There can’t be many account managers working in online advertising agencies these days who could fail to ignore the importance of social media as a major channel for successful campaigns; but one of the most successful social media marketing startups to have emerged over the last couple of years, Philadelphia-based Curalate, almost didn’t happen.
Success from disaster
Curalate rose from the ashes of an earlier project its co-founder Apu Gupta had had high hopes for. He’d seen the success of the emerging “sharing economy” (i.e., firms that rent their technology or storage) and thought he could come up with a viable option. So he raised a tidy $750,000 to launch his first brainchild, Storably, a website letting people rent out their excess parking inventory or storage.
Sadly, it bombed and Gupta realized it he had to shut it down, even offering to return all the money to his investors. But they appreciated the care he was taking with their cash and invited him to come up with another startup idea, whereupon he and Storably’s CTO, Nick Shiftan, spent a month brainstorming new ideas. After a lot of testing, number 63 on their list came out as the most viable. Curalate was born in December 2011 when Instagram and Pinterest were exploding in popularity.
For any account managers out there who haven’t heard if it, Curalate’s image recognition algorithms analyze posts to find which products are being shared and talked about. It then sends the data to the brands. Brands can use Curalate to respond directly to users when they post product pictures and to link to customer images.
Having just added Tumblr support to its platform, Curalate now provides marketing and analytics tools across the visual web segment of the social media world, embracing Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and Facebook.
The addition of Tumblr, says Gupta, makes a lot of sense because so many product images are posted there – and they often don’t come accompanied by text (which is where the startup’s image recognition wizardry comes into its own).
Gupta thinks brands that feel they don’t need to be on Tumblr because they haven’t got a blog of their own on there are making a big mistake. As he puts it:
“If your consumer is on Tumblr, then your brand is on Tumblr.”