Sramana Mitra: I know quite a bit about that kind of work because I did a lead generation software company earlier in my career that required lots of scraping and cleaning. It’s quite complicated and it’s very domain-specific. I am very aware of how very complicated this is. Did you launch this with any financing or was it a bootstrapped launch?
Shane Evans: It was a bootstrapped launch. I brought Mydeco as an early customer, and that really helped. It wasn’t too difficult to bring in one or two other customers. We took a very small amount of funding from a friend in Ireland to pay salaries. It was a very small amount.
Sramana Mitra: Were you doing this in London or Ireland?
Shane Evans: My co-founder is from Montevideo, Uruguay. I went there for the winter. Then I came back to Ireland. I’ve been in Ireland since then.
Sramana Mitra: So this company was built in Ireland.
Shane Evans: Interestingly, ScrapingHub was built while I was in Ireland, but my co-founder remained in Montevideo.
Sramana Mitra: Do you have a development team in Montevideo?
Shane Evans: We have some developers there. I mentioned that we had an open source project. What happened there was, we had contributors from all around the world. We actually started hiring some of the people who we knew were really good and who had contributed code but were based in different countries. Our first hire was from Bolivia.
Sramana Mitra: You have a virtual team?
Shane Evans: Yes.
Sramana Mitra: Is this virtual team primarily made up of people in Latin America?
Shane Evans: No, not at all. We’re spread out over 40 different countries. A lot of the early team members were in Montevideo. Very quickly, we spread out. We have some in North America. We have a lot in Europe as well.
Sramana Mitra: Tell me a little bit about customer adoption. How did the customer adoption grow? How did you acquire those customers?
Shane Evans: We were really fortunate. Early on, we brought on Mydeco. Scraping was one of the first open source projects I mentioned that had gotten popular. People wanted to solve this web scraping problem themselves. They would usually look for what was out there, and our tool was the most popular by far. People would find our tools. We had a very strong inbound leads from day one. As this area has gotten more popular, that’s what worked really well for us. For the first couple of years, we were able to keep up well with hiring and the demand for the professional services.
Sramana Mitra: What was the pricing model? Was it a SaaS business model?
Shane Evans: Early on, it was nearly 100% professional services. That drove all of our revenues. That meant that we were basically selling our developer hours. We used all of our revenue from that to investing on our tools and platform.
Sramana Mitra: How much professional services revenue did you generate?
Shane Evans: We started late 2010. It was very small – just a little over $100,000.