SQream Raises $26.4M in Strategic Series B Funding Round Led by Alibaba Group

May 30, 2018 in NewsReleases

Funding will be used to cement SQream’s position as the leading GPU database of choice for enabling enterprises to maximize and leverage their big data analytics

TEL AVIV, Israel — (May 30, 2018) – SQream, developer of SQream DB, the leading GPU database for analyzing massive data stores at a fraction of the cost, announced today that it has raised $26.4 million in Series B funding. The latest round was led by Alibaba Group (NYSE: BABA) with participation from existing and new investors including Hanaco Venture Capital, Sistema.vc, World Trade Ventures, Paradiso Ventures, Glory Ventures, and Silvertech Ventures.

SQream DB, a powerful SQL analytical database, enables companies to analyze up to 20 times more data, up to 100 times faster, at as little as 10% of the cost and administration. SQream DB harnesses the power of thousands of parallel processing cores in NVIDIA GPUs. The solution allows users to easily ingest, store and analyze tens to hundreds of terabytes of data and more with significantly reduced infrastructure and manpower resources. The result is unparalleled power and flexibility to explore and analyze massive amounts of data. The latest investment reinforces the rising challenge facing enterprises to take full advantage of rapidly growing data stores.

“SQream is uniquely positioned to provide enterprises with the solution they require to lower the barrier for accessing and analyzing rapidly growing, large-scale data stores in the cloud. We are pleased to expand our relationship with SQream, and work together to accelerate the growth of the cloud industry,” said Chaoqun Zhan, Director of Alibaba Database Business.

This strategic investment deepens the relationship between Alibaba Cloud and SQream. In February, the companies announced a collaboration agreement to provide Alibaba Cloud’s customers with a cost effective way to set up, access and analyze data in the cloud, enabling more comprehensive analytics and previously unobtainable business intelligence.

“We are very gratified with the vote of confidence we have received from this round’s lead investor, Alibaba Group, and our other key investors,” said Ami Gal, CEO and Co-founder of SQream. “The financing enables us to accelerate technological integration with ecosystem partners, and to grow our global sales and marketing team as we help enterprises worldwide meet the challenges of accessing and analyzing data from exponentially growing massive data stores”.



RVC shoppers see savings with Cinch

By Ben Strack

The start-up economy has come to Rockville Centre, in the form of a new cashless payment app designed to support local businesses, save consumers money and help local charities. Cinch Wallet, a web application founded earlier this year, is changing the way village dwellers shop.

Richner Communications, which publishes the Rockville Centre Herald, is the local force behind the project. “We were looking for ways to strengthen the local community,” said Stuart Richner, a longtime Rockville Centre resident and co-publisher of the Herald Community Newspapers. “We felt Cinch had the potential to keep money in the community — benefiting both residents and local businesses while building the fabric of the community. It aligns with what the Heralds have done for so many years.”

Richner teamed up with Cinch co-founders Marc Liebmann and Maya Komerov to produce a mobile wallet for local communities. Liebmann and Komerov were the perfect partners, Richner said, noting that they had the technology in place and understood the need to bolster local businesses. Cinch Wallet allows local businesses to compete with the big-box and chain stores, Liebmann told the Herald, as well as online distributors like Amazon, which, he said, have hurt local businesses around the country in recent years.

“Rockville Centre has a pretty thriving Main Street … so we wanted to help that growth and figure out a way to encourage people to shop locally,” Liebmann said. “In looking for a place to debut this new concept, it was very important for us to go into a community that had a good array of businesses, as well as a strong base of consumers who care about their community.”

More than 50 Rockville Centre businesses currently accept Cinch payments, including bars, restaurants, gyms and salons. Users can pre-load money to their cell phone with a credit card and pay with their phone at the time of purchase. The technology is similar to that used by Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, and gives local businesses the ability to offer perks and discounts to loyal users just like the big guys.

Unlike some other mobile payment methods, Cinch users receive discounts of up to 30 percent in exchange for pre-paying. New users receive $10 free the first time they load money, and get $10 if they refer a friend. Residents can sign up by visiting www.cinch.ky/rvc.

“Essentially, your money is worth more when you shop locally,” Liebmann said. “You put in $100 and you get $120 to spend. Maybe you get $140 to spend, maybe $110.” Each business establishes its own discounts and specials.

Businesses say Cinch is, well, a cinch to use

“When it first started, people really liked it because it was just simple and easy, and you were given the extra Cinch bucks,” said Elisha LaRocco, the marketing and catering director at the Flour Shoppe Café. “[It] was cool, because everybody likes free money.”

Matthew Chapman, general manager of GM Burger Bar, said that Cinch has attracted new customers and draws back loyal visitors as well. “The guests love it because they get to save a little bit of money,” he said. “I like it because they’re more inclined to eat out more frequently, knowing that they can. It’s great for local business.”

