Buzzoole: An influencer marketing platform

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We caught up with Buzzoole’s chief executive and co-founder, Fabrizio Perrone to find out what the business is all about.

Three reasons you should be watching them:

1. Influencer marketing, the practice of brands collaborating with influencers for mutual benefit, has been on the up since 2016. Buzzoole’s platform means companies can leverage social media influencers in an efficient, cost-effective way.
2. We truly understand influence - instead of simply focusing on limited metrics like reach, Buzzoole is grounded in more niche influencers, who reach audiences that genuinely listen.
3. Buzzoole is innovative and data-led, with a firm focus on ROI, so that the work we do is measurable, targeted and tailored to suit specific companies.

VITAL STATISTICS

Company: Buzzoole

What it does, in a sentence: Buzzoole connects brands to the right influencers through a data-driven, automated marketing platform
Founded: 2013, Naples, Italy
Founder/s: Fabrizio Perrone, Gennaro Varriale, Luca Camillo and Luca Pignataro
Size of team: 61
Your name and role: Fabrizio Perrone, chief executive and co-founder

THE NEED-TO-KNOW

What problem are you trying to solve?

First and foremost, brands want to create cut-through with consumers. Since we’re more likely to trust recommendations from people rather than brands, influencers can provide just the boost companies need.

But a further challenge remains: finding influencers with the perfect level of engagement and brand fit. For companies doing this manually the search can be time-consuming, ineffective and ultimately a waste of precious resource.

Our automated platform, which uses an algorithm to assess influencers’ suitability, streamlines this process significantly. So brands can find the best influencer for the job - able to target the right audiences and be trusted to complement their company values.

How big is the market - and how much of it do you think you can own?

Influencer marketing sits somewhere between social media and native advertising, a form of paid media where ads blend into surrounding content. As native as a whole continues to grow rapidly, influencer marketing will do the same. British native ad spend hit £776m in 2015 and according to a recent report, native will drive 74 per cent of all ad revenue by 2021. We want to grab hold of as big a chunk of this as possible.

How do you make money?

Largely from companies who use our platform to reach new audiences. But we’re more than an influencer matchmaking service: we also work alongside brands to deliver their campaigns. Our platform is designed to give companies transparency throughout the entire process, ensuring their brand reputation is in good hands and all activities run smoothly.

Who’s on your team that makes you think you can do this?

Buzzoole’s success is built on its diverse, multi-disciplinary team. From developers to campaign managers, we’ve got all bases covered. So brands can rest assured that their forays into influencer marketing are delivered in a way that isn’t just rooted in data, but also carefully managed. Plus, with our algorithm doing a lot of the heavy lifting, our team are free to give companies the attention they deserve.

Who’s bankrolling you?

Buzzoole has financed growth via a mix of angel and seed round funding from private direct investors, existing contacts and various venture capital funds. Most recently, Swiss venture fund R301 Capital and Moscow-based incubator Impulse VC have provided us with an $830,000 funding round.

What advice would you give other entrepreneurs trying to secure that kind of finance?

Building strong relationships and partnerships is crucial. Instead of just focusing on managing and developing the product, entrepreneurs would do well to work closely with their investors, a key driver of international growth. All too often startups devote their efforts to product success - at the expense of the relationships that got them there in the first place.

What do you believe the key to growing this business is?

Again, it comes down to relationships - or in our case, the conversation that takes place between brands and consumers. Data is a powerful tool when it comes to making sense of this interplay. It reveals how we behave and what we really think. And in my view, reliable, data-driven technology is the best way to identify how customers view your brand, and ultimately what steps to take to stimulate growth.

What metrics do you look at every day?

Engagement rates are indispensible for us. Engagement is a metric that doesn’t just reveal how different users interact with content, it reflects how trustworthy influencers are within a specific community, which paints a picture of the affinity they can generate.

We look at Cost Per Mille (CPM) and Cost Per View too, metrics more closely associated with the media industry. But since we view influencers as if they were publishers (given that they do indeed ‘publish’ content), we think influence should be measured in the same way.

What’s been the most unexpectedly valuable lesson you’ve learnt so far?

When our staff grew from 20 to 42 people in the space of 6 months, it showed us just how agile our company needed to be. Growing at such speed can be a challenge. You need to think fast - and move even faster - to ensure a smooth transition. Buzzoole now has a team of 61, and we’re still going from strength, with a recent move into the UK under our belt and plans for further international expansion in the coming months.

What’s been your biggest mistake so far?

To some extent, you do need to fail to understand how to improve your company. But whatever choices you take, it’s crucial to make the decisions that fit with your company values. For us, choosing to stay in our hometown of Naples, wasn’t a decision we took lightly. Though Milan offers more in terms of investment capital, Naples is in our blood and a city that reflects our identity through and through. This choice paid off in the long run and hasn’t affected our international growth in any way.

What do you think is on the horizon for your industry in the year ahead?

The influencer marketing industry went from strength to strength in 2016. And now it’s viewed as a fully-fledged marketing tool, capable of generating valuable word of mouth, more companies are starting to take note. In 2017, as we figure out new and interesting ways to leverage influence, the industry is only going to take off even more.

Which London start-up/s are you watching, and why?

Maybe it’s because I’m Italian, but anything food-related always catches my eye. And Winnow, a great London-based startup, it’s doing something really special. It offers a simple, positive service which uses technology to help restaurants cut food waste and boost their profits.

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