New innovators: Warbble

Tech start-up helps clients use social media to drive their businesses forward

Unsure about how social media fits into your business? Relax. You're not alone even if some of its more zealous converts make you feel like the last techno Neanderthal standing. "The more I talked to businesses over the last two years the more lost I found they were when it came to social media," says Emmett Gallagher, co-founder of new social media content management platform Warbble.

"Firstly, they didn't know where to start and hadn't the time to find out. Secondly they were unsure of the costs and felt they were out of their reach. Thirdly, some had tried social media with limited success and, unconvinced by the potential, had simply hidden away from it. Finally, while people used Twitter and Facebook personally, they didn't know where to begin using it for their business."

Having spent over 10 years in the corporate world, most recently with Vodafone, Gallagher and co-founder, Greg Furlong, were on the lookout for a new business opportunity. Having spotted the gap in the market for social media hand holding, their initial idea was to set up a social media agency. What made them shift their focus to building a platform instead was the fact that an agency could only service a limited number of clients whereas a scalable platform was the doorway to a much bigger business.

Warbble’s services include content writing, social monitoring, demand lead generation and analytics. The company was set up in October 2015 and a beta version of the platform was launched in February this year. Warbble has been revenue generating since and now employs three people full time with 16 freelance contractors working on content creation and graphic and video design.

Gallagher estimates the total investment in the business to date at about €220,000 between personal and private equity. Warbble is currently closing a seed round which will be used to fund expansion. The product development phase was tightly bootstrapped and the partners took the view that they wanted customers and an income stream before approaching potential investors. Warbble has received support from Dublin BIC and has participated in both Google’s Adopt a Startup 2016 and the New Frontiers business development programme at DIT Hothouse.

“What was really valuable in the Hothouse experience was the quality of the mentoring,” Gallagher says. “Indeed we pivoted slightly based on advice we received there. My advice to any start-up is to take all the mentoring experience you can get.”

Warbble bases its charges on a recurring monthly licence fee. The scale for individual companies runs between €75 and €700 a month while large corporate clients will pay about €2,000 for a bespoke service. Warbble operates across all sectors and its service travels well. The company already has clients in Australia, Norway, Pakistan, the UK and the Caribbean.

“We have the ability to focus on any niche in any market and current demand is coming from areas such as professional services, IT, legal consulting and accountancy. However, the way we’ve designed our pricing model means we can accommodate any business with any budget,” Gallagher says. “We have just one goal every day – to help our clients utilise the power of social media to drive their businesses forward.

“This technology and space is not going away. In fact it is only going to get faster, with more social channels becoming available. Our job is to help companies understand this and utilise it for their business. Is the market big enough for more coffee shops? Yes, if the value proposition is correct. For example there are circa five million small and medium sized businesses in the UK and 2.5 million of them have no social presence. Of the other 2.5 million, half of them admit they need help. We want to be their ‘go-to’ partner.”

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