HeroBox shooting for global startup competition win

Toronto entrepreneur David Tran points out that it wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense to open up a retail location filled with products and then not staff it with salespeople looking to close the deal with interested customers. So why should e-commerce Web sites be any different?

That’s the thinking behind Tran’s new startup born out of Startup Weekend Toronto. HeroBox is an online promotional tool that seeks to engage you Web site browsers at that critical moment when they are considering whether to complete the transaction or just bail from the site and go watch some more cat videos. The tool taps into a sites’ Google Analytics data to determine where those windows of opportunity exist.

“We built a tool that would identify the moment when customers are interested in your Web site and that’s when we nudge them,” Tran says. That nudge could take the form of an offer to chat with a live customer service representative, gain an additional discount on a purchase, or simply an offer for more information on a product.

Despite being created over a 54-hour period at a marathon get-together of entrepreneurial types, HeroBox has already made more than $25,000 in sales for a product it hasn’t built yet. Several companies have signed on to employ the service including AppSumo, TeamBuy.ca, Postage App, and Garrison Bespoke.

HeroBox owned the competition at Startup Weekend, according to attendee Karim Kanji, co-founder and partner at Third Ocean. With companies putting more resources into their Web sites and relying on them as revenue drivers, it makes sense to connect a salesperson with a customer close to making that purchase.

“Companies are looking to drive traffic to offline stores, or to download a whitepaper, or the online shopping cart,” he says. “Any tool that could help accomplish that is something I’d want to check out for sure.”

Google Analytics already helps companies convert traffic into business leads, Kanji says. This is another way to extend that power and increase user retention rate and conversion rate.

Postage App, a service that makes it easier for Web developers to tie-in e-mail functionality to their own apps, uses HeroBox to prompt users looking at the “How it Works” page. Since the service is easy to use, but difficult to explain, the founder of Postage App wanted to offer potential customers the chance to discuss the service with the product manager.

“He thinks that’d be the best way to explain the product,” Tran says.

HeroBox is different from other services that offer a live chat with customer service staff, he says, because it adds intelligence to the process. “If a sales person just approached you at five minutes that you were in the store, that’s an unintelligent way to engage people.”

Once the firm is able to draw enough users, it could even suggest to Web site administrators what is effective on the sites of other similar sites.

HeroBox is now competing in Startup Weekend’s global competition and collecting votes based on its 90-second pitch video in the second phase of the contest, which ends Nov. 28. Judges will then size up the entries and announce an overall winner Nov. 29.

Tran has put sales on hold while he focuses on trying to win the global competition. He says several investors have approached him with interest.

Brian JacksonBrian Jackson is the Associate Editor at ITBusiness.ca. Follow him on Twitter, read his blog, and check out the IT Business Facebook Page.
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