David Tran and Chris Nguyen, co-founders of Hero Box, the winning team at Toronto Startup Weekend 2011, are both serial entrepreneurs who understand the importance of validating a product with its target market before launch. They also know a thing or two about how to hustle for new business.
“Roughly 98% of a website’s visitors typically don’t buy anything,” says Nguyen. His co-founder, David Tran, had an idea for how to turn all of those visitors into paying customers. Before Toronto Startup Weekend, Tran pitched the idea to a few of his developer friends – who really liked the concept. He then enlisted Nguyen, along with about five developers and designers to take the idea and “hustle-it-out” to compete on November 18th to 20th in Toronto against local developers, marketers, designers, and enthusiasts, to start companies in just 54 hours.
Tran has been speaking to a lot of bloggers, media and interested businesses since Hero Box won last weekend. Because his throat was very sore (too much “hustling”), Nguyen did a lot of the talking during my call with the company.
“The response during Toronto Startup Weekend definitely validated our assumption that there is a market for our product,” says Nguyen. “We pre-sold over $25,000 in commitments to twelve to thirteen vendors in just 54 hours. These new customers include luxury retailers, eCommerce sites and more.”
Hero Box is an online tool that helps turn interested website visitors into customers. “Let’s say you own a clothing store. In a store, sales people are trained to recognize motivated vs. non-motivated customers. If a sales person can see that a customer is interested in buying a product, they can convert that customer into a buyer by asking how they can help, or offering them a special discount to nudge them along. This is called the ‘moment of motivation,’” explained Nguyen.
It’s a lot harder to do this online. Hero Box has developed a concept to use online promotion tools, which are prompted by your website’s analytics data, to turn more of your visitors into paying customers.
“For instance, Hero Box can prompt a customer, who is spending a long time on a particular page, with a special offer (via a pop-up message box) to entice them to buy whatever it is that they are looking at,” says Nguyen.
What does the future hold for this Toronto startup? First of all, “Tran is going to drink lots of grasshopper tea with lemon to fix his sore throat,” says Nguyen. In addition, as the winner of Toronto Startup Weekend, Hero Box will now compete at the 2011 Global Startup Battle taking place right now.
You can vote for them online until November 28th.
“Our plan is to keep hustling Hero Box every day. We also want to show VCs and multi-national employers that Canada has a lot of great talent,” says Nguyen.
Here’s a video which highlights some of Hero Box’s success at Toronto Startup Weekend.