Our tech start-up of the week is Knudger.com, a new Irish venture that’s harnessing the power of social networks to create a social fundraising service for sports clubs, charities and not-for-profit organisations.
Eoin Kennedy and John Rowen co-founded Knudger.com in 2011 and the site is now in beta mode.
While Kennedy has worked as a communications consultant and is chair of the Irish Internet Association’s Social Media Working Group, Rowen is a web developer.
"We also have another four web developers working on the product in the background," explains Kennedy.
Knudger is an Enterprise Ireland high-potential start-up, while it is also taking part in the Internet Growth Acceleration Programme (iGAP). The start-up has been bootstrapped by Kennedy and Rowen, but they hope to have a funding announcement in the next few weeks.
Recently at the Dublin Web Summit, Knudger.com launched a new product called Knudger Groups. The idea behind Knudger Groups is that it helps clubs, charities and not-for-profit associations fundraise by using social media.
Taking a GAA club as an example, Kennedy says it would set up a group on Knudger.com. That GAA club would then recruit its members into that group.
"Then we would go to an advertiser that would match with the club. We would devise a campaign with that advertiser to use on the social media platform and link to where they want to send traffic. That commercial message will appear in the group. The group members will browse through it until they find an ad they are happy with. Once they click on an ad campaign, it appears on their social media profile, be it their Twitter or Facebook accounts. Once their friends click on that link and visit the site, the club gets paid," explains Kennedy.
"You are asking people to open up their networks, which are valuable to the club, to promote something that you are comfortable with to your own network."
Kennedy says advertisers upload on Knudger.com how much they want to spend on a campaign overall, and how much they want to pay per click.
"It’s only when people click on the ad that the money comes out of the advertiser’s funds."
Kennedy says that in the area of digital marketing you get a much more powerful reaction from a word-of-mouth recommendation rather than via a straightforward banner ad.
"We deliver referred website traffic," he explains, adding how advertisers also get the benefit of people chatting about a product or service on their social networks.
Before Knudger Groups, the duo also built a product to enable people to make money themselves via the platform.
"We have between 15 and 20 advertisers up on Knudger.com at the moment. If you click on one ad, it gets posted out to one of eight social networks you have connected to and you get paid every time a friend clicks on the ad."
So how does Knudger itself monetise from the service? "We take a percentage at the point of click. That’s the business model behind it," says Kennedy.
As for Knudger Groups, he says the start-up is now looking for clubs and charities to register on the site to create test campaigns.
"We will sit down with either the club or charity and figure out what type of brand will work with them. Once we find a brand we will build a campaign with them."
And Kennedy says Knudger doesn’t have to be all about big, national brands.
"It could be a team or a charity in a county or a local hotel or enterprise. It could be quite a localised campaign."
In addition, he says users of the service can experiment with and tweak campaigns easily via the service.
"Plus, it’s all transparent. When you go onto Knudger you get to see who has posted what. The client gets to see who has taken the action and is generating money for them and the advertiser gets to see what posts are put out and the amount of clicks that are generated."
In terms of the challenges to setting up a new business, Kennedy says he found out that things take longer than you anticipate.
"Our testing took longer than we thought and the fundraising is a very long process. It’s a superb process to go through as it really focuses your mind and gets you much closer to the business model and the financials behind it, which is very useful, but it does take a lot of time."
And his advice for other emerging start-ups? "I would sit down with another start-up and work out how you can shorten timelines and how you can learn from their experiences, particularly around the steps when it comes to fundraising," says Kennedy.
Finally, he says a start-up needs to act really fast. "If you see an opportunity act on it straight away. And if you are pitching to an investor group try to get a proper expression of interest very quickly."