Friday, March 2, 2012
Interview with Holden Steinberg and Jason Crilly, PageWoo
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
Have you every clicked on a mobile ad on your iPhone or Android phone, and found that the ad you clicked into wasn't usable on your mobile phone? It's not an uncommon experience, and one which drove Holden Steinberg and Jason Crilly to start PageWoo (www.pagewoo.com), a service which is aimed at helping businesses create mobile-friendly landing pages for their advertisements. The founders, who are part of the Los Angeles StartEngine accelerator, talked to us about what they're doing.
What exactly is PageWoo?
Jason Crilly: We're doing mobile landing pages. We're creating really good looking, really easy to use, really effective mobile landing pages. We're doing it for ad networks. When you're online doing an ad buy, the biggest thing in mobile is converting users when they click on a mobile ad. That's the kind of solution that we'd like to be able to provide.
Why did you decide to tackle this market?
Jason Crilly: We have a background from the big agencies. We had an agency an interactive studio for awhile. We had been working with Fortune 5's, and had done really well in social media, creating micro sites and interactive landing pages, and have a really deep history in marketing.
Holden Steinberg: The way we got the idea, is we had been playing my favorite game, Dragon's Lair Defense on my Android tablet. The stars aligned, and I actually saw an ad I was interested, which directed me to a mobile dog groomer. We have two Yorkies, and had just moved, so we were looking for a mobile dog groomer. However, the woman who ran the service had created her sit in Wix, the Flash-based site creator, and we couldn't see her contact information, because Flash isn't supported on mobile. I thought to myself, there must be many people that had their ad delivered on mobile, but whose sites are not mobile ready yet.
So your software takes care of that?
Holden Steinberg: Yes, it takes care of that. We're not a mobile site creator, and are really part of the ad experience. One of the things we've seen done very well with large brands that advertise on mobile, is if you extend the landing page into the functionality of the phone--click to call, use Google Maps, open up foursquare, open up a brand page, or open up an Amazon web app--all those things that extend into the actual functionality into the phone--it does much better for that retailer.
What drove you to make this a product startup, after running an agency for several years?
Jason Crilly: There are a lot of reasons. We were really passionate about technology, and had been doing lots of conceptual stuff, but always wanted to create a product. We've been involved in the tech scene, and have been passionate about what comes together.
Holden Steinberg: It's very hard to continue growing with an agency. We'd been doing the interactive agency thing for four years, and it's really hard to continue on the path as a service business. You find you are never going to get beyond ten people.
So where's PageWoo now, and can people use this?
Jason Crilly: We are already in private beta, and we have some people using it. Our main goal is to get with the advertising networks, and we're now working with advertising networks in town. We want them to be able to use this inline with people making advertising buys. There are some specific things they need, such as internationalization, which we've also conquered. There's also device ubiquity, which is a big problem for these guys. You need to be able to make landing pages that work on every single type of layout, every screen and tablet size, and so on, and we think we've done a great job with that.
Why the strategy of going to the ad networks?
Jason Crilly: We felt that that was the lowest path, and that most people have to go through ad networks, and that's where the affiliate marketers start out. They are really struggling to get decent mobile cost-per-click, and to get decent post click conversions. There's no such thing as a CPA ad in mobile, so they have a hard time tracking things, and really understanding what's going on.
Can you talk about how your software works?
Holden Steinberg: We use a smart mix, of pulling the site creative, and helping them find the content, though it doesn't always match up. Mobile site creators don't do a really great job of getting a custom experience--it's kind of like Google Translate, it's a little closer, but it doesn't get you all the way. We help you to get the assets from your site, and you can decide which ones you want to have involved.
What's the most important thing you've learned so far as part of the startup process?
Jason Crilly: This isn't our first startup, but we've learned a lot of things here. First, with Howard Marks and StartEngine, it's been exceptional for us. We've learned that we can't do it alone, and need the help and advice of companies here in LA, who understand the bigger challenges. For example, we're working with William Belk, who is Head of Product at Beachmint, and he's helped us see how we can do some interesting things, data-wise, but also make lots of money. Understanding that data the right way, having good partners, and having the right partners has been huge.
Finally, we understand you're a husband wife team--how has that been?
Holden Steinberg: Jason and I have been married for four years in May. We've always worked with one another, and it's not really much of a change. Because we work for an average of 15 to 16 hours a day, we wouldn't see each other otherwise. I think it actually helps a little bit. Both of us have very strong personalities and opinions, and I think if we were working with anyone else, we'd run them over.