How an Italian startup is helping brands connect with influencers

I was talking to one of my customers recently and I said, “How are you getting your customers?”

He and his cofounder had a line of makeup. I said, “How do you compete in the makeup space? Where are you getting your customers?” And he said Instagram. I said, “So, you’re buying ads?” He goes, “No, not really. We’re not buying Instagram ads.” He said, “We’re actually paying people on Instagram to talk about the makeup.” I said, “Let me see.”

What he does is he goes to Instagram and he looks to see who’s got a pretty decent audience. Then he emails them and he says, “Hey, can we pay you to wear our makeup or can we send you free samples?” with the hopes they’ll wear the makeup. And that’s where he was getting his customers and really growing a nice little business. I’ve heard of people doing this, but until I actually saw his case, I didn’t realize how effective it was.

Well, today we’ve got an entrepreneur who built a company that makes connecting with influencers a lot easier.

His name is Fabrizio Perrone. He is the founder of Buzzoole, which helps brands connect with influencers who create content for them, keep track of how effective each influencer is, and see what’s worked for other sponsors.

Fabrizio Perrone

Fabrizio Perrone


Fabrizio Perrone is the founder of Buzzoole which helps brands connect with influencers who create content for them.


Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of It is, of course, home of the ambitious upstart, which really means that we’ve got an audience of people who are so determined to build their businesses that they come here to listen to other entrepreneurs talk about how they built their businesses. We do it so we can pick up a couple of ideas. We can pick up a couple of thought processes so that we can find something to bring back to our own businesses.

And in addition to having listeners, I also have customers here at Mixergy, people who sign up to get more of Mixergy, what we call Mixergy Premium. And the reason I bring that up is that a few weeks ago, I was talking to one of my customers and I said, “How are you getting your customers?”

He and his cofounder had a line of makeup. I said, “How do you compete in the makeup space? Where are you getting your customers?” And he said Instagram. I said, “So, you’re buying ads?” He goes, “No, not really. We’re not buying Instagram ads.” He said, “We’re actually paying people on Instagram to talk about the makeup.” I said, “Let me see.” He started showing me. He basically goes out–this is his part of the company. He doesn’t create the makeup. He doesn’t try it out. He doesn’t test it out.

What he does is he goes to Instagram and he looks to see who’s got a pretty decent audience. Then he emails them and he says, “Hey, can we pay you to wear our makeup or can we send you free samples?” with the hopes they’ll wear the makeup. And that’s where he was getting his customers and really growing a nice little business. I’ve heard of people doing this, but until I actually saw his case, I didn’t realize how effective it was.

And that’s like a one-on-one way of building a business. Well, today we’ve got an entrepreneur who built a company that facilitates that, that makes it a lot easier so you don’t have to go hunt down your influencers, so you can keep track of how effective each influencer is, so you can see what’s worked for other sponsors.

His name is Fabrizio Perrone. He is the founder of Buzzoole. It helps brands connect with influencers who create content for them. And I want to find out how he did this. And to be honest with you, I never heard of Buzzoole before this interview. This is actually the second time that I scheduled this interview. The first time, I spent so long talking to people saying, “Do you know Fabrizio? Do you know Buzzoole? What do you know about them?” and not getting enough information that by the time I got on a call with Fabrizio, it was too late to actually record the interview.

But what I did get to talk to him about is why my friends hadn’t heard about him. It’s because Fabrizio, you’re running a company in Italy, right?

Fabrizio: Yeah. We are based in Italy. We just opened a new office in London and in Moscow. We’ll be planning to open our US office next year.

Andrew: Yeah. And this is kind of an introduction to the US audience for your company and the process that you guys go through to not just get influencers to promote products, but to measure it and to help them do it right. And this interview is sponsored by two great companies. The first one will help you hire your next great developer. It’s called Toptal. And the second one will make sure that you can actually get sales by getting on the phone with customers or in-person meetings with them. It’s called Acuity Scheduling.

All right. I’m excited to talk to you, Fabrizio, largely because of the success of your company but also because you’re an Italian company and I want to diversify here. But before we get into your story, let’s talk numbers. What kind of sales are you doing? What was your revenue in 2015?

