Analyzo vets and aggregates best SaaS products for startups, so you don't have to
If you aren't a multinational with a big consulting budget, you are at the mercy of biased blog posts chasing affiliate marketing fees. On the other hand, looking at online SaaS marketplaces can be an overwhelming and counterproductive exercise as they list thousands of substandard software products sans any curation or due diligence.
This inspired two technophile Good Samaritans to rise to the occasion, shunning the allure of the low hanging fruits that are paid promotions and endorsements, to provide startups honest recommendations of the best products across almost 200 categories.
Meet the passionate duo
30-year-old Rubin Sabharwal is an economics graduate from George Washington University, Washington, DC. After working in consulting, he started his own media outsourcing business, VBR Pvt. Ltd. “The startup boom post the financial crises was just creeping into India and I, like several million people, wanted to be part of creating something bigger than working as a cog in a large organisation,” he says. Although Analyzo was merely a side project while he worked towards erecting his first startup, he soon found himself so invested in it that he decided to focus his energies on it alone.
32-year-old Raghav Kapur, on the other hand, graduated with a degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University and worked in the semiconductor and cloud computing space at a couple of startups before starting an online marketplace and publication for the wireless sector — EverythingRF — which has gone on to become the leading online resource in that space. “While developing an online business, I saw the need for a product that could help entrepreneurs identify good software products to help them run their businesses,” he says.
Rubin and Raghav had known each other socially for several years while they were working in their respective companies. Since the duo had been tech nerds for as long as they can remember (Rubin started web designing at the age of 12), people would every so often ask them for software advice and recommendations. So, over a random discussion, Raghav came up with the idea of creating a simple resource that their friends and family could refer to, in the form of a comparison chart.
As an extension of the idea, they felt they could further ease a user's dilemma by carefully identifying and listing the best products in any given category, along with their features across all their plans, to help the user find the perfect fit.
The sheer time involvement it entailed soon became clear, and that meant that it could not be run as a side project. “Since then we raced between the product development and our research. The SaaS industry changes fairly quickly and keeping up with it requires a tremendous amount of time and resources,” says Rubin.
Incorporated in 2014 in New Delhi, Analyzo has been created to help companies find the best software for their business — more specifically, the products that snag over 90 percent of the market share in most cases. “Our approach is similar to that of The Wirecutter,” Rubin points out.
So rather than a user looking through a list of 100 products on other listing websites, they list the 5–10 best products in the category. At the same time, they stay abreast of new products gaining traction, adding them to the list if they so deserve.
If you visit the portal, you will see:
1) A plan-based comparison engine: They claim to be the only resource on the internet that lets you compare products across plans as well. The products and plans can be filtered as per required features.
2) A community: Their recently launched community section is for users to converse and ask questions about different software products and get answers from the companies and feedback from other users.
3) A vendor access system: Companies can maintain and update their listings remotely.
4) An upvoting system: Products are ranked as per the number of upvotes they receive from the community. Upvotes can only be given by users verified by their LinkedIn credentials.
5) Content: Original articles about different tech-related topics.
7) Alternatives: Lets users discover alternatives to the products they are currently using.
The website also has filters based on pricing or specifications. For example, if one is a freelancer looking for a free invoicing tool, there is a ‘free’ filter under the pricing category. Similarly, if one is looking for a payment gateway in India, one can narrow down the results based on the transaction fee they are willing to shell out.
The price of integrity
The revenue models they have started implementing this year are affiliate programmes with some of the companies that they list coupled with category-specific advertising. “Our research and affiliate/advertising teams are separate and do not influence each other. Once the research team identifies the products that we plan to list in a category, our vendor relations team contacts the companies to develop an affiliate relation. We do not list products based on the affiliate programme that we have in place or change the order in which the products is listed,” he explains, adding, “many websites do it the other way round; however we do not feel that is the correct approach.”
Raghav opines that the way to grow this business is by creating a community, and when one is starting from scratch,one has to use existing communities. “We started posting on Reddit and Quora, answering questions other startup founders had about choosing different products. This got us our initial traction and as more and more people started linking to us, the traffic started surging,” he says.
Considering that SEO takes time, initially, traction was hard to come by even though they were pushing the Analyzo brand-name in several tech communities. Their first break was being picked up by Product Hunt, followed by Hacker News, after which, their traffic has been growing consistently at the rate of 15 percent MoM. As of October 2016,they have been generating over 10,000 leads a month for various software vendors.
One of their biggest challenges has been to maintain their integrity. “We list products whether or not we have a relationship with that company. We get plagued by emails every day by companies who want to pay to get listed, which would have been valuable revenue for a bootstrapped startup. But we’re clear on our motive — not to be a SaaS and cloud listing service, but a resource that people can access for unbiased recommendations,” he says. Now, even market leading companies reach out to them and actively update their listings. They want to know how people perceive their products and actively work with them.
Behind the scenes
Bootstrapping was a conscious decision as they feel that Analyzo works best as a self-sustaining business that can grow organically, and they do not require huge amounts of capital for any inorganic growth.
As of now, the seven-member team has covered 200 software categories and will further add more industry- and country-specific software categories to reach over 350 categories by June 2017.
“As we grow and more and more people use Analyzo, we mine invaluable data about user preferences. We know what features users look for in a product, what price points they prefer, what the ancillary products and services they use are. We are developing tools to leverage this information which will be launched later next year,” Rubin lets on before signing off.