The Hashtagify Pro Story Part 1 – I can’t find an ARM Calculator!

Hashtagify Pro is a specialized Twitter analytics service that helps social media managers, marketers, and [self-promoting] Twitter users tracking and improving their promotional/awareness campaigns on Twitter. But its serendipitous story starts three years ago with my wife Tanya getting pregnant and me having to look for a bigger home.
At the time we had been living for three years in a one bedroom, overpriced, but very close to my employer’s office rental apartment in Rome, Italy. With the crisis (the first one…) and all, it was a somewhat buyer’s market for houses, so we decided to look for a bigger apartment to buy, instead of rent again. And, with the help of my parents and a hefty mortgage, we were able to buy our new home before our daughter was born.
In 2009 the most popular type of mortgages here in Italy was, by far, an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) tied to Euro interest rates (Euribor) which, again because of the crisis, was at an historic low. Being an avid Internet user, I shopped on the net for the most convenient options and tried to understand how much my mortgage payments could rise when interest rates would come up again.
To my surprise, among the hundreds of online mortgage calculators that I could find on the Internet, either in Italian or in English, not one was able to make useful simulations with realistic interest rates scenarios. The next best thing I could find was an excel sheet with the right formulas, which I then had to hack with some scenarios that convinced me that an Euribor mortgage was good for us.
So, this is how we got ourselves a new home, and how, to help ourselves pay our mortgage, I got myself a new website:, a free Italian mortgage calculator that made it really easy to create Euribor-based adjustable rate mortgage simulations.
Starting without any online presence, and already having a very busy day job, it took me many months, a lot of guerrilla marketing, and much more search engine optimization than I would have liked, to get calcolorata up to speed. Launched in January 2010, and after almost giving up hope when the Summer was starting, in fall 2010 the adsense payments really started to become interesting. After a year, the website was paying almost 20% of our mortgage payments.
Having some respite from a big project at my day job, I then decided to create an English and a Spanish version of calcolorata. I would never have imagined that this would bring me to launch, a year later, Hashtagify Pro. But how this came about, I will tell in the next installment of this story.

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