Chris Campbell, a Homewood, Illinois native and DePaul University alumnus, founded Review Trackers in 2012 after working with a major retailer that was in need of a way to track and manage reviews posted by its online customers.
Review Trackers gives businesses the ability to track online reviews from all major review sites in one central location. The website helps business owners listen closely and respond promptly to what customers are saying online. The startup now has more than 10,000 customers in North America.
The Chronicle spoke with Campbell about the tech startup scene in Chicago, Review Trackers and his future endeavors as an entrepreneur.
THE CHRONICLE: How did you come up with the idea to start Review Trackers?
CHRIS CAMPBELL: I was trying to solve my own problem. I was working at a marketing agency and we had a client that was trying to understand what people were saying about them online and realized that reviews were at the center of that. We dove in and tried a bunch of software and we ended up using a human automation. We have a team overseas that was checking thousands of online profiles. It clicked in my head that there had to be a better way.
What is human automation?
We have software that automates the activities we do for our customers. We have a human “quality assurance layer” for every business that gets boarded onto our system. We have found that to be a noticeable difference. We make sure that [we can] double check and verify that all of the info that we have is accurate so the data that we get to our customers is correct and insightful.
How do you feel about Chicago as a place for tech startups?
Courtesy CHRIS CAMPBELL
It is a great place for tech startups. Chicago is a great town [with] a lot of innovations. The work ethic and the town where the great universities and colleges help the workforce create a great environment for startups and tech-based companies.
What is the importance of online crowd-sourced reviews for business?
Reviews are a new form of testimonials. Reviews and testimonials have now evolved to become more transparent when we have sites like Yelp and Google where the negative ones are not filtered anymore. It is a critical part for businesses to stay on top of and also generate reviews for the customers that love them, because those stories are now being shared online and those testimonials are being amplified.
What success has the company seen?
We have restaurants, car dealers, hospitals, retail stores—it’s literally everything from a cemetery to a bait and tackle store. It is all over the full spectrum.
Do you consider yourself a part of the tech startup community?
We went through two different pro- grams as a company. [The first is] Chili, where you can go and work from San Diego for six months and [which has] a government grant program where they give you $40,000 to work on a business. That was back in 2012. Last year, we went through a program called Generator, which is based in Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, [and] is an accelerator that a network of companies has been through, but we also purchased to be in that program as well. It is supposed to be the two communities that I most connect with.
What feedback have you gotten?
One customer told us that we deliver crazy value.