This week, the Bowery Capital team hosted Promise Phelon, CEO of TapInfluence, to discuss “Transitioning From Services To SaaS.” TapInfluence was founded in 2009 with a singular purpose – to facilitate real conversations between people and brands by tapping into the power of digital influencers and their authentic, trusted content – allowing consumers, influencers, and brands to get heard. Using TapInfluence’s leading-edge SaaS platform, marketers can automate the time-consuming process of identifying and engaging with relevant digital influencers, as well as collaborating with them to create compelling content that motivates consumers to take action. TapInfluence’s customers include a who’s who of leading brands, such as Kraft, Horizon Organics and P&G, and agencies such as Golin, RhythmOne and Ignite Social Media. Through Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, Vine and blogs, TapInfluence reaches over 1 billion consumers.
Promise Phelon has been Chief Executive Officer at TapInfluence since March 2015. Before TapInfluence, she was the Chief Revenue Officer at Jazz HR, formerly known as The Resumator. Earlier in her career, Phelon founded Upwardly Mobile and served as its Chief Executive Officer. Ms. Phelon also worked at BEA Systems (acquired by Oracle) and The Phelon Group.
In today’s episode, Promise joins us to discuss transitioning from services to SaaS. She starts by explaining that TapInfluence initially started as an agency that underwent a transition to become the software company they are today. Promise touches on the challenges faced during this type of transition and explains the four different phases she and the business went through. She talks about how to deal with the difficult task of telling happy customers your business is changing and how to keep these customers on board post-pivot. Retrospectively, she says she would have waited a little longer to scale TapInfluence after its pivot and she gives us a few trends to look at that may help indicate when the time is right to scale. Promise talks about how to identify power users in a newly-pivoted software business and explains the important role that product and customer success teams play during this period. She talks about the customer advisory boards that TapInfluence created and urges listeners who create these types of boards to make sure they include prospective customers, along with current ones. She says having board members who challenge certain decisions, serve as a sounding board and give honest feedback are key. Finally, Promise wrapped up by saying speed and having board and investor alignment is crucial during a transition from services to SaaS.
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