Fabrizio: We had like more than $1.5 million revenue in 2015. This year we are experiencing a run rate like close to $4 million. So, growing like 30% month over month and opening also the UK gives us like a good push. Now we are also managing a campaign in four different countries. So, basically France, Spain, Switzerland and Poland and also a campaign into the U.S.

Andrew: So, you’re definitely growing beyond where you were last year. When you say that it was $1.5 million in revenue, I know that you charge the advertiser and you give some of that money to the influencer. Is your revenue including what you give to the influencer or is it after you take out the money that you give to the influencers?

Fabrizio: No. Basically we have more wider system. We have long tail influencer to grow in terms of personal branding to use our technology to grow in terms of personal branding. So they are involved with the gamification system that allow them to earn bench ranking and so on. Also, they can earn credit that they can convert into a [inaudible 00:05:17]. So, basically what we are gaining from the brand is like the budget for a guaranteed media exposure and then a part of this budget that of course is comprehensive goal, like to the influencer, through our gamification system–

Andrew: I see. So, some part of it goes to the influencer but they’re not just paid in that. They’re also paid in badges and credits and all kinds of other things. Am I right?

Fabrizio: Yeah.

Andrew: Okay. So, when you say $1.5 million, is it fair to say that half–

Fabrizio: It’s included. Yeah.

Andrew: It includes it? So, is it fair to say maybe 25% of it goes to the influencers?

Fabrizio: Yeah. It all depends, but it could be like in terms of balance, it’s really close to the…

Andrew: Okay. I want to get to know you a little bit now that I’ve dug into the numbers. Specifically, I’m curious about you at an early age. I heard from our producer that at 22, you flew to Milan for a job interview that ended up being a disaster. Do you know the one I’m talking about?

Fabrizio: Who?

Andrew: You at 22 years old, didn’t you fly to Milan for a job interview with Nestlé and it ended up going bad?

Fabrizio: Yeah.

Andrew: What happened there?

Fabrizio: Basically I just had taken my degree. I was called by Nestlé for an interview. I was still deciding like what to do in my life because I had the dream to be an entrepreneur. I would like to build something from scratch and I want to make it big. But of course, on the other end, I was having lots of opportunities for interviews for great companies. So, I was still deciding. I think that was one of the moments where you say, “Okay, I want to push this way.”

Andrew: Push this way meaning go get a job?

Fabrizio: No.

Andrew: Oh, this experience made you say, “Forget it. I’m going to be an entrepreneur.”

Fabrizio: Yeah.

Andrew: Because you went there–was there a big chance of getting hired?

Fabrizio: Yeah. Basically, it was just the first of like six interviews.

Andrew: Okay.

Fabrizio: So, they didn’t cover any expenses. So, basically I was supposed to go there six times, fly nights in the hotel because it was like early morning, really early. It was 9:00 a.m. So, then we will have €600 stashed for six months. That, of course, is not enough to cover your life in Milan and to rent a place and so on. And then they say, if I remember well, 60% of you will be hired with us. So, basically the first thing that I asked to do maybe like to concentrate more step in two or three venues, like to limit the expense. Of course, they said, “No, it’s impossible.” They were also really disappointed by my passion because on their side, these demonstrates that I didn’t have the motivation to work with Nestlé, that like, “Please give me the job. Working with Nestlé is the dream of my life,” or something like that.

Andrew: I see. Not only did you not say, “This is what I’ve dreamt of since I was a kid, working for Nestlé,” but you also said, “Look, if you guys are going to keep bringing us back and forth and back and forth, give me more than a 40% chance of success or just wipe out more people early on in the process. Maybe step two out of step six can eliminate a majority of us that you guys aren’t feeling good about.” So, that’s what you said to them.

You said you also blew the interview and you caused a bit of a scene. What kind of scene did you cause over there? I like scenes.

Fabrizio: Basically, I said, “Okay, so probably this is not likely a place for me.” Then when I came back to Naples, I say to my parents, “Okay, I would like to stop my interview. I would like to be an entrepreneur.”

Andrew: I see. But did you cause a scene over there, just saying, “Look, guys, I don’t love you enough to keep pursuing this?” Was that enough for people to start staring? Was that more of an argument? No?

