Imonomy bundles dynamic solutions for online publishers into one easy-to-use service. It started off by creating the first ever Visual Semantic Engine, which is a unique technology that can scan and understand text from web pages and find the most suitable, copyright-free image to match the content. Today, imonomy also offers publishers a content-enrichment widget, interactive in-image advertising, and of course, free image service. Imonomy is a single tool that offers publishers a variety of time saving features.
Imonomy has several features, that when coupled together, all make for an excellent service. Imonomy’s first and fundamental feature involves Visual Semantic Engine. When imonomy is integrated onto a website, their technology begins by reading and understanding the text in order to pull matching images from their database that will best suit the page.
Once this step is completed, or if there are already images on the page, imonomy’s second feature involves a dynamic content-enhancing widget. This unique box will appear interactively on the page as a user hovers his mouse over an image, or scrolls down the page. The interactive box displays a selection of related articles or posts from within the same website, so the user can easily navigate his way to other posts that interest him.
Imonomy’s final feature involves a creative form of in-image advertising. Along with the content-related posts that are displayed in the interactive box, the user will also view a selection of content-related ads, which allows the publisher to generate new, valuable revenue.
Startoholics connected with the co-founder Oren Dror for an interview and here’s what we learned.
Tell us a bit about your background and how it all started- where did your vision for Imonomy come from?
Before founding imonomy, Amit Halawa-Alon, imonomy’s co-founder, and myself worked together with some very content-heavy websites. Our jobs also required that we work hands on with many publishers and famous websites. We also started to understand that free images were high up on the list of publisher’s demands. Over time, Amit and I started brainstorming about a way to meet the needs of publishers with an all-in-one solution. We decided that we wanted to develop a special engine that could read, and understand content from web pages. Inevitably all signs lead us down the road to develop imonomy : a service that could save time and create improved-user engagement.
How does it differentiate from the rest?
Imonomy differentiates itself from the rest by providing many valuable services for publishers into one unique tool. Imonomy gets its true competitive advantage by offering a unique tool that allows for both content-enrichment, and monetization. Most other tools in the market today offer only one or the other. Until imonomy, it was hard to find an all-in-one solution. As opposed to having to commit to a several different services in order for a publisher to get the results he is looking for, imonomy offers it all, and we provide our service without requiring any commitments from publishers.
Who would you say is your biggest competitor?
I’m not sure if we have one distinct competitor. Companies such as Zemanta or Pixabay offer users free images, similar to imonomy’s free images, but these companies do not offer an automated service that saves time. Their engines allow for search queries, and do some of the filtering, but ultimately the publisher still has to do the majority of the leg work. These services are also unable to understand content from web pages as a full article, and they don’t offer any secondary features that create an interactive experience and keep the user engaged.
What is the hardest part about your job?
I would have to say that finding top quality talent to match our organizational culture has been one of the hardest parts of my job so far. We have a great team already, and we don’t want to settle for anything less. We are constantly interviewing impressive candidates, in search of creative individuals to fit our very special dynamic.
What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?
We worked through a pretty lengthy trial, and error process when building our algorithm that automatically scans tens of millions of images to find the exact image that best suits a specific text. We certainly invested a lot of time, and hard work in making our algorithmic engine as accurate as possible so that we could truly feel proud to stand by our product. Throughout the growth of imonomy, I would have to say that perfecting the algorithm would have to have been the biggest hurdle we faced.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Naftali Bennett, Israeli politician and software entrepreneur, wrote in his book Exit that one of the biggest challenges a founder will encounter is finding the right people. The quote isn’t really an advice, but it comforted me to know that I wasn’t the only startup founder focused on building a strong and standout team. Startup companies all typically start out with a very small team, and I think having the right people on your side is one of the keys to success. It was certainly nice to have my opinion justified by such a respected Israeli entrepreneur.
Has Imonomy got the growth and feedback you expected since launch?
In fact, we are currently seeing more growth than we had originally anticipated for this stage of the game. We are constantly getting great feedback from our publishers, and it only reassures us that we are on the right track. I’d be lying if I said there hasn’t been any constructive criticism mixed in with all of the feedback, but imonomy looks at the good and the bad in order to make calculated adjustments where necessary. Overall, we are very satisfied with where we stand at present.
How involved are you with fundraising?
We recently closed a seed round of $400k in Angel Investments, some of the investors include Liron Rose, Tal Shaked, Danny Hadar, and Joshua Levinberg, one of the founders of Gilat Satellite. All of our investors come from an entrepreneurial background, and some of them have been involved in other startups. We were grateful to get the investors on board with imonomy, and we were thrilled with the results. Our next step, is to take the funding we have already earned and continue to build imonomy in a way that requires minimal funding in the future.
What are your marketing strategies?
Imonomy has a great marketing team that is heavily invested in publishing unique content to our blog, and spreading the word about imonomy through various channels. We believe that our product is best marketed by word of mouth, so we always encourage our publishers to post, comment, or tweet about their experience with imonomy.
What do you think is the most effective way of getting clients?
The key to get more clients, before any marketing ploy, is to have a great product. Once you’ve got your stellar product in hand, the trick is to find the marketing strategy that best suits the demographic you are trying to target. At imonomy, we have certainly perfected the balance, with a great tool and some pretty strategic marketing, which has enabled us to acquire many new clients in a short period of time.
What is next on the radar for Imonomy? What more do you wish to include to take it to the next level?
We believe that the key to success is to continue to develop, and perfect our product. We have worked really hard to get to where we are now, but that certainly does not stop us from continuing to brainstorm, and build on what we currently have going for us. We developed imonomy so that it would be free, and accessible to everyone. Next on our radar is to spread the word about imonomy as far as it will reach. We want imonomy to be a well-known name, and more than that, we want it to be a trusted name.
What one piece of advice would you like to give to soon to be startup founders?
I think that the best advice I can give to any soon to be startup founder is to be brave, and take chances. The term “pivoting” is often passed around in the startup community, and I think that anyone new to the scene needs to know coming in that the idea you start out with, may not be the idea you end up with, and that’s okay. A successful startup founder never loses the pen to his drawing board, and isn’t afraid to reconsider business strategies and take the company down a different path.