Summer 2016 Entrepreneurial Experiences

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TapInfluence – Week 8

Sunday, August 14, 2016 3:08 pm

One of the big reasons why my supervisor was hired earlier this year as to build an attribution model for TapInfluence. The goal of an attribution model is to be able to track a lead’s journey throughout every interaction with our company. Once we obtain a leads basic information, we can track what reports they are downloading, which advertisements people are clicking on, which social media posts people interact with, and so on. An attribution tracks the user journey. For example, if a lead watched a webinar, downloaded one of our eBooks, talked with one of our Sales Reps, and then became a customer, we want to know the entire process they experienced and what happened to them in the end. As we track more leads, we are able to understand what the most effective methods that convert a lead to a customer. And TapInfluence is hungry for new customers.

My biggest project was taking all of these user journeys we tracked in Q2, and creating a report that showed the which methods made a lead became a customer. In a presentation to the CEO on my last day, me, my supervisor, and his boss presented our findings, what we learned, and our plan for the rest of the year. She was very receptive to our presentation and gave us better guidance on what she wants us to focus on moving forward. In sum, she pretty much affirmed that my supervisor and I are doing our jobs right. What a relief!

A couple factors went into getting me to where I am right now: an opportunity, luck, and hard work. It took about one week for me to learn about this opportunity, accept it, and figure out the logistics. I didn’t have a background in marketing operations, but I loved entrepreneurism and wanted to see what it was like at a startup. That being said, I needed to prove myself to be an asset to the team, not a liability. This is where some luck came in. The first half of luck was my supervisor (who was an awesome mentor) and the marketing team (who was incredibly fun to work with). I couldn’t have asked for a better team to work with. The second half was my role as a Marketing Operations Intern. My background in Finance taught me how cash flows through a company and where to invest. Marketing operations focuses on how people flow through the company and how we can develop relationships with them. Similar concept, but different approach. People are complex, and understanding how, why, what, when, and where they want to connect with TapInfluence is tough. I was lucky to be very interested in this area, but it was a steep two-fold learning curve. It took a lot of time and practice to understand the technical side of tracking and reporting leads, and then how we can create value to retain their interest.


A couple takeaways from this internship: I got loads of experience in a field I probably wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise, I learned how to more effectively work in teams, I loved working in a fast-paced, startup environment, I get to continue working part-time with Tap, I got close with my extended family, and that I surpassed every expectation I had coming into this internship.

TapInfluence – Week 7

Sunday, August 14, 2016 2:59 pm

Leadership in any company has a trickle-down effect. The CEO of any organization sets the pace for the rest of the organization, and their passion and devotion to the company’s goals must not only be seen but also instilled throughout the entire organization. This is how a company’s culture is formed… or transformed. No easy task.

As we trickle down, CEO’s need a strong C-Suite, the C-Suite needs strong managers, and so on. On the recruiting side, leaders within an organization need to bring in top talent that shares the same passion towards the company goals as they do. It’s not hard for companies to find potential hires that fit a job description. There are tons of people for any position. What’s really hard is finding employees that fit the job description and match/exceed the passion towards the company set by the top. Within an organization, top employees need incentives and rewards that encourage exceptional performance. As top employees move up, they create a high-barrier to entry with new-hires, which is a good thing. As more and more employees align with the company’s culture and its goals, that’s when the magic can happen. The only reason I say ‘can’, is because most startups fail, but without this fundamental building block, failure becomes a lot more likely.

As a budding entrepreneur, I have realized that having great technical skills for your job is not enough for a startup. What are your values and your beliefs? What is your work ethic? Does it all align with the company? If not, you, your co-workers, and the company will take a hit.

TapInfluence – Week 6

Monday, August 1, 2016 11:30 pm

Some of the biggest challenges for this organization, in my opinion, are time and culture.

Time. Influencer marketing is a rapidly growing market, and TapInfluence is leading this sector that they created. With the pivot the company made last year, we are now in a crunch time to develop not only the company but also develop our platform to remain the industry leader. I’ve mentioned this in a previous post, but TapInfluence needs to be the go-to company for influencer marketing. With so many competitors entering this space, we need to continue to rapidly progress. Bigger corporations are going to start pouring a ton of resources into this market, and if we aren’t established, we’ll flop. No one wants to flop, especially in an industry that is about to explode.


Culture. TapInfluence’s culture has been constantly evolving. One of the biggest challenges is having the ENTIRE company buy into the fact that if everyone busts their tail, TapInfluence will win. Everyone needs to be on board. It is very difficult to change the company of a culture, and the rapid expansion of it isn’t making things any easier. Hiring employees who embody the company’s DNA is imperative. Grittiness is one of the most important traits an employee can have because growing this company will not be easy. Every employee, and this goes for any company that wants to get anywhere great, must take ownership of their role and be able to show exactly how they are contributing to the company’s goals.

