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Marketing Article

Software Success Story: STOPzilla

by NotePage, Inc.

I've had the recent pleasure of conversing with Scott De Sapio the founder of STOPzilla, online popup filtering software. Scott graciously agreed to allow me to interview him for the first in a series of software success stories. His responses are humbling, and thought provoking. Developers and marketers will benefit from reading Scott's story.

STOPzilla's growth statistics, by any standard or measuring stick are an unqualified financial success. STOPzilla, a fairly new kid on the block, entered the online software world in 2002, and in their first 9 months of business, amazingly generated revenus of $ 300,000. This was followed by a staggering 1000% growth in 2003, with sales coming in at 3 million dollars. This years projected growth is estimated to exceed 20 million dollars.

Surprisingly, Scott De Sapio told me his initial marketing efforts started at none other than this very website: Software Marketing Resource. Scott's quick search for "software marketing" brought up the SMR site and he found the resource to be beneficial in understanding the industry.

The first ad dollars were spent at Tucows.com and resulted in the first sale. Tucows had been instrumental in providing feedback and inspiration that resulted in a superior quality application. Scott De Sapio credits the product quality to the consideration and that Scott Swedorski, founder of Tucows, provided when reviewing the application. There has been no turning back.

Scott De Sapio , had been involved in custom web development for years, but had limited knowledge regarding consumer applications. In fact STOPzilla was his very first consumer application. Scott determined the design, functionality and aesthetics of STOPzilla, while his partner, Joel Luzadas made it work. As far as online marketing, Scott's knowledge and experience were both extremely limited. He told me "As a matter of fact, if someone had told me how absolutely impractical the journey was going to be I'm not so sure I'd have jumped in with such zeal. In hindsight, my ignorance was probably my biggest ally - I didn't know how large the obstacles were so I never found myself awestruck. I just kept my head down and bulled through everything."

By this point you are probably asking yourself the same question I am, how did STOPzilla become such a smashing success? According to Scott the formula was first and foremost, a commitment to slow and steady growth, not to try to accomplish a miracle. I had to laugh when he told me this, clearly most would consider taking a product from 300K to 20 million in two years a near miracle! :-)

With a little explanation I began to understand Scott's formula, it amounts to hard work, perseverance and patience. He watched every penny and paid very close attention to what was working and what wasn’t working. He would spend entire days analyzing, pay per click results and making adjustments. He once focused an entire month on pay-per-click engines, from morning until night.

Scott also attributes his success to the fact that they had an 800 number available for customers to call if they were having trouble. According to Scott "It wasn’t easy to deal with but we were committed. I used to fall asleep on the floor next to my desk with the phone on my chest - the feedback we got from our customers was invaluable and we knew that these people were our biggest asset. I would stay on the phone until we resolved whatever issue it was. We just kept listening and responding by making the product better and better."

As far as the future for STOPzilla, they have plans to expand their product line adding two new products this year. The new products will become brand extensions. Their biggest challenge right now is to maintain the brand and somehow appeal to the corporate market. The current image has incredible consumer appeal but at the corporate level the image is proving a bit of a hurdle. Scott is addressing this issue and has just signed a deal with a MAJOR Corporate presence and the press release alone is, without question, going to turn the heads of the corporate market. Scott is definitely committed to brand extension for future product releases.

For a single inexpensive utility, to blossom into a multi-million dollar business, in such a short of a time, is certainly an inspirational story for existing and budding developers.

I asked Scott to share some advice with developers who are just starting out:

- Count the pennies - the pennies are what make the dollars.
- Roll the dice when you can, and sometimes when you can't.
- Work 25 hours a day, 8 days a week. You can sleep when you're dead.
- Don't get discouraged. Be ultimately committed to success.
- At all costs, maintain your integrity, dignity, honor, respect and loyalty. Some things are not worth sacrificing.
- Go to Promaxum.com and if you get lucky enough to deal with Scott Swedorski directly, follow his advice.

Additional information about STOPzilla can be found at http://www.stopzilla.com

About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for NotePage, Inc. http://www.notepage.net a company specializing in alphanumeric paging, SMS and wireless messaging software solutions. Other sites by Sharon can be found at http://www.softwaremarketingresource.com , and http://www.small-business-software.net


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