Digital media publishers often find it difficult gauging their readers’ or target audience’s response to the content published on their websites. A platform that can assist in aggregating and analyzing content on the web could be of immense help and solve crucial problems. Emerging as a solution provider to this is Parse.ly which provides digital publishers with clear audience insights to answer questions about how readers are responding to content.
How It All Started?
It all started when both the co-founders of Parse.ly while working out of cafes, brainstorming ideas, and building prototypes, eventually settled on an idea that they both loved – aggregating and analyzing content on the web. It was a broad idea, but their concept was that if they could assign scores and values to news coverage, they might be able to predict future events. Their original idea had a lot in common with the idea another startup, Recorded Future, is now pursuing.
Andrew Montalenti and Sachin Kamdar, the two co-founders of Parse.ly were college roommates at New York University. They co-founded Parse.ly in 2009 after quitting their corporate jobs. Andrew worked for Wall Street, while Sachin was a Data Analyst for the Department of Education. They were disillusioned with the failures of these large organizations. Together, they wanted to build something of value, even though they weren’t quite sure what that would be. This is how Parse.ly was born.
The Minds Behind Parse.ly
Andrew Montalenti, Co-Founder and CTO
Sachin Kamdar, Co-Founder and CEO
Sachin has handled teams with as many as thirty people through various leadership roles over the past several years. He is a graduate in Economics from NYU and a master’s in Education from Pace University. After graduating from NYU, Sachin was an NYC Teaching Fellow, using cutting edge technology to educate students in math and economics at an alternative high school in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Later, he started an EdTech consulting company that built, implemented and managed systems across schools in NYC. Sachin enjoys listening to live jazz and exploring Brooklyn in his spare time.
The Driving Force for Parse.ly
Andrew and Sachin while working for DreamIt Ventures in Philadelphia, P.A., came up with an idea to start Parse.ly. While they were associated with DreamIt partners, they dramatically reduced the scope of their project and developed a consumer-facing personalized news reader. Based on the customers’ feedback, they delivered content based on those interests. The product allowed them to get familiar with advanced web development techniques and solidify a software stack.
After launch of Parse.ly, they switched gears from targeting consumers with a free product to targeting large online content properties with a paid product. They saw an opportunity to take the machine learning component out of the product — and to market it as a recommender service for readers on a content site.
Working closely with media companies, they learnt more about their specific challenges and found opportunities to solve key problems. Analytics was one emerging and dominant issue which had the power to change the way media companies operated from the bottom up, yet the tools on the market were not built for content and were cumbersome to use.
As a result, Andrew and Sachin dedicated all of their resources to building a content analytics platform from the ground-up. Thus, Parse.ly was founded in 2009. The startup belongs to media and publishing industry with focus on content creation and marketing using SaaS technology.
The concept of the Parse.ly’s business model is very simple. They work towards making data accessible for every organization by offering three different plans customized to the granularity the clients may need for their team, and each plan is priced by size of site. Parse.ly distributes quarterly reports on industry-related trends gleaned from our network of more than 600 digital publishers and brands.
Parse.ly has a total equity funding of $6.05 Million in six rounds from 11 investors. The most recent funding of an undisclosed amount has come in March, 2015 in an undisclosed round. The company has its headquarters in New York and provides clear audience insights through an actionable analytics platform.
The Journey So Far
The current iteration of Parse.ly launched in 2012 and, outside of the first year (which demonstrated >2000 percent growth) has sustained at least 150 to 200 percent year-over-year growth.
Parse.ly was listed as #279 in the 2016 Inc. 500 list for 1,406 percent three-year revenue growth.
Today, the Parse.ly team includes around 50 people, and Parse.ly is used by more than 600 top brands across the world, including The Telegraph, Conde Nast Digital, Mashable, and more.
Big Players in The Industry and Its Competitors
Google Analytics is one of the big players in this industry. However, Google Analytics is specific to e-commerce sites and Parse.ly provides a unique service for sites looking at content.
Parse.ly views ChartBeat as its competitor. Although ChartBeat offers customers some of the same real-time metrics, Parse.ly’s platform is more in-depth and also provides historical analytics for context. It also comes up against in-house data teams who have built their own platforms to try to track key metrics.
Strengths of Parse.ly
Parse.ly has so far built good business by being obsessed with understanding market demands and solutions. When the founders see opportunities to shift the company towards the most meaningful areas, they do it. One of their key insights has been understanding that the SaaS (software-as-a-service) business model that an analytics product affords is key to long-term growth. Over a period of time, they also realized that the digital analytics market was ripe for disruption even though the space had already been dominated by legacy players. By focusing on the needs of content creators, they founders’ understand that they have been largely underserved and that getting to product/market fit was a stone’s throw away.
The founders’ advice to budding entrepreneurs is to wait until the right time to scale. They also emphasize on using the fundraising time wisely by absorbing tons of intel. Finding the right co-founder is the other important factor to succeed for any startup. They believe that persistence always pays off.