Elevator Pitch: HEARIS

Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Cat Matson from HEARIS.

In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.

HEARIS is a social media management platform for multi-location businesses, like retail and quick-service restaurant chains and franchise groups. Many of these chains have Facebook 'Places' page for each of their locations,, which is great for social engagement and mobile search results, but a nightmare for social media managers to post locally-relevant content and monitor customer comments — particularly when it comes to capitalising on buying conversations or quelling negative comments.

HEARIS enables content scheduling across all those pages in an effective way whilst monitoring all pages in one platform for buying, positive or negative sentiment. The Social Media Manager can also respond to any comment on any page from within the platform. Lorna Jane, Kwik Kopy, Poolwerx and Goodlife Gyms are some of our initial clients.

What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?

A combination of strategic partnerships with 'service for equity' style arrangements, private equity funding and now cashflow. In other words, selling the platform.

What's the biggest challenge facing your business?

Getting the message to market fast enough about both the value of the platform and the wider value of local-social media strategies. Because it's been 'too hard' in the past, many marketing managers I talk to have given up - and have built 'corporate' social strategies and only focus on a couple of Facebook profiles. Now that the primary funding source is cashflow it's a constant balance between new development and new sales.

How do your differentiate your business from your competitors?

The biggest point of differentiation point in the HEARIS platform is the ability to group pages into target sets and post content accordingly. For example Lorna Jane have grouped their 152 pages into geographic regions, which means the outfit image they post to the warmer climates like Queensland can be relevant and different to the outfit picture they post to their cooler climate stores.

We also don't penalise our customers when they add more users. Our pricing model covers number of pages under management in the system and the number of users is unlimited. This is a big differentiator in a market where most platforms charge by user, which really constrains the 'real-time' commentary and enthusiasm of local in-store staff.

What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?

Google apps — email and calendar in particular. It's with me wherever I go, always 'live' and current. And the Priority Inbox in Gmail means I can quickly scan emails on my phone as I'm on the move ... and star for follow-up if they need a more detailed response. Oh, and google drive.

What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?

Get only the funding you need to get to minimum viable product then sell, sell, sell. It forces you to get early market validation for the product AND early customer feedback and creates urgency to prove the concept. So many people spend so much time focusing on getting funding they forget the most important funding source: revenue.

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