Ivan Tsarynny is the co-founder and CEO of PostBeyond, a communications platform that helps employees of large companies more effectively engage with social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter.
"A common theme I heard was people don't know how to use Twitter, so they just don't use it. Same as LinkedIn: People began creating profiles but they were very inactive. So how do you help people improve that profile or their personal brand? And how do you merge their personal and corporate brand together, and help them work more productively together?" Mr. Tsarynny says from his Toronto office.
PostBeyond operates as a Pinterest-style library that curates massive amounts of data relevant to company interests. Each asset is internally approved for social media proliferation. That way, employees can tweet or post content related to their jobs and their companies' products, or links to news articles of broader interest. It will also enable them to build up a social media following without worrying about crossing liability lines. Corporations such as Starbucks, Molson Coors and Scotiabank are already clients.
The technology is a particular boon to companies' internal marketing teams; they can now easily manage the chaotic social media activity of thousands of employees around the world. All employee content – from an image or blog post to an article – gets filtered into a suggestion box for manual approval.
Anything with negative sentiment, trash talk or a potential trademark liability doesn't make it through the approval process, so no one on either end has to worry about their social media activity getting them fired.
Content that gets the thumbs-up is then filtered into the library where anyone can share the posts. Marketers want to have as much content there as possible, and instead of spending time searching for content, their own people are providing it, Mr. Tsarynny explains.
As an optimal result, "salespeople start selling more because they're making a name on social media that people start coming to for good information," Mr. Tsarynny says. "People start growing their thought leadership, getting mentioned in the media and on Twitter. It's really beneficial to their personal and professional growth."
Although Mr. Tsarynny would not reveal most financial details, he did say that in the second quarter of 2015, his one-year-old company's sales are projected to grow by $2.5-million.
So he's come a long way from 1996, when Mr. Tsarynny, then a 17-year-old immigrant from Ukraine, dropped out of high school to pick strawberries for $7 an hour so he could pay for a computer. At the time, the Grade 12 student was living with his parents in Mississauga, Ont., and spoke five words of English, "mostly bad." He signed up for English classes at his local community church, where he learned about the summer strawberry-picking job two hours north of the city. By the end of that summer, he'd made enough cash for his computer.
"It was a self-built Pentium 120 megahertz, 32 megabytes of RAM, which was a dream back then and you could do anything on it. It cost $860, pretty much everything I made, but it was the best investment of my life," Mr. Tsarynny says with pride.
A second job at a lumber mill kept him afloat while he taught himself how to program software. He began helping friends with IT problems; a steady corporate IT gig would follow. He never did make it back to the high-school classroom.
By 24, an age when many of his peers were just emerging from the university cocoon, Mr. Tsarynny had already branched out into his own IT consultancy and started a family. He experimented with a startup for a calendar aggregation app called sociaCAL, which carried him over to the beginning of the new decade.
Around 2012, he began tinkering with the idea for a communications platform that would become PostBeyond. But first he needed a top-flight chief technology officer who could build the product out from the back end.
Searching for the perfect partner can be arduous. How does a young entrepreneur with big ideas hook the kind of talent that will take him to the next level? Then one day Mr. Tsarynny had to take his five-year-old daughter to a friend's birthday party.
"I was sitting on the couch, chatting with the dad of the birthday girl about what I do, and he asked me, 'So what's your next step?' I told him I was looking for a good tech developer. He said, 'I know someone you should talk to.'"
That someone turned out to be Vitaliy Lim, a 23-year-old whiz kid from Kazakhstan who was finishing up his computer engineering degree at Waterloo. "I remember being really nervous about making that phone call, afraid he would say no," Mr. Tsarynny recalls.
In 2014, they launched their company out of the MaRS incubator in Toronto. It didn't take long for the partners to attract the interest of mid– to large-sized enterprises eager to leverage social media from within its own ranks, instead of limiting its use.
Mr. Tsarynny compares these forward thinkers to the corporations that embraced e-mail early on. Back in the late-1990s when e-mail first began to spread commercially, he says, many CEOs felt only a select few in upper management should use the new digital communications system. He's seeing the same pattern play out with Twitter and Facebook.
"Now companies see in order to be competitive and stand out in the eyes of the customers, you have to be constantly active, educating, teaching your audience something new. If you don't, someone else will and they'll win the competition."
If PostBeyond continues to grow at its current rate, it's poised to become a multimillion-dollar venture. Just imagine how many 120-megaherz computers that could buy.
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