Fabrizio: Yes. Basically, it was like, of course, their reaction was like surprised because they used to have people who graduated from the best university in Italy that was like praying like to have a job or something like that. But of course, I really didn’t want that kind of life.

Andrew: I see. Okay.

Fabrizio: I was really, really ambitious and I said, “Okay, if I have to do that, I have to pay my rent for six months and don’t reach my expenses for six months. Then I just have the 60% to get hired and then all for work, like to become maybe in 20 years have a salary of $3,000 or $4,000 a month.

Andrew: Right. That’s not the life for you. Meanwhile, though, even though you turned them down and you kind of said, “Not only am I turning you down, but I don’t even like the lifestyle you’re offering me, which means I don’t like the lifestyle you guys have.” You didn’t burn a bridge because Nestlé is now a customer of Buzzoole.

Fabrizio: Yeah.

Andrew: Which is kind of interesting. We walk around in life thinking everyone has got this permanent record that they’re writing down stuff about us forever. Stuff like this, like saying, “I don’t’ like your lifestyle. I don’t like your company. I’m not going to work here,” doesn’t end up burning a bridge that keeps you from working with a company, especially not a big company like that.

By the way, as you’re talking, it feels like you’re trying to find the right words in English. Do you do the thing where you talk in your head in Italian and then you translate to English or are you just speaking out English? I’m curious about what’s going on.

Fabrizio: No. I try to speak directly in English. Of course, I have to improve my fluency, but I learned to talk in English when I lived for one year in Ireland.

Andrew: Yeah.

Fabrizio: And now with the new office in London, I use it also to talk to the customers. I try to think in Italian and then translate it.

Andrew: Do you do that? That’s what I do when I speak Spanish. I think the words in my head and then I say them in Spanish. When I’m really on a roll, I just speak in Spanish and don’t even translate in my head. I just let it go. I’m wondering at what point you are. It seems like you’re kind of at both places. Sometimes you translate in your head and sometimes you just let it roll.

Speaking of Ireland, you were in Ireland with a couple of friends. You guys saw a Hummer limousine and you said, “Hey, this could be an interesting idea.” And the interesting idea developed into you guys offering events for brands around things like this big Hummer limousine, right?

Fabrizio: Yeah.

Andrew: Okay. And then I want to jump into how you discovered influencer marketing. That led to influencer marketing, largely because you said, “How is any of this stuff being measured?” And you started to watch how Instagram was starting to become this thing where people were paying for influencers on it. Am I right?

Fabrizio: Yeah. We started with a completely different industry with unconventional marketing, guerilla marketing and so on, street marketing. And then we turned to viral marketing, making viral videos for brands and then we discovered that basically brands were more interested to the performance of that video with respect to the creativity.

Andrew: I see. They were asking you. You already transitioned from guerilla, in person marketing to doing some online marketing for them and they said, “Fabrizio, how effective is this?” That’s what happened?

Fabrizio: Yeah.

Andrew: I see. So, you at that point, as I understand it, started to discover the venture capital world, the startup world and you started to think bigger than small events and small businesses and you said, “If I could find a way to measure influence, then I’ve got a big business because I’m solving this big problem.” Am I right?

Fabrizio: Yeah. Basically, I always thought that influencer marketing and digital PR and the media performance should talk one day. When I had my first agency, we were doing this kind of campaigning the manual way. It was like really costly, really efficient, especially for the small brands.

I always imagined to create a tool that thanks to the technology could help big brands make more efficient investment that could be like a way to do these kinds of activities with respect to the special project way and also help small and media enterprises plan self-service campaigns with the same easiness of Google AdWords or Facebook advertising. So, I started to discover it was like venture capital and how and angel could like help in scaling up and of course VCs could be scaling up.

Andrew: Because you know you wanted some funding in order to build this thing out.

Fabrizio: Yeah, of course. When you have to build a really huge technology platform, you need investment in marketing to draw and also in a national context, you need investment also.

Andrew: Right.

Fabrizio: We were in a space where we needed the semantic technologies to start, the big data algorithm and so on. So, basically at the end of 2013, we had this seed round of almost $200k.

Andrew: Okay. Let me get into how you got it in a moment and then I want to talk about the software behind it. But first, I have to tell people about this company called Acuity Scheduling. Here’s the thing–a few months ago, actually it was less than that, I interviewed this entrepreneur about his software.

