One of the perennial jibes about open source is that it never innovates. This conveniently forgets that the World Wide Web was released as free software (Tim Berners-Lee contemplated using the GNU GPL before he decided to release it into the public domain). Despite the ludicrousness of the accusation, it is nonetheless always good to have further counterexamples.
A case in point is Loopfuse, which offers open source software for marketing – hardly a field you associate with free software. As its Web site explains:
LoopFuse is the enterprise-grade marketing and sales automation suite offering organizations the ability to generate leads from their website, score and route leads, marketing campaign capabilities, full web analytics support, and full CRM integration with most major vendors. LoopFuse also offers the capability to measure ROI within marketing and sales department initiatives.
Here Loopfuse's co-founder and CEO, Roy Russo, fills in the background to his company and its JBoss connection, explains why so many of the top open source startups use his product, and how the competition between open source and Software as a Service (SaaS) is likely to pan out in the future.
GM: What's the background to the company's formation? Where did the name come from?
RR: The original idea behind the company came about after 3 years at JBoss, using a competing product that severely lacked in usability and was insanely expensive to maintain and manage. After months of deep research in to the industry, several of us decided that we would focus our decades-combined email marketing, demand generation, and enterprise architecture experience in this industry that was dominated by one player with an overly complex and over-priced offering, backed by lousy support.
It was a natural progression for us: Our years at JBoss seasoned us for just this sort of undertaking... entering new markets with a better product, support, and pricing offering, while facing larger entrenched competitors. All I can say is that Marc Fleury taught us well. ;-)
The LoopFuse name is a take on “Closed-Loop Marketing”, which is the traditional marketing term used for some of the functionality we provide.
GM: What business problems are you helping companies solve? How are marketing and sales different in the era of Web 2.0?
RR: The idea behind our flagship product, LoopFuse OneView, is simple: empower marketers with a complete suite of automated tools to better capture, nurture, qualify, and route leads to their sales people. In essence, we're helping organizations lower their cost of customer acquisition, shorten their sales cycles, align sales and marketing goals, and improve overall operational efficiency. Ok, so that’s the marketing answer... in Roy-speak it translates to, "We help companies make more money".
The benefits of our solution, are that it helps any-and-all business with an online presence. Web 2.0 companies are online 24/7 by nature, and pump a lot of money in to online marketing initiatives. What we bring to the table, is the capability for Web 2.0 companies to measure and refine what’s working and what’s not, by determining ROI and capture rates on all online marketing programs.
GM: Who are your main rivals in this space?
RR: Honestly, we only run in to one rival in the space, and it is the self-proclaimed “industry leader”, Eloqua. The fact that it is the only rival we see, is testament to us being savvy marketers and separating ourselves from the bottom-feeders in the industry.
We’ve already made a dent in to our competitor’s customer-base, and continue to do so at a frantic pace. It’s no secret to anyone in the industry what our value proposition is: Easy-to-implement, easy-to-use, at an affordable price. We have reached a stage in the product life-cycle, where we offer much more functionality than competing products, but the message remains the same and that is what customers want to hear. After all, what good is innovation, if the product is a mess?