I briefly caught up with Vladimir Oane, founder of uberVU - uberVU is an end-to-end social intelligence dashboard which is used to track and monitor all social media platforms in real-time.
In our conversation, I ask Vladimir a few questions on his journey so far as an entrepreneur and running uberVU, and how his business has changed over the years.
Hi Vladimir, Thanks for doing this interview with me.
It’s my pleasure.
Can you give you some background information about yourself, were you the entrepreneurial type growing up?
Not at all, I grew up in a small Romanian town. My mom was an engineer and my dad was an history teacher and if I think about it now there was no one around me who started or owned a business. To this day my dad tells me to stop calling myself an entrepreneur because it’s not a proper job and it makes me look jobless.
During my time in high school and university, I studied computer science and never thought of starting a business, I was just passionate and more into computers. My dream job back then was to become a coder and work for Microsoft, it’s funny how things end up.
In my second year of college I decided to start up an interactive agency and later partnered with 3 friends (2 of which are still my cofounders at uberVU). We had no idea what we were doing but we had 3-4 years to learn all about it so why not?. Learning business seemed more interesting than learning how to wire a network.
Tell me how the idea for uberVU came about?
We had an CMS called Bluo (5 years ago everyone had a CMS) and while working on version 2 I had an epiphany moment, at the time we were doing a lot of social media for the company and our clients so I figured out the personal website is loosing its importance.
Facebook and Twitter + all the platforms who were popular back then (remember Delicious or FriendFeed?) were about to steal the thunder of the personal website. So we said: let’s build a CMS for the social web. That was the seed of what has grown to become uberVU.
What is uberVU?
uberVU is an social media intelligence platform. We are a comprehensive end-to-end social media solution helping our clients to monitor anything that’s being said about them, their products or their competitors, to measure and report on key metrics and to engage with their customers or top influencers. Our clients love how easy they can use our services especially the fact that we are a full-package
Talk me through the first few months of running the business? What would you say was the hardest part of starting the business?
I guess we had no idea what we were doing. You can see this is becoming like the theme of the interview, But we persevered, started talking to clients and 2 years later we got something people really wanted to use. So I guess this is the hardest part initially: coming up with something people need.
Would you say the initial idea for the company, or that your business model has changed since its launch in 2008?
Yes. Many, many times. We moved from B2B to B2C, then we had an API strategy, etc. We had no idea so everyday we brought another crazy idea to the table and kept persevering.
How big is your team now?
We are almost 30 people.
What is your business model?
We are a SaaS business. That means companies buy access to our software by paying a subscription fee.
Is the business profitable?
What was the experience being one of the winners of seedcamp in 2008 and how have things change since then?
Seedcamp changed everything. They helped us transform an idea into a business by putting us into the limelight, exposing us to the right investors and charter customers.
What could you say has been some of the key things you’ve learnt so far as an entrepreneur?
Everything takes longer than you estimated. So you need to have patience.
What pieces of advices could you give to aspiring entrepreneurs out there?
Start charging for whatever it is you’re building.
What can we be expecting from you and uberVU in 2012?
We will be expanding in the US. We already have a very cool office in Boston that we opened in 2011. From a product perspective expect some revolutionaries features and a lot of polish. We hope to disrupt the industry.
Where do you want the company to be in five years?
We will be one of the most important players in this space. If not the most important one.