Alfredo Artiles is the Co-founder and CTO of SocialBro, an advanced solution used to manage and analyse your Twitter community through actionable stats. I caught up with Alfredo as we discussed more about the business and his journey so far.
Hi Alfredo, Thanks for doing this. How are you doing today?
Hi Joseph, I am great today, happy so see that my product keeps growing even on holidays :-)
Can you give us some background information about yourself?
I have a degree in Computer Science from Las Villas University, Cuba and I have been developing Internet projects for 12 years.
Tell me how you initially got into business?
I started working freelance in my first year at university. I was so implicated in those projects that I couldn’t resist starting my own projects. While working in the University of Cordoba I met Javier Burón (@javierburon) who was about to start a consultancy business with Luis Pablo Pardo (@luispablopardo). So together we founded equipo24 (team 24) where we started to incubate projects financed by our own earnings from the consultancy.
How did the idea for SocialBro come about?
We started to develop a Twitter apps network (e24apps.com) focused on helping people to find the right people to follow, most of these were search engines and Twitter user directories such as followfriday.com.
The idea of SocialBro evolved because our Twitter accounts were growing very fast and we needed to identify influential people amongst the more than 200K followers of our various apps.
Tell me about the early days, what was the hardest part of starting the business?
Well, in the beginning we had nothing but time, talent and the desire to create things. The challenge was to stay in business until we had enough traction without the need to inject external capital.
What is SocialBro and what are you trying to solve with it?
SocialBro is an advanced solution to manage and analyze your Twitter community. There are many tools out there focused on Twitter content, SocialBro aims to complement them with actionable stats to let users really know who the people in their communities are.
How have you been able to fund it?
Last year we were incubated by SeedCamp and finally we have recently closed a seed round in London.
How were you able to convince such amazing investors to invest in your company?
It wasn’t so hard, we had 0 cash flow but very good numbers. We were growing at a rate of 500 users per day, and had more than 7000 positive reviews in the Chrome web store. We worked very hard on our business plan to demonstrate how we would convert our user base into customers,
What advices can you give to startup founders looking to raise money for their companies?
Don’t look for money too early on, try to have good numbers before looking for external investors. Closing a deal takes time, plan at least 4 months ahead of your future needs.
About the first few months, how excited were you, tell us about how those months felt, what happened?
It’s an amazing sensation, I couldn't sleep until we had something functional. The good thing is that I get the same feeling on every new feature we design. Motivation is very important to drive your project.
How did you initially get traction?
SocialBro needs to store users communities in order to filter them using many criteria. So from the very beginning we needed to be ready to store communities with millions of followers. We didn’t have enough capital to build an infrastructure capable of handling that much data. That’s why we started as a free desktop app (HTML5 Adobe Air and Chrome App) where we took advantage of users local resources. You know, people love free apps and this is where everything grew from.
What are the most crucial things that you have done to grow your business?
Our best decision was to hire from the very beginning a communication manager. That was the key to grow without any budget for marketing.
What would you say has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
The principal highlight for me has been learning how to integrate different aspect of company management and product development to finally produce what I think is a world class product.
What should be expecting from yourself and SocialBro for next year?
The new stage in SocialBro is just starting, our goal is to convert SocialBro into a one-stop solution for social media, so we are working on integration with new social networks such as FaceBook. We are also developing the mobile versions in order to access new distribution channels.
Lastly, what three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
- Don’t be afraid to fail, and don’t wait so long to test your idea with real users.
- Iterate as fast as you can and keep releasing new features at least twice a month.
- In the early stages drive the PR yourself and contact the media via customized emails, nobody can communicate your passion better than you.