College Students Start Business to Help Social Gamers

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Ideas for starting a new business are everywhere. For Suhail Doshi, the idea for his San Francisco analytics company, Mixpanel, sprang from an internship with a developer of social media applications while he was a college student.

Doshi’s intern job created his awareness that developers of social media applications and games all share the need to create in-house custom analytics. Alternatives such as Google Analytics track traditional usage metrics only, such as page views. But social media as well as online gaming and app developers need to measure user interaction.

Mixpanel was established in 2009 after Doshi met fellow college student and eventual co-founder, Tim Trefren. The company received initial funding from the Y Combinator, a seed capital organization based in California. With $15,000 of startup funds, they built Mixpanel into a viable commercial venture.

Doshi and Trefren left college early and brought Mixpanel to market with an additional $500,000 of capital from angel investors, including the founder of the company where Doshi had interned. Mixpanel provides an analytics platform that tracks how users interact with websites, social games, and applications. This permits exploration of multiple variables.

Mixpanel’s analytics reveal events such as the buying of virtual goods in a Facebook game. In addition, Mixpanel tracks retention rates to see how many users keep coming back or see how iPhone and Android apps are performing.

Clients can capture analytics data in real time using Mixpanel. In addition, the Mixpanel platform allows users to define the events they wish to measure and compare. They can even display analytics to users of what’s being tracked. Or the data is simply exported using the Mixpanel API.

The flexibility in Mixpanel’s product has allowed the company to penetrate the market of providing third-part analytics. Users eliminate the costly trouble of internally developing solutions that Mixpanel easily provides.

In recent months, Mixpanel has expanded with a larger engineering staff after raising $1,250,000 from new investors. Mixpanel reports that it is providing analytics to about 2,000 websites.