In addition to attracting new customers through the app, Liebmann explained, businesses can customize special offers and promotions based on the time of day, or the day of the week.

“I think just making things accessible and easy for customers like Cinch did really keeps people local and wanting to invest in local companies,” LaRocco said.

“I used it once, I had a good experience and I plan on using it again,” noted Rockville Centre resident John Cameron, who used the app at Chadwicks American Chop House and Bar. “It provides a substantial benefit at those businesses that utilize it. It’s a very substantial discount.”

Michelle Sewell said she has used Cinch for the last few months, and that she liked it enough to join its team. “Cinch saves me money, supports RVC businesses and donates to local charities while keeping money in the local economy,” she wrote in an email. “I have also downloaded the web-based app on my teens’ phone so they can use it in town after school.”

Rockville Centre resident Kathy Baxley said she has used the app at five businesses so far, including Parmagianni, Wild Ginger, George Martin, Glass Beauty Bar and Personal Training Institute.

“It’s a good deal for all involved,” she said. “The merchants get more people coming to shop, they get more money up front … I get additional money put into my account for these different merchants and I get to shop locally.”

’It’s a win-win-win’

Cinch gives back a portion of every dollar spent on the app to local charities and causes, like the Rockville Centre Education Foundation. Baxley said she hoped to see more causes benefit from the application, such as the South Side High School PTA, the Rockville Centre Breast Cancer Coalition and the RVC Conservancy. Liebmann said the app would expand the list of causes that receive proceeds in the future, based on consumer choices.

“The Cinch people are very generous with giving back to the community,” Baxley said. “I love that some money is going back to nonprofits that I support in town.”

Cinch is also being introduced in Lynbrook and East Rockaway, and is set to launch in Long Beach soon. “We’re returning control of money to the community,” Liebmann said, “rather than to the big businesses and the internet.”

“This is the ultimate in our quest to encourage local shopping,” Richner said. “It benefits the entire community — consumers, businesses and local causes. It’s a win-win-win.”



Aquant.io Announces $2.6M Seed Round, Bringing AI Into the World of Service to Solve the Multi-Billion-Dollar Downtime Problem



NEW YORK, Nov. 7, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Aquant, a New York City-based tech company, announced it has secured $2.6 million in seed funding from World Trade Ventures, SilverTech Ventures, AngeList Syndicate led by Gil Dibner, and a group of private investors in order to expand their customer base and accelerate development of the technology's abilities.

Aquant, a rising name in the tech business ecosystem, has developed sophisticated AI and machine learning technology to addresses the multi-billion-dollar problem of machinery downtime that troubles service companies. The unique aspect of Aquant's technology is its ability to locate potential failures at levels that are difficult to be predicted by humans.

Companies in the service industry have gotten used to paying a fortune on a yearly basis on machinery downtime and recurring technicians' visits, due to lack of technicians' skills and wrong stocking of parts.

Aquant provides service companies with a permanent solution for this problem.

"The downtime problem is a $647 billion a year problem. It still amazes me that service companies have let this problem go on for so long," says Shahar Chen, CEO and co-founder of Aquant. "It takes an amazing, experienced, dedicated team with the specific knowledge of the industry and of AI to change things and solve this problem. We are really proud of the team at Aquant.io for providing the solution the industry has been looking for."

Engineered with predictive AI and machine learning, Aquant's state of the art algorithms are able to forecast the servicing needs long before they occur and save precious downtime, all based on the analysis of existing historical structured and unstructured data.

"As one of the pioneers to introduce artificial intelligence and machine learning to the space of service, Aquant is creating a revolution by eliminating the need to replace existing IT systems at an excessive cost," says Assaf Melochna, COO and co-founder of Aquant. "Instead, Aquant turns those IT systems into intelligent ones by providing a 'brain' that is able to collect and analyze any format of data in a flash and generate predictions for expected technical failures of the machine, the most cost-effective solution and the required parts and skills in order to increase uptime."

"We are excited to be a part of Aquant's growth trajectory and looking forward to seeing Aquant's team grow their company and provide value to their clients on a global scale," said Charlie Federman, Partner at SilverTech Ventures.

The company is a winner of the Industry Innovators 2017 Award, and the keynote speaker at the upcoming Field Service Connect convention in Austin, Texas on Nov. 13.

For further information and to learn more about the revolutionary technology contact rel="nofollow">hello@aquant.io.

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This NYC Startup Raised $11.7M to Take The Apartment Renting Process Out of the Stone Age



Did you know that nearly a quarter of Manhattan rental applications are rejected? Having the 7th highest rejection rate in the country, you need to make sure that you can prove that you’ll be a reliable tenant. TheGuarantors is an innovative insurtech service providing renters that may not normally qualify with stringent guidelines with a rental lease guarantee that offers peace of mind for landlords. Already widely being used in NYC and an eye towards growth in other markets and products, TheGuarantors is poised to disrupt the real estate industry.