It was a CRM software and it was just growing really fast. I signed up to get a sense of what it was like to sign up, what was it about the onboarding that was so exciting. And I didn’t fully get it before the interview. Then the next day I got an email from somebody at his company saying, “Hey, I hope you’re enjoying our software. If you have any questions, let me know.”

The day after that, I got an email from somebody at his company saying, “Do you want to get on a call one on one where I will walk you through how this software can help you improve your sales?” I said, “That’s really clever.” That’s one of the reasons why they do so well. Software is often very complicated. Often people have so much going on in their lives that they don’t even touch the new software they’ve signed up for. They sign up and move on.

But if you can get a person on a call with a new user and not just get them to understand the software, but get them to actually start using it, to start putting their data in it, to start integrating it into their business, then you’ve got a customer who’s not going to cancel because now you’re improving their lives and you’re embedded in their business. That’s what this startup that I interviewed did. It’s one of the things they did to grow. They got a real human being on a call with their customers.

Now, I’ve interviewed other people who have done this and I don’t know why. It didn’t occur to me that this was a really powerful process, probably because I thought talking to customers would take too long, talking to customers doesn’t scale. But I’m seeing the businesses do scale that way. They do get on the call with their new customers. As I’ve seen in other interviews, they often learn more about what’s tough about the onboarding process. What’s tough about getting users to start using their software? They improve their software in addition to retaining sales.

So, if you do want to do something like that, how do you do it? Well, there are tons of ways to do it, but they’re all pretty bad, right? You email someone saying, “Hey, do you want to get on a call next Monday?” If you say next Monday, you have to also give them a time, you have to give it to them in their time zone, but you don’t know what their time zone is. All those things are problematic. If you suggest to someone, “Do you want a call on Monday at 10:00 a.m.?” then you can’t offer that time to anyone else, otherwise you might end up double-booking, all kinds of issues like that.

That’s where Acuity Scheduling comes in. Acuity allows you to give someone a link where they can go onto your calendar and pick the dates and times that you make available to them and after they do, Acuity will ask that person whatever question you want–what’s your phone number? What’s your Skype name? What’s your company name? Why’d you sign up for our software–whatever it is, you get to ask all those questions and they appear automatically on your personal calendar. And the person who you’re scheduling a call or meeting with will have a calendar invitation also so that your meeting appears on their calendar.

It’s really brilliant. It’s so elegantly simple and it scales up. If you want your sales people, if you want your customer development people, if you want you yourself to talk to your users, your customers, your mentors, whoever it is, you’ve got to use this software because it makes calling people and getting on a call with them and getting them to frankly even accept the call super simple.

I want you to do this though. Don’t go to That’s nice. But that’s for everyone else. For you, you’re going to get 45 days free with Acuity Scheduling, which means that you can schedule all the calls you want, you can actually see the impact it has on your business.

Go to And frankly, the fact that these guys keep signing up for ads with Mixergy is a testament to how powerful the Mixergy audience is because I know the name Acuity Scheduling is not the easiest to remember.–so many people have signed up for it. You should too. Go to, my sponsor.

Fabrizio, I heard you stalked venture capitalists on LinkedIn. Is that how you got investors?

Fabrizio: Yes. It’s how I took my first contacts. So, I was trying to explain my idea to angel investors. So, I went to Milan and explained the idea that we were building this algorithm to recognize real people that could have real influence, so helping brands go beyond the celebrities.

Andrew: So, it was more than LinkedIn. It was you going in person and kind of stalking them in person and saying, “Here’s how my software works.” How did your software work at the time? What was your idea for identifying who the right influencers were?

Fabrizio: So, basically at the time of the first meeting, I had just a PowerPoint. So, my first answer was okay, I think that it could be a really good idea and amazing project, but I want to see an MVP. So, I went back to my cofounders. It was all technical guys. I say, “Okay, guys, we need a valuable product.

Andrew: Okay.

Fabrizio: So, they weren’t really experiencing the–

Andrew: They could code it up, but beyond the code, take me a little bit up higher here. What was your process for identifying who the influencers were? Were you just going to see who had the most likes or the most followers or the most what?

