Monday, August 31, 2009

Gerry Cullen of PR Engines Talks about His Startup

Gerry Cullen of PR Engines Talks about His Startup

Where are you from originally? Buffalo, New York

What university did you go to?
Colorado State University, BS Physics and Math, and University of Colorado, Electrical Engineering

What brought you to Austin?
I joined an Austin-based commercial lighting control manufacturer, MyTech, which was losing money and had a tired product line. After three years we had redesigned the product line, tripled revenue and achieved profitability. We sold the company to Hubbell Electric. I decided I liked Austin enough to stay here.

What is the idea behind your startup?
Many companies generate sales from search engine results. Our goal was to make an inexpensive, easy to implement software product that demonstrably improved page rank on search engines.

What need does it fulfill?
Users get two benefits: a higher search engine ranking, and a more interesting website. Tests have shown that the typical page ranking in Google improves by at least twelve which means a full page improvement in search engine placement.
What exactly does your product do?

The NewsBox makes a scrolling box of news story titles appear on a web page. The news stories are all keyword related to the customer's business. The news stories are hand-picked by company-knowledgeable editors. This creates changing content which is one of the four main ways to attract search engines.

Who is it for?
Primarily for companies who attract customers through web searches.
What was the most challenging aspect of starting up a business?
Making sure the product could be sold before investing in software development. We learned a lot about competition while making test sales calls. We made a dozen sales calls before developing any software.

What is the next step for you and your startup?
We are now in the process of making 100+ sales calls to make sure we can sell the product as it exists today, that is, without further software enhancements. Our first market will be small law practices.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?
Make sure you can sell the product before making the product. Get prospects to promise to buy one at a deeply reduced price before ever starting work. Most folks will tell you that your idea is wonderful but few will actually write a speculative purchase order.

What Austin-based resource have you found to be the most helpful and why? I have not used any resource so far. The Austin Entrepreneur Network looks like a great asset.

Best regards,
Hall T.