Building a connected world: how Corto finds success with AnyaUp
From the Netherlands to Silicon Valley, from a guitarist in local popular band to seven years’ career in consulting, to building his own rapidly growing product, Sander Mertens is sharing his journey and his AnyaUp story with us today.
Tell us a little about yourself. Who you are, where you’re from, what do you do.
Hi, my name is Sander. I’m a Dutch transplant currently living in Silicon Valley and a big believer in IoT, with seven years of experience building and designing IoT systems.
Tell us about your business.
Corto is an open source app framework for IoT developers. The IoT ecosystem is very segmented which makes it hard for small businesses and individuals to build IoT apps. What the industry needs is an easy to use framework that engages more people in IoT, basically like what node.js did for web development. With corto, we designed a frictionless environment for building, testing and documenting IoT apps that can seamlessly exchange data with each other.
How did you first get into IoT. Was there a specific moment that made you “take the leap”?
I’m an infrastructure guy. When I see something that is more complicated than I think it should be, I can’t help myself but build abstractions that strip the “fat” from the code. Five years ago I was building a game that used a few different libraries for graphics, networking and level design. After some months I found that 80% of my project was glue-code bridging data from one technology to another. At that point I just had to write an abstraction that could juggle data between these libraries. This eventually became Corto. Because of some cosmic coincidence, I was working for an IoT company at the time, and I found that many of our IoT customers were having similar problems as the ones I had with my game. That is how everything started.
How did you hear about AnyaUp? What inspired you to use AnyaUp?
Corto started as a one-man show, which means I had to do everything by myself, from code to website to social media accounts. Today I often find myself struggling to simultaneously spend time on satisfying existing users and doing things that will push Corto to a wider audience. I found that the time and resources I spent on marketing were wasted as I did not have the bandwidth to do proper follow ups, or execute on a long term plan.
When I heard that one of my friends was working at AnyaUp and learned about what they did I was immediately interested. Together with AnyaUp’s marketing expertise and their pool of creatives we were able to identify pain points and come up with a long term marketing plan. AnyaUp then completely took over the day-to-day chores of making sure that the plan was executed properly.
I am still very much involved in defining and refining the vision for Corto, but I found that the structure and expertise of AnyaUp allows me to focus more on long-term strategy instead of making haphazard decisions on what to do next. Because of that, I feel like I’m getting a lot more value out of the resources I’m spending on marketing.
How did your product benefit from using AnyaUp?
AnyaUp has helped us to refine our message which makes Corto easier for users to understand. We will soon be refreshing our brand, rolling out updates to the website, increase social media engagement and do many other things that I would never have been able to pull off by myself.
What impact has AnyaUp had on your business? Has it changed the way you think about marketing?
Like many founders, I thought marketing was something that you just need to master. I tried to learn as much as I can about growth hacking, SEO, building effective presentations and email marketing. I spent time and money on websites like Fiverr and 99 designs to get designers to create things that I couldn’t create myself. Basically I was throwing things at a wall hoping something would stick.
What I did not realize was that marketing is not just about doing all these things. It is about making sure everything happens within the right context, and this requires a lot of upfront thought and strategic planning.
AnyaUp showed me that having someone who understands your brand and business and is dedicated to the execution of a plan is a difference between day and night. It truly feels like having another person on the team that I can call anytime to challenge me, brainstorm about new ideas and give me valuable advice.
What advice would you give to a newcomer on AnyaUp looking to achieve success?
AnyaUp is not the only company out there that does marketing, but I found their model very attractive. AnyaUp was willing to sit down with me before I signed any contracts. I discussed my business and vision with them at length and not long after that they followed up with a plan for improvement. I was sufficiently impressed with what they came up with and decided to move forward with them.
If you’re looking at AnyaUp, treat them as a partner, not as just another service provider. Tell them as much about your business, your brand and your vision as possible, and you’ll be surprised with what they come up with.
Want to know how Corto makes the world of IoT a better place? Check out Corto here.