Fabrizio: No. Basically we have like different modules on our algorithm. The first one is, of course, about taking all the information from all the social channels and we index it in a passive way more than two billion profiles on a global scale and then we have like a model that is dedicated to understand which topic they are influential in.

Andrew: How?

Fabrizio: We use basically open beta. So, for example, if I write about Je Suis Charlie, the algorithm is understanding that I’m talking about terrorism, for example. Then we use a semantic algorithm. Now we are able to detect more than 1,000 influential topics, so we can be really specific. Then we use deep learning and image recognition algorithm. Deep learning is basically about like predictive analysis.

So, we can predict which kind of engagement in terms of quantity and quality a user will have on a specific topic respected to a form of behavior. On the other side, like image recognition algorithms are needed to better understand social, like Instagram and like to understand which kinds of topics are behind the picture.

Andrew: You do image recognition to understand what topic is in the photo to understand that someone is talking about clothes a lot, so they must be good at clothes?

Fabrizio: Yeah.

Andrew: You do?

Fabrizio: Yeah.

Andrew: Where do you get your image recognition software? Who are you guys licensing that from?

Fabrizio: No. Basically we started using some external API, but we recently released our internal algorithm, so we are using our own technology.

Andrew: But at the time when you started, you were using someone else’s APIs to do this?

Fabrizio: Yeah.

Andrew: My sense of it was that a lot of it was using other people’s APIs, that you guys sucked in the data and you used other people’s software to figure out what the data meant and how to categorize it, am I right?

Fabrizio: Yeah. Basically, I think that of course if you do one thing–our scope is like to detect real influence and helping brands to connect with this influencer with the media performance. Of course, you don’t like to do all the process by your own because it’s really, really wide scope, so lots of things are involved into the process.

So, of course, if you have a partner that could help you in one specific thing, we are more than 40 variables in our algorithm. So, of course, if you can find like someone that is really brilliant in one of that, why not take support when you grow and when you are able to build, some of that can be more specific to push your goal?

Andrew: So, then you got your basic version.

Fabrizio: Yeah.

Andrew: The basic version did all these things you’re describing?

Fabrizio: No. We didn’t have image recognition at the beginning. We didn’t have open data at the beginning. We have limited sentiment at the beginning. We covered limited language at the beginning.

Andrew: When you say open data, what’s open data?

Fabrizio: Open data is basically–do you know Wikipedia? It’s like a different way to have access to this kind of data. So, if you talk about Barack Obama, you will know that Barack Obama is the US president and so on. So, they help you to make the context more clear respect like to…

Andrew: It’s not a company called open data, right?

Fabrizio: No. Our public information that you can use through API and so on. So, basically, if you say that I don’t know, Barack Obama is bad. Thanks to public data, you can know that you are talking about politics.

Andrew: I see. Where do you get this public data?

Fabrizio: There are public APIs, like DBpedia or others that is kind of like a Wikipedia that you can use through API and so on.

Andrew: Do you remember one of the brand names?

Fabrizio: Yeah. One is DBpedia.

Andrew: DBpedia? Like DB as in database, DBpedia.

Fabrizio: Yeah.

Andrew: I’m going to their site right now. I see what you mean. All right. So, you had your first version. You started to raise a little bit of money and you built up a landing page so you could show investors what you guys had in mind. You also needed a little bit more money than you got from investors. I read that you guys also won a contest for money. That gets you up and running, right?

Fabrizio: Yes. Basically we got our first investment at the end of 2013 and then we launched our beta version in mid-2014.

Andrew: Okay.

Fabrizio: Growing very fast, like by the end of 2014, we were less than six and we closed after like five months of sales, we closed more than $200k.

Andrew: Okay.

Fabrizio: Then we started 2015 and like 10 people, we closed a new round of $1 million from international investors and now we are closing like a new round with an investor from the UK and from Russia and this will bring us to the US.

Andrew: Okay. All right. So, let’s get into the first customer. The first company was a company called Ferrero.

Fabrizio: Yeah.

Andrew: How did you get them?

Fabrizio: Basically I went there to present my product. It was like the day after we released the beta version of our platform, so basically I was there and I explained it and showed the platform. The funny thing was that everything went wrong. So, we had, of course, lots of bugs fixed and all the bugs were appearing like during our meeting.

