WebAutomation: Victor Bolu and Ozcan Yukaribas
WebAutomation is a cloud-based, self-service web extraction tool
Name of founders: Victor Bolu, Ozcan Yukaribas
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date launched: 30/06/2020
Number of employees: 3
Age of founders: 36 and 38
What university, if any, did you attend? The University of Kent (Bsc), The University of Nottingham (Msc)
Building on the founders’ expert knowledge of their domain, WebAutomation was launched to help make extracting data from websites easier, especially for people without knowledge of coding. Co-founder Victor Bolu discusses the process…
Tell us what your business does:
The web is the most powerful data source, but all that valuable data is trapped behind web pages. Getting that data out in a structured form is exceedingly difficult, especially if you are not an expert computer programmer.
Most people that could benefit from the data are either not able or not willing to write code. Webautomation.io helps businesses extract data from any website without writing code, using easy-to-use self-service tools.
Where did the idea of your business come from?
I was running a price comparison website which relied heavily on web data extraction. I was struggling with maintaining and building the web data extractors due to my limited knowledge on writing the code.
A trusted friend referred an expert developer, Ozcan Yukaribas (now my co-founder), to help out. It wasn’t too long before we both got frustrated: me with having to rely on someone else every time I needed to update the code; Ozcan with spending hours repeatedly building custom web scrapers.
Ozcan built a very basic user interface to create and maintain web data extractors without writing code. This was when we had the “aha” moment and realised that so many other people like us would benefit from a tool like this.
While we were doing our research into the viability of our idea, we discovered that thousands of the exact same web data extractors were being built to extract data from the most popular websites in the world.
We expanded our vision to also consolidate and prevent people from re-building the same web extraction tools, instead using ready-to-use ones which we make available to them.
How did you know there was a market for it?
Ozcan and I are domain experts, having consulted on over 100+ web scraping projects over the last ten years.
Over the years, the demand for web data has exponentially increased and we struggled to satisfy the demand with our limited time.
We spoke to our current and past clients about our idea and they gave us the validation that this would be a better solution to their problem, and this gave us the confidence to build an MVP.
What were you doing before starting up?
I have been an IT consultant for over ten years, both independently and with some of the most prestigious consultancies, predominantly managing and building enterprise software.
Ozcan is a serial entrepreneur and has built several profitable internet businesses.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Yes – making the biggest impact in the world is my motivation. A business allows me to solve a problem for a really big group of people.
How did you raise the money?
We are currently bootstrapped using savings and revenue from early customers.
Describe your business model and how you make money.
We are a B2B (business to business) SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) business model i.e. you pay a monthly fee to use our software, which is run and accessed on the cloud.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Running a bootstrapped business has been the most challenging: we have had to build all the products ourselves. This takes longer when you must combine this with sales, marketing, operations, customer service and every other thing!
We have overcome this by learning how to be lean and productive. For example, we spend time prioritising what to build next only based on customer demands. We also save a lot of marketing costs by hacking all the possible organic channels.
What was your first big breakthrough?
I posted an article on LinkedIn and reconnected with a previous employer. By coincidence, he was looking for a solution that we provide; he really believed in us and has been our largest customer to date.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
You are what you eat: if you want to be an entrepreneur, hang out and learn from other entrepreneurs. This will build a solid network of people who have experienced everything you would go through.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
Our mission is to empower SMBs by giving them access to information on the web without barriers so they can use data to grow their businesses. We plan to achieve this with our master blueprint:
- Create the biggest library of ready-to-use web data extraction tools
- Open our platform to developers to build, host and share their ready-to-use tools, making money from the usage
- Continue to invest in R&D around WebAutomation, in turn providing our customers with the best in class technology solutions
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