How a bootstrapped Wingify is creating a niche for itself in A/B testing market

18 Oct, 2012

When Paras Chopra, founder and CEO of Wingify Software Pvt Ltd, first developed a platform that enabled companies to handle practically all aspects of a website such as web analytics and visitor segmentation, he was surprised (not in a pleasant way) by the response he got from early users.

"I had launched Wingify privately on a forum called Hacker News and the feedback I got was it's too complex to use. This made me realise that it's important to focus on just one feature and do that really well. So I scrapped the codes and started building a product on A/B testing. This time around, I was close to the early users and they told me what kind of features should be added to the platform and the kind of user interface it should have," recalls Chopra.

The result of his efforts is Visual Website Optimizer, an A/B testing tool that allows marketing professionals to create different versions of their websites and check out which one produces maximum conversion/sales. In fact, Wingify is offering a multivariate testing tool (used for testing more than one component of a website in a live environment) with a number of additional features like behavioural targeting, usability testing and heat maps.

Wingify was selected as one of the 20 Techcircle Fastrack companies early this year (more on that here),

The concept & the journey

But what's A/B testing in the first place? In layman's terms, it means having two different versions of a website where 50 per cent of the traffic sees Version A and the rest sees Version B. From the data recorded, a company can find out which version is more successful in terms of sales/conversions. For instance, for an e-commerce site, Version A could be showing the most popular products while Version B could be focusing on new arrivals. With the help of this tool, marketers can optimise the home page, landing pages and product pages, as well as checkout pages. Note that the tool does not increase traffic. Instead, it helps determine which version of the website would generate maximum traffic.

While Chopra, a Delhi School of Engineering passout (BE in Biotechnology), founded the Delhi-based software startup in 2009, it was not until March 2010 that he left his job (as an R&D Engineer at Aspiring Minds) to focus all his energies on the company. At that time, he was also joined by Sparsh Gupta (as partner and CTO), who was Chopra's senior at the same engineering college.

"We had a number of free users and started getting a lot of support and feature requests. A point came when it became quite overwhelming to do it part time; so I had to leave the job to do it full time. But since the product was still in free beta, it was a gamble for me," says Chopra.

Did the gamble pay off?

"Initially, the goal was to make enough money to justify my salary and that was done on Day I as a number of free users shifted to the paid model," he says.

Currently, the company claims to have over 1,800 customers across 50-plus countries. More than 50 per cent of its total revenue comes from the US though, followed by Western Europe and the UK. The customer base is growing around 5-10 per cent month on month and some of the key customers include Microsoft, AMD, Warner Brothers, EA Sports and GE, among others. Interestingly, Wingify has only a handful of Indian customers (under 10), but these include Internet biggies like MakeMyTrip, Cleartrip and Jabong.

Asked why the Indian market is still a tiny fraction of the overall scenario, Chopra says it is tough to get Indian customers since A/B testing is still not on their priority list. "As e-commerce is maturing in the country, there are a number of challenges that the players face in terms of marketing, warehousing, competition, etc. So A/B is still an afterthought for them although a few are doing it actively," he reflects.

In spite of a fledgling Indian market (which is evident from the low number of Indian customers), Chopra expects it to grow with the rise in the number of internet users and more companies catering to them.

Although A/B is revolutionising the way websites are developed and, in the process, redefining some of the fundamental rules of business, assessing the global market is a tough task altogether. "A/B testing is a subset of the conversion rate optimisation (CRO) market. To put a number to the total size of the CRO market is tough since it changes if you include/exclude web analytics from it. But the global A/B testing market is over $150 million as of now," says Chopra.

Tech recipe & future plans

In spite of a limited market, Wingify is focusing on three key factors to ensure growth. First is, of course, engineering. Out of the 14-people team, 10 are software engineers and that guarantees a sound technological footwork. Next comes design as a powerful graphical interface helps make the tools as user-friendly as possible. Third is customer support – even the founder is actively involved in it.

Wingify also focuses on in-bound marketing by periodically releasing customer case studies on its site and frequently publishes technology blogs, discussing A/B testing in details.

"In a way, we educate customers on the needs and benefits of A/B testing. Once they are ready to purchase the tool, they remember us and try it out. It's all about being there all the time," explains Chopra.

Revenues are generated through monthly subscriptions, starting from $49 and going upwards of thousands of dollars, depending on the site's traction.

What is worth noting is that the company is still self-funded, already profitable (the founder refused to share revenue or profit figures) and is not looking to raise funds in the near future. It hasn't gone for an aggressive growth drive till date and there are no plans of expanding abroad (even though the majority of the business comes from outside the country) as most of the sales interaction is done via e-mail and over the phone. The current team of 14 will be expanded to around 20-25 by the end of this year, but according to Chopra, talent acquisition is the biggest challenge for the startup.

Wingify competes with companies like Optimizely, as well as the internet Goliath Google that offers a similar tool called Content Experiments. To stay in the race, it is constantly innovating and has started working on a new product that may be launched sometime next year. But can it tweak the business vision of the domestic corporate houses in the same way sites are tweaked to find out user preference? Keeping in mind the widening prevalence of A/B testing culture across internet businesses, it will be interesting to wait and watch.

(Edited by Sanghamitra Mandal)