In addition, I was asked by my supervisor to write a blog on my experience at TapInfluence so far. Feel free to check it out here.

TapInfluence – Week 5

Thursday, July 28, 2016 12:03 am

I have grown to enjoy the work environment at TapInfluence more and more each day, and being a part of my marketing team has played a key role in that. No team is perfect, but the way our team approaches problems is awesome.

There is undoubtedly a hierarchy within our team, like any other team; however, to remain quick and nimble on projects, we collaborate on a flat structure. One thing that surprised me was how quickly my opinion became valued. Once I gained some credibility and developed an understanding of my role, my input on strategies and decisions were encouraged. Mind you this team is much more experienced and knowledgeable in this field than I am.

There is a lot of communication and collaboration between our team. Planning has become an essential part of meeting deadlines. A lot of collaboration takes place in the planning stage. During this time, we find ourselves visualizing the task at hand by drawing on the whiteboard walls. Every piece of the project is strategically analyzed so that all of the pieces fit together and make sense. Once everyone has identified what piece of the project they are responsible for, we break off back to our standing desks and crank out our work. Communication continues throughout the process; some people need additional help, and others might need to reevaluate their piece of the project and pivot. As our deadlines approach, crunch time sets in, but the work gets done. Our team doubles down when it needs to, and meets those deadlines.

Failure is inevitable, but my team doesn’t look at failures and pout. Failures are opportunities for learning, an area we can improve in going forward. Even since the time I started my internship, each project the team has worked on has been approached constructively, always improving from the past. As a team, we have learned how to optimize this process, increase transparency and collaboration, track progress, and mitigate possible problems that inevitably arise.

Rebranding failures as opportunities for improvement are essential to increasing performance, whether it be personal, for your team/organization, or an important project. The growth I have seen on this team since my first week leaves me with no doubt that we will see increasing success with our upcoming projects.

TapInfluence – Week 4

Saturday, July 16, 2016 7:23 pm

The past four weeks have flown by, I still feel like a newb on the team, but I have been making a bigger impact on the team than I have realized (which has been awesome!). My supervisor is the Head of Growth Operations, which is a very ambiguous role. He is essentially the HubSpot King at the company, and pretty much tracks and analyzes everything in the company. However, being the HubSpot King means that all teams in the company are asking him to do small HubSpot projects that take away from important, company-wide projects he is working on. That’s where I come in. I have been able to build out campaigns around case studies and reports for the company, create and build-out email nurture campaigns, and help make our tracking more accurate.

Transparency has been one of the biggest surprises for me…on so many levels. It is the only way you can get everyone in a company aligned. On the small side, individuals on a team need to communicate; they need to know skills, time commitments, projects, plans…everything…there should be no secrets. From team to team, there needs to be transparency and alignment. One prominent example, for me, is with the sales and marketing team. Both teams need to know exactly how leads move through the funnel and into sales, definitions of each stage in the funnel, what information is being told to who. The alignment of the sales and marketing team is coined, ‘smarketing’, and my supervisor has been working hard on aligning the two teams. And finally, transparency throughout the company. Every two weeks, there is a company-wide “all-hands”, where our CEO gives an update on all the teams, the company financials, and keeps the fire lit under everyone’s butts to keep pushing forward. By letting every employee have this insight, the company will know how they are contributing and what they can do to improve. This type of communication through all levels of the company really shows how the team is committed to taking the company to the next level.


By the end of this internship, I would like to be able to own some of the projects all the way through. For example, when the company releases a new study on influencer marketing, there is a list of things that need to be done. In HubSpot, there needs to be landing pages, forms, thank you pages, lists, call to actions, and URL’s that need to be made; in addition, there needs to be an email nurture program to keep leads engaged after downloading the study. I have been working on pieces of this entire process, but I would like to own the entire process and creation of these campaigns by the end of my internship. My supervisor already told me that I have been taking on more responsibilities than he expected, so I will continue to take initiative and bring value to the team until I finish.

TapInfluence – Week 3

Saturday, July 16, 2016 7:20 pm

I have had a pretty hectic couple of weeks, so I’ll hit you guys with two posts at once. Sorry.

TapInfluence was founded in 2009 and has gone through a couple major pivots. The most recent pivot started just over a year ago, with the addition of our current CEO, Promise Phelon. She is known for rapidly growing tech startups throughout Silicon Valley. With her arrival came the rebrand of TapInfluence as a Saas (Software as a service) provider. The inspiration for this pivot was to automate the process of creating influencer marketing campaigns. With this new platform, customers (brands) can search through a database of influencers, collaborate with an influencer to develop a campaign, track/measure the success of a campaign, and optimize a campaign based on data. TapInfluence’s platform not only saves brands time and money, but also allows brands to develop and run multiple campaigns at scale. I’m not even going to go into why brands should use influencer marketing, but it works, and every brand should be using it.

