Freemium Summit East: Educating a Market, Freeing a Service

Why create a freemium model for a paid product? Reputation Defender co-founder Owen Tripp answered that question during “Educating a Market, Freeing a Service,” his presentation at Freemium Summit East in New York Monday.

Reputation Defender was founded in 2006, and it offers a comprehensive suite of privacy and reputation tools to control publicly visible online data. Its products are used in more than 100 countries. So why explore a freemium model?

“Not enough people understand what we do,” Tripp said. “We’re not an obvious concept.” The company’s goals: “to turn heads, demonstrate irrefutable leadership, provide a path to paid in a consistent manner, and demand metrics, but don’t halt product innovation due to tracking issues. Educate through freemium models, but don’t forget that free is not a business model.”

Tripp said Reputation Defender started by inventing a lexicon, including ORM (online reputation management), and the next step was proving that people cared — partners, investors, colleagues, and even his team themselves.

Planting seeds — isolating unique pain points within the product solution — was the next step, and he cited as an example giving users the ability to opt out of junk mail, direct mail, and people search sites. Two other examples of planting seeds, according to Tripp: finding the greatest common factor — what you can use in most cases to get people to get the experience immediately — and lowering the barrier of entry to “a painfully low point,” by just asking for first and last names and email addresses.

After planting seeds comes weeding, or “tossing out ideas that don’t meet the minimum metric threshold,” and the key here, Tripp said, is making sure that you pick the right metric, adding that conversion is the wrong metric.

Finally, Tripp shared what he called his “über practical tip No. 1: For every product manager you have, hire a minimum of three designers.