Andrew: While you were meeting with them, you loaded up your website and your website kept showing up all these bugs?

Fabrizio: Sorry?

Andrew: While you were meeting with them, you showed them your website and your website had all these bug reports on it?

Fabrizio: Yeah.

Andrew: I see. Okay. How did they react to that?

Fabrizio: Of course, they were surprised and of course, I said that it was normal because we just launched so we are a new company, of course we have to have a bug fix. I go out and I called my CTO and said what’s up and so on. Two weeks later they called me for this campaign. So, it was really surprising to me.

Andrew: By the way, am I pronouncing their name right? They make Tic-Tac, they make the candy I thought was called Ferrero Rocher. They make Nutella. They make my favorite chocolate which I don’t eat anymore because it’s too good, the Kinder chocolate. But I thought those little small wrap chocolates they sell were called the Ferrero Rocher. The company then, is it called Ferrero?

Fabrizio: Ferrero.

Andrew: Ferrero. And then the little chocolate, is it called Ferrero Rocher?

Fabrizio: Yes.

Andrew: I’m never going to be able to pronounce it. I’ll just point. Why do you think they signed up even though your site was full of bugs? What did they want that they were so excited about that they were willing to put up with bugs?

Fabrizio: Probably because they fall in love with the vision that I explained to them.

Andrew: What was the vision? Make me fall in love with it. What was the vision as you told it to them?

Fabrizio: Basically doing influencer marketing in a clever way, like bringing efficiency and like ingenuity to this kind of campaign. So, basically our technology is able to respect to the same reach to help brands to save 70% of their budget and give ten times more engagement thanks to the segment that we are able to detect and involve.

So, basically I showed like some internal test that you need. I showed the engagement rate and the engagement cost of our segment and they were really interested in that. Of course, when the platform didn’t work, maybe they could like think, “Okay, is he saying the truth or not?” Maybe they decide to test. They were happy because they are, of course, still customers investing.

Andrew: I see. So, what you’re saying is what they really wanted was social media presence. They wanted people talking about them. They didn’t just want to buy advertising, banner ads, even ads in Facebook. They wanted people to actually talk about them because that felt more organic, more natural, more real. Am I right with that or am I misreading it?

Fabrizio: Not at all.

Andrew: I am right. That’s why they were willing to put up with some bugs because they needed this that badly.

Fabrizio: Yeah.

Andrew: Let me ask you in a moment–sorry, what were you going to say and then I’ll come back to my question.

Fabrizio: Okay. Basically they were doing it in a manual way, blowing a lot of money. They knew it, but they didn’t know how to make this kind of campaign perform and how to optimize this kind of investment. So, they probably saw a way to do it.

Andrew: Okay, through you?

Fabrizio: Yeah.

Andrew: I’m going to come back and ask you how you even connected with them and then also what do you do to increase engagement? How do you measure it?

But first I’ve got to tell everyone about this incredible company that’s going to help you hire your next developer or maybe your team of developers. It’s called Toptal. What’s amazing about Toptal is they realize they can get in their network–we all have our networks, right? I’ve got networks of people I’ve interviewed. I’ve got networks of entrepreneurs who are in San Francisco. I’ve got networks of entrepreneurs who are in India, strangely. We all have our networks. They said, “We’re going to be really intentional about it. We’re going to build a network of developers who are the best of the best developers.”

So, they started running all these tests to see who is the best developer. They started doing these screenings to see who could pass not just the test but the screenings and so on. They ended up with this really killer network of developers. Now when somebody needs to hire a developer–I’m talking about Ruby on Rails all the way down to just a WordPress developer, whatever you need, an iOS developer, an Android developer, they’ve got them now in their network because they’ve been at this long enough that they have a big enough network that spans all these different languages and all these different platforms.

So, you have an issue. You go to them and you say, “Here’s the way I work.” That’s the way we did it at Mixergy. We said, “Look, we’re a team that actually doesn’t do phone calls. We don’t even use Slack. We just want to do email. Here’s how we work. Here’s our process. Here’s what we need done. We need somebody to redo this search on Mixergy. We need somebody to do it in this way.” They went at Toptal. They looked through their network and they found somebody.

