Each week we’re profiling one promising company that’s been selected for SCALE – our early-stage startup growth program. Catch up with 60 of the world’s hottest startups at TNW NYC in New York on November 16th.
This week we bring you Smarp, the company that helps employees become influencers and companies achieve their own goals online by humanizing brands through employee advocacy.
We asked Smarp’s Co-Founder and COO Mikael Lauharanta some questions and can’t wait to find out more about at SCALE.
Tell us what you do in two sentences
Smarp is a comprehensive communications app that connects employees with the employer’s online content, generating positive brand awareness and exposure by empowering employees to participate in the internal and external communications of the company. The Smarp app ensures employees are well-informed, whether they are at the office or on the go, and allows them to improve their own professional brand by helping them position themselves as thought leaders in their fields.
What’s your origin story? How did the company get started?
In 2011 when we founded Smarp, not a lot of companies were looking at social media from the employee’s standpoint and what’s in it for the individuals for being more active. We were working on our first product – which was an online training service for employees – with our first public company client, when we realized their employees had 26 times more connections on LinkedIn than they had followers for their company profile. Getting those employees involved in the communications would create a huge win-win situation between the employees and the employer, so we started working on the Smarp app that we have today.
Who is your biggest rival and why are you better than them?
One of the newer entrants to the employee advocacy space is LinkedIn, with their LinkedIn Elevate side product. It’s a great market validation for us and they are raising the awareness of the employee advocacy market and its possibilities. What separates us from them is that we’re obviously not tied to any particular social media platform, we are able to white-label and adapt our solution to the specific needs of our clients, and our gamification elements are far superior.
Get rich or change the world – which is more important and why?
Changing the world for sure. We’re transforming the way companies communicate internally and externally, and giving more power and freedom to the employees. It’s been great to see how companies have slowly shifted from blocking social media to embracing it, and thinking of ways on how they can involve their employees in their communications strategies and improve employee engagement. And there’s no way you can motivate your own employees unless you have a meaningful vision that they can believe in.
Tell us one weird fact about a member of your team
This is actually a weird fact about the entire team: We have over 20 nationalities in our team! How neat is that?!
If you weren’t working on Smarp what would you be doing?
I’m a huge sports fan and a data geek, so it would probably have something to do with measuring and optimizing sports performance.
What are you hoping to get out of SCALE?
A fat stack of shiny new business cards from cool people in tech, media, and VCs. We’re really looking forward to some interesting discussions and putting my hometown Helsinki, Finland, on the map.
Catch Smarp and many more of the world’s most promising startups at TNW NYC on November 16th.
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