99 Robots’ Charlie Patel Acquires Triberr to Automate, Scale Influencer Marketing Platform

Photo: 99 Robots founder and new owner of Triberr Charlie Patel Photo Credit: Courtesy Charlie Patel
99 Robots founder and new owner of Triberr Charlie Patel | Courtesy Charlie Patel

Triberr, a Summit-based startup founded in 2011 by Dino Dogan and Dan Cristo, was acquired in February by 99 Robots, a digital marketing and development agency in Somerset founded by Charlie Patel. Patel is also a cofounder of JuiceTank, an incubator and “innovation lab” also in Somerset.

Dogan and Cristo built Triberr on the idea that they could strengthen the blogging experience by offering bloggers the ability to join communities referred to as “tribes.” Once accepted as members of a tribe based on participation, network and sharing, the collective members of the tribe would re-share, “like,” retweet and otherwise expose blog posts to an expanded network. Triberr worked well for bloggers, attracting more eyeballs to their blogs, and the platform reached a point where it had hundreds of thousands of users.

The next step for the platform was to move into a hot area called “influencer marketing,” a market the startup was in the process of addressing. “Professionally speaking, influencer marketing is a hot space, and a lot of agencies and brands are eager to get in on the action,” Dogan told NTTechWeekly.com.

“We felt it was the right time to jump on that wave, and we knew that if an influencer marketing platform was up for sale, a lot of buyers would be interested. Luckily, we were correct,” he added. 

In August 2014, Dogan and Cristo made the decision to sell. “By March of 2015 we had four interested buyers. We decided to sell to 99Robots because Charlie [Patel] is someone we knew and trusted to continue to do what’s right by our customers.”

Patel said he was happy to be the winning bidder for Triberr. He had been advising the founders for over a year, and knew the potential of the platform. Also, “They knew I wouldn’t neglect the user base.”

He plans to take Triberr to the next level, turning it into a self-serve influencer marketing platform accessible to smaller companies, as well as an alternative advertising channel focused on returns on investment (ROI) for large companies and agencies.

“I know how to make the right adjustments to it, and how to grow the user base so it could be a sustainable business in the future,” Patel said. “It’s not that the original founders weren’t doing a good job of growing the business. They were. But once you start having to grow a large and complex system such as Triberr, it’s a costly endeavor.”

Patel explained that the influencer marketing sector is hot now because traditional online advertising doesn’t work anymore, as it doesn’t give advertisers the right eyeballs. “We are moving to a stage where everything will be very customized and personalized to the user. When you have users, actual real people, marketing your product, the [ROI] is so much greater than if you just target a large pool of visitors to a site using traditional advertising methods. When you can actually get to influencers, people who truly appreciate your brand or service, marketing in that form is very powerful and has a much greater ROI. It’s six to eight times greater.

“We’ve executed influencer marketing programs in the past, and they are very hard work. You are basically putting together a supply-and-demand platform for each client separately, and that is a lot of work.”

Triberr, he added, offers  a unique opportunity, “provided we execute well, to be the programmatic approach to influencer marketing. We can eliminate that manual effort and try to identify who the right influencers are for a particular brand or product, as well as who would be willing to share their experiences to promote the product in a very genuine manner to their audience.”

Most Triberr bloggers address a niche audience, Patel noted. He gave the example of a brand promoting a new piece of sound equipment. They would come to Triberr to find 20 influencers in the music space and say, “We need them to write creative content related to our new product,” or to create a vlog, post on Instagram or tweet as part of a campaign.

Traditionally, that would be done according to the “agency model,” Patel said, which takes a lot of time and money and is costly for those brands. “My goal is to move this right onto the platform, so brands will be able to use the analytics and data generated by the platform to both identify the users and follow the campaign through.”

Patel’s group is building this analytics piece and expects to have it finished by the end of the year. “Currently, we are in a complete rebuild effort, largely because the current platform can’t accommodate the higher level of detailed analytics that we need.

“As we rebuild the platform, we have to be mindful of the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of users on board, and we don’t want to rock the boat,” Patel continued.

“We want to do this in a methodical manner where they will still be able to use the tools and proven value that they’ve always gotten, but will have access to more data that they didn’t have before. There will be some very cool changes, and the approach to get to that future is very iterative, as it should be,” he concluded.

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