EyeView staff with four founders in front row, from left, Gal Barnea (CTO), Oren Harnevo (CEO), Yaniv Nitzan (VP sales), Tal Riesenfeld (VP marketing and business development).”Converting” online visitors into online purchasers is a goal that has long frustrated Internet businesses. On average, only about three out of every 100 Website visitors follow through to register or purchase something.
A team of four Israeli entrepreneurs is addressing this conversion conundrum with user-friendly video tutorials built on a platform that allows clients to measure their success. Their company, launched last year, is already serving clients including Yahoo, eBay and Nokia.
EyeView was conceived by childhood friends Tal Riesenfeld and Oren Harnevo, both 31. Armed with computer science degrees and a few years of work experience, in 2006 they had set out for opposite sides of the globe – Harnevo to manage online programs in Australia, and Riesenfeld to Harvard Business School. Between the program’s two years, Riesenfeld worked at the video-hosting site YouTube.
“Oren [Harnevo] was looking for solutions to explain to new users how to use Websites, and I was at YouTube seeing how everything is moving to video,” recalls Riesenfeld. “So when Oren had an idea to build a company that helps users through video, it hit me in the right place. It wasn’t hard to convince me that video would be a great tool to explain Website usability and increase conversion rates.”
Major players follow quickly on from startups
Adding two of Harnevo’s former college classmates to the mix — Gal Barnea in Tel Aviv and Yaniv Nitzan in Boston – they planned and executed their new venture via seemingly endless Skype calls. At first attracting mainly small startups, EyeView quickly began signing on major players.
Harnevo believes they came on the scene at a crucial time. “In today’s financial reality businesses are looking for proven solutions that increase revenue,” he tells ISRAEL21c.
The company was already profitable by April 2008, when EyeView earned a first-place prize in Harvard’s annual Business Plan Contest. Almost immediately, venture capitalists and customers came knocking. Gigi Levy, CEO of the gaming site 888.com, signed on as an investor/consultant. This month, top-tier VCs Gemini Israel Funds and Lightspeed Venture Partners announced their joint support.
“EyeView’s strength is that it allows Websites to optimize conversion through effective management of their rich-media content, with return on investment within weeks,” says Yoni Cheifetz, Lightspeed-Israel’s managing director.
Four ‘hungry’ guys out to change the world
Gemini partner Daniel Cohen expressed admiration for the “four young, ‘hungry’ guys out to change the world with a product that had strong demand from the market — four entrepreneurs who have passion for what they do.”
So much passion, in fact, that they all decided to stop talking by Skype and move to Tel Aviv. They have grown the company to 15 employees, plus a production team in Australia and a sales/marketing team in Massachusetts. Riesenfeld refused a “tempting” job offer from Google in California in order to stay with the home team.
Doing business in Israel with American and European companies, he says, has more than just patriotic advantages. “We have a lot of quality developers here, and because of the dollar-shekel ratio they are more cost efficient,” he explains. “Also, our personal network is very strong here because we all studied here. And in Israel, perhaps because of the army, people are very dedicated workers. If a customer needs something, people will stay till all hours to get it done.”
To help Website owners monitor and optimize the effectiveness of EyeView’s rich media, the company is developing increasingly sophisticated tools to create, host, serve and analyze its audiovisuals.
“We can control when the video pops up and how it appears, including languages and subtitle selection,” Riesenfeld explains. “The platform reports user information and statistics, including engagement with the video and actions on the site following the video experience. Our new slogan is ‘Moving people to action.'”