AlleyWatch chatted with founder and CEO Julien Bonneville about their recent funding and how they are expanding their offering.

Who were your investors and how much did you raise?

We raised $11.7M in Series A funding from more than 20 individual, VC, and real estate investors. White Star Capital and Alven Capital led the round, which also included SilverTech Ventures (the venture arm of Silverstein Properties), Global Founders Capital, Rocket Internet Capital Partners, Partech Ventures, and several other prominent investors.

Tell us about your product or service.

We are an insurtech startup that develops innovative insurance products for the real estate industry.

Through our first product we act as a lease cosigner to residential tenants who have difficulty qualifying for an apartment on their own. We distribute this Lease Guarantee through our online Leasing Portal, a technology platform that streamlines the application, underwriting, and policy issuance processes. Today, we’re accepted by most of the predominant landlords in New York City and New Jersey, and we’re launching in ten new markets over the next year.

Also, through working closely with New York’s largest landlords, we’ve discovered many additional components of property leasing and insurance that are ripe for innovation. In response, we’re developing new technology enabled insurance solutions geared toward landlords and renters in both residential and commercial real estate. Stay tuned for more.

What inspired you to start the company?

As a French national, I first moved to New York to attend business school at Columbia. As a student, I struggled to qualify for an apartment and soon learned that many New Yorkers, not just internationals and students, experience similar issues while apartment hunting. I founded TheGuarantors to solve these issues, starting with the lease qualification process. Since entering the space I’ve become even more excited by all of the opportunities that technology presents to the real estate and insurance industries.

How is it different?

What helps set us apart is our technology platform. It enables highly efficient distribution by connecting landlords, property managers, brokers/agents, and tenants via customized portals and innovative workflow automation. We’ve also developed a proprietary applicant scoring algorithm, which allows us to more comprehensively assess risks. We’re real estate experts with technology at our core, which gives us a different perspective than other insurance and property management companies.

What market you are targeting and how big is it?

We’re targeting several segments of the U.S. property and casualty insurance and surety markets, which in aggregate total over $100 billion. Our business lines currently under development have an addressable market of $20 billion.

What’s your business model?

For our Lease Guarantee, the tenant pays a fee of 5-10% of the total rent for the term of the lease. The guarantee is backed by The Hanover Insurance Group, a Worcester-MA insurance company with $14 billion dollars in assets.

How has your business changed since we last spoke to you around this time last year?

We’ve increased the value proposition of our Leasing Portal by adding new features in several areas, such as landlord/tenant collaboration and underwriting. We’ve also added key integrations that enable us to gauge real time changes in applicant risk and better manage renewals.

Over the last six months, revenues have tripled and the team has grown from 5 to 27 employees, with the majority dedicated to technology. We’re proud to now be accepted in roughly 600 buildings and 100,000 units, and we’re onboarding new properties every week.

What was the funding process like?

We’ve developed strong relationships with our seed investors, the vast majority of whom participated in the Series A. Such support made this fundraising round much smoother and quicker than the seed round. Additionally, we’re thrilled to partner with several new investors, such as Rocket Internet and Global Founders Capital.

That said, we’re now back to work and excited to shift 100% of our focus to product development and business operations.

What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?

This was my first time raising a Series A, which has been an incredible learning experience. We were fortunate to be oversubscribed in the round, so the most difficult part was determining which new partners would be most complementary to our existing group of seed investors. I’m very grateful for all of the guidance and support I received from my advisors as well as my network of fellow entrepreneurs in New York City.

What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?

Our investors like the core characteristics of our business and market traction we’ve received to date. We were able to achieve break-even six months after launch and have proven attractive unit economics going forward.

Additionally, we’ve developed a strong team of experts that understand the complexities of the insurance and real estate industries, which involve state-by-state regulations, an understanding of credit and bankruptcy laws, and several other intricacies unique to our business.

What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?

We’ll launch in four new cities over the next six months, starting with Boston and the Washington D.C. metro area. We’ll also introduce another insurance product over our Leasing Portal, with a third product scheduled to hit the market shortly thereafter. At the same time, we’ll increase NYC penetration, where we see a lot more potential.

What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?

Scrappiness and networking can be substitutes for funding, at least in the short run. When you’re lean you instill these traits into your culture out of necessity, but they’re just as important after you’ve closed financing.

Where do you see the company going now over the near term?

We’ll remain very execution-oriented. New York City is our pilot market because of its size and appetite for innovation, so we’ll continue to develop and refine products here. At the same time, we’ll take a disciplined, systematic approach to expansion outside of New York where we’ll begin to discover which practices to replicate vs. which to adapt. We’re excited to be at the intersection of real estate, technology, and insurance, and will stick to our core of delivering value to the participants within that ecosystem.

What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?

My wife Virginie and I love Insa Korean BBQ in Gowanus.

