A service that grew from a company’s own needs into software used by top electronic brands
When Simeon Lukov and Nikolay Nedev started developing the application that would later come to be called Browswave, they did not expect to market it. Browswave, a web crawler, was principally created as a software application to help its developers monitor their business competitors.
The two IT businessmen owned an online company, laptop.bg, specialised in the selling of electronic gadgets that ranged from smartphones to TV screens. As the site grew to become an important e-shop on the Eastern European market, the need to systematise and track the competition was felt very soon.
“At first we started with a basic functionality for the needs of laptop.bg. We needed to follow our competitors – the biggest retailers and e-shops in the country. The conventional price comparison websites were not an appropriate choice for us. The companies listed there had little or no significant market share. Retailers and big e-shops are usually not listed in such websites,” explained Simeon.
The existing applications did not meet the needs of this e-shop, as they were usually just tools that facilitated price comparisons between different stores for customers. To fill the gap, the owners of laptop.bg decided to create their own application for thoroughly monitoring what other retailers and e-shops were selling, their prices and occasional campaigns.
“We realised that we had the technical potential and market knowledge to create an application right for our needs“
The goal was to make laptop.bg become more competitive and enlarge its market share by knowing what the others were doing right. It worked. The new application soon proved to be very useful for the company and the first inkling to start selling it arose.
“We found it to be very useful in our daily work. It helped us to optimise the selling process and made us more competitive. Later came the idea to scale the product to enterprise level. The tool we were using would probably be of interest to other companies like consumer electronic vendors, distributors and retailers, statistical organizations, marketing researchers etc. The idea was simple: ‘We find it useful. Others might also like it.’ And that is how we decided to show it to the world.”
When the two creators developed the web-crawling application up to market standards – which took them six months – they decided to christen it as Browswave and soon both brands and retailers showed interest in the service.
Like other applications dubbed as ‘web crawlers’, Browswave’s main purpose is to save business executives time and energy, and help their companies to become increasingly competitive.
“The whole concept is not recent but a web crawler that is customer-electronic targeted has no competitors in the region yet”
“Our application tracks the web pages of the biggest consumer electronics retailers in Central and Eastern Europe (Media Markt, Euronics, Multirama, etc.). It collects information about notebooks, tablets, smartphones, TVs and monitors their ongoing promotions, analyses catalogues, prices, updates and technical specifications. That helps busy executives to instantly follow market changes, find opportunities and make decisions,” explains Simeon.
Yet unlike other web crawlers, Browswave targets electronic companies and retailers instead of customers and this is what makes it truly innovative. As Simeon adds, “The whole concept is not recent but a web crawler that is customer-electronic targeted has no competitors in the region yet.”
Currently, Browswave counts many top brands and Bulgaria’s biggest retailers among its clients.
“Most of the major brands in the industry like Acer, Toshiba, Samsung and Lenovo are currently using Browswave. The top five distributors and some of the biggest retailers are also our customers. Those are companies that invest serious amounts of money to be more competitive and we are proud that they consider our service as a reliable one,” states Simeon, proudly.
He further explains that brands and retailers use the software service differently to achieve their aims.
“Vendors, for example, use ‘competitive groups’ - a feature displaying the exact competitors of their products. When stores are overstocked or stock clearance has to be made, they could find the right price and optimise profits. Retailers use it to compare prices. They see their better or worse prices, the attractive products they do not offer or their unique models available only in their company.”
Precisely because their clients are corporations, the process of marketing Browswave is tailored differently than if it were targeted to individual customers. Live presentations, videoconference calls and mailing lists are some of the tools that the company uses to market the software service among IT brands, retailers and vendors. A constant upgrading of the service means that informing clients about the new functions is crucial. To this end, the company releases video tutorials to educate business executives on how to use Browswave efficiently.
Browswave’s increasing success and the positive feedback they have been receiving from clients has fed the creators’ hope of expanding the software to other countries in the region.
“Now we crawl seven countries: Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Poland, Greece and Hungary. We have to completely cover the region and think about moving to Western Europe,” said Simeon.
“We will prototype new algorithms for efficient crawling and pattern matching. It will allow us to crawl more products like lifestyle electronics“
Yet despite the big multinational clientele and their satisfaction with the product, Simeon still places great importance on polishing up the service first, saying that “We will prototype new algorithms for efficient crawling and pattern matching. It will allow us to crawl more products like lifestyle electronics and open the door for new customers and more opportunities for the current ones. We constantly improve our statistics to show hidden relations and dependencies which are difficultly seen without appropriate models. Soon after ‘polishing’ our service and overcoming the currency issues, customers from other countries will be targeted.”
The year-and-a-half-old software service has already trailed an impressive path. From an application developed and used only for the needs of laptop.bg, Browswave was able to convince and satisfy electronic brands like Toshiba and retailers like Media Markt through its efficiency in monitoring the competition. Future expansions look promising. Apart from dreams of grandeur abroad, Simeon also mentions the company’s desire of improving its own nucleus, which may very well be the secret of their success.
“Of course one of the most important things in the future is to keep these great and talented guys on our team working together in a better environment and helping them to realise their creativity and potential.”