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How Data Analysis Startup Ptmind Raised 3 Billion Yen Towards Global Expansion (Part 1)
The next generation access analysis and data analysis tool (Part 1)
Ptmind Inc. (http://www.ptmind.co.jp) develops and provides the next generation access analysis and data analysis tool “Ptengine” (http://www.ptengine.jp) and data integration platform “Datadeck”. Established in Beijing, China, they have been developing a global presence with two branches in Japan and China, with a third branch now in Seattle.
With more than 130,000 users worldwide, many companies of different industries and sizes now use Ptengine. In 2016, they won the Silver Award at China’s largest marketing event “MEXPO” in recognition of their utilization in Subaru. It is worth mentioning, that though it is a business to business (BtoB) product, through word of mouth and on social media, it became widely known, with more than 60% of its users introduced to it by a friend.
We asked Ptmind’s founder and CEO Zheng Yuan and Co-founder Takashi Ando about what attracts people to Ptengine and the key to successful organizational management.
— Yuan, what were your reasons in starting your own company while attending college in 2010?
I wanted to provide a service that would provide value to society in the long-term instead of scaling and exiting in just a few years.
I figured it would be best to start a company based in a field that would become increasingly necessary and most efficient when the market trend transitioned into website, mobile, and IoT. That’s why I decided to focus on “data analysis”.
Data business also has no borders, as needs are expected to be the same across countries. As you can see, I had global expansion in mind from the very beginning. China is suitable for gathering development members so we have our development base in China, but we chose Japan as our first market. Japanese people demand high quality products, so I figured that if we could be successful in Japan, we could use that knowledge to expand to other countries.
— What are the business characteristics of the data analysis tool Ptengine?
It makes it easy for beginners to understand data analysis right away, and that it supports the decision-making processes of the users. For example, it takes some technique to take photos on a single-lens reflex camera, but anyone could easily take photos on a digital camera or on their smartphones, right? I am hoping to create a similar flow with data analysis.
Specifically, by visualizing the user’s actions within the site with the heat map function, it enables them to understand the meaning of data, leading to improved productivity, even without special knowledge of data analysis or statistics. This then helps with UI improvement of EC sites, recruitment sites, and corporate sites.
— We heard that with users in 180 countries, Ptengine, a BtoB product, has been expanding to other users by word of mouth. What is the secret behind this?
I guess it is because our number one priority is on creating a win-win relationship with our users by providing value that exceeds their expectations. We place importance on creating core fans through our customer success team. We think of our relationship with our users as a friendship. On a user questionnaire, more than 60% answered that they were introduced to Ptengine by another user. Core users tweet and share their experiences and thoughts on using Ptengine and how it leads to improved sales. If users appreciate the value and become core fans, the product will naturally become known to others and spread without us having to approach outbound users. We feel that marketing measures only hold true meaning when combined with positive reviews from users.
— What are the values provided by Ptengine?
Through the concept of data democratization, Ptengine aims to maximize the area where the elements of “data”, “people”, and “workflow” overlap, as seen in the below diagram. What differentiates Ptengine from other analysis tools is the fact that we put strong emphasis on the area where “data” and “people” overlap, that which is “easy to use”. Whereas, it seems that other data analysis tools tend to publicize their leading-edge function and variation.
— Why did you focus on the “easy to use” aspect?
In a world drastically changing, like today’s, it is necessary to reduce the time spent on the decision-making process as much as possible. To do this, it becomes important for anyone to easily access and understand data needed to check users’ trends on the site to share with stakeholders, without having to have to wait for analysis reports from the limited number of experts. For this reason, we continue to improve Ptengine’s UI and pursue the concept of making it “easy to use”.
Also, the overlap between “data” and “workflow” can be optimized, so we have automated it as much as we can. Furthermore, by improving the overlap between “people” and “workflow”, we encourage “collaboration”. By driving these, we encourage data democratization.
— So not only is it a data analysis tool, but it is actually a tool that encourages collaboration.
In an example of a client of ours that deals with e-commerce, their web designers tended to use Ptengine more often than the marketers. As this company frequently modifies their website, the designers themselves need to take initiative in building hypotheses as to how they could improve conversion rates through these modifications. By using Ptengine, they had better discussions with the marketers, resulting in better output. Ptengine is the “tool that brings out the team’s strengths”.