You know that thing you’ve always wanted to do? That bold, audacious thing that was going to take some courage, money and luck? What if you actually did it?
Take Cristine Vieira and Jamie Reardon, for example. As emerging leaders in Arizona’s burgeoning digital marketing sector, both women built careers and strategies helping Fortune 500 companies increase social media presence and reach through conventional – and unconventional – means.
Working together in the marketing department at LifeLock, the two were tasked with their first influencer outreach campaign: finding brand ambassadors loyal to the service that could build a third-party endorsement of LifeLock’s services. After hours (and hours) of manual review, coordination and reporting, one thing became clear to both Reardon and Vieira – there had to be a better way. No companies in the marketing space were focused on handling this type of marketing campaign at scale, which were becoming more relevant and necessary as social media continued to reign.
There was an influencer-shaped gap in the marketing world. What if they filled it?
So Find Your Influence (or FYI, as Vieira and Reardon refer to it), a SaaS influencer marketing technology platform, was born. By automating the influencer research, outreach, and campaign management components of an influencer marketing campaign, marketers could now quickly, effectively and efficiently measure the success of their efforts, while building a library of SEO-rich content based on third-party endorsements.
Vieira and Reardon walked away from their corporate jobs to chase the entrepreneurial dream, join the male-dominated technology industry and disrupt the digital marketing space. By combining their knowledge, years of experience and passion, they worked to help businesses raise awareness, boost social reach, build up their brand and achieve success through influencer marketing.
Fast forward a few years to the FYI headquarters in Tempe, Arizona, where Reardon, CEO and co-founder, and Vieira, president and co-founder, sit discussing their startup journey and the future of FYI.
You both left “safe” corporate jobs to build your own startup. Big question – why?
Making the decision to strike out on our own certainly wasn’t easy! But we saw a need in the marketplace and knew, even back then, that influencer marketing would be a game changer in the digital marketing industry.
We’d managed different facets of digital marketing throughout our careers, and our expertise and passion converged around content and influencer marketing. We also both come from entrepreneurial families and grew up interested in building something from the ground up.
What has kept you sane throughout the craziness of entrepreneurship? What have you learned?
We connected early on, even as colleagues before FYI, and we really relied on each other once we started building our business. As we’ve grown, we’ve created an amazing team – so now we all lean on one another to continue to innovate and improve. It’s taught us the importance of community.
How is influencer marketing impacting advertising?
Influencer marketing is not a new concept in itself; brands have been doing this for a long time with “word of mouth” advertising and celebrity endorsements. Taking control of the strategy and content, however, is more ground breaking and beneficial for brands. We quickly saw the impact modern influencer marketing could have on a digital marketing strategy.
Traditional marketing efforts today, like TV and print ads, just aren’t reaching target customers the way they used to. Plus, consumers are now choosing how they get content and interact with brands – and they want to hear about a product or service from a trusted source. So, influencer marketing can be really effective when you utilize the right influencer who believes in your product and reaches your audience.
How has your SaaS influencer marketing platform evolved from the beginning?
We’re proud to say that our core technology has remained the same. We built FYI to create an all-in-one solution for influencer marketing that manages the campaign creation process, involves the right influencers and measures success through real-time analytics.
But, we have been updating it as needed – as with any technology solution, you have to remain nimble and flexible, take client feedback and continue to improve.
What advice would you give other technology founders?
As we just mentioned, listening to your customers and continuing to innovate is key! We’d also say that you have to focus on your core, but be nimble in that there’s a lot of juggling going on with startups. And of course, make your team and culture a priority – so that your success is coupled with a collective happiness and feeling of community in getting there.
If you could do anything differently, what would that be, and why?
Everything that’s happened over the last few years has been part of our journey with FYI… so we wouldn’t do anything differently. It’s helped us learn and evolve – both of which are critical in the crazy startup world!
This article was written by Laura K. Inamedinova from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.