VSC Swipes Right for the Biggest Startup App Launch of 2016 for MightyTV

We live in a platinum age of television: never before have there been so many high-quality TV shows to choose from. With abundance, however, comes the paradox of choice, and today’s viewers are more overwhelmed and frustrated than ever. The process of discovery is an especially huge problem for a new generation of cord cutters and cord nevers who have no way to get quality recommendations and find something good across all their favorite streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, HBO, Hulu, and iTunes. “Netflix and chill” has increasingly become “Netflix, Hulu, HBO overkill.”

 

Everyone understands the problem but no one has fundamentally solved it. In the past few years, there have been hundreds of attempts at video discovery from recommendation and video services, creating a crowded market of more than 20 apps in the category, with little to no differentiation between products.

 

Oversaturation of video discovery apps has created fatigue for journalists who cover the space, resulting in scant media coverage and low awareness among consumers, with recent video discovery app launches averaging roughly 2.3 original earned media placements per launch.

 

In order to rise above a sea of mediocre discovery apps, MightyTV partnered with VSC to launch the company and achieve two strategic goals: 1) differentiate from competitors, and 2) draw media awareness to help drive downloads and user engagement.

 

Strategy

VSC determined that any new product in the space needed to stand out from anything that came before it.

 

With this in mind, VSC immediately embarked on an audit of the industry, where we recognized that competitive apps weren’t great at solving for individual discovery, and those that focused around discovery weren’t good at solving for social.

 

VSC therefore recommended a launch strategy that MightyTV should wait until it had some aspects of social figured out that we could showcase to press, which would allow us to carefully craft product messaging that addressed two notable market deficiencies.

 

With sights set on a mid-April launch date, VSC conducted an aggressive national outreach campaign to pre-brief media to demonstrate why the app is truly a must-have for anyone who loves watching TV and movies.

Tactics

1. Brand Association – We advised the team to capitalize on heightened media attention and the popularity of social and dating app, Tinder, where MightyTV uses a similar swipe interface to hook you up with videos you’ll love, fast.

 

2. Product Messaging – Focus messaging around a new type of AI app for video that delivers hyper-personalized and intelligent recommendations based on you and your friends’ tastes so you’ll never have to waste time again trying to find something good to watch.

 

3. Pedigree – Leverage founder’s background as a technologist and entrepreneur who sold his last startup to Google for $400M and is now launching a startup that aims to put an end to your search for what to binge watch next.

 

4. Media Relations – Set up ‘sneak peek’ in-person product demos in SF and NY where key members of the press had a chance to try out the product first-hand to see how the service is approaching discovery in a way that has never been attempted before.

Execution

We overachieved all coverage goals, with 50+ pieces of coverage worldwide in top-tier outlets.

 

Here are a few of the major placements:

 

Wired: MightyTV Is Like Tinder, Only It Sets You Up With Movies: A new app called MightyTV (iOS-only for now, Android soon) aims to solve this problem using a unique concoction of Tinder-style swiping, machine learning, and a collaborative personalization mechanism that can not only find something for you to watch right now, but can account for the tastes of everyone on the couch and find something you’ll all love. The app is out today, it’s super slick, and it might have a chance to do what so many have tried and failed to pull off.

 

MightyTV is the invention of a team led by Brian Adams, an entrepreneur who spent much of his career working in ads. He sold his company, AdMeld, to Google in 2011, and then spent the next few years working on Google’s money-printing Doubleclick ad system. In February of 2015, he quit his job and started poking around things like local search before landing on video.

 

TechCrunch: MightyTV uses a Tinder-style interface to offer personal tips on what to watch next: To determine that taste, MightyTV presents users with a stack of movie recommendations that you can go through quickly, Tinder-style, saying whether you like, love or dislike each one — or if you just want to add it to your watch list. Over time, the recommendations should get smarter, based on what the app learns about your taste and about the taste of similar users.

 

Even better, if you’re watching with someone else, MightyTV can recommend programming that sits at the overlap between your taste and that of your friend/spouse/family member/whomever.

 

Mashable: Tinder-esque app Mighty TV wants to find your perfect streaming match: Now there’s a way to swipe right on what to stream. MightyTV — a new app launched by an ex-Google employee on Wednesday —  is a personalized video discovery app that gives consumers the ability to “swipe away the frustration of what to watch next.”

 

Using algorithms, the app helps users match with new content to stream based on their personal taste, as well as their friends’ tastes.

Evaluation

The launch of MightyTV was an instant success and one of the biggest startup app launches in 2016 based on media coverage and total audience reach.

 

After the press launch, MightyTV was twice featured in Apple’s app store, in the ‘Best News Apps Section’ on April 22, as well as ‘Apps That We Love’ in the Entertainment section on May 6th.

 

The launch was a global success appearing in 50+ publications and resulting in downloads in 60+ countries and the active users averaging 290 swipes per session.

Within the first two days of launch, MightyTV reached 290.9K accounts on Twitter and made 373.7K impressions.

 

The total reach of the earned media campaign within the first month including written, video, and broadcast coverage was 573M people.

 

Coverage included a wide range of business, entertainment / tech, and consumer / lifestyle press like Fox TV-New York, NY1, the front page of Wired.com, App of the week for GeekWire, E! Online, WSJ, Yahoo, MSN, Seventeen, Self, Mashable, TechCrunch, Engadget, TechHive / PCWorld, Lifehacker, NY Post / Decider, Daily Mail, Slate, Thrillist, Refinery29, Motherboard, Brit & Co, Consumer Affairs and a host of other influential media outlets and blogs.

