, without spending any money! It reminds me of the good old days in high school, when I owned a humor site and asked other humor webmasters to exchange links. Well, I’ve grown up, and so has the Internet. Read the interview to get to know how it look likes according to Desimpel.
How did you come up with the idea of IntroNiche?
“I used to work at eBay. I had to find low budget and credible ways for eBay to attract clients in various collectibles niches such as stamps, coins, toys, comics and so on. Indeed, eBay also doesn’t like to spend on marketing unless it has to.
The solution was usually a cross-promotion deal between eBay and a local collectibles tradefair and magazine. eBay would eg. promote the tradefair in it’s newsletter and the tradefair would give eBay visibility and a free stand on the fair. They were good win-win deals and I loved doing them.
Finding these deals however took a lot of time. So I wanted to make cross-promotion easier by creating a classifieds marketplace for cross-promotion. IntroNiche’s only purpose is to allow easier cross-promotion for freelancers and small companies.”
What was your biggest challenge during the development process?
“I guess it’s a personality thing. Quick & dirty suits me just fine. Other people couldn’t live with a product launch of something that’s only 85% ready. I’m fine with that though.
Keep it as simple as possible. Your clients will thank you.
Keep it low cost. You will thank yourself.
Launch. Truth is out there.
DotProjects, the agency I used, took only a couple of months to build IntroNiche in Drupal. And within budget. That’s also a good learning.”
Can you describe the Belgian start-up culture compared to Silicon Valley?
“IntroNiche is based in Brussels, Belgium, Europe. I’m not sure we have a start-up culture here even if I can mention twenty Belgian start-ups that I know off. I guess we just don’t make a fuss about it.
As for Silicon Valley, I’d like to use an analogy. In finance, THE place is still Wall Street, NY (with London following close by). However, the best US investor who kicks Wall Street’s *** all of the time lives in Omaha,
Nebraska. It probably helps to focus. Then again, Warren Buffett does keep in touch with what’s happening in Wall Street.
So I’m fine living in the internet’s Hicksville. But I do like to stay abreast of what is happening in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area. And in the rest of the World, for that matter.”
What will be the influence of your start-up on the next web?
“I hope IntroNiche will be relevant for small-businesses and entrepreneurs worldwide. When Internete ntrepreneurs can use the platform to increase their business at modest costs, I’ll be a happy man.
I don’t think the next web needs more revolutions, just more smart applications. And a classifieds website for cross-promotion could be just that. Go IntroNiche!
You can make up this question yourself!
I’d like to discuss my business model as this is the number one question I get.
“IntroNiche will be free of use until we hit critical mass.
Once we hit critical mass, we will charge a flat fee (think the price of a good coffee) per new classified placed. No commissions, no subscriptions.
If it works for the Craigslist classifieds website, it probably works for the IntroNiche classifieds website.
Until then, all classifieds on IntroNiche will be free of charge. In the meantime, I’ll also display some paid advertising to pay for hosting and coffee.”
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