“If only we could get Scoble to sign up, all our problems will be over” — unnamed entrepreneur.
As a fledgling startup, reaching the most influential users or customers, as early as possible, is the Holy Grail of traction (which also explains why it’s the kind of thing that keeps CEOs up at night). But finding and targeting those influencers, and persuading them to actually try out your new service, is more often viewed as an art not a science — when, arguably, a more algorithmically-driven approach may work better.
To that end, PeerIndex, the Klout-like influencer and marketing startup, is announcing a tie-in with European early-stage seed investment and mentoring programme, Seedcamp, that will see it give away “£3 million” worth of bespoke influencer marketing. The idea being to help the qualifying startups identify the “tricky first few hundred users or customers”, the ones who it’s hoped will go on to become brand advocates, as it were. Headline-grabbing figure aside — it’s ‘in kind’ and is impossible to independently quantify in cash terms — what’s on offer does actually seem potentially quite valuable.
The way it will work is as follows: Any of the qualifying 200 or so startups (past and future Seedcamp finalists) will get to work with PeerIndex directly to run a ‘PeerPerks’ campaign so that they can find and incentivise those target influencers. Next, PeerIndex will help determine the ideal early user/customer, in terms of things like geography, topical interests and topical influence. Then, as with all PeerPerks campaigns, PeerIndex will help the startup develop an appropriate offer or ‘perk’, which might be something along the lines of an exclusive trial of the service or a ‘brand experience’ that is designed to appeal to those in the target market.
It’s then about building that ‘perk’ page, so that PeerIndex can start reaching out to a sub-set of its members and point them towards the offer. There’s plenty of social media sharing built into the process too, so as to boost the campaign’s ‘word of mouth’ effectiveness.
As for what’s in it for PeerIndex, CEO Azeem Azhar says it’s a way to “give something back to the startup community”, but it’s clearly also a nice bit of marketing for the company (and the whole concept of algorithmically-driven influencer targeting). It’s also worth noting that Azhar was a founding investor and former advisory board member of Seedcamp, although this was in relation to the older Seedcamp I not Seedcamp II, the fund that’s been making investments in the past two years. In other words, he doesn’t stand to benefit personally beyond the PeerIndex/Seedcamp partnership being announced today.
In March this year, London-headquartered PeerIndex raised a £3 million series A led by Antrak Capital with participation from the ex-head of Reuters, Tom Glocer, as well as Restoration Partners chairman Ken Olisa, Anthemis Holdings Sarl, and angel investor Sherry Coutu. Often seen as a competitor to Klout in the U.S., the company is actually gunning for the ROW (Rest of the World) market — it recently hired Garth Holsinger, Klout’s ex-VP of Sales and Business Development, to help accelerate its marketing and partnerships on that front.