I Help Thousands of Businesses Deal With Bad Reviews

Henri Isenberg
I Help Thousands of Businesses Deal With Bad Reviews
ReviewInc
from Los Angeles, CA, USA
started August 2012
2
Founders
10
Employees
319K
alexa rank
139
followers
197
followers
Discover what tools Henri reccommends to grow your business!
Discover what books Henri reccommends to grow your business!
I Help Thousands of Businesses Deal With Bad Reviews

Hello, my name is Henri Isenberg, and I am COO of ReviewInc. I worked at Symantec for over 20 years on Norton Anti-Virus software and utilities in the 1980s. As one of the top executives at Symantec, my responsibilities included mergers and acquisitions, and running the corporate anti-virus business.

ReviewInc provides Business Reputation Management Services. Our growing customer list includes major international chains, brand auto dealers, dental, medical, travel, leisure, property management, retail stores, restaurants, legal services, country clubs, and much more. Our mission is to educate business owners on the importance of customer reviews and managing their online reputation. We offer to monitor only, basic, pro, enterprise programs offering a broad spectrum of review management services.

We started with one client in 2012 and now we work with thousands of businesses in many different industries.

i-make-2-4m-year-helping-businesses-deal-with-bad-online-reviews

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I grew up in Southern California and went to college at UCLA where I majored in Computer Science. After college, I was recruited to work at Symantec. I left Symantec at the height of the great recession in 2012 and hoped to join a start-up. Unfortunately, I was called “overqualified” continuously. Eventually, a friend invited me to a charity event. There, I met a former colleague from Symantec who invited me to discuss an idea with Ron Laughton, now my partner, for a SaaS start-up, which eventually led to ReviewInc.

I had a friend with a digital marketing company that received an unfair and biased review that was hurting their sales. It turned out that there was a need for software that assists businesses in managing their online reviews and improving their business reputation. We reflected on the question, “Who wants to go to a 2-star dentist?” No one! Our vision was to create software to empower happy yet silent customers to write reviews to balance out and overpower the few negative and typically biased reviews.

Give yourself a long runway. Don’t expect to take off immediately. It can take months to see measurable results and it can take years to see impactful results in terms of revenue or number of users.

I knew that online reviews were the right idea to work on because they reminded me of anti-virus software, which I had worked on at Symantec. Back then, no one believed that reviews could harm your business, much like they used to believe that viruses would not hurt your computer. Many businesses used to dismiss the notion that a bad review could hurt your business. That has changed rapidly today as many businesses have now felt the pain of a bad review, and online reviews are ubiquitous.

The validation of our product came through interaction with customers. Even today we interact closely with clients on capabilities and customizations that enhance our offerings and make our services more valuable for our clients.

Take us through the process of designing and prototyping the first version of a product.

Our first product was simple, intending to be easy to access on a mobile phone. This was good as it forced us to keep the user interface light and simple. Many older browsers did not support HTML.

You should set small yet realistic goals to help everyone feel productive. In addition, make sure to celebrate your accomplishments at least once a month.

We focused on building the service so it worked on the lowest common denominator which turned out to be a good rule. We discovered in this area, like with collecting feedback, the less we demanded, the more we got. Luckily, the product was flexible and applicable to over 600 review sites and was upsold before it was built.

Describe the process of launching the business.

We had a modest launch that I would describe as nascent in 2012. Our website was simple. At the time, the marketplace was unsophisticated. Our vision was driving us along with a handful of clients that had experienced the pain of a bad review.

i-make-2-4m-year-helping-businesses-deal-with-bad-online-reviews
Our website 2012

i-make-2-4m-year-helping-businesses-deal-with-bad-online-reviews
Our website in 2013

We are a subscription-based business so our growth has been continuous, and gradual. Our growth has mirrored that of social media. In the beginning, we were financed by partners with a modest $20,000 and grew to be profitable in just a year.

