Featured Startup Pitch: ZootRock wants to bring the capabilities of a social media staff to small businesses

By Editor July 28, 2014

Audrey Melnik, WotWentWrongBy Audrey Melnik, ZootRock co-founder and CEO

Elevator Pitch: ZootRock aims to change the way small businesses present themselves on social media platforms. We can provide an affordable, personalized service using adaptive, high-powered algorithms that scour the Internet for the best content, creating effective social media feeds with personality for our clients.

Product/Service Description

ZootRock is an affordable, personalized, third party option for maximizing small businesses’ social media impact with minimal effort. ZootRock uses comprehensive, user-specified parameters to leverage effective social media feeds with personality that engages customers and strengthens company branding. Clients benefit from adaptive, high-powered algorithms that scour the Internet for the best content, saving them many hours each week.

Your average corporation might devote an entire mini-department of specialists to managing its social media presence, but if you’re a small company, there’s no room to set aside manpower just for Twitter and Facebook—not in the budget, nor in the schedule. For small businesses, that’s where ZootRock comes in.

ZootRock assembles a carefully curated content stream of articles, blog posts, images, and quotes using high-powered algorithms to search out the most trending and relevant content available. Customizable settings allow clients to build their streams according to their goals for business marketing and customer engagement; and users can specify additional sources of content they’d like included, or select from over 200 pre-existing topics that include quotes and other viral content. Topic streams, meanwhile, can be adjusted according to what mood and marketing messages users would like, and be set to work automatically or to submit themselves for user review.

ZootRock screenshot

Founders Story

I discovered the need for an affordably-priced social media content curation tool when working on my last startup, WotWentWrong. As a social network in the dating space, it was important for us to have a strong presence on social media networks like Facebook and Twitter. But as a time-poor and cash-poor startup founder, I couldn’t spare any time to manage my social media presence, and I hired a consultant. Unfortunately, I was underwhelmed with the results, especially as I was paying several hundreds of dollars per month for the service. So, I fired my social media consultant and realized I had two choices: I could have nothing happening on my social media channels, or I could build something that would automate relevant content on my social media channels. I did the latter, and I saw more followers and greater engagement than before! That was the genesis of ZootRock.

I sought about proving that there was a market for this, and was able to find paying customers pretty quickly. From there, I started to build a more comprehensive product to suit my customers’ needs.

Since then, Laina Reginelli has joined as my co-founder, and with her design and UX experience, we’re making great strides in customer retention.

Marketing/Promotion Strategy

We have and will be leveraging a multi-faceted strategy that includes content marketing, advertising, retargeting, partners and referrals. We also have further features planned for the product that have inherent virality baked in.

Market Opportunity

In the U.S. alone, there are 28 million small businesses. Social media spending is increasing amongst this segment, and ZootRock is focusing on the U.S. market but already has a strong presence internationally with users from 70 countries.

The content curation space is a new one, so this space is wide open for the taking

How the Company Differentiates Itself From the Competition

We provide two main differentiators to our competitors. First, we feel that whilst many small businesses recognize the need for a social media presence and know who their target audience is, many don’t know what kind of content is relevant to that audience. Often, they are very literal in their selection of content. ZootRock offers content based on audience and has many streams that are ‘persona-based’ rather than simply topic-based. Examples include women’s humor and the conscious consumer that target the person rather than the topic.

The second differentiator we have is that we provide a much deeper level of configurability. In addition to our 200+ curated streams, users can specify a niche phrase and we will source the trending content for that. They can also identify any keywords or domains they want to exclude from the content. We also offer automated hashtag population and sentiment filters. There’s much more than that too, so come check out the rest of our features!

Business Model

We offer a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) model priced well for small businesses, starting at $20 per month for the first channel, and $10 for each additional channel.

Current Needs

We’re currently raising our Seed round and are always on the lookout for passionate and talented people on the technical and business sides.

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ZootRock logo2Headquarters: San Francisco

Website: www.zootrock.com

Founders: Audrey Melnik (CEO), Laina Reginelli (COO), Dany Pell (CTO)

Investors: N/A

Year Founded: 2013

AngelList: angel.co/zootrock

Twitter: @ZootRock

Facebook: facebook.com/zootrock

CrunchBase: crunchbase.com/organization/zootrock

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/3679609