Interview With Matthias Reinholz
Describe your product or service:
“Ethical consent-free tracking for websites.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“Since the beginning of Qreuz, our goal was to make privacy-first web tracking as simple as possible and to enable consent-free data collection without bypassing visitor privacy. With the migration to server-side technologies, tracking becomes more and more invisible to internet users. Therefore, we are pronouncing the need for ethical web tracking. Respectful and transparent data privacy is a human right, and our mission at Qreuz is to solve this problem with technology.”
How are you funded? I.e. type of funding, number of funding rounds, total funding amount.
“Self-funded + public grants by the German Federal Ministry of Economics.”
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them (I.e. co-founders, freelancers, etc.)
“Team of five (two co-founders with background in IT/economics). One data scientist, one backend developer, one frontend developer.”
How did you come up with and validate your startup idea? Tell us the story!
“As a long-term marketer myself, I was used to implementing comprehensive tracking systems in websites. Then there was GDPR and the introduction of very strict privacy regulation. Suddenly, web-tracking had to change because you had to ask visitors for their consent before you could track anything.
This led to the idea behind Qreuz. Why would we need to track sensitive personal data from every website visitor all the time? Is it not possible to collect statistical data which is free from any personal data?
As a result, at Qreuz we have built the marketing data platform for consent-free data. The statistical data that our tracking system collects is 100% anonymous. It will not help with building customer profiles but it will be more than sufficient for most website owners to understand their performance.”
How did you come up with your startup's name? Did you have other names you considered?
“The goal has always been to find a name which is short and has a free .com domain. The term ‘Qreuz’ comes with two stories:
- In English, we pronounce it 'cruise.’ This fits perfectly with what we do with our customers. We're taking them on a cruise and helping them to navigate toward growth.
- In German, 'Kreuz' means crossing. This also describes our platform very well as we are building a link between the website and other marketing tools a website owner may utilize.”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
"Yes. Primarily the motivation to tackle big challenges and change something outside of existing structures and bureaucracies. One of my biggest passions is to build something new from scratch. Even as an employee, I was always seeking challenges such as building new teams or growing new business units.”
Did you encounter any roadblocks when launching your startup? If so, what were they and what did you do to solve them?
“The biggest challenge has been to completely shift our data model towards statistical and anonymous data. Initially, we tried to build something like a conventional server-side tracking solution. But we realized quickly that this is a very dangerous technology as it can invisibly bypass privacy regulations and track visitors in the background. As a marketer, you always try to get comprehensive data about your customers. It took us a while to completely ditch any 'profile-based data' and switch to 100% anonymous statistics.
In the end, this was the best decision we could take because it opened up a completely new set of metrics we can help our users to track.”
Who is your target market? How did you establish the right market for your startup?
“Website owners, freelancers, and marketers for small to medium sized-websites — we're especially targeting everybody who is focusing on organic marketing tactics as our data model fits perfectly in this context.
It has always been an important factor in our business strategy to target smaller companies. Most startups tend to quickly focus on enterprise because you need fewer customers for larger revenues. Our goal is to make enterprise-class technology affordable for everyone.”
What's your marketing strategy?
“We're focusing a lot on organic marketing and are running multiple tactics in this area. From content marketing over social media engagement up to webinar appearances — our product is still very unique within our audience, it needs some explanation. Therefore, our acquisition strategy heavily depends on personal communication.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“Primarily with podcast, webinar, and virtual conference appearances and all the contacts generated from them.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“Website sessions, engagement/signup rates, and average time to activate tracking.”
What's your favorite startup book and podcast?
“I believe the two books with the biggest impact on my entrepreneurial activities are ‘The Big Five for Life’ by John Strelecky and ‘Tipping Point’ by Malcolm Gladwell. Even when speaking about totally different topics, both books share the attitude of thinking outside of the box and solving big problems one step at a time.”
What is a song or artist that you listen to for motivation?
“Groove Armada — History.”
Is there a tool, app, or resource that you swear by to help run your startup?
“Google Meet and my phone.”
What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
“That so many people are afraid to be entrepreneurs. Somehow everybody has their own dreams. But only a few take the chance and follow their passion.”
How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?
“COVID-19. It forced me and my wife to 100% work remotely from home. I would not say that we're working less than before, but still, our life feels so much more centered around our family. This forced remote work also helped a lot during the first two years of the life of our son. If I had to go to an office every day, I would have missed many moments at the beginning of his life.”
What is a strategy you use to stay productive and focused?
“Not really possible with a two-year-old son running around the apartment. My strategy for productive work is to stand up early (5–6 a.m.) and get done with all major work blocks for the day as early as possible in the morning.”
Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?
“Leaving my comfort zone. Sometimes, it helped to simply do the exact opposite of what I would usually do.”
What was your first job and what did it teach you?
“Digital marketing in the music industry. There, I learned how to do B2C marketing on tight budgets.”
More on Qreuz
Matthias Reinholz, founder of saas startup Qreuz, shared valuable insights during our interview that will inspire and motivate aspiring entrepreneurs.