They say, “Mixergy uses WordPress. We’ll get someone who does WordPress.” We think that we want someone who does it at this level, etc. They brought back a person to us and they said, “Here, this guy can do the project for you.” We interviewed them and realized it wasn’t really the right fit. We told them so and they gave us the next person who was phenomenal. We hired that person and even though it was just a per project basis and he could have frankly just taken his time with it, the guy got it done in less than a week. Killer work.

That’s what Toptal is all about, this network of developers that when you need to hire someone, they’ve got them and you can start often within days and they help you find the right person for the right way that you work, based on languages you guys use, based on the platforms and based on how you interact as a team. So many people have worked with Toptal that they keep buying up our ad space here at Mixergy. Frankly, in many ways not giving anyone else an opportunity to do it. But I’m happy they’re getting so many results, so many entrepreneurs who are signing up.

And because they know that Mixergy is full of influencers, they want to really win over the Mixergy audience, so here’s what they’re giving us. You won’t see this on their homepage. You’re just going to get this here on Mixergy. Mixergy listeners are going to get 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when they pay for their first 80 hours. So, they’re going to give you 80 hours of developer credit.

In addition, you’re also going to get a no-risk trial period of up to two weeks. Go ask your headhunter for a trial period of up to two weeks. Go try to find anywhere a great developer you can start hiring within days. It’s not going to happen in which you’re Google, in which case maybe you could do it. Actually, not even Google can do it. You can do it if you go to Top as in top of the mountain, tal as in talent, and I’m grateful to them for sponsoring.

What’s your process for measuring results, Fabrizio? How do you know if you’ve paid for an ad and it’s actually doing what it’s supposed to do?

Fabrizio: Yeah. Basically we have like a tracking technology that is able in real time to give to the customer an overview on their campaign budget respect to the KPI that they set. So, basically it works really close to a media campaign. So, you can select the KPI and goal that you need to achieve in terms of the kind of campaign. So, you can do a cross-channel campaign or a really vertical campaign with a specific goal or you can select–

Andrew: Let’s pick one campaign. Let’s suppose that I just wanted to grow my mailing list.

Fabrizio: Okay.

Andrew: No. That’s not what you use influencer marketing for, is it? Let’s use the example of the person who I talked about at the top of the interview. He’s got a makeup business. He wants to get more girls using his makeup so that their fans start using it. He comes to you and says, “Here’s our KPI. We want to know if we’re getting enough sales.” What do you do with that? How do you take the campaign?

Fabrizio: Okay. Basically they can go self-service. So, for like beauty or fashion brands, one of the best channels to grow, as you said before, is Instagram. So, they can select Instagram as a channel. They can select which kind of influencer they want to involve. So, for example, females in a specific area that are influencers in, for example, fashion or beauty. They can choose, give them sample products or not and they will set their budget. They will have an estimated performance respective to the KPI they set with respect to conversation, conversion on their website, respect to views, respect to engagement. And then they can setup their campaign.

So, they will have a preview on what they can expect and we also use a social media ROI model that is able to give them like an estimation of the value of the media exposure gaining through the campaign. So, once they see this estimated performance, they go farther or not. So, they can let their campaign start and see what happened and monitor in real time all the results in terms of ROI, the estimated performance, the paid and viral effect and then they can decide to optimize the campaign, to make some action, like to improve the results.

So, basically it’s up to the client and the specific goal. But you can select conversation, view, clicks and engagement as KPI that you want to pay for.

Andrew: I see. I guess it kind of makes sense. Engagement you can track because you can see how many people are liking it, how many people are talking about it. Orders, I’m guessing you can keep track of by–are you asking people to put a discount code? Is that what you would do?

Fabrizio: It would depend. It’s up to the brand. It can work like this. Yeah. Of course, you can–

Andrew: What works best? Is it a discount code? Is it putting a URL somewhere?

Fabrizio: Yeah, of course. We will have in the most part of the campaign, we’ll have a landing page and of course we can use a tracking link to measure how many conversions we’ll have on a website. We’ll have a CTR of the 5%, so really high respect to the pay activities. Basically we are doing like a really different kind of campaign. As I was saying before, brands are using us together with paid social advertising budget,

So, lots of brands are doing, for example, live tweeting campaigns to support live events with the goal to become a trending topic. So, we will give them an estimation of how much is likely that they are going on trending topic or not. Then thanks to our reporting system, they can give them advice when they are in trending topic, for how much time they are in trending topic and so on.

