A Q&A with YouEye founder and CEO Kyle Henderson. The Mountain View–based company raised $3 million in Angel funding in early May. Investors were Bobby Yazdani, Brian McClendon, Beth McClendon and Safa Rashtchy. The startup, which is a UI/UX testing service based on measuring real time reactions and users’ emotional responses, was founded in 2011.
SUB: Please describe YouEye and your value proposition.
Henderson: YouEye is an online user testing service that enables easy observation of target demographics using any website. Our customers receive recordings of a study participant’s screen, webcam and mic as they complete a series of custom tasks and surveys on a website.
We include groundbreaking technologies including webcam emotion recognition, which can detect confusion and pleasure, as well as webcam eye tracking. YouEye turns what used to be a multi-week costly research process into a simple and affordable same-day service.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Henderson: Marketers, product managers, designers, and developers of online services and ecommerce have been our most active customer base, from small- to enterprise-sized companies.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Henderson: Education has been our biggest competitor. Getting the word out that there is an easier, and a simpler way to research and user test every day has been the challenge—it’s the usual situation for a disruptive service.
SUB: What differentiates YouEye from the competition?
Henderson: There are a few other companies offering comparable options. YouEye has gone beyond them by offering high technology, deeper research options and higher-quality demographic participants.
SUB: What were the first steps you took in establishing the company?
Henderson: First was the name. I picked YouEye within 24 hours of having the idea. I then spent four months negotiating the domain purchase from a squatter company. In the end, we snatched up youeye.com for $800—not a bad price for two real words and six letters.
The next step was connecting with our amazing law firm Cooley. Our counsel walked us through the establishment process and we were off to the races.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for YouEye? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Henderson: The core idea for YouEye has always been the same—measure the user experience. The ‘aha’ moment came while listening to Luke Wroblewski present at the ‘An Event Apart’ conference. Luke was presenting findings from a user research study that used eye tracking. It then dawned on me that if we were testing websites, why not test them online? Could webcams be used to collect similar high-tech data?
Since then, there have been gradual evolutions, such as demographic sourcing, emotion recognition, same-day results, and even a few I can’t mention yet.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?
Henderson: The name came to me as I was playing with the phrase ‘user interface’ and thinking about Luke’s eye tracking presentation. YouEye just hit me and stuck—never looked back. Then there was the fun I mentioned about buying the domain. In negotiating, tell them you have a budget and stick to your number. YouEye was $3,500-plus, and we settled on $800.
SUB: You recently raised $3 million in your first round of funding. Why was this a particularly good time to raise funding?
Henderson: First and possibly the coolest, the $3 million raise was only from Angels. No institutional invest was involved. For us, the timing is great—we are using the funds to develop our technology even further, and beginning to roll out soon-to-be-announced products.
SUB: Do you have plans to raise more in the near future?
Henderson: Yes, but sorry, I can’t share the details.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Henderson: Technology and speed have been the biggest obstacles. YouEye has brought to market tech that did not exist two years ago—and I don’t mean things like endless ‘Pinterest’ scrolling. We’ve launched data recording and computer vision analysis tech that is at the forefront of automating behavior research. Creating solid, commercial tech and doing it first has always been our biggest challenge. The customers are at the door, and we are delivering the goods.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Henderson: We generate revenue through the common SaaS [Software-as-a-Service] models—transactional, subscription, and platform license. Our customers can swipe their credit card online and create a YouEye study today.
SUB: What are your goals for YouEye over the next year or so?
Henderson: We are excited to be extending our tech and services into new spaces, as well as move towards more powerful research automation.
YouEye – www.youeye.com