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This article was published on September 9, 2008

Retaggr has to enable publishers as well as the crowd

Retaggr has to enable publishers as well as the crowd
Ernst-Jan Pfauth
Story by

Ernst-Jan Pfauth

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.

Five Questions for Start-upsEvery once in a while 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 Ivailo Jordanov. He’s the co-founder of Retaggr, a service with which you can manage and publicize your own business card. It’s possible to include widgets and links to your social network profiles. Whenever a blog owner has made his page Retaggr compatible, a little pop-up shows up with the essential info about the person. Sort of like the Firefox LinkedIn plugin. I’ve reviewed them earlier and I figured these guys would be interesting for the Five Questions for Start-up series. The main reason for this? Retaggr have to activate the crowd as well as web publishers to make the company a success. So here it goes.

How did you come up with the idea of Retaggr?

Question number“There were a number of factors which led us to the idea. The first was the frustration we found ourselves not being able to find a way to aggregate all the places we had created online identities and allow others to connect with us a relevant service. The second was that we wanted to be able find out what services our friends and contacts used that we might want to use too.

As people started using retaggr as a central point for showing all the elements of their online identity we started looking at ways to make it truly portable anywhere on the web and make it more useable. As a result, we launched the blog plug-in and the email signatures as well as made it possible to retaggr-enable any site to provide extended profile information for a site’s users.

The reason for the blog plug-in was the fact that reading blogs or forums and wanting to find more information about the people posting comments and interacting on them is a challenge of multiple clicks on most sites. Knowing more about a content contributor is important as comments are perceived as more or less credible based on who made them. This also allows people to connect or see how they are connected with the contributors. Some people put a link to their blog, but not everyone has a personal blog where all their information is listed. Also, the constant clicking away from reading the content to see who the author is can be frustrating and our blog plug-in provides a solution for that by embedding the card directly inside the blogs (users can still have the link to their blog with their comment too).

What was your biggest challenge during the development process?

Question number“There are a number of challenges that we have seen and still see on a daily basis. As retaggr integrates with other websites it is very important that our system is reliable and performs extremely well not interfering with any plug-ins and components people are running on their sites. Another challenge is prioritisation of features, trying to analyse which features are more beneficial to our users now vs. later and which ones will be most effective in attracting new users; which features are “cool” vs. the ones that will bring more value. Users know best how they want the site to work so my advice for other start-ups is to engage and listen to your users. We have had some great feedback and try to make improvements quickly based on what we hear. Users express their opinion in a variety of places, for example blogs, forums and twitter. We have found it useful monitor these mediums and really try to be responsive.

Can you describe London’s start-up culture compared to Silicon Valley?

Question number”London has a good start-up culture! There are more and more new companies launching and many networking events that help get the word out about new projects, but it still cannot be compared to the Valley. Because retaggr integrates with other sites it would have been much easier for us to be based in the Valley as we would be able to meet and talk directly with some of the highest potential partners more easily than we can from the UK. We try to use the phone and email effectively, but everyone knows how much easier it can be to get a deal done in person. I guess we will be doing some travelling soon!

What will be the influence of your start-up on the next web?

Question number“As more and more services emerge online people will continue to participate and interact where they have before but also expand their online activities to new sites and as a result will have more online profiles. These profiles form peoples’ online identity and are also a part of their contact details. We are seeing many people using their retaggr profile card as a point of reference for themselves, a central meeting place which allows other people to then connect with them on the appropriate networks. As the retaggr card is embeddable in other sites it is essentially a truly portable summary of online identity which can be added to any site.

Some sites ask their users to provide links to some of their profiles, but the list is not comprehensive and also users will not want to keep on filling in and updating this information across many sites. As the managers of these sites realise the importance and the value which this information can bring to their users retaggr can easily enable this functionality to their websites—we think it will make for a better user experience almost anywhere, and that it will enhance the sense of community on the site. We hear over and over again that this is a big challenge for both new and established sites so we think it is going to be a significant value point for sites that enable retaggr for their users.

You can make up this question yourself!

Question numberAs a site owner, why should I retaggr enable my site?
If you have a site where people interact, retaggr can easily allow users to extend their profile information once, and use it everywhere they participate on the web. This means that users will be able to get additional information about the people they are interacting with on a particular site, providing valuable context to the interactions. Your site will be added as one of the available identities on the retaggr card, which means that it will be visible across all retaggr enabled sites. This can strengthen site branding, image, and increase exposure to potential new users, while improving the experience existing users have on the site with the addition of some really simple code.

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