Bruno is the founder of Influence Kit, a tool for helping brands and agencies to run better campaigns and increase influencer ROI.
To read the full interview with Bruno, check out Kicking SaaS: 101 Founders on What it Takes to Launch a Software as a Service–available on April 29.
What is Influence Kit?
Influence Kit helps brands and content creators work better together. Our mission is to help them build stronger relationships, empower them to have smoother workflows, and to be able to prove the value of their collaborations.
There are two sides to the product. One side helps influencers plan, manage, and measure their content with an editorial calendar. Influence Kit works really well for influencers, content creators, and small publishers because it's a project management tool, plus a reporting tool.
There’s another side of the tool that's targeted more at brands and agencies. If you're a brand or you're a small agency and you're trying to get influencers to create content for your client or your brand, you need to be able to measure how that content is performing. Influence Kit allows you to say, I want to work with these people and I want them to submit these deliverables. And I want to be able to see a report for how that content did on a bunch of different platforms.
How did you identify this as a problem to be solved?
It's a “scratch your own itch” product. I ran two blogs for over 10 years and we did a lot of sponsored content and worked with a lot of brands and agencies. We couldn't find a tool that enabled us to streamline our workflows, help us become more efficient, and also let us provide reporting. Influence Kit started out as a solution to that problem. It was really an influencer focused tool. As we started rolling out, we found that a lot of brands wanted to use it, too.
What have some of the challenges been pivoting into selling your products and running a SaaS?
The first code for Influence Kit was written in 2011 but we didn't have our first paying customer until 2018. It took a long time to realize that I had a product that I could sell.
The challenge was that I wasn't persistent enough early on in trying to productize it. I had this internal tool that worked great for us. To get from there to the point where people are paying for it is a bit of a gap.
The initial goal wasn't like, Let's build a business around this. Approaching it from that point of view, I wasn't ready for how persistent you really have to be in terms of showing it to people– ignoring negative feedback or less-than-enthusiastic feedback and continuing to push it out until you find the right audience.
Why face this challenge if you were already running a successful business?
I had been running content businesses for a long time and I was ready for something new. In 2008, my daughter was born, so the content business was really conducive to that kind of lifestyle. It provided me a lot of flexibility. Around the time I wanted to start focusing on Influence Kit, I had more bandwidth. My kids were getting older and they didn't need me all the time.
Also, the ceiling on a SaaS business is a lot higher. There's just a lot more opportunity there, a lot more control.
What do you see ahead for Influence Kit?
We are growing gradually. With SaaS, it can be hard to know what the right rate of growth is. We're working on a freemium and a new strategy for how we're going to pursue bigger brand accounts that have higher LTV. My hope is that next year, we can see that start to bend upwards.
It’s easy to say, “We want to grow faster,” until you realize that you don't want everything that comes along with that. We’re figuring out how much faster we can grow without sacrificing the lifestyle that we want to have as we're building the business.
Why build a calm company?
The important thing is to understand what your priorities are as a human being. So many people go into entrepreneurship and don't think about what they actually want to prioritize. In my case, I took every Friday off until my kids were three because that was my priority. I just had to restructure everything else around that.
You get good at what you practice. If you practice having a lifestyle that you enjoy or having free time to be with your family, then you will get good at actually doing that. If you want to take Fridays off, you need to start doing that and let everything else adjust around that. It’s difficult when there are people pinging me on Intercom and I'm out for a walk with my wife. It's a practice to not answer the call and to continue my walk. Just like anything else, it's a muscle that you have to work at.
I'm an entrepreneur because I want to work less, not more. I see a lot of entrepreneurs who talk about how hard it is and how tired and stressed they are. I'm like, “Wait, I think you’re doing something wrong. That's not why you got into it.”
If you're starting SpaceX or something like that, then obviously you're going to have to work incredibly hard. But that was never my goal. For me, entrepreneurship is a gradual process of aligning the kind of business you're building with the kind of life you actually want.