Interview with Thomas Kramer
As Co-Founder & COO of Paladin Software
, I ideate world-class solutions for digital media's biggest problems. My job is to expand our platform's core functionality and set business strategy that supports both market penetration and market expansion.
I'm effective in the management of distributed teams (US, Europe, Asia), offering best-in-class software and service to clients in 25+ countries.
About Paladin: Paladin is the essential creator management platform. Trusted by media companies, brands, and agencies across 5 continents, our technology streamlines talent discovery, influencer management, and campaign reporting.
Hey Thomas, could you tell us a bit more about Paladin and what led to your co-founding the company? How'd you meet Paladin's co-founder and when did you decide to go into business together?
Hey guys. My name is Thomas Kramer. I'm a Co-Founder and COO here at Paladin Software. A little bit about Paladin, Paladin and provide solutions for digital creator management and social influencer campaign management reporting. So we work with a number of companies across the globe. These tend to be digital creator agencies, digital publishers and social media marketing agencies. I started Paladin with our CTO Ole Amundsen and our CEO James Creech in 2016. Basically, the story here is that each of us worked at different creator networks and noticed that each of our companies was building technology in-house often at great expense and with middling results to manage creator relationships directly, to report on social media campaigns, to pay creators and deliver contracts to them. So we thought, hey, we can probably do a better job at this and serve each of these companies, allowing them to operate more efficiently when they don't really have technology in their DNA.
What are some of the main challenges faced by companies looking to collaborate with influencers? How has the rise of influencer marketing affected your industry?
So there are a number of challenges faced by companies who are looking to collaborate with influencers. Probably the biggest is "Which influencers do I even want to work with?" If you look at the front user-facing view of YouTube or Instagram or whatever platform that you're looking to get involved with, it doesn't show you what the audience's age or gender or income level or location or other typical marketing targeting criteria may be. So a big part of what we offer is making it easy to find creators who do match your target market. The second big thing is probably communicating with creators. Often creators are professional creators, but they're not necessarily creative professionals, meaning that they need a lot of handholding to make clear what they need to deliver and when, what the expectations are of the brand, making sure it's brand safe etc. So you want to make that communication and management process really easy for them. Another big key challenge is data reporting. Often influencer campaigns are packaged alongside other types of digital ad span like search engine marketing, or display marketing, or social media ads or even television or print. Most of these other marketing channels have really sophisticated measurements. So a big part of what we offer is trying to use social media that we get from the creators to show some level data parity with traditional digital ad spent. Lastly, how has the rise of influence marketing affected our industry? It's been tremendous. There's been a ton of interest. There's a ton of new ad budgets going towards influencer marketing from brands. It's forced the industry to mature. There's more transparency, there's more clear metrics reporting, and it's a win-win for everybody.
From idea to MVP, how long did it take to develop the "Mission Control
for Influencer Management" platform?
So how long did it take us to get Paladin from an idea into the marketplace? The short answer is probably about three to six months. The long answer is Paladin is an Enterprise platform, and we have several individually developed apps that are stitched together into one user experience serving a lot of different needs. We have solutions for data reporting and analytics for creator management, for revenue calculation and payments, for contracts, and for a number of other different use cases. Each of those things was an MVP, each of those things was developed. I would say on average probably took about three to six months but it really highlights the difference between, okay I have a consumer app idea I'm going to build one thing and see how the market reacts to it. We knew right out the gate we needed to serve a number of different activities in order to disrupt our industry. So that's what we did. We built it all.
Is Paladin looking to expand into any new markets or provide any new service offerings? What are the company's main growth channels?
So today Paladin has the fortunate position of operating globally; we have customers in five continents, we've localized in many languages. So in terms of geographic penetration, there's not really new markets we're looking to break into. In order to do that it was very much an iterative process. If we found a customer who needed localization in France, we would do it. If we found a customer who needed localization in Japanese, we would do it. We didn't offer all that out the gate, and I would encourage anybody who's developing an app to follow a similar methodology and wait for the demand. In terms of the company's growth channels, our primary growth channels today are inbound leads from our website, from which we generate a lot of SEO activity and content marketing efforts. The larger impact thing is just direct sales outreach, we find people who are operating in our market. We reach out to them we see how we can be helpful. We go to networking events all across the world. So it's all about meeting people, it's all about understanding their needs and trying to bring some value to the table.
What has been the feedback from users and clients of Paladin? How do you measure user feedback?
So thankfully feedback from our users and clients has been really positive in general. I think they really respond to our design well. It's simple, it's easy to use, there's a ton of functionality out of the box that they tend to be looking for. So that's great. How do we measure feedback? Usually through direct conversation. We have dedicated account managers for our clients who handle set up and training and any questions they may have throughout the relationship. We tend to have pretty regular touch points with customers as well, we try to talk to them directly quarterly or take them out to lunch, or if we're on sales trips in Europe or Asia or wherever they are, try and meet with our customers wherever we can to make sure they know that we care about them that their feedback is important. Not every piece of feedback that a customer gives us is something we develop against. However, if they do have a real problem that's taking a lot of their time and energy and we find that it's a market fit that other people are having that problem we almost always incorporate it into our roadmap. Sometimes it takes a little while, as development cycles are a thing and resources are limited sometimes, but we've really come a long way and we've developed a number of things that customers have requested directly.
What's next for your work with Paladin? What are the main projects you'll be focusing on in 2019?
So what's next for Paladin? There are all kinds of cool stuff coming down the pipe for Q4. We are going to release an all-new creator facing experience. We are releasing some cool new features to help you find creators who reach your target audience. There's new data reporting features coming for Instagram stories which is great because they disappear and people can keep that data, and a lot more great stuff. Early 2019 planning is underway I can't share much externally about that yet. Rest assured there's lots of cool stuff coming. We have new apps rattling around in our noodles that are getting designed right now, so we're really fired up. Have a great one guys!