Brazilian CEO and co-founder of Blogo, Amure Pinho, talked with BayBrazil about the success of this app that facilitates the publishing and management of multiple blogs. We also discussed his participation in the Evernote competition in San Francisco, the startup’s growth plans and the business ecosystems in Brazil and Silicon Valley.
BayBrazil: Blogo attended the ‘Evernote Platform Awards’ and arrived among the finalists in the category of ‘Best New Startup App’ that connects to the Evernote platform. How was this selection?
Amure: Evernote opened a poll a while ago for its users to decide which products they most liked. Some of them voted for us and we were part of a selection of six best new apps. From this selection, our users voted on Blogo and, with a significant amount of votes, we were among the three finalists. Unfortunately, we did not win, but we got the second place, which is gratifying. [Blogo took the prize of $10 thousand. Dozens of applications compete for the award of Evernote every year and the winners are chosen by a rigorous voting process with tens of thousands of votes tallied worldwide].
BayBrazil: Which Blogo’s features differentiate your platform from competitors and who are they?
Amure: We have competitors, but they are all apps developed by very small teams. I would even say that they are not startups but developers and designers who came together to create apps. The largest, perhaps most important, is the MarsEdit 3, which is a well known editor that exists since the times of Blogo1, and that has many users. There is a number of apps that connect to WordPress, but none is multi platform; they are not available for Windows, Mac, iPad, iPhone. What differentiates Blogo from these direct competitors is that our app is the only one with fundraising, with a startup personality. So we do not have competitors who raised money, who are in Silicon Valley. They are all very small products, which draw attention and focus away from our users, but are not competitors if we talk about long-term business. We have some indirect competitors, which would be the blog platforms themselves, such as the iPad app of WordPress or the Tumblr app for iPhone.
BayBrazil: How does Blogo work?
Amure: Blogo is a platform that allows you to manage many blogs easily and it is perfect for professionals who spend much of their time blogging. The platform helps you connect with your WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger and lets you write and publish on your blogs more easily, regardless of the number of pages you maintain. Blogo is like a Photoshop for photographers, a Word for writers. It is a simple, fast and intuitive interface, which allows you to be a more productive writer.
BayBrazil: How was Blogo created?
Amure: In 2013 I began to rethink my life. I had been running Sync for four years [company that offered mobile applications], I had already invested in a lot of startups. However, I realized that the speech I directed to the young entrepreneurs, that they should create their own products, did not apply in my own business. I was doing with Sync exactly the opposite of the speech that I was selling to these entrepreneurs. I had a service company that sold mobile applications for other large companies, but in fact, I was not creating any product for me. That was when I decided to turn off my angel investments, take the money from Sync and create a new project. In search for a new business, I was introduced to Ivan Neto, a hell of a product designer and creator of the first version of Blogo, in 2008, that did not exist anymore. I had already used and loved Blogo’s platform. Luckily, Ivan was, at that moment, seeking partners to reestablish Blogo. So I called my partner, Renan Protector, and we recreated Blogo.
BayBrazil: Why did you feel Blogo was a great investment opportunity for you?
Amure: First, because as a blogger and user of WordPress, I had at the time more than 12 websites and I found that the WordPress platform was too difficult to use and manage. So I thought that an application that facilitated my work and solved the pain of others could be a great idea. So I started researching and found that there are over 300 million blogs in the world, and that 20% of the internet is based on WordPress. This number is absurd. Moreover, with Blogo1, Ivan [first founder of Blogo] had made about $100 thousand with his app in a time when Macbook was not that famous.
BayBrazil: Where did the first investment for Blogo come from?
Amure: The first four months of Blogo’s money came exclusively from Sync; it was approximately $25 thousand. So we started to develop Blogo’s design, to think of branding, and what would be the product. We conducted interviews with users and we worked full time to develop the alpha version of Blogo. Then we did an event called Blogo Day in September of 2013, where we put several angel investors together and presented the product to try to attract more investments. We got about $60 thousand up to a week after the event, plus $20 thousand a few months later, money that would be enough to keep us for a year, until the official release of Blogo on the Mac App Store, and also would enable us to go to the Techcrunch to present the beta version in the United States .
BayBrazil: When was Blogo released on the Mac App Store?
Amure: Blogo was launched just eight weeks ago in the Mac App Store [beginning of October]. It is still super new, but we had a phenomenal traction, since we had shown our product on Techcrunch. Blogo was highlighted in all Mac App Stores in the world, and we profited over $40 thousand in two weeks of release.
BayBrazil: Do you maintain an office in Silicon Valley?
Amure: Today Blogo is incorporated in Delaware and we direct our product to the international market. The app is all done in English, including our communication channels, since the U.S. is our largest consumer market. We have a remote office in the Valley, which I use only when I am there every two months. The fact is that my costs to keep a team in Brazil are lower and it would not make sense to be in Silicon Valley all the time. But the deal is this: to get close partnerships and investments in Silicon Valley, I have to be there personally. There has to be a handshake and eye to eye.
BayBrazil: Do you think the constant contact with Silicon Valley is essential for Blogo?
Amure: It is fundamental. If I had not gone to the Valley a year ago, I would not have been able to launch the beta version of Blogo in the Techcrunch and I would not have known our greatest mentor, Hiten Shah, co-founder of Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics. Without him I would not have, for example, came out in the Product Hunt, which is one of the most famous websites of products today .
BayBrazil: So the advantages of Silicon Valley are mainly mentoring, attracting investment and network with other entrepreneurs?
BayBrazil: Do you think these attributes are missing in Brazil?
Amure: No. I think for my product the U.S. is a key country. A product like Blogo, which has 43% of its users in that country, must be present in the Valley
BayBrazil: Brazilians are increasingly connected to the internet and have greater access to information technologies. Do you have plans to translate the platform to Portuguese?
Amure: Completely. Today, 9% of Blogo’s users are in Brazil and we know that many people do not buy the app when it is not localized. One of our priorities is the location of the software for languages that most buy the app, including Portuguese. In Germany we also have a great audience, with 13% of our users. We believe that if we translate the application to the six main languages that use the product, we can more than double the number of daily sales.
BayBrazil: Do you have expectations of receiving more investments for Blogo in the coming months?
Amure: Yes, we are in a round of $600 thousand now and we hope to get the confirmation of at least 30% of this value until the beginning of November with American investors. We also want to raise at least 40% of this amount with Brazilians investors. I think it would be important to be funded by Brazilian investors to gain importance in Brazil as well. Blogo has been profitable from day one, because we charge for the app. So far we have sold over 4,500 units of Blogo.
BayBrazil: How is the integration of Blogo with Social Media?
Amure: We are currently working on developing an integration with a platform called Buffer, which is a social networking aggregator, much like Hootsuite. The integration will make that when you create the blog post you have the option to post on social networks and you can schedule the day of publication in the chosen social network. This integration should start functioning on February of next year.
BayBrazil: How do you see the ecosystem of entrepreneurship in Brazil?
Amure: I see with good eyes. Of course, if compared to the United States, our ecosystem will always look bad, small. The American market will always be greater and Silicon Valley can not be compared to anywhere else. But if we make a list of twenty countries in the world with more entrepreneurship and startups being created, Brazil, for sure, will be in this group. Even though we are behind many countries, we are the lead in South America. Brazil is very relevant, we have exceptional entrepreneurs and investors. What we do not have, but I believe this is in process of evolution, is a cycle of successful entrepreneurs investing in new startups.