Triggit, a new toolbar application which launches today, is a nifty feature trying to make it as business. Triggit the company, which was founded two years ago with the goal of connecting wine bloggers with merchants that have inventory to sell online, has branched out into other shopping sites and functionalities.
But at the end of my interview with CEO Zach Coelius, I found myself more frustrated than excited. Triggit is following the same mistake made by many other Internet startups: sacrificing revenue in lieu of growing the number of users.
I get that a four-person startup has limited resources, and Triggit is coming out of alpha, where it’s hard to charge money for what is essentially a work in progress, but Triggit doesn’t have plans for sales, it has plans for growth. And one does not necessarily translate into the other.
“There is significant revenue flowing through the system, but of all the deals we’ve done we’re not charging anyone,” Coelius told me. “We’re more interested in growing virally and getting users before we are interested in taking in revenue. We know how many ads are placed in our system and how much content is placed. Given rates [at which ads are placed] it would be trivial to get those deals signed.”
I want to believe him, but until you ask someone to pay, you don’t really know if they’ll pay. That’s the danger of focusing on growth rather than revenue. Facebook has a slightly different model, but it’s also going through hell of figuring out how to make money from its growth without alienating users. Others who have failed to monetize users while focusing on growth include defunct companies Skinnyr and AGLOCO.
The Triggit toolbar does two things. First it makes it easy for the lay blogger to embed photos, video, ads or widgets into their site. No more cutting and pasting an embed code; three or four clicks, a search and suddenly your blog is hosting a YouTube video relevant to your content.
The other thing Triggit does is make it easy to link a product mentioned on a blog to a merchant who has that particular item available. This is nice for affiliates, but not essential, as many of the major blogging platforms have similar services through plug-ins. On WordPress the aLinks plug-in does it with no highlighting or clicking. But it might be too much for Triggit’s target audience to find, download and set up that plug-in. Still, Triggit would make a nice addition to a blog publisher or even a portal company such as Google or Yahoo!
Triggit will be a distribution platform for advertisers, widget makers, merchants and content makers to reach the lay blogger who isn’t technically adept enough to do any of this now. Coming out of alpha, Coelius says 100,000 people are reached through the bloggers currently using the toolbar, which should excite people trying to get attention for their products or services.
With patents protecting the Triggit software, it has a slight barrier to entry and with a $500,000 convertible note from Bay Partners, it has some powerful backers. I hope that’s enough to keep Triggit in business.
Triggit it offering up 300 beta invites to GigaOM readers; just type gigaom as the invite code.