Software Success Story: STOPzilla
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
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
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
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
- 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
Additional information about STOPzilla can be
found at http://www.stopzilla.com
About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for NotePage,
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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