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Marketing Under the Influence: Social Media Superstars as a Marketing Channel

Influencer marketing is on a growth tear. Not only is it the fastest growing online customer acquisition method, but it’s also the most cost effective on average, earning marketers $6.50 worth of promotional activity for every dollar they spend. However, the relative immaturity of the influencer-marketing ecosystem has caused headaches for influencers and marketers alike, leading us to explore this new and at times fraught relationship between social media superstars and advertisers. For the uninitiated, influencer marketing is the use of social media personalities (think Pewdiepie or Michelle Phan) to use, endorse, or otherwise plug products and services. It’s the social Internet’s answer to celebrity endorsements, but with a millennial-focused emphasis on authenticity and subject-matter expertise. The problem is that..

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35 Million Fans and Counting: Shoe Lovers’ CEO Bets Big on Social Commerce

It’s no secret that social networking platforms are penetrating the $1.6 trillion e-commerce space.  Chatter about Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and even Google and YouTube launching ‘buy buttons’ has persisted for over a year.  Tandem has been evaluating this evolution, mulling over what the turn to commerce means for social media stakeholders.  As part of our inquiry, we sat down with one of our portfolio company founders, Felipe Servin of Shoe Lovers, in order to hear his take on the social commerce opportunity straight from the frontlines.  Shoe Lovers currently lays claim to the most engaged page on Facebook in the world with over 35 million very active fans. Please take a moment to introduce Shoe Lovers to our readers who..
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Why Uber Is Doing (Mostly) Right by its Workers

The war of words (not to mention lawsuits) surrounding the debate over worker classification in the on-demand economy has reached a fever pitch over the past six months, with a California judge recently granting a class action suit against Uber.  Until now the debate has overwhelming supported the implication that employee/W-2 status is unquestionably better than contractor/1099 status for any number of reasons, the main one being the benefits received by W-2 employees but not by 1099 workers. It is widely understood that 1099 status is employer-friendly, saving on a number of employee- and back office-related costs, such as the above-mentioned benefits and the oversight needed to manage them.  Less well understood is that 1099 contract work actually serves the needs..

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Satellite Startups: Tapping into the Global Talent Pool

Silicon Valley is a lot of things: saturated, expensive, a possible echo chamber, and a hit HBO Original comedy. But, it’s also the birthplace of Uber, WhatsApp, Slack, and Instagram. It’s home to 40% of all “unicorns” and 49% of all VC funding so far this year. Sramana Mitra, founder of 1M/1M, ably summarizes why entrepreneurs come to the Valley: access to funding, advisors, and early adopters being key reasons. But despite these benefits, building a company in the Valley is daunting. Competition for talent is cutthroat and the costs are exorbitant. Many founders now reasonably ask the question: should I start my company in the Bay Area or elsewhere? However, this either-or approach can be flawed. The best course..

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Loaded Gloves: How Early-Stage Startups Can Punch Above Their Weight

When we at Tandem think of the term “disruption” in the startup world, we have a particular picture in mind: a small team of hungry entrepreneurs beating out larger incumbents for market dominance. If it were a fight movie, we’d be looking at Rocky, The Karate Kid or Million Dollar Baby. You know the story: an up and comer with limited resources figures out how to punch above his or her weight and defeat the champion. So how do tech startups write their own scripts with the same winning results? There are certainly a number of possible approaches, but one powerful pattern we’ve observed is new market entrants building their brands quickly and cost-effectively from the time of launch. Think..

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The True Hardware Pre-Sales Platform Is… Facebook?!

When Tandem began investing in hardware startups in 2013, the sector was only just beginning to shake off its reputation as “the ugly step-child of venture capital.” As our first-ever hardware investment, Tile, a device company building “the world’s largest lost and found,” provided a crash course in the opportunities and challenges associated with hardware investing. While the company’s co-founders, Nick Evans and Mike Farley, managed to quickly build a business selling millions of dollars of product only weeks after launch, no one at the outset could have predicted what the principal driver of this hyper-growth would turn out to be. One major factor in our decision to invest in Tile was the new ability to test product-market fit through..

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The Four Enablers: Making Hardware Less Hard

A Silicon Valley truism used to be “hardware is hard.” It was a space not just overlooked but actively avoided by investors who agreed with Marc Andreessen’s prescient mantra that software is eating the world. And while software is indeed eating the world, hardware is becoming an increasingly diversified delivery vehicle through which software-based services reach consumers. Investors have caught on. Dow Jones VentureSource reports that in 2014 U.S.-based hardware startups raised $2.6 billion in venture capital through 159 transactions, marking a 53% increase in dollars raised and a 67% increase in number of transactions since Andreessen’s 2011 statement. While we fully expect this trend to continue, supported by the plethora of hardware-focused incubators, accelerators, and funds now coming to..

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Welcome to Shift!

Tandem is excited to announce the launch of Shift, our weekly digital journal. Tandem invests in stellar mobile software and hardware product teams from around the globe and works with them closely to find product-market fit and build large, disruptive businesses. We can now share our observations and learnings from all this activity (through Shift) for the benefit of entrepreneurs across the Tandem network. The best way to stay up-to-date with Shift is by signing up to our circulation list above. You will receive new articles in your inbox approximately once per week, but you can always refer to the entire archive of content here at the Shift site. We hope Shift provides a valuable point of view, spurring engaged..

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