Firmology’s SMB Tech Meet & Greet series takes an inside look at the technology available to business owners and entrepreneurs, straight from the founders who built them.
Name: Justyn Howard
Title: Founder and CEO
Company Name: Sprout Social
Company One Liner: Social media management and engagement platform for businesses
Location: Chicago, IL
Tell us about yourself and your background.
Before founding Sprout, I was working with another software company in the Learning Management space. I spent 8 or 9 years in software and technology training, always with a passion for product but without the right problem to solve until Sprout was born.
What does your company do?
Sprout is a social media management and engagement platform for business. At Sprout, we believe social is a vital piece of a company’s relationship with their customers and a permanent part of business-consumer dialogue. Our engagement, publishing and analytics features bring social presence from Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn into one powerful tool.
How did you come up with the idea for your company?
The idea for Sprout came from my own need to find a tool to help me use social media to connect with my customers. While working for an enterprise software company, I noticed everything in the marketplace was consumer focused and not built for professional use so I saw an opportunity to fill that need. When we started Sprout it was still anybody’s guess if brands would adopt social in a meaningful way. Luckily our bet paid off.
How do you help businesses?
Sprout provides all businesses, regardless of size, with three key social media capabilities: engagement, publishing and analytics. Our platform makes it easy for brands to discover, respond to and interact with their customers on multiple social networks simultaneously. Sprout gives smaller organizations the effectiveness of a much larger team and larger companies enjoy the agility and efficiency needed to build engagement with their customers.
What makes your company different from your competitors?
On paper our industry looks largely similar, but when you get your hands on truly special product that can change the way you work, you just know it. That has been our focus since day one. Here at Sprout, we’ve developed a top-notch platform and it speaks for itself; that is why we offer a 30-day free trial – so anyone can experience first-hand how Sprout inherently makes business more social.
What are the most important considerations businesses should have when choosing technology to help them power their business?
The Social Media landscape changes daily and it’s easy to lose focus on what matters. The first question to ask is “Will this help us get closer to our customers?”. Then look at individual capabilities and team preferences. Choosing tools that match your individual progress with social, and that can grow with you are key. If your organization isn’t complex, don’t weigh yourself down with complex tools. Get the basics right and work with a company who has the horsepower to support you as you grow.
What other companies or entrepreneurs within the technology space do you admire and think businesses should know about?
I tend to be drawn to companies that have a special approach to how they make their customers lives better. Mailchimp, 37signals, Squarespace and Zendesk are a few examples. We’ve also learned a lot from pioneers in the SaaS space like Marc Benioff, Jason Lemkin and Mikkel Svane. One of the beautiful things about social media is that you can look over the shoulder of your industry’s greats, from anywhere on the planet.
Anything else Firmology readers and business owners should know? News? Upcoming features? Special deals?
In the coming months we’re launching a host of workflow and collaboration tools that with further enhance the platform for our customers. As always, we offer a 30-day free trial and encourage anyone to check out Sprout and see how it works for their business.
Firmology Readers: Let’s hear your thoughts!
1) Have a question or comment about Sprout? Drop Justyn a note in the comments below.
2) What do you think of our SMB Tech Meet & Greet series thus far? Are there other questions we should be asking? Are any of the questions above unclear or could be asked in a better way? Let us know in the comments below or email us at [email protected]