Tania Yuki, founder and CEO of Shareablee, has two key goals for the business in 2018. She wants the company, which turns social data into actionable business intelligence, to grow globally and continue to develop innovative solutions that help brands and publishers optimise their return on investment in social platforms and content.
A key ally with both of those ambitions is the Microsoft ScaleUp program.
Yuki moved to the US from Sydney a decade ago and in 2013 founded Shareablee in her living room. Today, the New York based business has around 60 employees, a data dictionary detailing around half a million global companies, and platforms that deliver rich insights about the way that consumers interact with brands on social platforms.
In late 2016 Shareablee joined the Microsoft ScaleUp program (formerly known as the Microsoft Accelerator), recognising the opportunity that afforded to grow the company, burnish the brand and deepen the skills across the company’s entire management team.
Since joining Microsoft ScaleUp Shareablee has also migrated its core audience measurement platform onto Microsoft Azure which has opened up a treasure chest of opportunity for how Shareablee’s solution can be enhanced in the future.
Yuki explains; “Shareablee sheds light on how consumers are behaving on social media. It helps brands and media companies as well as celebrities and influencers understand how their ads and content are performing and perhaps more importantly what to do next.”
That insight is critical upstream for planning strategy and campaign, and downstream, in order to evaluate how previous campaigns performed and what can be improved in the future.
“We have a dictionary of all the companies in the world and their presences on social media. We use that to collect everything, then simplify into important KPIs and actionable intelligence for marketers,” says Yuki.
With headquarters in New York, a local office in Sydney and a regional office in London, Shareablee was born global – but Microsoft ScaleUp allows it to amp up internationally.
“What really struck me about this programme compared to others was that it was really designed for companies that were already in market, for companies that were already cranking and had achieve product-market fit but wanted support and more ability to supercharge the next level of their growth,” she says.
Yuki also lauds the very practical approach taken by Microsoft ScaleUp which can work with the various departments of a start up to optimise operations.
“This was a great opportunity to do that and with the full support of a giant organisation that could help us do things we couldn’t do by ourselves.”
“It has empowered me and my leadership team to really assess and massively improve how we were going to market, telling our story and thinking about our technology inside our marketplace, inside our ecosystem.”
“It highlighted what was really unique and special about Shareablee – a lot of these things were things that we just did and took for granted – but this forced us to think ‘what part of the tech is more common, what is wholly unique?’ – that is a huge value add for us.”
Critically it has also provided an entree to Microsoft channel sales, providing connections to Microsoft business partners worldwide. “It really accelerates our ability to get in front of those companies and start creating opportunities,” she says.
Migrating Shareablee’s core audience measurement system onto Azure delivers additional benefit. Yuki credits Azure’s “super-fast, super flexible environment” with ratchetting up the amount of data that the service can crunch at speed.
It also opens the door to potential new services, for example using speech through Microsoft Cortana, while Azure’s global footprint supports the company’s international ambitions. “We are only scratching the surface of what is going to be achieved.”
“Right out of the gate we see massive benefit and global reach is really important. We have our dictionary built out in 33 markets and making sure that we are fully set up in each market, and that the data is resident in that market or accessible from that market is incredibly important to an organisation like us.”
There are also she says benefits for Microsoft and its global customers from the ScaleUp program. Yuki says Microsoft gets first hand understanding of what new classes of start-ups need in terms of resources and technology which it can feed back into product development.
She says members of the ScaleUp program also serve as a beacon to other start-ups about how Microsoft solutions and technology can be deployed to support rapid growth, flexibility and scale.
“Microsoft is such a big organisation that it might be a little intimidating – hopefully we demystify that and make it more accessible earlier in a start up’s trajectory.”
Yuki is particularly enthusiastic about Microsoft ScaleUp’s arrival in Australia where the start up scene is far more vibrant than it was a decade ago when she left for the US. “Australia now has an incredibly thriving start up community. There has always been the talent but now there are many more angel investors and venture capitalists who are in the market and making these sort of bets.”
She’s optimistic that the arrival of Microsoft Australia can turbo-charge the tech space. “Having an organisation like Microsoft plant its flag in Australia is important. It’s a big testament to the technology and the companies that are emerging.”
Many might not have the capital to be opening up offices everywhere in the world but definitely could fly out there and train a Microsoft partner, participate in a meeting and suddenly that opens your business to a whole new market. I think that’s one of the biggest benefits over time.”
Tania Yuki advises companies which want to participate in Microsoft ScaleUp to be crystal clear about what they want to achieve from the program.
“They will support you in sales pipeline management, product marketing, general branding, pricing – every element of the business. Realistically you can focus on 3-5 top priorities for your business.”
“Know what your KPIs are going in – you still get the benefit of the other information but will be focussing on what you want to achieve for your company.”
“Also involve other members of the leadership team because they will get immeasurable benefit by working with experts in their respective fields and then they bring all that back to the organisation.”