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With the emphasis on user experience gaining more and more weight, a personalized web experience is all but mandatory these days. Cookies learn about our shopping habits and find ads and pop-ups targeted to us and Facebook-linked sites greet us by our first names. Now a new technique called PURLs delivers personalized content to your browsing experience. Integrating PURLs into your campaign can be pricey and messy, but I spoke to an entrepreneur who doesn’t think it has to be.

Martin Thomas saw a desperate need for a clean, sophisticated and, most importantly, affordable PURL (personal URL) solution. I spoke to the founder of Purlem, a platform that delivers just that, about how business is doing and how he’s planning on running a one-man operation for as long as he can.

What exactly is Purlem?

Purlem is a platform that allows businesses to create personalized landing pages for everyone in their client database. Everybody is uploaded into Purlem through a spreadsheet program, making it an easy two-minute process.

This creates a personalized URL for every user, resulting in a better experience. This isn’t built through cookies; it’s built on information you put into the system. Whether it’s purchase history, preferences, or whatever you want to categorize it by.

For example, if Honda were uploading their users they may categorize by history of oil changes, so when somebody accesses the site it can remind them that they’re due for an oil change and offer a coupon. The possibilities are endless.



What was the inspiration?

I was doing web design and consulting work for a printer, and they began lamenting about how expensive it was to get PURLs. Because I had a software background I played around with some programs to see if I could design something that could help.

I showed my client, who was pleased, and they ended up passing it around and the rest is history.

That was five years ago, and for the past three years I’ve been the only full-time employee.



Do you ever want to scale?

A year ago I was thinking that the optimal size I’d want for Purlem would be 10 or 20 employees and a small office, but I’ve been really optimizing the process. The biggest challenge is to get the support system working flawlessly to minimize the issues, and I’ve been really efficient at that. As far as I can tell, I can scale without adding more than one or two employees to my team at any point in the foreseeable future.

Do you have any advice to entrepreneurs just starting out?

Persistence is the key to everything. I willed Purlem to happen; I pushed it forward. There are days you’ll wake up and feel great and on top of your game, but there are also days where you’ll be unbelievably down on yourself, questioning yourself and your idea. Get through it and keep going. Patience is key!

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Gabrielle Belavsky
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