[Startup Interview] Paolo Martorino, CEO Join
Please describe Join?
Join is the simplest way to find, activate and track influencers around the world. Join is a leading SaaS platform used by marketers to simplify and automate the time-consuming and manual process of finding relevant digital influencers, those with audiences on blogs and social media, and collaborating with them to create meaningful, consumer-trusted content. With our smart cloud-based technology we take out all the hassle and provide a single workflow system that enables brands and agencies to co-create branded content with influencers, distribute that content across social platforms and brand sites, and access detailed analytics to measure the actual effects in real time.
Why did you start Join?
We started Join based on my own experience with influencer marketing as managing director and owner of a social media agency for 7 years. I noticed that too much valuable time was spent on manually finding relevant influencers and organizing collaborations with brands. Meanwhile the amount of micro and bigger influencers grew exponentially and it became impossible to do it manually. It just didn't seem right in this day and age when there is technology to change it. So together with my companion and CTO Edwin Knip we decided we could do much better by developing smart technology to solve this and started Join. We went straight for the platform vision: build an all-in-one platform for all influencer marketing needs, fully automated.
Who owns Join?
There are two founders. After selling my social media agency I started Join together with Edwin Knip, who I've been working with for 8 years now. We retain 100 percent ownership in Join.
How and where are you located?
Our headquarters are located in Haarlem, overlooking the canal and with a beautiful garden. We have a young, energetic and international team.
How is Join financed?
We are self-funded and almost profitable and fast growing. We have control, and we value that. Because this gives us more time to focus on customers, product and team management (instead of chasing money). We had a great start with 160% month-on- month growth and achieving our main milestones. Our metrics are healthy and we have enough gas in the tank to continue accelerating into 2018.
What distinguishes Join from other businesses in the industry?
The difference between Good and Great. We spend all our time on being and remaining the best solution for marketers, agencies and influencers. We've successfully managed to launch Join and build a "serious" business in a crazy market, competing with all kinds of so called half-baked solutions. Join is the only 100% technology based solution that simplifies and automates the whole process of finding and activating the right influencers for marketing purposes. Our opt-in database has over 10.000 influencers and this makes us the biggest and best platform in the Benelux.
Making something look simple is easy; making something simple to use is much harder. Especially when the underlying systems are complex but that's exactly what we do with Join. Although we're still a small team our design process always starts with identifying and thinking about real user needs and interrogating our data thoroughly.
We believe in human driven technology to enhance marketers and influencers. Our mission is to simplify every aspect of influencer marketing so that users can focus on the best possible collaborations in a personal manner.
What is it clients want from you?
We have high demanding clients that expect only the best. Primarily they want to get great influencer matches, quality content, relevant social reach and high engagement.
Time. In most cases, one influencer campaign can take over 200 man hours to activate. Our influencer marketing platform Join eliminates the menial processes, leaving our clients more time to focus on their KPI's and creative.
Scale. Word of mouth is most effective when it's scaled. There are plenty of ways to get 1000 people to talk about your brand, but at what cost? You still have to work with each person and incentivize them to evangelize. By combining the power of influencer marketing with our technology, our clients can easily scale their word of mouth initiatives and get their message to hundreds or thousands of people in one simple process.
Targeting. Our platform is easy on the budget. Not only do they eliminate hands-on work, but really great for targeting your audience efficiently. The key to effective advertising is efficient targeting. Join gives ease of access to influencers, and ensures that budget spends are reaching the right audience.
We've come a long way in the last months and have some fantastic momentum moving forward with a growing number of clients using our product.
What does Join need to grow?
We're nimble, we're lean, and we're humble — but we think, dream and like to do things BIG. We like to prove that you can break established rules and win. Therefor we look to expand our team with the right talent to help us realize that ambition when we go abroad.
What are your international ambitions?
Join's vision is larger than just the Benelux market. Our platform is built and designed to serve the globe. We now have influencers in 32 countries. Our main focus is to become the leading influencer marketing platform in Europe within 3 years.
Any recent news you want to share?
We recently launched a big artificial intelligent integration in the Join platform that enables our users to find influencers on every possible topic and keyword in every European language. Using a deep-learning algorithm, the system is able to learn about our influencers’ activity and content. We've gotten really good press from it and many interesting requests.
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