The company has grown rapidly with this pivot. A new office was opened in Silicon Valley to attract top developers and programmers who can create the infrastructure of the platform. The company has doubled in employees and every team has new members being added almost every week. Each team in the company has huge goals they need to accomplish. The developers and programmers are working to make our Saas platform better in every aspect (user-friendly, no bugs, adaptable, etc.). Marketing and Sales teams are aligning on the entire user journey to optimize how to close more leads as customers (for both influencers and brands). Customer Success is working on the satisfying current customers and influencers to retain top contributors on the platform.

 

Overall, every team has huge expectations to fulfill this year. Increasing transparency throughout the company so that each team is aligned with the same expectations, projects, and goals will be very helpful. But in the end, the entire team needs to be fully committed to this company. There is a ton of work that needs to be done, and it will only be achieved if the whole company buys in. Huge corporations with bottomless pockets are about to take their stake in influencer marketing, and TapInfluence needs to remain the best option in order to survive.

 

TapInfluence – Week 2

Monday, July 4, 2016 6:26 pm

I am a part of the marketing team, which I quickly learned is one of the most dynamic teams in the company. The team is split between those who focus on brands and those who focus on influencers. I am more involved with the brand side of marketing, however many functions cross between both sides of the team. The team is at a very interesting stage of its development. Out of seven team mates (not including me) three were hired in the past three months, two have been at the company for a year, and the final two have been with Tap for over two years. New responsibilities, positions, and tasks have forced the team to be extremely collaborative and scrappy. The responsibilities in your job title are a light suggestion to the type of work you will be doing. You cannot have an ego on this team; you have to be able to take initiative on your own work, ask for help from others, think on your toes, and do work that may be below your pay grade.

In addition, there is a dynamic mix of personalities on the team that creates an entertaining work environment. From the funny, ad hoc conversations between desks, to the serious, scheduled meetings, everyone must be aware of the different personalities and dynamics in order to remain professional and motivated. Having a diverse team definitely contributes to the teams’ ability to work effectively together.

My supervisor has only been working at Tap for three months, and his main goal is to build an attribution model that tracks leads through the marketing funnel.

Essentially, we are building out the infrastructure to track the user journey starting as a visit until they become a customer, and everything in between. This model will play an integral part for the marketing and sales team, which also requires cross-team collaboration. Our attribution model will allow the marketing team to see which advertisements, emails, and interactions are the most effective and give us real-time data that supports investments in our marketing campaigns. In addition, I will also be building nurture programs to keep leads engaged with Tap, if they aren’t ready to become a customer. In my position, I am involved with all members of the marketing team by compiling content, graphics, and lists of potential customers to build out these nurture programs. Based on performance data, I will be able to tweak and optimize these programs to make them more effective.

TapInfluence – Week 1

Saturday, June 25, 2016 11:30 pm

As I arrived in Boulder, I had no expectations for what I was going to be doing as a Marketing Operations intern for TapInfluence. TapInfluence is the leader for “influencer marketing”. Influencer Marketing is the hottest trend in marketing. Brands (companies) are connecting with influencers (like bloggers and insta-famous people) to develop content, videos, pictures, etc. for a marketing campaign. In doing so, influencers are able to create authentic and reliable marketing campaigns for companies by leveraging their audience and personal brand. TapInfluence has developed a software automation platform for companies to find influencers and create successful marketing campaigns. In a recent study, it was proven that influencer marketing gives you 11x more ROI over all digital media. Essentially, influencer marketing is no joke and will result in more sales.

On my first day, I was thrown into a day of meetings which (although tiring) were helpful in updating me on the current state of the marketing team and the company as a whole. As Q2 comes to a close, the company is looking to enter a “sprint”. Our CEO defines this company sprint as a whole-team effort to, in sum, achieve the impossible by the end of the year. Everyone needs to step up there game in order for TapInfluence to remain as the leading influencer marketing company, a sector TapInfluence created themselves. Given I don’t have a strong background in marketing, I have been a sponge by learning everything and anything marketing through many meetings, training sessions, and 1:1’s. Being involved with and experiencing this company “sprint” will be an incredible insight into how a start up will succeed.

My main project throughout this internship will be to create an attribution model, which I will be building in HubSpot. Creating an attribution model will allow the marketing team to track almost every action and engagement someone has with TapInfluence, whether that be visiting the website, opening an email, downloading an eBook, or clicking one of our online advertisements. By tracking these actions, I will be able to see which marketing efforts are effective and which ones are a waste of money. The marketing team will the be able to analyze the data collected on engagements with TapInfluence and strategize which efforts should be invested in more. Bottom line, this model will help us more efficiently and effectively find companies that are qualified and interested in using TapInfluence’s platform and taking part in the influencer marketing revolution.

 

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