Sponsorama — our first 6 months in review and the roadmap to 1.0

Tldr; Those first 6 months have been awesome for the company, we have learned a lot, we worked close to our customers and we could not have been happier of how it went. But 2017 is going to be even bigger as we plan to greatly improve the platform based on what we learned in these few initial months. In addition, we will turn on the switch of our marketing machine and start driving the growth of the marketplace.

Learn Learn Learn

As a newborn company, Sponsorama has a lot to learn from the market and its customers. The initial 6 months of operations are certainly some of the most important for a company, it’s when the abstractions of a perfect plan collide with the imperfections of the real world. We can say with confidence that Sponsorama graduated brilliantly from this initial test, but we cannot settle down. The amount of things that we learned during this time meant only one thing for us: that we can do even more to help our customers and fulfill our mission of simplifying the digital sponsorship market.

The most stunning fact that we learned is that the digital sponsorship market is growing steadily but it’s currently under-served. Digital sponsorship is a huge opportunity for companies to put their brand out there, but it can also be a stable (and highly profitable) funding source for independent makers, creators and influencers. However, the engine is not running at full throttle and there are a lot of missed opportunities on both sides.

Initially, we thought that this was due to the fact that the market was not ready yet for the explosion of digital sponsorship, but then we learned that the problem is not in the numbers but rather in the high entropy of the market which is certainly not well organized and well defined as it happens for digital advertisement, for example. This makes the life harder to anybody who operates in the digital sponsorship market.

High entropy market

In the digital sponsorship market there are a lot of inefficiencies, manual steps, negotiations and there is clearly a big communication gap between the demand side and the offer side. As a result, many projects looking for sponsors often can’t maximize their revenue and on the other side the brands who want to take advantage of sponsorship for their marketing campaigns often end up paying for the usual big publications, overlooking the huge potential of the smaller, more specialized opportunities.

There is total chaos surrounding pricing and success metrics. There are huge inconsistencies in the way publications want to handle sponsorship; there are those who always want to have a meeting with the sponsor and those who want to automate things as much as they can. It’s the same for sponsors; there are those who want to get it done as quickly as possible and those who have to follow a rigorous internal process.

In short, we learned that we need to educate rather than just connect. The market needs a guide a reference point. We want that guide to be Sponsorama, and we’ll work hard to make it a reality.

The road ahead

As you can imagine, the task ahead of us is not easy, but these first 6 months gave us a solid base to start our roadmap to releasing the 1.0 version of Sponsorama. We have a lot planned.

Open registrations

First of all we are going to start marketing the platform to the general public. Most of the current users on Sponsorama were invited to join the platform on a one-by-one basis. It worked very well to bootstrap the marketplace with a carefully curated set of projects, but as we move out of our private beta, we are going to remove the invite-only limit, giving the opportunity to everybody to register. There will still be a careful approval process, but everybody will be able to get an account without the need to get an invite from us first.

Paid membership

After opening the signups to the public, we are going to introduce paid membership plans. So far, creating a profile on Sponsorama has been completely free and our service fee (which is applied only to sponsors) is very low. As many of you understand, that’s not a business model that will be sustainable for long. On the other side, we don’t want to follow the steps of ad networks or other similar competitors charging 30% commission or more. As we said, we are here to change things.

For us the solution is to keep Sponsorama commission-free for projects, but charge instead a small membership fee. All the projects who will have joined before the introduction of the paid membership plans don’t have to worry, as they will continue to take advantage of their free membership plan forever 👊 (thanks for being our early adopters!).

Reverse marketplace

Another big feature that we are working on at the moment is the introduction of the reverse marketplace model. Essentially, it means that projects will be able to pitch their sponsorship offers directly to the companies on Sponsorama.

Initially there will be only the possibility to broadcast offers. Imagine having a free sponsorship slot for the upcoming week. Instead of leaving that spot empty, you would have the ability to broadcast a discounted offer to all the sponsors on Sponsorama. Few of them would let the offer pass.

In a second phase, projects will be able to browse the sponsors on Sponsorama and directly send them sponsorship proposals.

Anonymous booking , booking widget, mini CRM

As part of our strategy to make Sponsorama the go-to platform for dealing with digital sponsorship, we are going to strengthen the sponsorship management capabilities of the platform.

We will greatly simplify the sponsorship booking process, allowing users to book and pay for a sponsorship without being logged-in into the platform. Also, we will implement an embedable widget so you can start accepting bookings straight from your website. Automation 🤖 for the win!

Also we will build a mini CRM right inside the platform, allowing you to manage also the campaigns you start outside of the marketplace. This will allow you to keep all your campaigns well organized. It will include a calendar view of all campaigns and contacts management.

As you can see, our plan is quite ambitious but we are sure that you’ll love the results. Oh, by the way, we would love to know what you think about it. Are we missing something? You’d like us to prioritize some features instead of others? Email us your comments at humans[at]sponsorama.com, we’d love to start a conversation!