“In the Studio” continues this week by welcoming a young founder, originally from Europe, who started tinkering with computers a decade ago, taught himself programming languages, began working and consulting while in high school, dropped out of college, bought a one-way ticket to Silicon Valley, and now, at the ripe age of 23, is the co-founder and CEO of a venture-backed startup.
Davy Kestens, CEO of TwitSpark, is just coming up on his one-year anniversary of living in San Francisco. Earlier, while working out of Belgium’s coworking space Beta Group, Kestens began noodling on another small project, just as he had many times before, but noticed on this occasion, people started signing up. Eventually, things snowballed, and Kestens had created an MVP for a customer service product, built on the back of Twitter, for teams of agents at larger brands and companies to handle customer gripes. Before he came to the U.S., Kestens was contacted by Edelman Digital, his first customer was Volkswagon, and he received angel funding from a host of experienced investors, including Founders Fund and Social+Capital.
As 2012 comes to a close, and as TwitSpark celebrates its first birthday, listening to Kestens understated, affable yet no-nonsense style, it’s clear that despite his youthful looks and attitude, he has real business experience, can recruit a diverse team of technical and non-technical colleagues, and is betting his company on a singular yet massive trend — that companies will need to not only monitor their brand engagement on Twitter, but proactively seek out and remedy customer service situations, not just to protect an image, but also to shift away from telephone-based customer service, which can be quite costly, and as we all painfully know, annoying to no end. While other platforms have also emerged to help customers fight back against companies with horrible service — mostly generated by the actions of companies in heavily regulated industries, like airlines, banking, and telecommunications — TwitSpark is signing up companies in each sector above, and if Kestens and his team have their way, your next gripe on Twitter could be routed through his system.