Local Startup Spotlight #3: SMCpros


SMCpros Logo


While we recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of the largest network in the world, where does the dawn of “social media” place the web on a maturation curve? As a thought experiment, let’s suppose the web submitted to the infamous real age test and it was discovered to be considerably younger than its calendar age suggests. If human beings are susceptible to the chronological age vs.biological age disparity, then could this amalgamated derivative of human scientific endeavor known as the “world wide web” also be subject to the same intrinsic characteristics as it’s creators?

40 years later, the question remains: where are we?

From the imaginative minds of its visionary founders, through research labs, defense departments, corporate intranets, onto our desks and into our pockets, the web continues it’s unofficial mission to connect the world in one unified (albeit virtual) realm. It is through this networked (re)evolution, the 21st century web has reached a distinct developmental stage: adolescence.

Nebulous in definition and unable to identify its real purpose, it suffers from innumerable identity crisis and it can barely recognize the face in the mirror. Despite being bruised & beaten the commercial web still exhibits naive, irrational, and overconfident behavior of its youth. Although the modern web is as curious as ever – eager to grow up, to be more, and to interact with the world around it – it remains socially shy and awkward.

In the face of its immaturity, adolescence exists for a reason; left to its own devices and void manipulation, it’s a formative juncture inherently designed to transition a complex system from a primitive stage to a more adaptable and sustainable one. Behavioral psychologists can identify adolescence as a temporary, healthy, and essential aspect of growth & development.

Enter “social media”: part and parcel to surviving this adolescent phase of the web and diligently reaching the next level of networked interconnectedness.

For simplicity sake, we’ll define social media as “…the collection of tools and online spaces available to help individuals and businesses to accelerate their information and communication needs.”

And we’re no strangers to social media here in Minnesota – it’s purported that we have the the largest Social Media Breakfast organization within the US and there are countless individuals and agencies positioning themselves as social media “experts”, “gurus”, “rockstars”, and synonymously – “community managers”. In fact, if you’re reading this on either mntechstartups.org or minnov8.com, you’re probably fairly well versed in social media through association alone (please correct me if I am mistaken).

In reality, very few social media practitioners have truly unique insights into social media knowledge, for it’s all out there and mostly free of charge. Gaining a solid understanding of the practice really comes down to investing some good ‘ol time and energy in figuring out the essentials: how to create a profile/presence on the handful of primary social networks, how to use a (human) voice on these networks, how to efficiently manage these networks, how to pick and choose the right listening / notification systems, how to apply social mediums creatively/purposefully, and ultimately how to engage a desired group of individuals in dialogue.

If I sound skeptical of social media in general – as I do consider it to be a passing phase in its current form – then why are we discussing it? Because for the time being, there is there is clearly a lot of business (read: money) to be generated by positioning oneself as an expert (even if it’s self-anointed) and establishing a reputation as the source of social media solutions within a given market. Like any body of knowledge, it can take time to learn something new and the aforementioned social media elements can be a lot for the average business person to digest and apply. In such challenging economic times, it makes sense for a business to pay whatever it afford for such critical, cutting-edge resources, on demand.

So we went ahead and caught up with Tyler Olson, Co-founder of SMCpros.com. The nature of this information isn’t to convince you to rush over to SMCpros.com and start shelling out $100-$150/hr for social media strategy sessions (although we can always learn more). Instead it’s designed to highlight a few things from an entrepreneurial perspective that initially compelled me to interview Tyler Olson and proceed to write this review.

Leveraging advanced social media tactics does involve a complex set of unique tools that can appear daunting to the technically illiterate (vast amount of business’ big & small) who haven’t the slightest clue where to start (or what being social truly means for that matter). Add in the real-time nature of the web, constant changes in consumer behavior patterns, hyper-innovative tools, and it can absolutely justify a full-time position, healthy marketing spend, or even its own department depending on the size and nature of the org. Social media “advising” is an excellent business opportunity, make no mistake about it, and SMCpros.com has created a compelling value proposition by successfully positioning themselves as the outsourced savior to grab the reigns and make sense of it all.

SMCpros.com is monetizing social media in a way that many others can take note of and learn from.

a) They have taken the myriad of tools/techniques and packed a tool box that make it easy to replicate by plugging “X” biz or widget into the system; in this sense they have a strategy of scalability.

b) They have at least 3 different approaches to revenue + they’re leaving room for very progressive and agile moves as the space continue to evolve. At this moment, they have clients paying thousands of dollars for access to their knowledge and skills.

c) Their approach is aimed at building a consulting business around social media within specific demographics: small to medium size businesses (20+) and sales teams (10+). Unsuspectingly, this is one of the hardest markets to penetrate but with a unusually high yield for those who can find their niche.

d) The financial backing behind their initiative (although we don’t know how much) would lead one to believe that they’re serious growth. As Tyler will tell you, they are playing to win this market.

e) Co-founder Tyler Olson is a passionate and amiable guy who isn’t afraid to get in front of hundreds of people to pitch himself and his business. He has already founded a successful service oriented business within the computer industry with the mission to “take down Geek Squad”! Of course no man is an island as SMCpros.com is team initiative with Adam Maikkula & Tim Barsness also on board.

“I consider myself a serial entrepreneur mind and with SMCpros.com I’m one of the founders…I’m committed to this business for X amount of time and after this business, there’s going to be another business…I love being an entrepreneur, I have a lot of fun, I see it as a long term learning experience”. -Tyler Olson

-If that’s not the entrepreneurial spirit, what is it?