SteelBrick Acquisition by Salesforce

SteelBrick is a provider of Quote-to-Cash applications to help sales professionals close deals faster. The company partnered with VSC to raise its visibility to drive new customers and maximize awareness heading into venture capital raising periods. While the sales tools sector market size is large at $31B, many of these companies live in the shadow of the 800 lb gorilla of Salesforce itself. Companies on the platform are mostly all relatively unknown and the media and blogger audience rarely covers companies beyond Salesforce itself.

 

The goal was to elevate the SteelBrick brand in a crowded sea of hundreds of enterprise apps and differentiate from industry leader, Apttus, which is a larger company with more capital, and a 9-year head start.

 

SteelBrick Communications Strategy

The main focus of the campaign was to position SteelBrick as a smarter, faster and fresher company than its main competitor, Apttus – a true David vs. Goliath story.

 

Tactics

We focused on five areas:

1. Rework messaging into ‘plain talk’ so the average business writer could understand it.

2. Position Steelbrick as the secret weapon of unicorns that grow fast because they close deals quickly.

3. Differentiate from rival, Apttus.

4. Tell executive management stories of aspiration via feature pieces and thought leadership blogging.

5. Separate from the pack of thousands of vendors at annual Dreamforce conference.

Execution

Plain-talk

We initiated campaigns around SteelBrick ushering in the consumerization of selling, making it easy for anyone to close deals while on the go. We articulated the pain of sales teams in getting deals done due to various iterations of procurement, invoices and product selection.

 

The Secret Weapon of Unicorns

Secondly we made the story about ‘meet the company that powers Unicorns,’ and highlighted fast-growth privately held companies that generated real revenue and grew quickly because Steelbrick was the ‘secret weapon for sales.’ Steelbrick powered leading unicorns such as Cloudera and Nutanix.

 

Differentiate from Apttus

The battle of mindshare between Apttus and Steelbrick became muddled in February 2015 when Salesforce Ventures funded both companies’ Series B Funding Rounds. While potentially problematic optically (at this point, Apttus had raised $41M vs SteelBrick’s $18M), we diffused the financing differential by underscoring that while Apttus was focused on large enterprises, Salesforce was equally interested in SteelBrick’s target SMB market, where demand was just as high and implementation times were substantially quicker.

 

As such, we were able to boast SteelBrick’s impressive 300% revenue growth in the first half of 2015. We generated 30 pieces of target media coverage on SteelBrick’s growth funding story, successfully differentiating our narrative from Apttus.

 

Executive management thought leadership

Personal stories for its experienced management team resonated with the media, including a major feature in Forbes and Business Insider. As stated in Business Insider, “What do you do when you see your first startup sell for over $400 million to a company like Oracle? Come back and run another startup in the same space. That’s what Godard Abel is doing with his startup Steelbrick, a company that offers quote-to-cash technology that makes it easier for salespeople to put together complex quotes and billings for potential customers.”

 

The formula of “experience + prior success” resulted in the placement of 4 thought leadership pieces in top trade publications on a variety of instructive themes, including, “What to Consider Before Developing on a Third-Party Platform” and “What McDonald’s Can Teach Us About Selling.”

 

Focusing on SteelBrick’s speed and cost benefits were clear differentiators for the business media, as Godard boasted in Fortune, “Our customers are able to go live in a month, without expensive services engagements.”

 

VSC secured awards for SteelBrick for Inc. 5000 and The Top 10 SaaS Startups in Chicago Tech, gaining additional awareness as someone to watch in the industry.

 

Standing out and up at Dreamforce

Both Apttus and SteelBrick were Titanium sponsors at Dreamforce. To take advantage of the event, VSC conceived and structured a partnership with award-winning nonprofit, Girls Who Code and developed a social media campaign to get Dreamforce attendees to scan their badges at SteelBrick’s booth.

 

For each scan, SteelBrick would donate $1 to the organization. The Girls Who Code social media campaign was a smash hit: tweets reached 50,000 people, SteelBrick quadrupled its badge scans from the prior year, and Girls Who Code received $20,000 to further develop its programs.

 

Results

In one year, the collaboration with SteelBrick and VSC helped establish a solid separation from Apttus. Apttus owned CPQ the year before our engagement, and all of the sudden we stole 30-40% of total mindshare up from zero and Steelbrick has now passed Apttus in coverage for 2016. That rapid market awareness helped the company grow and become an instant player. SteelBrick generated a 360% increase in media coverage with nearly 40 placements, 30% in Tier-1 publications.

 

Acquisition

On December 23, 2015, SteelBrick announced its acquisition by Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) for $360M, the 3rd largest acquisition for the CRM giant.

 

Even this news left a sour taste in the mouth of rival Apttus, which expressed its surprise at the deal in a recent TechCrunch article: Apttus CEO Kirk Krappe Chats Candidly About 2016 Exit. In the article, Apttus CEO Kirk Krappe said of Steelbrick’s acquisition, in a somewhat surprising tone, “there’s no reason they can’t buy us too.”

 

The article goes on to quote Brent Leary, managing partner at CRM Essentials, LLC who has been covering the CRM business for many years. “I think Apttus felt they had a ‘special’ status in the Salesforce ecosystem, and the SteelBrick acquisition signals that maybe it wasn’t as special as it once thought,” he said.

Find out more about SteelBrick here

Examples of results: