If you can find 1,000 online reviews for a pizza place, why can’t you find the same for a business software product?
A year ago, Austin software veterans Vinay Bhagat and David Hart saw a need for a site that lets IT professionals share information in the same way that consumers do on sites like Yelp and Angie’s List.
The result is TrustRadius, which will announce Monday that it has raised its first round of outside capital: $5 million from Silicon Valley-based Mayfield Fund. The company, which has six employees, was previously self-funded by Bhagat, who is TrustRadius’ CEO. Hart is the company’s chief technology officer.
TrustRadius’ site, which launched in May, includes reviews and ratings written by participants including IT buyers, chief information officers, and sales and marketing professionals. Currently, the site has 900 members and 350 reviews on more than 100 products.
Posters can remain anonymous or share personal information with their posts. All participants are authenticated before they can join the site.
Bhagat first started thinking about the idea for TrustRadius while he was at Convio Inc., the Austin software company that he co-founded in 1999. The company spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on new technology, often without getting feedback from other users that might have led to better decisions, he said.
While U.S. businesses spend nearly $3.8 billion annually on enterprise software and services, buyers typically must rely on sales pitches and marketing material from vendors and reviews from industry analysts, who are often paid by companies to review their products.
When Convio was acquired by competitor Blackbaud in 2012, Bhagat and Hart, who was then Convio’s chief technology officer, left the company and founded TrustRadius.
Mayfield Fund partner Rajeev Batra said, “we are excited to partner with Vinay and his team to address this simple but very fundamental need. In today’s day and age, would you buy a car or go on vacation without reading honest, detailed reviews? What about your software business?
In 75 percent of TrustRadius reviews, users take the time to answer 40 questions about the product, and the average reviewer writes a 650-word piece.
“We’re not paying anyone for their contributions, but people are participating because they want to provide their expertise and it gives them a chance to build their an reputation as an expert by providing detailed feedback that you can’t find elsewhere,” Bhagat said.
The company generates revenue from vendors who can buy content to use in marketing efforts. It also plans to sell premium content and services.
TrustRadius said it will use the funding to hire in software development and other areas and to expand its base of content and membership.