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Syncapse: Riding the social media wave Add to ...

It was a dream job. Fresh out of university, Michael Scissons joined advertising and marketing giant Interpublic Group to handle Facebook’s Canadian ad sales.

That meant he was not only doing work for one of the world’s hottest companies, but he was also in touch with top marketing executives across the country.

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“In talking to them, I found out they were having trouble coordinating their social media presence across multiple websites,” Scissons says.

Those conversations gave him the idea for Syncapse Corp., a Toronto-based firm offering social media consulting services that he founded in 2007.

The company quickly landed a major client: Research in Motion, the Waterloo, Ontario-based maker of the ubiquitous BlackBerry. And Scissons soon realized that large companies needed software to help them easily manage their social media messages in a rapidly changing landscape.

“A lot of our customers would have 30, 40, 50 Facebook pages in 30 languages, multiple blogs in different languages, multiple Twitter streams, multiple YouTube channels,” says Scissons, 27.

The company’s first software was SocialTALK, a social media publishing platform. In late 2010, the firm launched Syncapse Platform, which offers companies a single dashboard to manage many publishing and analytical functions across multiple websites, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and WordPress. Syncapse’s clients now include Canadian icons like Labatt, and multinational giants like General Electric and PepsiCo.

How has a company that is less than four years old been able to attract the attention of Fortune 500 firms? “We really focused on our customers’ needs, where a lot of our U.S. competitors really focused in on marketing and sales,” Scissons says. “The result is a platform that, from a technology perspective, is far superior.”

Syncapse invested nearly $10 million in product development in 2010 and plans to invest a similar amount in 2011. After raising $3.3 million in private equity, the company obtained $2 million from BDC Subordinate Financing in 2010.

That investment gave Syncapse the foundation to land a $25-million investment in early 2011 from ABS Capital Partners, a Baltimore-based equity investor in late-stage growth companies.

Syncapse has at least doubled in size every year since its founding and now has 155 employees in Toronto, New York, Portland (Oregon) and London (England). It is considering establishing other offices, but Scissons wants to grow prudently. “We don’t want to have a lot of offices with one person in it. We’re really focused on growing our main properties.”

Syncapse has expanded partly by buying companies and retaining their employees. It purchased Swift Notion Software LLC in Portland in early 2010 and Nudge Social Media in Britain later that year. Buying existing companies and retaining their staff helps Syncapse overcome one of its key challenges: finding top employees.

Once the company hires employees, it works hard to retain them. Open-plan offices give everyone from interns to the CEO a chance to share ideas. That approach helped Syncapse make the I Love Rewards list of the 50 Most Engaged Workplaces in 2010.

That’s just one of many accolades the company has earned. In 2010 alone, PROFIT Magazine included Syncapse in its HOT 50 Emerging Growth Companies and the company won in the Emerging Entrepreneur category in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.

Scissons doesn’t foresee the company’s growth slowing anytime soon.

“There’s a huge amount of market left to be conquered.”

Lessons learned

  • When you see a niche in a fast-growing field, move quickly to fill it.
  • Listen to your customers and adjust your product accordingly.
  • Acquire talent in a competitive marketplace by buying like-minded firms.
  • Foster employee engagement by designing offices that help everyone share their ideas and opinions.

Content in this section is provided in partnership with the Business Development Bank of Canada. BDC provides entrepreneurs with financing, venture capital and consulting services. To find out more go to BDC.ca.

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