July’s Startup Junkie Underground saw Jim Mooney, founder and CEO of References-Online, telling the story of his business and the influence his customers have had on its development. According to Mooney, he has been able to turn “one good idea” into a successful business employing over 20 people without ever taking on outside financing. With a background in business-to-business sales, Mooney knew firsthand the difficulties in connecting a prospective customer with a reference customer. The task was especially difficult for new companies that might have relatively few customers, as even a customer willing to provide a reference may tire of the process after a few calls. Mooney’s idea was to create recorded references that were easy to access but with less marketing spin than “the glowing testimonials found on the corporate website.” References-Online’s initial product were audio recordings of interviews with reference customers, all conducted by a third party and available online. The interviews were split into short segments of about a minute in length by topic to allow prospective customers easy access to the information (Mooney notes that in seven years no prospect has ever hit the “play all button”), and also allows companies to track what information was of interest to the prospect and tailor future messaging accordingly.
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