Sometimes it can take up to seven years before your hard work starts to pay off. What started as an automated social network for bloggers, Scoutle ended up as a predicting tool for viral content. This week it got acquired for an undisclosed amount by the US influencer marketing platform Triberr.
Entrepreneur Godfried van Loo followed an unusual path with his startup. Founded in 2008 at the UtrechtInc accelerator, Scoutle soon got featured on TechCrunch.
You would expect from then on, Van Loo would follow the usual path. Look for funding, new team members and bootstrap Scoutle as far as possible. Instead, he didn’t.
“UtrechtInc told me to focus, focus, focus. Which to me, forces a short-term plan. That may sound logical, however semantic algorithms need to have a life of their own. When launched, the algorithms were young and naive kids that needed to grow up by experience while analyzing over and over again”, Van Loo told StartupJuncture.
“Soon, I found their hunger for data and relevance forced me to shift my focus and invent new ways to get and deal with data on many different levels. So while feeding the algorithms for them to learn, I ended up inventing all sorts of data driven technologies and tools. First on the side but soon the self-learning algorithms allowed me to spend more and more time on building new tools around other new stuff I made. What UtrechtInc does is great for many startups, but it didn’t fit me nor Scoutle.”
From 2008 to today the entrepreneur launched several businesses and technologies, spin-offs from his algorithms, under the Yocter brand. Van Loo also launched one of the first QR code generators called Qurify! in 2008 (initially, to bring offline data into Scoutle), an emotion tracking platform Moodcurve (initialy, to enrich metadata in Scoutle), and a social media management tool called SocialDrums (initially, to tunnel input and output within social media API’s). He also started working on a math-based dating site (basically, because Scoutle itself already was a dating platform, but for data).
So without Scoutle, simply these technologies wouldn’t existed.
Then things went very fast. He got big clients like football club Ajax Amsterdam, DHL and government agencies. Eventually he sold Qurify! in 2013 and SocialDrums last year.
From startup to seller
Launching several small companies and sell them to other parties quickly became Van Loo’s strategy. “I found ‘addicted passion’ in creating something that pisses off the big guys – a better user-friendly interface and a more compact technology. Then sell it to them.”
In the meantime Scoutle kept on changing. First to a semantic search algorithm, then to a predicting tool for viral content. Since Van Loo sold SocialDrums, requests for a Scoutle takeover came in often.
Although it’s his strategy now to create and sell, the entrepreneur was more careful with a buyer for Scoutle. “After all, it was my first startup. I wanted it to get a good home.”
Van Loo preferably works with freelancers around the globe instead of team members on a payroll. “I Skype with many programmers that all work in different time zones. It gives you way more working hours per day but it gives me the freedom to keep my non-focused focus alive.”
Photo: Godfried van Loo