Our Start-up of the Week, uHerrd, empowers publishers and bloggers to engage with readers via an intelligent opinion poll platform.
“We’re focused on being a key tool for bloggers, journalists and digital publications; boosting article performance and introducing a new audience to your content,” explained uHerrd’s co-founder and CEO, Conor Devlin.
The key to understanding uHerrd’s opportunity is to realise that more and more publishers are removing comment sections from their websites because of the legal and ethical minefield that moderating and filtering them represents.
‘As each poll is searchable on uHerrd, we offer publishers exclusive analytics, including article clicks and impressions, highlighting the new audience potential of uHerrd’
– CONOR DEVLIN
Instead, they need something new to keep users engaged and empowered after they read an article.
“Try searching ‘beauty’ as an example we have – there, you can click through and engage with the polls on the blog.
“We provide analytics, showing clicks, impressions, etc – backing up the new audience feature to each article,” explained Devlin.
“Our direct customers are bloggers, journalists and digital publications who want to enhance their article performance, or any publisher that wants a free tool that increases engagement with their readers.
“Having over 40,000 online newspapers and 150m blogs around the world, we have a large market to strategically satisfy and become an industry platform.
“By connecting all the polls under our uHerrd search engine, a new audience can be reached without traditional advertising budgets – putting the emphasis on content again.
Devlin has been involved in the digital and journalism landscape for a number of years, working with blue-chip companies to deliver large projects.
“Having a master’s in journalism, that type of exposure and experience sparked the idea for uHerrd,” he said.
CTO and co-founder Justin Little is a senior full-stack developer and manages uHerrd’s product suite.
“His years of experience as lead architect for Ireland’s biggest online account management systems – including Bord Gáis Energy, Calor Gas and Irish Water – meant we could confidently approach customers with a rock-solid SaaS product.”
Paul Sedgwick, uHerrd’s CFO and co-founder, looks after the mostly unspoken side of entrepreneurship: the day-to-day financial and legal tasks that go hand in hand with funded start-ups.
To enable publishers to easily create engaging opinion polls on their articles, uHerrd offers a simple copy-and-paste function.
“Our polls not only allow readers to engage with the poll, but deep dive on gender, age or location stats by socially signing in, adding another level of insight.
“As each poll is searchable on uHerrd, we offer publishers exclusive analytics, including article clicks and impressions, highlighting the new audience potential of uHerrd.
“Our technology is customer-centric, ensuring we enhance publisher KPIs and improve the reader’s experience.”
Devlin said that uHerrd’s ultimate goal is to ensure its polls become a standard tool for publishers wishing to engage with customers and grow their audience.
“With steady growth, we’d like to see uHerrd.com become the sentiment search engine we can all browse to see what the world thinks about politics, sports, fashion and much more.”
Publish and be in demand
With just a business plan, uHerrd became a national finalist for the IBYE Best Idea category in early 2016.
“That really kicked things off for us and since then, we’ve become a HPSU [high-potential start-up] company and received CSF funding with Enterprise Ireland.
“We’ve just launched our platform this month and are meeting with large publishers to discuss partnership opportunities.
“In parallel, we’re starting to reach out to bloggers to try out the polls and get their feedback.
“We aim to kick off a seed funding round at the end of this year with the support of large publication partners and media-focused individuals.”
Poll the masses, roll the presses
Devlin admitted that the biggest challenge at the start was learning to be patient.
“As an entrepreneur, you see an improvement or innovation in the near future that people will love, and yet there are many, many steps to get there.
‘There is nothing worse than regret of not trying. Failing is easy and fills you with experience, but to not try and wonder, ‘What if?’ sounds terrifying!’
– CONOR DEVLIN
“That can be deflating at the start, but if the team is solid and the product is right, these steps ultimately validate the business.”
Devlin’s view on the start-up scene in Ireland and Europe is upbeat.
“I’ve had nothing but great experiences, to be honest.
“I won’t name him as he’ll get 100 phone calls, but I reached out to someone based in Ireland randomly asking for advice.
“I didn’t expect a reply but, sure enough, within 20 minutes, we were FaceTiming and chatting away.
“Giving up your time to a stranger asking for help, that openness and sense of community, is something unique to start-ups and entrepreneurs.”
His advice for would-be founders with an idea they can’t shake is to at least have a go.
“There is nothing worse than regret of not trying. Failing is easy and fills you with experience, but to not try and wonder, ‘What if?’ sounds terrifying!”
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