Most people in Montreal know Sylvain Carle and Sebastien Provencher, the founders of Needium. The company was originally quite different – Praized Media started back in 2007 – but never found the traction they needed. Still, they pressed on and after a significant pivot in 2010, the company is now focused and breaking through.
Needium coined the phrase, “the need medium”, which at its core is really about the fact that millions of people every single day (primarily across Twitter at the moment, where Needium is focused) express explicit or implicit needs for things. Those needs are rarely met and that’s where Needium steps in. They monitor Twitter (and soon Foursquare and Facebook), discover and interpret people’s needs and then respond on behalf of their customers (typically local small businesses). They charge $150/month and currently have 300+ advertisers working with them. Some quick math shows that the revenue is starting to get serious, and the company says they’re approaching break even.
Sebastien recently published a blog post update – The First 6 Months and Answers to Your Most Burning Questions. It’s worth reading and seeing how these guys have persevered, studied the market, teased out key information and behaviors out of what they saw, leveraged their own experienced and built Needium.
Some interesting tidbits:
- They currently have 8 white-label reseller relationships in place, and a good chunk of their traction is coming from these. We can expect more in the future.
- 95% of small business operators don’t want self-serve; they don’t have the time and they need to focus on their core business. This was a big lesson for Needium, which originally was a self-serve platform.
- They’re looking at the possibility of raising more financing, but might not need to.
- They currently cover 88 business categories in 73 North American cities.
- Out of the 40,000+ tweets they’ve sent out (on behalf of customers) only a few hundred have generated a negative response from people (who felt it was spammy). This is lower than they expected.
One of the most interesting things about Needium is that they’ve found a model to monetize Twitter. Others are making money off Twitter too (Twitter included, although most would argue that they haven’t completely nailed monetization yet), but Needium is right there with a model that makes sense, is reasonably well proven, and makes money. Lead generation overall is a great business, one that we’ve seen succeed in other cases with other platforms, and now we’re seeing the potential of Twitter as a legitimate and scalable lead generation platform. It’s great to see these guys slug it out after 4+ years (with a lot of tough times!) and come out of it with a growing business and lots of opportunity.