Meet Tomás Rinke. He is the CTO and Co-Founder of RINAR Solutions, a startup that provides data consulting services to inform decision making. He is an avid Scrapy user and a Scrapinghub development partner. As an off-shoot of RINAR Solutions, he developed DataJudicial, an app that provides information on the legal sector.
We sat down with Rinke to learn more about his successes, his business model, and how he uses Scrapinghub to power up his startup.
1. Walk me through how you developed the idea behind RINAR Solutions. What was the first step? How did you expand?
RINAR Solutions started out of the idea to develop an innovative online shopping experience for grocery and supermarkets. This idea was called Buyzter (buy + faster). To create a viable product, we needed data. After an experience with hiring a freelancer to scrape data from Walmart ($200 bucks for the whole set), we decided we would teach ourselves how to scrape websites in order to cut our costs. During this learning process, we explored different scraping frameworks and eventually came across Scrapy.
However, Buyzter continued to build up quite slowly and we didn't find the best business model. We kept our options open to find new avenues for growth, and, in the meantime, we kept scraping new sites.
A client request to scrape a justice website was what launched RINAR. After that project, we started offering scraping services before becoming development partners with Scrapinghub. We started to notice a demand for data on the niche topics related to legal matters. DataJudicial grew out of the need to handle high volume information requests by law firms and business. We do massive queries and creation of documents.
2. What is the greatest benefit that people can derive from your service?
Our clients value the time they save with our services; they work less. We do in one hour what takes them 15 hours manually. This saves clients in operational costs and allows employees to concentrate on other critical tasks. Our clients appreciate that there are no errors in the process because despite the fact that we have automated 90% of the workflow, we validate the data we deliver, ensuring quality. And since our work involves legal information, we emphasize security within our app and in our disclosure.
3. If you had to sell your product in one sentence, what would you say?
We feature a straightforward platform, provide connections to legal websites, and handle high volume operations in order to save time and reduce operational costs.
4. What do you think makes you stand out from the competition?
While our competition is still offering services through email, we have developed a platform that scales for a great user experience and is based on material design.
5. What has been the magic ingredient that has helped you reach the next level?
When we started offering our services, we ran all the jobs locally and orders were handled by email. The only automated part of our operation was the actual spider.
To use an analogy, it is as if we bought a small machine to make clothes in our garage. We knew we could make great clothes but we needed to scale. Since we wanted to focus on designing our clothes rather than the manufacturing process, we looked for a way to outsource or use a factory to allow others build our clothes for us.
We were interested in finding a cloud platform that could handle the orders (no more emails and no more misunderstandings) and Scrapinghub had what we needed: a platform for effective crawls and an API that allows for easy integration. Plus their founders are the creators of Scrapy, so all the pieces were in place. We invested and DataJudicial was born.
6. What drew you to Scrapy?
Easy learning curve. Great active community. Complete documentation. It came up first on the Google search.
And our technical background is based on SOA, so our knowledge of XPath and XML allowed for easy integration.
7. How did you end up using the services of Scrapinghub?
We started exploring Scrapinghub features like the API, the libraries, and all the add-ons in order to scale up our product. Plus the plans offered allowed us to scale from a couple of clients to 1,000 in no time. As a development partner, we are experienced with the platform and find it intuitive to use.
8. What is your favorite aspect about Scrapinghub?
Only one? It does the job. The whole ecosystem makes sense and Scrapy is a great framework (open source). It is backed by Scrapinghub, a company that combines a platform with comprehensive support.
9. What is one major problem that you have solved by using Scrapinghub and/or Scrapy?
Scrapy surprised us with its capabilities of scraping any kind of site using any type of technology. We started telling our clients: "If you can see it, we can scrape it." We faced sites with logins, captchas, needing sequential flows, etc.
Scrapinghub solved our availability issues. Our spiders now work 24/7. Before, we needed to have a computer online and hope that the internet didn't fail.
10. What is one piece of advice that you would have given yourself five years ago?
Be pragmatic, test an idea fast and use the tools that are available. An implemented good idea is 1 billion times better than 100 excellent ideas with no implementation.
11. What is one achievement that you hope to be proud of in a year?
We want grow to 1,000% with our clients. We are looking to reach 3 more countries with our product.
12. Any last words?
RINAR Solutions developed a generic platform to handle every information need. While we are focused and testing our product with a niche field (lawyers and legal matters), the idea is to expand to different types of businesses and industries (marketing, industrial, sales).
Right now, we are testing the platform in two cities in Argentina: Cordoba and Buenos Aires. We are thinking of expanding to more states within Argentina before moving into other Spanish speaking countries. The final plan is to go worldwide once our product and processes have been validated. Scrapinghub has been a crucial partner in scaling up our business. We have gone from offering a service through email to offering a product in the cloud. Scrapinghub has everything we need: a rich platform to deploy, run and control the spiders, an API to interact with, and a python library that matches our Django backend development.
We hope to keep on the path of evolution.