This 25-year-old entrepreneur is about to flip the FAFSA process on its head with new online platform



The phrase ‘student debt’ has become more or less synonymous with words like torture, agony and inconvenience -- just to name a few.

The process of sorting through and filling out the FAFSA can be extremely daunting and confusing, and it’s not exactly as if you’re given a hand to hold to help walk you through it.

That’s where Frank comes in.

Founded by 25-year-old Charlie Javice, the online platform helps college students fill out the form in under five minutes. 

In the past six months alone, Frank has helped award a whopping $3.5 billion in financial aid to families across the country.

In the words of Javice herself:

“The government’s hiding billions of dollars from you to go to school, so let’s help you find it.”

We had the chance to chat with the 25-year-old CEO about Frank’s mission, successes and what it’s really like to run your own company at such a young age.

AOL: In simplest terms, what is Frank?

Charlie Javice:Frank is an online platform to make college more affordable. our first product streamlines and simplifies the FAFSA, so that you can fill it out in under four minutes.”

AOL: How did the name Frank come to be? Is there a deeper meaning behind it?

CJ: “Who do you turn to for financial advice? When you’re between the ages of 18 to 26, most people seem to say some crazy uncle…your parent’s best friend that you trust, but would never trust a parent…Frank just seemed to be really fitting for that.

Everything that deals with student debt is very corrupt … it’s not honest. We wanted something that stood for respect, dignity and honesty and Frank meant honest as well, and it’s super easy to remember…it just seemed to be a good name that was approachable, friendly, simple and honest.”

AOL: What was your personal experience with the FAFSA? Was there any point in the process that a lightbulb went off to create something like Frank?

CJ: “I spent a lot of time on the banking side trying to figure out how to lend money in a more responsible way, and have banks give a shit. it always came back to the one thing which was here was no ally for students. I would meet all these amazing families across the U.S. that would suffer from student debt … you just want the best for everyone and you need to find the way to do that … and that was the turning point for Frank, realizing that banks wouldn’t be the allies of students, the universities wouldn’t be the allies of students, and the government was subsidizing the whole space. there had to be a good actor that really stood by a family’s side even when most people didn’t think it was a valuable opportunity … we believe the opposite and built a big business from it as well.”

AOL: Who did you turn to when you came up with the idea — How did you assemble a team and how did they help you get it off the ground?

CJ: “This is my second tech company — it always helps to have a network of people that you turn to … I’m very lucky that my pervious investors were willing to take another bet with me … But honestly, the first people that you go to are your customers. 

I spent a lot of time in high schools — part of my personal volunteering has always been around helping high school students around math, science and college applications, from a tutoring perspective. I got to understand their stories a lot better, and understand why it was so painful. and looking at it through their eyes really shaped the company first.

In terms of assembling a team … you hear a lot about diversity when it comes to Silicon Valley and how difficult it is, but what people don’t realize is that diversity isn achieved at your 100th employee when you name a chief diversity office, or at your 10th. it starts at the very beginning. It was very important to me that the first hires that we made were from different socioeconomic levels, had different backgrounds, but still had the professional experience to bring to the table. 

And i think its reflected in our team from the standpoint … i think thats super important as you build something, to build something thats representative of the product you’re selling.”

AOL: How long did it take you to get Frank rolling, from the time you had the idea to where you are now?

CJ:  “I moved from the banking side in June 2016, and we had a version of our product ready for October 1st of last year. 

We worked with 5 high schools in the South Bronx, which was the poorest congressional district. It was two charter schools and three department of education schools that we went into and helped students file FAFSA with our software, and that was all done offline … it was private. And then we launched March 29, 2017 … we’re now over 120,000 and $3.5 billion of aid awarded through our platform.”

AOL: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as young entrepreneur?

CJ: “I think the biggest thing along the way turned out to be almost like a definition of optimism that you learn, and how to communicate effectively between your customers, your investors and internally on your team. And as an entrepreneur, you get up everyday thinking ‘Today is going to be a good day,’ or else you would not get out of bed. The big thing that i learned is whether you believe it’s a good day, you still need to have your two feet on earth and make sure everything’s running to connect the dots and make everyone around you motivated to also get up everyday and say ‘Today’s a good day.’

AOL: Is it challenging being a young boss? What age range do you find most of your employees fall under?

CJ:  "We have tremendous talent — some in their 40s and 50s and some where we’ve promoted people that are 23, that are on that same level. And i think thats the beauty of having a product thats mostly geared toward millennials, between 18 and 24, there are many things as a young entrepreneur that you’re actually more intuitively aware of with the market you’re serving.

I think leading by example is one way [to manage the age discrepancies], making decisions with data is something that almost becomes necessary — To fill the trust gap between people who have 20 years of experience is basically 20 years of accumulating more data than you have. What it ends up being, is that you lead in a very rational sense and you expect your direct reports and your executive team to be questioning everything you do just as much as you question everything they do. It becomes this very non-emotional way to lead an organization, so that you know you’re making the right choices as fast as possible to move the company forward.

