First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID19 times?
Kees Wolters: I can’t really complain. Times have been challenging, but fortunately my family and team have managed to stay healthy, and that’s the most important thing.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined Mopinion
Kees Wolters: We actually started out with a number of other projects and a somewhat different business concept. Prior to the conception of Mopinion, our company was called Conceptables, a digital agency that launched new digital concepts like apps. I started this company alongside two other founders, Udesh Jadnanansing and Floris Snuif. Initially, our idea was to help employers work with recruitment agencies in a marketplace format. We certainly had some traction but not a long runway and investors were not keen on investing as it was right after the financial crisis.
So we ‘kept the engine running’ and decided to start up some projects in digital marketing campaigns, web design, and app development and offered these services to clients on a pay-per-hour basis. After doing this for a while alongside working a lot on social media campaigns for our clients, we decided to delve into customer feedback.
Interestingly enough, we soon discovered there weren’t a lot of software tools whereby consumers could directly submit their feedback to the company. After some research, we decided to give it a go and around 2011 we developed our first Proof of Concept for a website feedback tool to easily collect feedback on a web page when a visitor experienced an issue.
By 2011 we started onboarding our first users and in 2013 we invested all of our time and energy into the feedback tool, known as Mopinion, ceasing all other activities in Conceptables. Essentially we bootstrapped the company and funded it with the money we made from projects we did in app and web development.
With Mopinion our aim was to help companies better understand the needs and struggles of their customers on their digital channels such as web and mobile. To tackle this, we decided to develop user feedback software that would easily collect, analyse, and manage feedback – enabling companies to improve their digital channels. We quickly noticed, especially for larger organisations with large amounts of traffic and users, that analysing feedback becomes a trickier undertaking:
What do you do with all this data? How do you get insights from thousands of open comments? How do you take action and follow up on this? So we took a closer look at large business intelligence and customer experience data analysis platforms and tried to figure out how they did this. How did they make this data available to their users in a digestible way? And that was when we found a unique selling point and truly advantageous solution.
What started out as a small side project with the three founders grew into a company with over 30 employees and 200 + clients in more than 20 countries worldwide today.
How does Mopinion innovate?
Kees Wolters: Customer feedback has become an integral part of the digital strategy of many organisations today. As a result, there are now an abundance of tools on the market which offer various services and products around VoC (Voice of the Customer), both for low end and enterprise organisations. We, therefore, monitor these tools very closely and continuously.
We also listen to our own customers’ feedback. This helps us prioritise our product roadmap and come up with new ideas for solving our customers’ business problems.
In terms of our own vision and strategy, we are always thinking about where we want to be next year, in three years or even in five years. We believe that in the future, the need for analysing big amounts of feedback data will become even more important and new tools such as machine learning and text analysis will be critical for obtaining insights from this data.
There’s also a lot going on in the tech space. There are plenty of new systems, platforms and (code) frameworks sprouting up which makes it challenging to keep up with the pace. For example, in the mobile industry (which is also one of our focus areas when it comes to collecting feedback data), operating systems are always evolving, while new frameworks to develop mobile applications come and go. With these kinds of changes, we have to remain compatible while simultaneously adopting new technologies and features that we can use to make collecting and analysing feedback better.
We also receive a subsidy from the Dutch government known as a WBSO subsidy which is a tax credit for research and development. This provides us with the financial drive and stimulant to continue innovating our software.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Kees Wolters: Thankfully because we work for various industries that spread the risk a bit, we are optimistic that this year will be successful, despite the pandemic. For example, online retail and technology companies are still doing extremely well. So we are fortunate that we haven’t been hit too hard by the crisis.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Kees Wolters: Absolutely. When the pandemic first started, we had to make some quick decisions about working from home, such as establishing regular online meetings (to maintain a sense of cohesiveness) and developing a strategy for customer support and contact. In hindsight, our working-from-home model has worked fairly well. The team transitioned quickly and has continued to demonstrate a high level of productivity.
We were lucky, in a sense, that we weren’t hit hard like many other industries, despite having a fair amount of customers in the travel and leisure industry. But there are strategies we had to redefine such as lead generation. This was particularly difficult in a time where prospects and leads can’t be reached by phone at the office. We also had to either cancel or postpone several events that we were supposed to attend or host and if circumstances remain as they are, it’s not likely any events will take place in the near future. So we are looking for new ways to fill these gaps.
Previously we were also in the process of finding a new office which we later had to postpone due to the pandemic. However, depending on how the COVID situation transpires and what we do with working from home regulations, we may find that it isn’t necessary to be in the office full-time so there may be a shift there.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Mopinion in the future ?
Kees Wolters: I actually think a little bit of stress is good for your development so for me it’s not really an issue.
As for the future, we strongly believe that the market still offers a lot of potential for us to grow. We have a great product and plenty of happy customers in different industries. Our ambition is to not only maintain growth but also increase our Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) and keep customer churn as low as possible. We aim to achieve this last goal through our recent investment in customer success.
By raising our growth levels even slightly, we could get a really interesting valuation for an additional round of funding in early 2021. The funding itself, however, isn’t the hard part as many venture capitalists and private equity firms are keen on investing in startups and scale-ups, but rather getting the best valuation possible for a higher rate of growth.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Kees Wolters: We are up against a number of competitors including major CX suites which offer VoC solutions and various online survey tools. However, Mopinion’s ability to deliver a scalable solution which ties together both feedback collection and advanced analysis techniques is unparalleled and that certainly contributes to preserving our leadership.
Also, because we are a niche player, we are inclined to really focus on digital channels such as websites and mobile apps and really ‘do them well’, whereas competitors that offer feedback solutions for both online and offline channels will have more difficulty addressing the needs of the modern day digital marketer.
Your final thoughts
Kees Wolters: We’ve come a long way since 2013 and as a growing company, we still have a ways to go. Luckily we have a great team in place here at Mopinion with a lot of people that love what they do and that have been with us from the start. All we have to do is continue innovating, stay true to our vision, and maintain a healthy level of growth and enthusiasm.