About Astia

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Astia in Conversation with RumbaFish CEO, Michelle Bonat

RumbaFish was named one of IDC's Innovative Application Software Companies Under $100M to Watch.

Michelle Bonat, CEO, RumbaFish and Sharon Vosmek, CEO, Astia shared a conversation about the honor.

SV: You were just listed as one of IDC's Innovative Application Software Companies Under $100M to Watch. What key differentiators led RumbaFish to be included on the list in such a competitive space?

MB: IDC focused on software vendors that exemplify the three trends driving change: 1) movement away from traditional on-premise (installed) software; 2) New business models for software use by service providers (software within a service) and 3) Web 2.0-like functionality moving into the enterprise. Since we encapsulate all three, we are the middle of this perfect storm.

RumbaFish transforms the way companies engage their audience online. We deliver on the promise of real-time, effective, internet marketing with powerful analytics. RumbaFish lets companies leverage social activity, easily create interactive online campaigns, and update those campaigns dynamically everywhere with a single click – in a way that is measurable. Whether you're looking to drive brand recognition and engagement through an interactive contest, monetize activity with a branded campaign, or engage in dialogue through user generated content – even have your audience Tweet their way to a good deal - we have a solution for every company’s budget. We are a complete SaaS (Software as a Service), self-service offering where companies can be up and running in less than an hour without IT having to install or maintain code.

SV: How was RumbaFish started and how did you get into SaaS marketing?

MB: Fate brought together me and my business partner Stephan DeRodeff on RumbaFish. I had created a successful, award-winning social game and top Facebook application. Leveraging my enterprise software experience leading web applications at Oracle and an MBA in marketing, I was moving forward on a better way to do online marketing. Steve, a technical guru and successful startup executive, had uber experience in Silicon Valley building state-of-the-art software around analytics, SaaS, CRM and highly scalable systems. It was a match made in software heaven as we started to create RumbaFish, which officially launched at the DEMO conference in September 2009.

SV: Your business is built on social media tools. How has social media changed the way businesses operate?

MB: Social media has certainly changed the way companies operate. It's a fact that businesses of all sizes want to engage deeper into the online social sphere. Yet we see so many companies flailing when it comes to deploying and measuring the impact of their social media campaigns. Businesses continue to dump millions of dollars into the vast "social media ocean." Throwing sheep at your customers or posting what you had for breakfast does not effectively advance your business!

As a product of these traditional ad-supported models, each of us sees more commercial messages each day than we can process. It’s simply way too much and as a result the advertising is not persuading us to buy. Organizations need a way to cut through the noise. It would greatly help them to leverage social media through "word of mouth" or evangelist marketing, whereby customers do the promotion instead of the company itself. Embedding some incentives and rewards, and viral marketing components, makes the whole thing fly faster. Then letting them measure it real time, identify their influencers, and quickly iterate on the results. This is how they will get an advantage over their competition.

SV: We love the name RumbaFish! What's the story behind the name?

MB: Thanks! We were looking for a memorable name that we could brand as a company. Getting customers is a lot like fishing. Why just use one hook to catch one fish at a time, when you can use a net and catch a whole school of fish at once? RumbaFish is that net. So we say – “Why just fish for customers when you can RumbaFish?”

SV: You have been with Astia for just 1 year. Describe your experiences with us and how we've impacted the way you do business.

MB: It takes a village to make a successful company, and Astia epitomizes that village. The baseline program is fantastic. But what really distinguishes the community is the number of times that individuals have gone out of their way to assist us. It is really incredible and has shown us the ‘pay it forward’ approach in action.

SV: After a year of economic turmoil, what has kept RumbaFish above water (mind the pun!)?

MB: We are completely driven by solving a big problem in an innovative way - companies spend $34 billion a year to get and keep customers online. Necessity compelled us to do it in an extremely disciplined and capital efficient manner. The point was not to create a cutting edge social media marketing and analytics platform. Our goal was to understand the challenges and priorities of our customers, and create an evolving solution that meets their needs like no other company, with a compelling business model behind it.

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