AOL: What’s next for Frank?

CJ: “We are looking forward this year to being the market leader in helping students with financial aid and getting to 10 percent of the population — hopefully between 2.5 and 5 million people filing FAFSA with us!”

You can learn more about Frank here.

Strategies for Brands to Find the Best Influencers: In Conversation with Gil Eyal


Ahead of the upcoming Influencer Marketing Days Event, we sat down with Gil Eyal, CEO at HYPR for an exclusive on his session at the event. He gives insights on how brands should focus on utilizing local or micro influencers, add a human element to videos and use technology optimally. Also, he cautions brands against letting influencers take over process and owning the brand’s authenticity. His advice to brands is to “build long relationships with influencers to get great work out of them “. Gil was selected as one of ten Israelis influencing the New York tech scene and recognized as the Top Boss in Tech in 2017 by Digiday



Ginger Conlon:

Hello and welcome to MarTech Advisor’s Executive Interview Series. I'm Ginger Conlon, a Contributing Editor to MarTech Advisor and joining us today is Gil Eyal, who is CEO of HYPR Brands. Welcome Gil!

Gil Eyal:

Hi Ginger, thanks for having me.

Q- Ginger Conlon:

Glad you're here today. We're gonna talk about your session and related topics at the upcoming Influencer Marketing Days 2017. We're gonna get a sneak peek at your session which is activating influencers and mistakes we should not be making and talk a little bit about influencer trends in general. So I'm excited about that but let's first start with a little bit about you. Tell us about your background and about HYPR Brands?

A- Gil Eyal:

Sure. So, I've always been a marketer at heart. I have an MBA Marketing from Kellogg. I worked at a company called Playdom to develop games on MySpace and Facebook back in the day. I was a growth hacker or a viral PM and my job was to really identify audiences and make sure that every dollar we spent reach the right audience. When I left that company, I started working for a company called Mobli, which was an early version of Instagram. Very similar to Instagram but much earlier and the strategy that I had around getting an audience for this product was to work with celebrities and influencers. This was long before anybody knew of the term Influencer Marketing and we ended up partnering with Leonardo Dicaprio, Tobey Maguire, Lance Armstrong, Serena Williams, Lil Wayne, about 200 different celebrities and big-name social media stars.

The idea was that we could use them to drive users to our app and sometimes it worked really well and other times it didn't work as well. That's what led me to eventually start HYPR because I understood that Influencer Marketing really isn't that different than traditional marketing channels. If you don't know who your audience is or if you don't know how to reach your audience, not going to be successful. So, I wanted to build a tool that allows you to understand who influences what today. You would never buy an advertising spot in a magazine without knowing who reads it, why would you work with an influencer or without knowing who their audiences.

Q- Ginger Conlon:

Right, makes so much sense. Let's jump into talking about Influencer Marketing. It's interesting that you said that before you start HYPR, it wasn't really a common term and it's interesting because of course Influencer Marketing has been around for so long, it's long established but we didn't really talk about it that way and because it's evolved so much especially since the advent of digital and social, I think that along with the terminology that what is Influencer Marketing has evolved as well. So how are you seeing it defined today most commonly?

A- Gil Eyal:

Completely. So I agree 100%. It's been around forever and if you think about it, it's been around, nobody called it Influencer Marketing but almost every decision and it's human nature to look for people that you respect to help you make a decision about, when you choose which movie to see on Friday night, when you choose what food to eat, when you choose which doctor to see, when you  choose which car to buy, there's someone in your life that's influential in those decisions because you respect their opinion about that subject or because you're close to them, you can confide in  them. So that element of human nature is something that's translated now with the advent of social networks, something measurable. We can find influencers who aren't the typical celebrities or the big-name hundred million followers celebrities or influencers, say they're also influencers-- micro influencers in common whatever you want but they are influential people that have an audience that respects their opinion about a specific subject. In my mind saying everyone's an influencer is obvious but not everyone's a professional influencer or somebody that you could use.

Ginger Conlon:

Right. Yeah, that makes so much sense to me just because they have whatever a million followers, if those million followers are just interested in seeing their photos and aren't interested in seeing, hearing what their opinion about something, that's not necessarily going to be influential for brands.

Gil Eyal:

I agree 100 percent. One of the things we see all the time are brands that target a female audience, maybe a beauty brand or a makeup or fashion gram going after these Instagram models or fitness models who are bikini models and they're using that old model where you would put a woman in the magazine and that would sell bikinis or that would sell makeup. They're neglecting to understand that the people following these influencers are men hoping to see women in bikinis. They're not women who are going to buy that brand and the result is that they're getting poor results for their campaigns and they're saying Influencer Marketing doesn't work but really, they're just not doing it the right way

Q- Ginger Conlon:

Right. Yeah like you said you have to understand who your audience is. Thinking about that, what are some of the common ways that you're seeing marketers using influencers today and how do you see Influencer Marketing evolving?

A- Gil Eyal:

So with the first one, we're seeing brands like L'Oreal start the Loreal League. A lot of other brands building long-term relationships with influencers. It's no longer just, “here's a thousand dollars go post about my brand on your Instagram” and everybody would be happy but here's a long-term relationship every time there's new content “please post it and be a champion for my brand”. It's a much more authentic and believable experience for the audience and the second maybe more important part is that they're targeting specific individuals. So not every brand is now trying to land a Kardashian or trying to land a Justin Bieber.

They’re understanding that there's expertise in their topic area that people want will benefit from and that person that has a cooking channel has an audience that's only interested in cooking. So they might have a much smaller audience but that audience is very dedicated and very close to that influencer and if you have a product that's related to cooking, that's a much better place to put it on from a cost perspective and from an ROI perspective because you'll convert much better and it'll be much more authentic and believable

Then finally what we're seeing is that brands are really shifting the power if it used to be that brands were willing to pay in advance and just pay for results, brands are starting to ask for analytics. I'm starting to suspect that there might be manipulation or fraud and they're being much more careful about identifying those things in advance and I think that's going to be a really good shift over the next year or two, where we're going to see technology develop to help brands identify the real influencers from the fake ones

Ginger Conlon:

Right. Yeah that's important. Every marketing dollar that you invest you want to make sure that you're getting as much back from that as you can.

Gil Eyal:


Q- Ginger Conlon:

So, when marketers select an influencer do you see any common criteria that they're using and is there anything that you see marketers overlooking that they maybe should consider, like you were saying before about make sure you know the audience? 

A- Gil Eyal:

Absolutely. One of the metrics in this industry that's mind-boggling in my mind is how many followers an influencer has and that's a metric that means really nothing except that in one certain point in time a lot of people are interested in that influencer. If you think about somebody like Rebecca Black who came out with a song Friday a few years ago, I think she has six million subscribers to her YouTube channel but they're all inactive and they no longer really follow or care what she has to talk about. So, if you look at that metric and you don't know who she is, you might say wow this is a huge influencer, I could really benefit from working with them but the result is that you won't get a lot of engagement, a lot of audience.

The same thing applies to big name celebrities. I follow celebrities like Lil Wayne and Pitbull, does that mean I will actually do what they say? Of course not. I just follow them because everyone follows them, because they are recommended when you sign up for the app and I listen to their song as if they pop up on the radio. So, I think the biggest mistake is being blinded by these that identity metrics 

and say, “oh wow a lot of followers”, or even a lot of engagement but irrelevant engagement won't really produce results for you. I's the number one common mistake and people really worry about fraud and about what if influencers have fake followers but really what's the difference between fake followers and inactive followers. What you should worry about is how many real engaged followers do they have that will care about my product. Fake, inactive it's all the same. They're not going to buy your product. So, make sure you verify that you're not hiring somebody that has a lot of those.

Q- Ginger Conlon:

Yeah. So, you mentioned one mistake which is looking at the wrong metrics and at your session which is basically the mistakes that you shouldn't be making, give us this like a sneak peek into another mistake that you should avoid when activating influencers?

A- Gil Eyal:

Sure, this is one I hear all the time which is brands need to relinquish control. You need to give influencers know their audience, they know how to get their audience engaged.

If you want to work with influencers you have to relinquish control and let them make decisions and I think that's terrible advice

and we have a lot of examples where relinquishing control has gone brands in trouble. I think most recently we saw Disney get in trouble with Jake Paul and insulting his neighbors and the truth is nobody knows your audience better than you do and nobody has done as much ad testing and nobody's evaluated which messaging works and nobody's understood what actually gets your audience to spend money or to buy your product or to be interested in your product as much as your own team. That's what you do professionally.

Influencers are great at generating attention about around themselves. A lot of times through actions that are not really good to be associated with, could be behaving crazy, it could be doing things that are gray area morally, it could be doing things that are really silly and funny but you don't want to be associated with this brand. So,

my argument is you always have to control message and it doesn't matter which influencer you are working with, you need to own the message, you need to control it and you need to make it work within the influencers capabilities and within their talents and was something that would appeal to their audience, that would feel authentic but it still has to be your message

It has to be that message that you spend so much money testing and understanding that works.

Ginger Conlon:

This seems like that goes back to what you were saying before about the trend of having more longer-term relationships because you can find authenticity between your brand message and the influencers that are that good fit.

Gil Eyal:

Absolutely. I think the long-term relationship also changes the incentives within the relationship with the influencer. If an influencer from knows that they have a future with you, they're gonna be a lot more careful with your brand. If they know this is a one-time thing and they move on and they get paid, then they'll do what they need to do and it's human nature. Some of them will do a great job, somewhat if they're looking for a long term relationship. If this is a job, if this is something that generates revenue and credibility for them in a long term, they're going to be very serious about it, they're going to care about making you happy a lot more.

So, building those long-term relationships allows you to-- for one build a strong rapport and two if you take a group of influencers and see which ones are performing better and strengthen that relationship and for the ones that aren't performing as well, reduce the relationship and that's something that's just a lot of brands don't seem to do. They kind of want to do that one hit, have an influencer post about them, enjoy the two days of conversation that generates on social media but they don't really think about what's driving the right incentives.

Q- Ginger Conlon:

Yeah that makes sense. So you talked before about some of the ways that marketers are using influencers. Give us an example of maybe the most creative way you've seen marketers using influencers.

A- Gil Eyal:

My favorite recently and I smile every time I think about it is Starbucks. It’s the unicorn Frappuccino. I'm sure everybody has heard about this. Basically what they did is, they had their own people, the Baristas started tweeting out and going on Instagram, on Facebook saying, “Nobody buy this product, I'm covered in glitter, I can't do this anymore, I can't make a single one of these” and it happens to be like this pinkish glowy weird colored product that you wouldn't want one in your body if your health conscious at all but the attention that got was genuine and amazing and what do you think when you hear a barista saying don't ask for this. One is you have to share it because you have to your friends have to see how Starbucks employees telling you not to buy a product and two is you have to walk into one and order one because you want to see what's so bad about making them. I thought it was a brilliant campaign. The kind that didn't touch any of the big-name influencers, that didn’t cost a ton of money, use these smaller niche influencers that have a real relationship with the brand, seemed completely authentic and you just produced amazing results over on every news source possible because it was a great story.

Ginger Conlon:

Yeah that's a terrific story and Gil thank you so much. Thanks for all the great advice and for giving us that sneak peek into your session at Influencer Marketing Days 2017.

Gil Eyal:

Thanks for having me. I can't wait to meet everyone on the premises.

Ginger Conlon:

Yeah definitely. I want to let everyone know be sure to check out Influencer Marketing Days website for more information on the conference and at Gil’s session and also be sure to visit MarTech Advisor’s YouTube channel for other Executive Interviews and thanks everyone for being here.


Semperis Appoints IT Industry Leader Darren Mar-Elia As Head Of Product


Longstanding IT industry expert and Microsoft MVP, Darren Mar-Elia, joins Semperis to lead product innovation and strategy for the company's Active Directory services protection platform.

Semperis, the leading provider of Active Directory and cloud services protection and recovery, announced today that longstanding IT industry leader Darren Mar-Elia has joined the company as Head of Product. In this role, Darren will lead product strategy and development for Semperis’ suite of enterprise identity protection solutions.

At a time when Active Directory services are most vulnerable, Semperis provides enterprises with the ability to monitor and quickly restore their Active Directory services in the case of a cyberattack or data breach. Semperis’ Active Directory Forest Recovery™ (ADFR) is the only fully-automated Forest recovery solution in market and can restore an entire AD Forest using internal intelligence to understand the exact schematic make-up of a Forest and automatically orchestrate the recovery process. Semperis’ Active Directory State Manager™ is the only solution that continuously audits AD modifications in real-time and presents them on an admin dashboard, enabling IT professionals to compare any two states and revert to past states within seconds when Object and Attribute Recovery is needed.

“We are very excited to have someone with Darren’s level of Windows expertise on board,” said Mickey Bresman, CEO of Semperis. “Active Directory management has reached a critical point where most enterprises rely on it to keep their businesses functioning. As an IT industry thought leader, Darren’s appointment adds tremendous value to Semperis as we work towards ensuring that enterprises can quickly recover from an Active Directory disaster. His incredibly strong background in enterprise security will also help drive next-level enhancements to the Semperis solutions.”

Darren joins Semperis in advance of the Hybrid Identity Protection Conference, where he will share his thoughts on protecting Active Directory against increasing threats from external attacks. “I am thrilled to be joining Semperis and look forward to arming organizations with our best-in-class enterprise identity protection platform,” Darren said. “The IT security space is in a precarious state so right now is the time to be working on Active Directory Disaster Recovery and protection solutions.”

A 14-year Cloud and Datacenter Microsoft MVP, Darren brings with him a wealth of experience in identity and access management (IAM). Prior to joining Semperis, Darren was the CTO and founder of SDM software, a provider of Microsoft systems management solutions. He has also served as the CTO of Quest Software, the Senior Director of Product Engineering at DesktopStandard (acquired by Microsoft), Identity and Security Architect at Autodesk and a Director of Infrastructure at Charles Schwab. As a Microsoft MVP, Darren has contributed to over a dozen books on Windows and enterprise networks, created several training courses at Pluralsight, published numerous articles on Active Directory & Group Policy, and was a Contributing Editor for Windows IT Pro Magazine for 20 years.

