A Q&A with Peter Holten Mühlmann, Trustpilot founder. The Copenhagen–based company was founded in 2007.
SUB: Please describe Trustpilot, and the value proposition you bring to ecommerce for both shoppers and retailers.
Mühlmann: As an online consumer, it is important to know what kind of service a company provides: Is the product delivered on time? How does the company handle returns and complaints? Do they offer any additional service, etc.? In short, is this the best place for me to purchase?
Trustpilot provides a space for consumers to share their online shopping experiences through writing and reading reviews. With 5.5 million reviews covering more than 80,000 companies, Trustpilot is an invaluable online resource used by more than a million consumers each month.
Many online businesses provide excellent service but struggle with communicating it to consumers. Trustpilot helps companies gather user experiences, and to display them in a way which increases trust, conversion rate and sales. With Trustpilot’s reviews being fed into Google Product Search, many companies are experiencing significant uplift in this important sales channel as a direct result of their partnership with Trustpilot. In this way, Trustpilot is an important tool for online businesses to differentiate themselves not only on price—but also service.
SUB: What is your target market?
Mühlmann: Any company selling goods or services online.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Mühlmann: Trusted Shops, Reviewcentre, Feefo, to name a few.
SUB: What differentiates Trustpilot from the competition?
Mühlmann: Trustpilot is first and foremost a resource for consumers. Trustpilot contains reviews on more than 80,000 companies, and not only those with which we have a partnership. As a result, Trustpilot has excellent Google rankings, a large user base and over a million visitors per month.
By contrast, all competitors’ sites are aimed primarily at businesses rather than consumers and the reviews available are limited to the companies with which they have a direct partnership. Of course, many consumers will read the company-specific feedback contained within these sites but they will typically access it via a link from the participating company’s own website.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took to establish it?
Mühlmann: Trustpilot was founded in 2007. First step: Call rich uncle. Second Step: Hire a developer. Third step: Get friends onboard to help.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Trustpilot?
Mühlmann: The inspiration came from existing review sites, already on the web. At first we just wanted to make a local version of these. Then later, we came up with our business model, and realized, “hey, we can do this in any country.” So we did.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Mühlmann: Trustpilot started without any business plan what so ever. We were a very naive and inexperienced team. Getting the right business model and team were the two hardest parts.
SUB: You recently raised 3.3 million Euros in new funding. How do you plan to use the new funds?
Mühlmann: Marketing activities will be intensified throughout Europe with the purpose of becoming the dominant player in Europe, and then globally. The investment will also contribute to strengthening Trustpilot’s organization with international competences.
We aim to be the most powerful global player in the market for online user reviews of online shopping, and to do that we need the strongest team. We already have a highly skilled group of employees, but if we are going to meet our own and our investors’ ambitions of global leadership, we must continue to strengthen the organization.
SUB: Why was this a particularly good time to raise outside funding?
Mühlmann: We had proven that we could successfully open markets internationally.
SUB: Do you plan to raise additional outside funding in the near future?
Mühlmann: No—we have raised enough for the near future.
SUB: What are your goals for Trustpilot over the next year or so?
Mühlmann: To become the dominant player in Europe and to test the market in other continents.
To build the organization that can handle this. We are hiring.
Trustpilot – www.trustpilot.com