Have you ever gotten in trouble for missing a birthday?

Fortunately, I’ve never forgotten my wife’s birthday, but I did forget to share with you all Trackur’s 4th birthday! Shame on me!

Seriously, the expression “time flies when you are having fun” has new meaning to me, thanks to Trackur–especially in 2011 which has seen our strongest year yet! We’re almost at 41,000 registered users and our growth looks set to exceed 100% for the fourth consecutive year!

Reading David Lee’s post “What We Look For” had me reminiscing about what caused me to launch Trackur 4 years ago and embark on this incredible start-up journey. Lee writes…

Our preference is for founders solving a problem for themselves…Another advantage of a founder building a product or service to solve her own pain point is that she doesn’t have to do market research or focus groups—she is the target market.

Which is exactly how Trackur started. Let me tell you the story, in case you’ve never heard it.

After finishing my book Radically Transparent: Monitoring & Managing Reputations Online, I looked over the chapter on monitoring tools and felt so much frustration and dissatisfaction. You see, you had Google Alerts (free) then you mostly had the big boys of monitoring–all charging thousands of dollars per month. There was no stepping stone. In fact, looking at my own needs, I realized there was no affordable option that allowed me to graduate from Google Alerts, manage multiple reputations in one place, and, most importantly, fit my stingy budget.

So, I decided to build that option.

The vision included a dashboard that drew inspiration from Google Reader and Gmail, but tailored to the monitoring market. I wanted to be able to quickly edit and update searches, see reports on discussions about my brand, and do so without any flashy eye-candy to distract me from my task. That was our goal, and I think even the first iteration of Trackur achieved that.

Once I had that concept, I figured that this might be a tool that others would find of use too! So, the next step was to build a brand for it. I wanted something short, memorable and easy to spell. Well, two out of three ain’t bad! ;-) I tried dozens of domain names, but just about everything was taken. I settled on the name Trackur for two reasons. One, it could be said phonetically the same as “tracker” and, if Flickr could be a success even with a completely missing vowel, Trackur could be too!

As an aside, Trackur ended up being a little less phonetic than I had envisioned. Even to this day, some folks believe our company name is “TrackUR” as in “Track You Are.” That’ll teach me to make the “u” and the “r” a different color! :-P

With the concept and brand in place, I set about to build it. Being more of a marketer than a programmer, I worked with a small but talented team to build the first version and launched just a couple of months later–in February of 2008.

It was a modest success that first year. I was still consulting a lot on reputation management, so Trackur mostly stayed as a side project. A good friend asked me at the time, “What is your financial goal for Trackur?” I replied that if I could sell enough accounts to make back my small financial investment, I would be happy. Boy, have we done that, and then some!

In 2009 Trackur started to take off and, by the end of that year, I decided to start winding down my consulting and focus on Trackur. I’m starting to get long-winded here, so to cut a long story short, we decided against selling the company in 2010, completed a major overhaul the early part of this year, and are tremendously excited about Trackur’s growth in 2012.

So, there’s the back story. Trackur’s now in its fifth year–our birthday was November 12th–and so I want to take the time to wish all of the Trackur team, customers, and friends a belated happy birthday!

PS. Watch for new announcements after Christmas as we’re not done with the upgrades and hope to announce some cool new stuff in the New Year!

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