To me, genius is the ability to make the difficult look easy, like the prima ballerina who floats with seemingly effortless grace across the stage. Such was the nature of my conversation with Loic Moisand, the co-founder of Synthesio, who explained how his social media monitoring company has managed to double sales three years running and expected to do the same in 2011. It was all so matter of fact, it was as if any one could have done it, anyone that is, who followed these 7 oh so easy steps.
1. Have two heads | "Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped." -Elbert Hubbard
Since few of us are actually born with two heads, physically or metaphorically, Moisand was lucky enough to found Synthesio back in 2006 with Thibault Hanin (CTO). Explained Moisand, "We are two founders with two totally different profiles, he's in charge of product development while I'm in charge of sales and consulting." Together they became the yin and yang of social media monitoring, ensuring that their products and services are an equal balance of hi-tech and hi-touch.
2. Be the early worm | "To see things in the seed, that is genius." -Lao Tzu
In 2006, a handful of people were thinking about the importance of monitoring social media for big brands as if their reputations depended on it. Among these were the French duo, Moisand and Hanin, who spent two years on product development. "We really worked slowly," explained Moisand who personally conducted research among 400 professionals in order "to really understand how social media could help them on a daily basis." When they finally launched their monitoring tool in 2008, the market was just about ready for it.
3. Act global | "Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Born in Europe, Synthesio's product offering was informed by its locale. "From the very beginning, our goals was to work in several languages, so we started with five," noted Moisand. Now covering 30 languages, it is the only truly global offering in its category. Not surprisingly, among Synthesio's 50 or so clients are many of the world's top global brands, brands that rely on Synthesio's platform to help with reputation management, customer service, product research and increasingly, in crisis situations.
4. Think local | "Genius ain't anything more than elegant common sense." -Josh Billings
Few companies practice what they preach as well as Synthesio. Wanting to help their clients connect on a global basis, they added offices in New York and London to round out their Paris headquarters. More importantly, Synthesio is fast becoming one of its own best case histories, using their own social media management tools to drive leads. "We currently have three to five incoming leads every day coming from many places in the world thanks to [our] community management," explained a gleeful Moisand.
5. Just say no to self-service | "The essence of genius is to know what to overlook." -William James
In the world of software as a service, service is generally an afterthought and rarely a profit center. Synthesio, on the other hand, added consulting services on top of its initial monitoring platform after about a year, a decision that has further differentiated the brand from competitors like Radian 6. Explained Moisand, "we really want to nurture our clients and help them understand what they can do with their online reputation." Now armed with a team of analysts and consultants, Synthesio had the wherewithal to truly help their clients navigate through the ever-changing social landscape.
6. Never lose a customer | "Genius is talent set on fire by courage." -Henry Van Dyke
This start-up thing is getting easier and easier, right? Just go get the customers and then hold onto them like a famished ferret. Exclaimed Moisand, "you spend so much time finding a client when you lose it, it's really a nightmare." "That's why we have a team of experts, to make sure [clients] have someone to talk to and just keep working with us all the time," he added. With this kind of attention to retention, it shouldn't be a surprise that Synthesio keeps over 90% of its clients from year to year and Forrester awarded it a Groundswell award for best B2B Listening (http://bit.ly/i85L7o).
7. Don't sleep | "There is no off position on the genius switch." -David Letterman
Okay maybe this entrepreneurial thing isn't all that easy and takes significant stamina along with brains and sales skills. Noted Moisand, "last year, I think every week there was a new tool coming to market and a new tool was dying." In the face of this relentless competition, Synthesio has not sought outside capital, instead guided by its motto, "Money doesn't make you smart," they continue to find new ways to innovate with client and internal input. Acknowledging the true nature of his challenge, Moisand confessed, "we don't sleep at night."
Final note: While Synthesio is hardly a household word in the U.S., don't be surprised if you start to hear their name in the halls of globally ambitious American companies. And should you doubt me, just remember Samuel Taylor Coleridge's words, "people of humor are always in some degree people of genius."