How to Turn Your Fans into SuperFans
Why we invested in Alexandra Botez and Ruben Mayer
Alexandra Botez is a chess Olympian, no small feat…but what she didn’t expect is to amass an online following. As fans reached out to her for advice, she became overwhelmed by wanting to personally respond to each fan, but frustrated by how unscalable it became. As a student at Stanford, she knew there was a better way. She paired with classmate Ruben Mayer, and together they decided to solve this challenge by building a new product: SuperFan.
SuperFan (aka CrowdAmp) is a unified inbox for influencers that leverages NLP to interpret and coalesce inbound messages that are similar, initially via SMS. An influencer uses their own words to respond only once to each type of comment and everyone who made a similar comment gets that response. Gary Vaynerchuk, their mentor on “Planet of the Apps” explained it this way:
89 people a day ask me which one of my four books should they read. I answer them all one by one, but if I answered ‘the Thank You Economy’ and that goes to all 89 people, it’s still me answering it, but it goes to my fans in an efficient way.” — GaryVaynerchuk
Gary introduced them to four up-and-coming influencers (@shonduras, @effortlyss, @boywithnojob, @dunk) who were all excited to use it. Importantly, their A/B tests have shown that fans who interact with an influencer in this way become more engaged on existing social networks — their fans become SuperFans.
To see their story, watch episode 7 of Planet Of the Apps on Apple Music:
Watch "Revolutionizing Social Media" from Planet of the Apps on Apple Musicitunes.apple.com
We’re excited to back Alexandra and Ruben to bring this product to market and help influencers everywhere.
I recently asked Alexandra and Ruben some questions about their journey building SuperFan.
Aaron: Where are you from? How did your hometown shape your idea? Ruben: Growing up gay in Mexico, I used social media to inform the way I thought about my identity. Social media influencers often served as the only real role models that I could look up to. While YouTube and Facebook were great at providing me with content, I often yearned for a closer connection. I want SuperFan to be the place where fans can form the most personal relationships with the people they admire.
Aaron: How did you get the idea for this app? Did you have a personal story and perspective that this idea solved?
Alexandra: I used to play chess competitively, so I opened up a Facebook Page to keep in touch with the chess community. I would get several dozen messages each day asking about chess tips and advice. I wanted to help as many people as I could, but there was no way to reply to everybody. I started talking to Ruben about the problem and we came up with the foundation of what is now SuperFan.
Aaron: What benefit do you provide that’s relevant to the customer and their pain point?
Alexandra: SuperFan helps both fans and influencers. Currently, fans want more personal interactions with their idols, and our product lets them get this through one-to-one messaging. Influencers care about fan engagement. Nothing gets fans more engaged than personal interactions, and we allow influencers to do this at scale.
Aaron: How do you differentiate from the competition?
Ruben: Traditional social media is mostly made up of one-way broadcasted content. SuperFan allows for personalized content that is built around influencer and fan interactions.
Aaron: What are the apps you can’t live without (aside from your product)?
Ruben: Lyft, Twitter, TrackR, Google Maps, iMessage, Safari
Alexandra: Uber, Snapchat, Tile, Waze, Facebook Messenger, Chrome
Aaron: What entrepreneurs do you admire?
Alexandra: Elon Musk, Susan Polgar, Peter Thiel, James Altucher
Ruben: Marc Benioff, Ben Silbermann, Brian Chesky
Aaron: What does success look like to you?
Alexandra: Substantial positive impact in the lives of our users.
Aaron: What does diversity mean to you?
Ruben: People can only solve problems that they are intimately familiar with. Diverse backgrounds lead to diverse insights and approaches to solving problems.
Aaron: What’s the most valuable piece of professional advice you have received?
Ruben: Success is a function of work — don’t wait until you have a “Golden Opportunity” to get started.
Alexandra: Approach big problems by focusing on the next necessary step.
Aaron: What kind of culture do you/your business thrive in?
Ruben & Alexandra: We are both fans of extreme ownership: the practice of taking full responsibility for our work regardless of external factors.