(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the seventh in a series of articles profiling the teams participating in the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center’s inaugural “The Works” accelerator. The teams will pitch their ideas on September 21 during a “Demo Day” at Scripps Networks Interactive. For more details, click here. Registration deadline is September 16.)
By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
Timing, some luck and a continual passion for entrepreneurship led James Horey to launch Reviewbox, his latest start-up and one of the eight start-ups in the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center’s inaugural “The Works” accelerator.
During a recent interview, the Entrepreneur of Korean descent says he started exploring new opportunities at the start of 2016. At the time, Horey was Vice President for Data Analytics at Cirruspath, another local start-up, where he was heavily involved in a new product development effort. The resource requirements for the opportunity were considerable, and the company decided against pursuing the idea.
“This is a good time to do something else,” Horey says he concluded, but quickly added, “I learned a great deal from Brandon.” He’s referring to Cirruspath’s Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer.
At the same time, Horey says he felt disconnected from the local entrepreneurial community after shutting down OpenCore, his first start-up. “I wanted to get my head back in the game,” he explained. So, what would the next initiative be?
“I basically got lucky,” Horey says of the explorations he had with a number of people before the light bulb came on during conversations at Radio Systems, the company started by Randy Boyd, Tennessee’s current Commissioner of Economic and Community Development, who sold fencing out of his pick-up truck.
“There’s not a good solution out there to allow companies like Radio Systems to manage reviews of their products sold on Amazon,” Horey learned. So, he decided to explore the idea and has since developed a tool with Radio Systems as his launch customer.
“If Radio Systems had this problem, others had to as well,” Horey concluded. Finding others with the same need, however, proved to be somewhat of a challenge.
“The first few weeks of customer exploration were hard,” he says, acknowledging that his messaging and targets might have been wrong. Fortunately, Horey made an unexpected discovery.
“I found a community on LinkedIn that managed their employers’ Amazon accounts,” he said. “I asked for their thoughts which produced a few more customers. That took me to the first five.”
Horey has repeated the cycle of getting customers on board, gaining their insights, and making improvements to the software.
Today, Reviewbox has 25 paying customers and an additional 12 that are using his product on a trial basis.
So, what does Reviewbox do? It starts by aggregating reviews of and questions about a company’s products sold on Amazon and sends email alerts to the company when new reviews are posted. With so many people searching the Internet for product reviews before buying, a company needs to quickly discover problems.
Reviewbox can also monitor the buy box and notify its customers of changes, new third-party sellers and price violations.
The company offers prospective clients a 30-day free trial. To start, go to this link.
“It’s been fun,” Horey says of the past eight months. “I have learned a great deal about my customers and Amazon.”
It’s also reconnected him with the local entrepreneurial community.
“I want companies like Cirruspath and Reviewbox to grow and show the way,” Horey says. “Having good examples is important to our community.”