The advice I would give is to have a big vision but take small steps to achieve it. Continuously take small steps forward. Realize that you are going to make mistakes. It’s okay to make these mistakes as long as you recognize them quickly and change course.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

We are constantly working to make sure our product delivers results, and this helps retain customers. We stay in touch with our customers’ needs and use them to improve our software. We introduced tools that measure daily performance in reviews and use tools to identify a drop in performance so that we can assess the problem and fix it. That’s what customers love, and it is the driver of retention.

Our customers value daily, weekly and monthly reports. These reports keep them continuously engaged in measuring and monitoring their online reputation. These tools help them streamline the actions they need to take in handling feedback and reviews.

Some advice I would share is that the first 2-3 years can look bleak. You need to prepare for many hurdles that would discourage many others. You must continue with focused tenacity. The trade of tenacity is your friend.

We have experimented with a variety of marketing efforts - Google ads, social media, Facebook ads, PR, networking, content marketing, SEO, partnerships and have decided to stick with what works and brings in more sales and traffic. Digital marketing is the best thing to increase traffic and sales, and we’ve learned to partner with other companies that can resell our services. Finding symbiotic relationships with other companies has brought us the most success.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Our business is as big as it’s ever been. The product has evolved significantly and can serve a highly diverse set of verticals and businesses of all sizes. Based on estimates, only a small portion of businesses have recognized the significance of the impact of online reputation and social media on businesses, and even smaller internationally. But what we are seeing is that businesses are increasingly aware of the impact and are now taking action to address it, so online reputation is a growing market.

Attention to detail and maintenance are important especially when your integrity is tied to providing real value!

We started with one business and today we are serving thousands of businesses. We have a small team and are planning to expand in customer communication software soon.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Coming from the corporate world, I had to learn the trade-off of nimbleness vs. resources. The good news is that we could stop, turn, reverse on a dime, whereas in a large company it would take a long time to change course. The challenge is that as a startup you are starved for resources. You have to do everything yourself. Being resourceful is necessary. We’ve made many mistakes, but dwelling on them is a waste of time. You learn and then you do something different. There is also a huge distraction in trying to get investors, which sucks up a lot of time.

Make sure the software provides value and solves a big problem. Always try to innovate and find ways to make your software better. It’s the way to stand out amidst the competition. You must provide new ways to save time and generate more and better responses which can dramatically improve any business.

With software, attention to detail and maintenance are important especially when your integrity is tied to providing real value. Also, be sure to include built-in metrics within your software to make sure that it is stable and fast.

I recommend using a reward system to motivate yourself and your employees. You should set small yet realistic goals to help everyone feel productive. In addition, make sure to celebrate your accomplishments at least once a month.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

  • We also use Microsoft Office suite for business tools such as Word, Powerpoint, and Excel for data analysis, presentations, and writing copy.

  • We use RingCentral and Skype for communication between our employees working remotely and in-office as well as outside vendors we work with.

  • We use Zoho to track leads and cases in customer support. It is very useful to track a lead because of the long sales cycle of software as a B2B product.

One of the most important tools we use is our software, which proves that it works. We use our software to collect reviews on Google, Facebook, Capterra, G2, and other review sites. You’re even better when your internal team is using your software. We also have an internal lead quality tool we use as well as a customized automated response system for collecting leads, communicating on training and more.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

Mostly I use my own experiences as resources.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Get a partner or small team to bounce ideas off on. Other people are great for reflecting ideas. Otherwise, it can be very lonely. It’s hard to maintain focus and tenacity with just one person. Like with the gym, It’s always easier when you’re working with somebody.

Give yourself a long runway. Don’t expect to take off immediately. It can take months to see measurable results and it can take years to see impactful results in terms of revenue or number of users.

Finally, I was privileged to work in global acquisitions at Symantec, now Norton LifeLock. I met a lot of entrepreneurs while I was there. What I learned was that it was not about how intelligent people were or how experienced they were that helped them succeed. What did help them succeed as a character, focused tenacity, being resourceful, being good communicators, and working well with people.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

Yes, we are looking to hire in various positions, most notably in full-time technical roles.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

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Henri Isenberg   Founder of ReviewInc
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story

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