When Sumpto launched in 2012, founder Ben Kosinski made a smart move, coining his startup as “the Klout for colleges.” At the time, the polarizing social currency company was still grabbing headlines, and the analogy made sense. Today, the analogy arguably has a little less relevance and perhaps a bit more baggage, but Sumpto continues to soldier on as a platform aimed at helping to measure the social influence of college students.
While that may sound spammy in theory, the idea is to create a tool that can measure the top social media influencers on college campuses and that adds equal value for both students and brands. Essentially, Sumpto helps brands to identify these captains of social media by analyzing a number of signals, including the ones you’d expect, like Twitter followers, Facebook friends and so on.
The startup then assigns a score from 1 to 100 to each student, allowing brands to pay to connect with these influencers. Basically, the relationship is such that brands can then send free promotional stuff to the students in the hopes that students will then use their social media bullhorns to rave about the products to their collegiate constituency.
It’s part of a move on the part of brand advertising to have advocates be actual people representing the demographics they want to reach — without them being complete shills. On the other hand, just by being their popular selves, students can get access to cool free stuff — or at least that’s the idea. Students are not, however, required to share their thoughts on the product or tweet about it in return for the free swag or to boost their scores.
The New York-based startup today has a roster of about 17,500 influencers and is working with more than 70 brands, who have collectively dished out rewards to over 1,800 students. As a result, Sumpto announced this week that it has raised $350K in funding from investors like SocialStarts.net and former McCANN Group CEO, Nick Brien. The startup plans to use the funding to ramp up hiring and continue with its efforts to lure additional brand partners.
Whether or not Klout is an apt comparison for Sumpto, college students represent over $120 billion in annual discretionary spending and, by coming up with a way to measure student influence and a network to help share that influence, Sumpto could be well-positioned to tap into that huge (and coveted) collegiate market. That or Klout ends up buying it and shutting it down, hard to say.
For more, find Sumpto here.