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DIGIVIZER was the first business to bring social prospect discovery software to market in Australia, and as a result, is experiencing significant growth. Here, co-founder Emma Lo Russo looks at the pitfalls of growing quickly and offers advice for how start-ups can fund this.

Emma Lo Russo launched DIGIVIZER two years ago, to help businesses better understand customers by allowing them to connect their database with the social web.

Capitalising on a trend toward social media and a need for businesses to do more on a smaller budget, Lo Russo and co-founder Clinton Larson built DIGIVIZER’s social prospect discovery software –the first to market in Australia. The technology supplies users with enriched customer profiles, which consider a customer’s behaviours, interests and influence, drawn from publicly available information on the social web – allowing them to provide better service and more targeted offerings.

The software also delivers actionable leads and valuable customer insights.

“We offer a real ‘individual customer’ view in real time and feed those insights into an organisation’s CRM. The real-time nature of the social web, together with DIGIVIZER, allows us to get the right message to the right person at the right time,” Lo Russo told Dynamic Business.

And the start-up has attracted the attention of some big names – including Telstra, NAB, Optus and IKEA – to name just a few. Lo Russo credits these important relationships to DIGIVIZER’s key point of difference.

“We’re the only ones linking the social web up to a customer base, maintaining those links as well as serving up custom triggers and insights that can result in making better decisions and improving the customer experience.”

While this point of difference is invaluable to the start-up, Lo Russo says it’s also at the root of the biggest challenge facing the venture. Not only is DIGIVIZER working to establish the new category in which it operates, its founders are also searching for ways to find the business’ growth. Initially self-funded, Lo Russo said a combination of reinvested revenue and profits as well as governmental R&D rebates have made do up to this point – but that they’re now looking for an investor who can help them grow “significantly.”

“You can have a great idea, fund the substantiation of the business case, engage real clients and grow your revenues. However, if you have a great opportunity as we do, you want to build your business IP and technology before you sell it.”

“That involves hiring the best people and additional infrastructure – which requires additional funding investment,” she added.

Don’t risk it – work on your business

When considering other risks facing the DIGIVIZER start-up, Lo Russo cites an issue that plagues many owners – working in your business, rather than on it.

“When you start-up, costs are tight and it is a continuous challenge to keep focused on the strategic, rather than the tactical. Great discipline, focus and planning is required,” she said.

The trick to managing this is to work on your ability to recognise which aspects of the business should be outsourced, Lo Russo says.

“Knowing when it is best to outsource or engage the next resource rather than be weighed down in its delivery, particularly around new business development, has been a big learning lesson in how to work and stay on track,” she added.

Focus, fortitude and commitment to a vision are three more essential abilities for start-up entrepreneurs, which can also help with staying on track with strategy.

“You need to stay absolute to the bigger opportunity so you don’t get way-laid by any tactical sways or delays. Having a great team of people – whether it be external advisers or those in your business can help you stay highly motivated and on track,” Lo Russo said.

“In simple terms, you succeed where you want. You just need to want to enough.”

Exponential growth in the pipeline 

Long-term relationships and ongoing subscription revenue from clients will ensure the start-up sees 200 to 300 percent growth over the next couple of years. Lo Russo said DIGIVIZER will continue to focus on building the best, most valuable solution for organisations.

“… and building strong partner networks to scale our representation will all help to continue to grow our business. We have targeted and seen great brands come on board – the more we deliver value, the more repeat business will occur.”

The pair also have their sights set on overseas expansion: “We have already begun exporting our solution and we see this as a natural expansion for the business particularly into Asia.”

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Lorna Brett

Lorna Brett

Lorna was Dynamic Business’ Social Web Editor in 2011/12. She’s a social media obsessed journalist, who has a passion for small business. Outside the 9 to 5, you’re likely to find her trawling the web for online bargains, perfecting her amateur photography skills or enjoying one too many cappucinos. You can follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/dynamicbusiness">Twitter @DynamicBusiness</a>

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