About Semperis

Semperis is an enterprise identity protection company that helps enterprises recover from cyber breaches and identity system failures, on-premises and on cloud. Semperis' leading technology enables organizations to ensure the secure operation of their directory services, allowing IT and Security teams to respond in cases of Active Directory disasters and cyber breaches. Founded in 2013 by experienced IAM professionals, Semperis serves customers in the financial, healthcare, government and other industries worldwide. Semperis' solutions are accredited by Microsoft and are included in the latest Gartner reports. For more information, please visit http://www.semperis.com.

Interview with Moti Cohen, founder and CEO of Apester


We’ve seen a lot of changes over the past few years when it comes to the appearance and distribution of online content. Publishers wanting to create emotional and authentic content experiences have been turning to a new generation of tools like digital storytelling platform Apester.

The company has quickly made a name for itself with embeddable content such as polls, video, quizzes and slideshow versions of blogs and articles. Apester content now runs across 1,500 publishing partners including AOL and Huffington Post, Time Inc., Fox Sports, CNET, Telegraph Media and Sky News.

I spoke with CEO Moti Cohen who tells me about his approach to entrepreneurship and interactive experiences.


SS: What trend in content creation and consumption fascinates you most and why?

MC: I think we are living in the most exciting time for content since the invention of the telegraph. These days, we can truly say that the experience of content consumption is digital first. For the very first time, digital content has been freed from the shackles previously chained to print formats. It is entirely independent now, ever changing, and beautifully surprising – to the extent that nobody can accurately anticipate what it will look like 10, 5 or even 3 years from now.


SS: What inspired the inception of Apester?

MC: I’ve always loved innovation and technology, and was fascinated by things like game theory and behavior analysis. Also, as a music junkie, I craved experiencing content differently, more through sight and sound and not just through the printed word.

All these things came together for me and inspired the birth of Apester.

I could see that the traditional form of articles, and even videos, weren’t exactly optimized for the mobile or social age. The gaming industry has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to implementing basic elements of human psychology and behavior to navigate and satiate its audience. They seem to have cracked the code and know how to influence a gamer to act (or not act) on something. These same elements can be utilized within the scope of digital content.


SS: What is happening right now that makes Apester relevant?

MC: The urge for people to share content and express themselves is constantly on the rise. We want to share our stories. We’re wired that way.

How we share stories is also changing. Once upon a time, we sat around a campfire. In the age of publishing, we wrote books and articles. But, today with social media and other technology, we’re all publishers. And this is an amazing thing because sharing our stories brings us together and makes us more human. With that in mind, people on the hunt for innovative tools that permit new mediums of expression. That was the motivation for Story, our latest platform which easily allows one to capture elements of a story in a seamless and visually pleasing way.


SS: How are the solutions Apester offers different than other businesses that deal with interactive content?

MC: We see ourselves as a kind of mediator between readers and publishers. Some products have readers in mind, but don’t necessarily benefit publishers. Others are publishing or advertising tools that lack the ability to really enhance the experience of visiting a site. We say everyone must benefit from the online experience.

We know that by adding elements to the page to spice things up, readers will stick around longer. But there are also plenty of studies that show that interactive content activates the audience and adds the user’s voice to the story. So, for us, it’s really about trying to repackage the story in a way that’s more aligned with the way real people communicate amongst themselves.

SS: What’s your vision for the coming years at Apester?

MC: I’m really pumped about developing new platforms that redefine how content is created, consumed and monetized within the digital space. I believe we can be the go-to platform for any content creator, big or small, who is looking for ways to transform their stories into visual experiences to suit the contemporary world we live in – a faster, more crowded, informed and much more connected world. Whether it be big publishers, individual bloggers or just a person with a phone and some friends, we would like to be the vehicle in which content moves around.


SS: Do you have any morning rituals that help ignite your day with motivation and inspiration?

MC: Music is my therapy, I usually start my day with a huge mug of bad coffee and blast music for 30 minutes, try to read and relax, regroup, before I jump on the rollercoaster again.


SS: What is the best (or worst) piece of advice you’ve received as an entrepreneur?

MC: As an eternal optimist, I’ll go with the best advice I’ve ever received:  “Focus is your judge, jury, and executioner and by extension, ‘yes’ is your magic wand, so use it wisely.”



SS: You described yourself as a music junkie. Is there a relationship for you between music and what you’re doing now?

MC: I started playing guitar at the age of 14. I’ll never forget the first time I played with friends: I literally had goosebumps. That was the hook!  For years to follow, we continued jamming every Friday night, the primary audience being ourselves…. And it was magical!   

I see a distinct overlap between what I was doing then and now. Making music and putting it out into the world is one of many forms of storytelling. Every time we share via social media platforms we are essentially story-sharing and storytelling too! Apester is another vessel for doing so!

This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.