Or another one could be engagement goal, of course. Of course, in this case, the things that work best are about creativity. So, we are doing a lot of instant marketing campaigns. So, lots of brands are doing instant on Facebook, on other channels.

Andrew: Eston? What’s Eston?

Fabrizio: Instant marketing, doing a creativity that can be viral in a few minutes, in a few hours.

Andrew: Give an example of that. What’s something that’s so creative that it goes viral fast?

Fabrizio: I will give you an Italian accent, we have like [inaudible 00:45:02], the beer that is doing a lot of this kind of campaign. So, for example, last year when Berlusconi was appointed not guilty at the process, they made a creativity [inaudible 00:45:25] is an alcoholic with all the…

Andrew: They did what?

Fabrizio: What?

Andrew: They did what? What did they do?

Fabrizio: They made a Facebook post with the image where it was written with all the symbol of legal, they will say, “[Inaudible 00:45:52] is an alcoholic,” of course to let understand like the judges were doing a mistake.

Andrew: Oh, I see. You’re saying they kind of implied the judges were drinking this beer. That’s what spread virally.

Fabrizio: Yeah.

Andrew: Of course they were drinking.

Fabrizio: And with like €700 budget, they reached almost 2 million people in less than two hours, starting with 13 influencers going up to more than 1,500 people that shared this kind of content or create other content embedding this post. So, it’s also useful.

Andrew: Because they were paying people to do this and then their followers started to do it too, am I right?

Fabrizio: Yes. As I told you before, it’s not about like, “Do this and I’ll pay you.” It’s more about the gamification. So, users go into our platform doing ambassadoring for brands they love. So, it’s more a genuine process with respect to the fact that I’ll come to you. I’ll pay you to this post. So, we tried to keep the relationship more genuine that we can.

Andrew: I see. All right. I am thinking of it very much as a quid pro quo–I give you money, you give me some ads. But that’s not the way it works, you’re saying. It’s much more of an ambassador program. How did you get–let me see if I can pronounce this company right–Ferrero? How’d you even get into their office?

Fabrizio: Basically with my previous job, I had contact with different brands and different media agencies. So, I started, of course, like from my content or a list of content that I add, like also by cold email and like CRM and like tools. And finally after I don’t know how many email I get the meeting and then we’ll go. So, of course, with bug customers or media agencies, the direct relationship is really important, really crucial.

Andrew: I’m going to close out with this one question. We’ve been talking about this big brand. You’ve got a list of other brands that have worked with you. I think Ford was one of your customers, Red Bull, Nivea, Sony, Bacardi, Toyota–does this kind of marketing work for smaller companies, maybe a company that’s doing half a million dollars in sales a year?

Fabrizio: Yes. Another thing that gives us like a plus with respect to the market is that our platform is really useful also for small and medium enterprises. Small and medium enterprises is really not a segment to support. Now almost 20% of our revenue scales from small and medium enterprises that are also doing campaigns of a few hundred euro, a few hundred dollars, a few hundred pounds on our platform with engagement goals or conventional–

Andrew: For a few hundred pounds, we can do that?

Fabrizio: Yeah.

Andrew: A few hundred dollars US?

Fabrizio: Yeah.

Andrew: And you also have, which is a place where we can go search for influencers on our own and maybe work out deals with them directly.

Fabrizio: Yeah. Basically it’s up to you. If you want to use influencer as a media, you can use our platform to create your campaign, set your goal and pay for it.

Andrew: I see.

Fabrizio: If you want to manage the relationship on your own, you can use Finder, have your own list of influencers and then contact them directly and create your own campaign.

Andrew: Okay. That starts at a much cheaper price, like €39 or about $45 US.

Fabrizio: Yeah.

Andrew: Cool. The website for anyone who wants to check it out is Buzzoole. My two sponsors who you heard me talk about are the company that’s going to make sure you actually get on the phone with your customers or potential customers or anyone, it’s called And then company that’s going to help you find your next developer is called Toptal. Go to

Cool, Fabrizio. Good to meet you.

Fabrizio: Thank you.

Andrew: Thank you all for being a part of it. Bye, everyone.

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