SproutSocial: Social Media Meets Refined Customer Care
Not that long ago, companies tackling customer care like pros felt like hitting a dead end.
The result? Waves of clients reaching out on social media with their complaints.
As social data prevailed, all media aimed to develop a tool to put that data into perspective - and who better to do it than Justyn Howard, the man himself?
By changing the ways of communication, product authentication, and brand accountability, Justyn developed a specialized platform unlike the rest - SproutSocial!
Digging for solutions for all-size companies, SproutSocial aids growing marketing agencies in dealing with a variety of issues, but most of all - customer care.
Over the years, Justyn's SproutSocial has become a collaborative platform allowing businesses to captivate their audience, publish relevant content, and analyze a variety of data, thus gaining more popularity than ever before.
How did Justyn become the capeless hero customers worldwide have been waiting for?
Learn more about his journey here:
The Young Salesman
Born in 1980, Justyn Howard roots in a very small town in rural California.
Ever since a young age, he manifested a proclivity for entrepreneurship, diving into his first business of reselling cellular phones after his classes.
Unlike his peers, Justyn was infatuated by technology and instead of playing social games, he worked the devices.
He made an earning reselling mobile phone after classes, and although a side job, this helped Justyn acquire both technical experience and communicating skills.
Using his savings, Justyn next purchased his first Commodore - a trendy computer at the time - and went on to teach himself the ropes of programming, solely guided by a book he borrowed at the local library.
Once his school introduced computers in his classes, Justyn became even more captivated by the idea of doing programming for a living.
Instead of attending college, the young man left high school and his home town to pursue a more prominent career - all on his own.
In early 1999, Justyn began his job as a senior account executive for a software selling company called New Horizons.
Thanks to his acquired business knowledge at the company, Justyn successfully polished his trading and software skills and learned the importance of customer care. Besides acquiring new clients, Justyn also created opportunities for them to market their products. Not long after, Justyn's company opened a new office in the City of Second Chances - Vegas - and thus the opportunities came.
While residing in Las Vegas, Justyn had the opportunity to travel yet again, this time to windy Chicago. Falling head over heels with the city's liveliness and business prospects, Justyn couldn't help but dream of opening his very own venture there.
From Vegas to Chicago, Justyn felt ripe enough to tackle both big-city life and business. Having learned that persuasiveness in business mattered just as much as product mastery, Justyn next took the role of enterprise account executive at Learn.com.
Although his job mostly required selling software, Justyn still brewed the idea of putting his programming skills and actual tech knowledge into practice.
While relying on social networks to help companies acquire their customers, Justyn came to realize that sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook made for a fabulous playground in connecting a brand and its consumers.
Working day and night, Justyn mainly published blog posts for their customers, educating them on the ins and outs of buying quality management software.
Although an expansive task for just one person, Justyn excelled in it and this soon captured the eye of prominent companies who wasted no time sending in their offers.
Realizing his true knack for the job, Justyn decided to quit his mere-mortal position and aim for something bigger - which is exactly what he did next.
Jobless but rich in relevant business contacts, Justyn immediately turned to his roommate Aaron Rankin, and presented him with a collaborative business idea.
At the time, Aaron had been working as a sales engineer at Endeca, a pioneering company in information search and retrieval.
For both Aaron and Justyn, social media platforms represented a refined business solution, boasting a mass success potential. The main idea behind their new project, although still undefined, was to create a platform that easily connects customers to their favourite brands.
To further evolve the idea, Justyn reached out to yet another of his acquaintances, Gilbert Lara. Once presented with the concept, Gilbert wasted no time getting on board. Prior to joining Justyn, Gilbert had worked his way up as a senior designer for Freeman, but he had always felt something bigger was lurking just around the corner.
The ball rolled in 2009 when the trio finally conceptualized and launched SproutSocial. Unfortunately, within a year, the trio drained all their self-funding resources in building the platform - and it had yet to break on the market.
Stuck at a dead-end, the three entrepreneurs felt drained of resources, energy and the will to further develop their platform. However, with so much time already dedicated to it, giving up was not a viable option.
Instead, the team took a deeper look into customers that actually used their platform.
What they realized upon inspecting was that their services had been somewhat paid for by elite players only. Instead of preserving the pricey method, the trio joined forces to rebuild the platform, this time dedicating it to companies in need of affordable yet efficient services.
Upon remodelling the brand, the State Bar of Texas took interest in becoming their first customer. From that moment onwards, a wave of companies pitched in, interested in making the most of SproutSocial - in favour of their businesses.
After pitching to potential investors, the team sadly came across many closed doors. One of the key reasons why angels refused investing was because the company was Chicago-based, at a time when Silicon Valley grew into the ultimate business nest.
Nevertheless, the three entrepreneurs favoured the idea of keeping their brand Chicago-based, and instead of changing location, they became more persuasive.
And that's when the first investors came knocking at their doors, and in 2010, SproutSocial welcomed its first funding from Lightbank, a ravishing $1 million.
Persuasiveness pays off eventually, and thanks to this investment, SproutSocial was able to hire salesmen, recruit employees and experts and reach out to countless potential customers. All remaining funds respectively went back into the company, to be used for marketing strategies and conducting engaging customer campaigns.
From there on, the company grew faster, stronger and larger than life, although it didn't lack the occasional issues and complications. One of these was the brand's technical debt, which the team solved by entirely rebranding their software design, and making it easier for customers to understand and interact with.
Subsequently, the team decided to refine its products as well in an effort to attract even more customers. In the meantime, astonishing funding of an incredible $10 million arrived, this time from New Enterprise Associates. That same year, in 2014, SproutSocial secured another dazzling $8 million by NEA, while its most recent investors include Goldman Sachs and Future Fund, which poured a sublime $82.5 million into the brand.
As one of the largest cloud-based social media management software services worldwide, SproutSocial makes $102.7 million in annual revenue and employs over 1,500 workers in the US alone!
From business wannabes to outstanding software service providers, SproutSocial secured their spot on the media market whilst encouraging businesses worldwide to manage their social presence using their exclusive central platform and, as they so aptly put it themselves - make it so!