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Get Plugged in With Soket

by Ryan Waller

Soket provides everything you need to get your local business online so you can bring in new customers and keep existing customers coming back. It has the right mix of all the things that make online marketing work, including social media management, event management and promotion, and social listening.  

soket

Soket just launched their own app (on Google Play & iTunes) so we caught up with president and founder Marcel Crudele to get the full story: 

Year/Date Founded?
2010

Number of Employees?
5

Founders/Execs?
2

Funding or bootstrapped?
Previous funding (undisclosed), but currently bootstrapping

Your Pitch?
We’re a social command center for local businesses. Our platform makes it easy for local businesses to centrally orchestrate “all that online stuff” so their patrons can stay plugged in wherever they get information – from social networks like Facebook and Twitter to local publishers like Creative Loafing to our own app – soket2me.

Revenue Model:
Monthly subscriptions by local businesses using the platform – from $29/mo-$80/mo

How’d You Get The Idea For It?
A couple of years ago, there was a collaboration between the Atlanta Ballet and Big Boi from OutKast. I found out about it at the last minute and immediately began reaching out to friends to find out who wanted to go only to discover that many of my friends already knew about the event. I prided myself on knowing all of the great things happening around Atlanta, but had missed this. It seemed impossible, but none of my sources of information had caught it. This highlighted the inefficiency of local information getting to all of the places it should.

There are lots of local businesses and organizations that do great things and people are passionate about their local ecosystem, but the growing diversity of places that people discover information makes it difficult for time and cash strapped merchants to manage their online footprint. This is a complaint I’ve heard repeatedly from local businesses, so Soket was built on the principle of update once, publish everywhere combined with automating online aggregation for the content most relevant to each business – Facebook, Twitter, news, blogs, wherever.

Who are your competitors and how do you stand out?
The competitive landscape for event management is small, with no notable solutions that allow event management for a business’ own website, Facebook, community websites, and local publishers like Creative Loafing, but this is a big pain point for local businesses. On the consumer side, event apps such as Eventful and eventseeker are good for discovering ticketed events such as big concerts at Philips Arena, where event information can be pulled from ticketing companies, but don’t provide information on the day to day events that people love – like karaoke, trivia, wine tastings, and DJ’s – because, historically, no such centralized data source has existed for these types events. Soket’s comprehensive platform designed specifically for the needs of local businesses has the additional benefit of creating that hyper-local database because it is the origin point for their creation.

On the social management side, there are competitors like Hootsuite, which are, at their core, generalized status update management tools intended to work for a broad customer base, including companies like Nike and Coca Cola. These are powerful tools, but intimidating to local businesses and their generalized nature makes it less important to implement localized features such as allowing a restaurant to find people within a 1 mile radius that mention “lunch” or “hungry.” Their focus on status updates also places less value of other types of relevant content such as news and blogs. These are great tools and there is a big market for them, but they seem to be trending more toward enterprise customers, leaving the local market underserved – which is our target market.

How does ATL weave into your story?
We are ATL born and raised! Our existing and developing relationships in Atlanta have dramatically helped with both the development and adoption of Soket, including partnerships with Creative Loafing, Atlantic Station, Midtown Alliance, Old Fourth Ward Business Association, and West Midtown Business Alliance. The local community has been extraordinarily supportive and willing to work with a home town startup.

If you could have one mulligan (do-over) in the process of launching and running this startup what would it be?
Only one?

This is something I think a lot about and is a difficult question to answer, but I would say one of the important lessons learned is to focus fund raising efforts on two types of investors:

1. Ones that are very knowledgeable about the market you are pursuing and have a deep understanding of the pain you are addressing. This dramatically improves the efficiency of communication and ability to share your vision. The analogy I use is, if you are pitching to the most successful and brilliant real estate investor in the world about your idea (say Instagram), it’s difficult for them – through no fault of their own – to “get it.” This can consume a lot of valuable time. The ideal investor is a customer/investor that uses your product, but that is also in an ideal world.

2. Investors that you have a long track record with and have established credibility with. These are people that may not get it, but trust the person they are investing in. This is an important risk-reduction factor.

My mulligan would be to focus more on investor-fit.

What kind of mentor could you use the most right now?
Sales and Marketing

Is there anything else you need that money can’t buy?
Sleep 🙂  … and for folks to download our free event app – soket2me

[Photo Credit]

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