You might not have heard of Melbourne-based start-up Stateless Systems, but if you've attained a certain level of aptitude with using the internet to manipulate life in the real world (like Neo) then you've probably used the company's online products.
Stateless Systems founders Guy King and Bevan Clark
The company was founded by online veterans Guy King and Bevan Clark in October 2006 on the back of King's fledgling RetailMeNot website, which allows users to find and share discount shopping coupons at more than 20,000 stores around the globe, and his BugMeNot site, which allows users to bypass compulsory registration and log-in on some websites.
Since that time, the pair have expanded what their website describes as a "little web start-up workshop operating out of Melbourne", launching a further five sites along the way. Each one takes the pain out of a common task that web users perform often:
- JungleCrazy: aggregated, updated list of Amazon products which have been discounted by at least 70 per cent
- PDFMeNot: allows users to view PDFs online without plug-ins
- CushyCMS: a hosted content management system
- OurSignal: a social news aggregator and visualiser
- BeatMyPrice: allows users to find the best price online for given products
Stateless Systems is self-funded, according to a recent email interview I did with the company, with its revenue mostly coming from Google Adwords and commission on sales for some merchants, according to another article on the company.
In mid-January this year, the company announced it had had a "banner year", with traffic increasing to its flagship RetailMeNot site by more than 300 per cent and the site ranked in the top 200 in the US. The site also achieved 10 times year-over-year revenue growth, the company claimed, with 13 million visitors in December.
BeatMyPrice launched on 10 November last year, and up until January had received more than 300,000 visitors, while the CushyCMS system now powers more than 10,000 websites.
"Our intent has always been to simply build useful and fun sites that people like to use. Any revenue that follows us just plougher back into development resources to continue along that path," the company said in the interview.
After doing a brief interview with Stateless Systems over email, testing out the company's sites and doing a little background investigation, it seems clear to me that the founding pair (are there other people employed?) are living a little thing that we like to call "the dream".
Their sites, which have achieved a fair degree of notoriety on the internet, will nevertheless probably never become huge commercial successes or make them oodles of cash in the same way that Google did for Larry Page and Sergey Brin, or Amazon.com did for Jeff Bezos. None of them appear to have a really strong business model.
But no matter, I surmise the pair aren't focused on that goal anyway.
Instead, coder-style, they seem to simply be engaged in making cool sites for real people to achieve real things on the internet that would be impossible without it, making enough profit along the way to keep things ticking over and living the way they want to on the side. This sounds like a great way to become an internet legend.
If it had wanted to, Stateless probably could have tried a lot harder to squeeze a lot more revenue from its sites; I'm thinking advertisements everywhere and more direct tie-ins with retailers.
I have one suggestion for Stateless: get a top-class designer involved. Most of the sites could do with a slight facelift. With this caveat, I have no doubt that Stateless will continue to grow and launch more sites.
bootstrappr opinion: BOOM