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1Mby1M Incubation Radar 2012: SociaLasso, Tel Aviv, Israel

Posted on Friday, Jan 11th 2013

The meteoric rise of social media has in turn created a need for social media marketing for every business, large or small. A key issue for all these marketeers is to identify the players to market to: potential customers and influencers, in particular, and the ecosystem in general.

As a co-founder of Ransys, one of the first companies to introduce event-driven feedback solutions, Dr. Guy Yogev was frequently in discussions about listening to and monitoring customers’ social media use. In 2007, he concluded that most available tools viewed social media as singular, unstructured information in bulk. Dr. Yogev decided to tap into the need to reduce required analysis by viewing things differently with SociaLasso.

SociaLasso, an early-stage Israeli startup, considers social media as a structured environment with confined ecosystems that are discovered by following the flow of social information. Focusing on a single one of these ecosystems both reduces the amount of information to process and provides more precise results. The company helps social media marketers to implement their strategies through daily actionable recommendations and constant feedback. Automatically generated steps apply to any type of ecosystem, such as posting a campaign on a specific blog or discussion group, or connecting with a leading influencer.

Discussions with Ransys analysts prompted Dr. Yogev to partner with Ransys board member Gideon Cohen to form SociaLasso. Dr. Yogev now functions as the company’s active chairman, bringing with him a PhD from Tel Aviv University, where he concurrently holds a position as management faculty. Dr. Yogev’s three co-founders round out the core team. Gideon Cohen, a CEO, is a serial entrepreneur and founder of Penquest and Ergo. Co-CEO Nir Cohen has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and business development with companies such as Alvarion, Combox, Serconet, and Lucid. Nimrod Shaulski serves as VP of research & development, with more than 15 years of experience in the field with companies such as NGSoft, Elmo Motion Control, and Verint. Also joining the team is Dr. Zvika Marx as chief scientist; Dr. Marx has developed algorithms and software with eBay and Amdocs.

While the majority of social media marketing uses key words as the main source of information, Dr. Yogev and his team believe that this technology is limited and ignores a large part of the information available. SociaLasso aims to highlight the value of the post’s source, author, and commenters, as they help to determine the connection between a post and its ecosystem. Their patent-pending solution examines all elements, or entities, associated with a post or post structure. Accurate, specific recommendations are then generated for marketers while the system automatically builds a social structure of relevant ecosystems.

Their social media guidance tool is aimed at marketers who have difficulty navigating the growing world of social media. Marketing teams are guided through optimal placement of content, measuring returns on campaigns, building relationships and engaging in relevant conversation online. The solution is already used daily by the marketing and professional staffs of SMEs as well as large enterprises; SociaLasso’s target market is medium and large businesses already engaged in social media activity, as well as PR agencies that outsource social media for these companies.

SociaLasso is included in a new category of social media solutions, emerging with a social intelligence trend known as “social guidance.” Competitors in this field include Info-Pulse, Tracx, Tellagence, and Buddy Media. Providing a social map of ecosystems to cut down on big data, analyzing the flow of information to avoid key word misidentification, and making actionable recommendations help to differentiate their solution. Nir Cohen refers to SociaLasso as “the extra mile needed for social intelligence tools.”

The company’s first customers were generated through previews of ecosystems and analyst snapshots of the automatically generated maps. Using conferences, articles, and viral campaigns online, SociaLasso will continue to build a solid foundation of early adopters. These users will then receive an online demo and limited free use of the system. While the company does not yet have significant traffic, number of users, or revenue, they have signed an agreement with a leading social media listening platform vendor to deliver social media ecosystem maps upon request.

SociaLasso is in the process of developing the first version of their social media guidance tool, to be released in early 2013. They will operate on a SaaS model, charging users $500 per month per ecosystem. The company will also offer a free version of the tool for analysts and influencers to help establish their understanding of specific ecosystems. According to research from Forrester published in 2011, the social media marketing sector will reach nearly $3.1 billion by 2014, a growth rate of 34%. As a result, SociaLasso has estimated profits of around $3.9 billion based on total addressable market (TAM) ranging from companies of 50 to 10,000 employees.

To date, SociaLasso is a self-funded company.  However, they are currently looking to raise their first round of investment. Gideon Cohen, Nir Cohen and the team have reached advanced stages of discussions with several VCs, and they claim chances  are good that they will soon be financed. SociaLasso is similarly optimistic regarding exit: although they hope the company will be self-sustained, they have already identified candidates for acquisition, including IBM and SAP.

This segment is a part in the series : 1Mby1M Incubation Radar 2012

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