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Startup Profile: Q&A with trendslide’s Co-Founder

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Editor’s Note: Startup trendslide is a mobile business intelligence company that developed an innovative application to help companies get a pulse on their business. Co-founder Jeffrey Vocell describes their path to success.

SandHill.com: When and where was your company launched?

Jeffrey Vocell: We started work on the trendslide product in August, 2011, in Manchester, NH, an awesome launching pad for startups and innovation. Manchester is quickly becoming a center point in New Hampshire for startup activity and it’s why we decided to launch our company here. It’s exactly the location we were looking for to build a business intelligence tool that is easier and more user friendly. We launched trendslide in March, 2012.

SandHill.com: Please describe your product’s differentiation and your market.

Jeffrey Vocell: Our platform is perfect whether you’re running a fast-growing small business or you’re contributing to the success of a larger organization. We designed a unique solution for insight on the go in 10 seconds flat. Whether you’re looking to obtain lead information from Salesforce or how many times your latest whitepaper was downloaded, it’s easy to get the insight you need within trendslide.

trendslide has a unique easy-to-use interface where you just swipe vertically for a new trend, horizontally to see that trend over time, or pinch to zoom in for more detail. There is no complex infrastructure to set up. Get the app, and it works – it’s that easy.

SandHill.com: How did trendslide originate?

Jeffrey Vocell: Cory von Wallenstein, chief product officer at Dyn, saw a need in his day job for a mobile business intelligence (BI) tool for analytics on the go. He did what any proper entrepreneur would do: assembled a team, funded the project and helped guide its early product direction — all on the side while leading a fast-growing engineering powerhouse in Dyn. He is now an advisor and trendslide board member.

We gained some unexpected early traction. As the product worked its way through the Alpha stage, it slowly started to gain a blog following, an Alpha sign-up queue, and interest from traditional outside investors. It was welcomed and excitable attention, but it also led to questions around how to actually capitalize and make it real, given it was playing on two super-hot trends: mobile and business analytics.

SandHill.com: Who are the other advisors and investors behind trendslide?

Jeffrey Vocell: We have an incredible advisor team including Ryan Burke, SVP of Sales at Compete; Eric Hansen, CEO/founder at SiteSpect; Richard Terry-Lloyd, VP of Emerging Markets at Zuora; and Evan York, senior product manager at DataXu.

Incutio, a growth engine company, provided the seed funding for trendslide.

SandHill.com: How did you convince your first investor about your product differentiation and the market potential for trendslide?

Jeffrey Vocell: Our first investor was running through the airport trying to check in on his team, and how the company was performing overall. After fumbling with his smartphone and trying to access all of the company’s various data sources, he eventually gave up in frustration. He realized the need for a tool like trendslide. After this, the early investment for trendslide came together seamlessly through realizing that regardless of whether he was in the airport, at his desk, or just waking up in the morning he could easily get his key metrics.

SandHill.com: Did your company change direction at some point during product development?

Jeffrey Vocell: We have made minor adjustments here and there, but our overall product development has been stable. Before developing trendslide, we talked to a lot of potential users and advisors and got a lot of great data that has helped us in development.

SandHill.com: What book have you read during the past three years that most influenced you?

Jeffrey Vocell: Guy Kawasaki’s “Art of the Start” is an incredible book for any entrepreneur. It really helped me frame trendslide and spend time on important tasks and letting others go. Although it’s from 2004, the book is still relevant today and I generally still pick it up to re-read a chapter or two as a refresher.

SandHill.com: Who is your personal software company or software executive role model?

Jeffrey Vocell: Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah of Hubspot. They have turned marketing on its head with inbound marketing and really focused on solving a huge pain point for small to medium-sized businesses. What is especially impressive is that they have kept innovating in an industry that is very difficult. They received some criticism for Website Grader and their various other Grader products, but overall they are innovative and have been extremely successful.

SandHill.com: Tell me about one of your company’s lessons learned and where it occurred in the time line of your product development.

Jeffrey Vocell: One of the key lessons learned for me would be develop your product, not bells and whistles. Early in our development cycle we spent many hours developing a new feature that we really thought would help excite our user base. It turns out that the user base loved it but was not using some of the advanced components of this feature. We practice what we preach here at trendslide and are always looking for data to support our decision making.

SandHill.com: What is the worst advice you received?

Jeffrey Vocell: We received some early interest in licensing our platform for very specific vertical industries. It took valuable time in our early stages to evaluate this path and see how it would integrate with our roadmap. We ultimately decided not to follow this course, as it would have possibly altered our direction in a path that was not right for us at the time.

SandHill.com: Who is the person you’d most like to meet?

Jeffrey Vocell: I would like to meet Avinash Kaushik. He is one of the brilliant minds behind the simplification and adoption of digital analytics. He really transformed the way that companies, especially small and medium-sized companies, use Google Analytics and similar tools to achieve success in their digital marketing.

SandHill.com: What do the next 12 months hold for your company?

Jeffrey Vocell: Over the next 12 months we’ll be looking to evolve trendslide to incorporate some exciting data-source integrations and new capabilities in the platform to help support business users in various roles. We’ve got the trendslide enterprise platform coming and we’re very excited to talk more about this soon.

Jeffrey Vocell is the co-founder and director of Product & Marketing at trendslide and leads the company’s product strategy, direction and marketing efforts. He is responsible for the direction and growth of the trendslide enterprise platform, and passionately loves talking analytics and mobile business intelligence. You can get in contact with him at Jeffrey@trendslide.com. The trendslide mobile app is available in the iOS App Store.

Kathleen Goolsby is managing editor at SandHill.com

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