Tweet-Eye speeds up selling via social media

17 Sep 2018

From left: Sabina Higgins, President Michael D Higgins and Barbara Heneghan. Image: Maxwell Photography

Our Start-up of the Week is Tweet-Eye, a digital marketing tool that helps connect sellers to potential buyers on social media.

“We have an early-adopter market of many sellers on the eBay and Etsy online marketplaces using our application to share their products on social media,” explained Tweet-Eye’s Barbara Heneghan.

Tweet-Eye is a digital marketing tool that helps microbusinesses increase their customer leads. The system automates research and scheduling of posts across multiple platforms, and provides integration and support for online sellers on platforms such as eBay and Etsy.

“We also cater for online sellers who want to extract image content easily from their own websites and selling platforms.

“As well as our early-adopter market, we are seeing an increase in website owners, online affiliates, Fiverr sellers and Airbnb hosts beginning to use Tweet-Eye.”

The market

Heneghan explained that Tweet-Eye is helping cash-strapped, time-poor businesses be seen on social media and level the playing field.

“This is helping our customers to increase their sales. As we all know, sales fixes everything,” she said.

The founders

Prior to Tweet-Eye, Henaghan ran a microbusiness in Belmullet, Co Mayo, selling foraging package weekends via Airbnb. “My business focused on connecting back to nature. I found a way to help the Irish diaspora connect back to Ireland by making handmade soaps and candles from the oils distilled from the wild plants such as heathers and gorse. I sold these products through Etsy and eBay.

“I struggled to be seen online amidst the clutter of thousands of other listings. I started to use the Tweet-Eye application to promote my offers on social media and I increased my sales by 300pc.

“I am supported by co-owners Christopher Collins, John Turner, Joseph LaRocco and Mate Zgombic. Chris and John are highly analytical people and have worked closely for years with microbusinesses and understand the two biggest challenges are time and sales. Joseph LaRocco and Mate Zgombic provide counsel to the company, advising on compliance issues as well as contracts and strategic relationships.”

The technology

Heneghan explained that the difference between Tweet-Eye and other social media scheduling software alternatives is down to the scheduling capability.

“Most software will only let you send posts once at a specific date and time. Tweet-Eye users love the fact that Tweet-Eye does fast image and content extraction, and can do unique recurring posts with changing calls to action and market intelligence hashtags.

“This is important because you can’t spam social media platforms with the same posts. It’s integrated with Google Maps and can extract Twitter conversations from virtually anywhere. This system constantly helps online sellers get new views to their online sales offers and frees up valuable time.

“Tweet-Eye is safe to use. We don’t store or save your social media or selling platform passwords, we are compliant and work with the official APIs and RSS feeds of social media platforms and sales platforms, and add our own ‘secret sauce’ to help customers have a simple process to follow.”

Heneghan said that Tweet-Eye’s goal is to build a simple application that increases sellers’ presence and potential sales from social media.

“We wish to make a difference in people’s lives. Many online sellers work from home around busy schedules, around the needs of caring for their families, children or elderly relatives.

“All entrepreneurs know that their most limited resource is time. Many sellers simply don’t have the time to blog and post to social media every day. We aim to create the easiest system for microbusiness owners to set up long-term schedules promoting their sales content to social media.”

Who dares, sells

Heneghan said that more than 3,000 users joined the service during its build from minimal viable product to full market product.

“We’re delighted to be working with Údarás na Gaeltachta, who are assisting us in growing our team. We now begin the process of scaling our business under the guidance of Enterprise Ireland marketing mentor Paul Dilger from M4 Marketing.

“We are also in the process of securing the services of scaling experts. We are always interested in investment offers from investors, especially from people with expertise in our space and scaling experts. We’re also looking to build strategic partnerships with online influencers who are followed by online sellers such as eBay and Etsy sellers.”

Security at the speed of social

Henghan pointed out how the social media environment is fast-paced and constantly changing.

“Our team monitors trends and policy changes of the social media and selling platforms to ensure we are compliant with these platforms. We’re all very aware of data protection in light of GDPR changes in Europe. To manage this, we advise that any seller using our services reads the terms and conditions of the selling and social media platforms, as well as Tweet-Eye’s, to ensure they comply.

“We comply with the necessary security requirements of each platform’s API and do not store sellers’ logon or password details.”

Networking pays

Heneghan’s advice to fellow founders? “Network, network, network!”

She continued: “Don’t be afraid to ask. You’d be surprised who will help you out. There’s a lot of goodwill out there towards start-ups. We are especially grateful to GMIT New Frontiers programme, which allowed us to test our business idea in a highly supportive environment of mentors and industry experts.

“We’re also grateful to our investors, Enterprise Ireland, who have invested in our team and our application, and provided the funding to allow us to build from minimal viable product to full market product.

“We continue to work with our Enterprise Ireland development advisers and mentors and their research centre. We are very grateful for all the funding support, training, mentoring and the opportunity to work with the Irish technology institutes to get us where we are today.”

Crucially, Heneghan advises that you need to have a good business idea and a very clear vision of how to monetise it and grow, especially if you’re going to need investment to scale.

“If you’re willing to have your business idea rigorously tested, there are some fantastic supports in Ireland which will help you with the funding and training, which include the New Frontiers programme, Enterprise Ireland Competitive Start Fund and Leader Match funding scheme. Europe-wide, there is also the Horizon 2020 fund and the Cartier Women’s Award.

“As a female entrepreneur, I feel that the Irish Government and the European Union provide a lot of support to female entrepreneurs to create a level playing field for all.

“I have been astounded by the support Enterprise Ireland offered me in accommodating my five-week-old baby at business meetings and providing a space for me to breastfeed when attending mentoring, business meetings and training workshops.

“With the support of Enterprise Ireland, being an expectant or new mother was not a barrier to building a tech business,” Heneghan added.

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years