The Story of TOMODO: Part Three - Start A Fire
Start A Fire
With our new small yet powerful team of four, we started building our new product - Start A Fire. The idea behind it is this: we noticed that brands share content on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and others. Some of the content they share is from their own blog but on average 2/3 is to 3rd party content, which means content created by external publishers. By doing so, they are essentially sending their millions of followers to a 3rd party but getting nothing in return. Moreover, they are losing touch with their followers by sending them away to read these pieces of content. Nonetheless, brands have to do that in order to maintain social media presence and communicate with their followers.
With Start A Fire we enable brands to get engagement and interaction with their followers on top of 3rd party content. Our current most successful way of doing that is by allowing brands to add their recommended content to their shares. So instead of sharing links directly, they share it through Start A Fire and they are able to add their content recommendations on top of the content they are sharing. Brand usually recommend content from their blog where they can really gain from the inbound traffic. This is all made possible by our proxy technology that allows the manipulation of 3rd party content websites in order to add these engagements. The exact same technology we developed for TOMODO’s first product when we started the company.
The timing for Start A Fire was just right. Content discovery is driven more and more by social media and it’s a growing trend. Both brands and publishers understand this very well.
To get to the first 100 brands we really utilized every possible connection we had between the four of us. We targeted social media managers inside these organizations. When we reached the milestone of 100 brands using Start A Fire, something we really hoped that will happen, happened. Our organic growth started to kick in. We have a small label “powered by Start A Fire” in the added content recommendations and social media managers notice it. Once we got a brand to use Start A Fire, their competitors signed up and started using Start A Fire usually within a month. We noticed that if we got enough brands in a certain industry, we started to grow organically within that industry. We used to have an email alert every time a user created a link on our system but we had to turn it off by that point. It completely blocked our emails.
Raising the second round, growing again
With this initial traction the timing was right for another round of financing. My Co-Founder Oren and I started setting up meeting with VCs. In the middle of the process there was DLD Tel Aviv. We got a booth in the convention and since it was a local event, we decided to go with the entire team. We were standing at the booth and Oren spotted Izhar Shay from Canaan Partners from afar. We met in the past but he was not answering our emails. I decided I’m going to get him this time. I chased him through the crowd, got to him, and introduced myself. I wasn’t sure if he remembered me. I asked for 10 minutes of his time to show him Start A Fire and if he would like to walk with me to our booth. He kindly agreed. On our way to the booth a mutual friend joined us, who was also an LP of one of our investors. He was praising us all the way to our booth. That was great. We gave Izhar a demo of Start A Fire and he appeared impressed by the product, data and team. We scheduled a follow up meeting that led to a series of meetings, calls with selected Start A Fire users and more. Eventually, we got a Term Sheet from Canaan Partners. At that point we actually got another Term Sheet from another VC but we decided to go with Canaan Partners and Izhar Shay joined our board. Our previous investors were super supportive throughout the process and joined the round. lool VC even brought us a surprise cake with a dollar sign on it. We eventually closed the round at $2.5MM.
It was a good time to move to a new office and get that fresh feeling, we needed that. It was also a time to rebuild the team. While I’m writing these lines we are 9 and still hiring. We even got to rehire some of our old team members back.
Start A Fire currently empowers 1,900 brands, there are 20K links created using Start A Fire each day and content interactions on our widgets are as high as 13%. We are constantly growing, exciting times ahead. After all, it’s just the beginning of our journey.
This is the third post in the series. To read the fourth and final post - click here.