It’s one of the greatest challenges, being willing to put a lot of work and effort into something and balancing that with the awareness that you may have to adjust.
I don’t want to discount the innovation and success of EveryoneSocial, the company to which Cameron Brain recently returned as CEO. Because EveryoneSocial is innovative and successful and deserves an in-depth profile. The problem is that during my conversation with Brain, he said some pretty compelling things about the world of startups as a whole and by the end of our talk I was asking him for business advice even though I have zero intentions of founding a company. And I feel like keeping that advice from you would be a pretty sucky thing to do. So while this is a profile of EveryoneSocial, I hope I’m not giving myself too much credit to also call it an examination of the startup journey chalk-full of Cameron Brain knowledge nuggets. Brain bites, if you will. Maybe you won’t. Anyway…
“EveryoneSocial is an employee advocacy platform,” Brain explains. The company provides social media tools for employees at larger organizations. “Every employee has lots of connections and networks full of people,” Brain says. “Businesses do a really bad job of helping employees understand the value of their network.” EveryoneSocial helps companies push content to their employees that is relevant to the business and gives employees the ability to track content relevant to their own personal interests. The software also includes tools that enable employees to use their gathered content professionally.
Brain and cofounder Eric Roach started the company in 2009. “For us it all started with an interest around content,” Brain says. In 2009 the Internet was just starting to turn into what it is today. Social media had started gaining momentum and Brain and Roach wanted to build a system that would prioritize content and make some sense of it all. So they built the system and started selling the software as a content curation service. They soon realized, however, that there was a bigger business opportunity to be taken advantage of. If they turned the keys over to the employees of large corporations, curated content could reach quite a few more eyeballs. “We’re all on social media and the networks and relationships employees have far outnumber any audience corporate brands are talking to,” Brain says.
That marked the transition point for Everyone Social. “We didn’t really know what kind of business we were building,” Brain says, adding that this was a fact both he and Roach embraced. “We had enough experience to know we didn’t know where we were going to end up,” Brain says. “In my experience, I’ve never seen someone come out of the gate and hit it on the bullseye right from the get-go.” Brain acknowledges, however, that this is not an easy process. “It’s a challenge to be spending time on things when you know it might not be where you ultimately end up. Every day you’re working on something, you’re spending more money, you’re hoping your thing results in something that is a good business,” Brain says. “It’s one of the greatest challenges, being willing to put a lot of work and effort into something and balancing that with the awareness that you may have to adjust.” Brain advises other startup founders to “be flexible enough to acknowledge and account for changes,” explaining that it took a number of years before they had something in hand that had potential to be very successful.
Once they had that product in hand, they started selling to marketing, sales, and HR departments that all stood to benefit from the product in different ways. Marketing departments spend money producing content and they want to spread that content far and wide. EveryoneSocial allows marketing departments to use employees as content amplifiers. Sales reps need information that is relevant to their potential customers. EveryoneSocial offers tools that allow sales reps to track that relevant content. HR departments use the software for recruitment and retention purposes, leveraging employees’ networks to find new potential hires.
After co-founding ES, Brain was offered an opportunity he could not pass up, so he left the company in the able hands of Roach and moved to San Francisco to become a partner in an electric motorcycle company. He later ran business development and commerce products at Reddit. He then decided he was ready to return to EveryoneSocial and the team with whom he had remained close. And here’s where the conversation turned philosophical. “Starting a company is a super difficult process,” Brain says. “You need to get to a place where you have a critical mass around customers and revenue, and a history with customers so you can hold onto them. When I left Everyone Social all of those things were question marks.” He explains that by the time he returned to ES, many of those questions had been resolved. The company has that critical mass and a long history with their loyal customers, and is primed for even more success moving forward under Brain’s lead. “I hope that we are able to build a successful business. It doesn’t have to take over the world. I just want to make sure that we’re taking care of our people and providing for our clients,” Brain says then adds, “I want this business to last for some time to come.”