Firmology’s How I Power My Business series profiles the technology business owners use to run and grow their business.
After launching as a digital think tank and consultancy for the wine industry, Paul Mabray pivoted VinTank into a software company. Wise move. Today, over 4,000 wine brands use VinTank’s social media monitoring platform to track over 1 million wine conversations per day happening all over the web including: 300,000 social media sites, 15,000 wine-focused blogs, 110,000 forum sites, and 11 million social customer profiles. Those conversations are then analyzed by VinTank and presented in an easy-to-use dashboard.
Name: Paul Mabray
Title: Founder and Chief Strategy Officer
Location: Napa, California
Smartphone: iPhone 5
Tablet: iPad with Retina Display
Computer: MacBook Pro (I just got one Christmas of 2111 and after 36 years as a PC user, I am finally becoming proficient)
Other Gadgets: Xbox 360 (the key to recharging), Mophie Juice Pack (essential for travel with Apple mobile devices), Drobo 5D (essential for easy RAID backup).
What’s the story behind your business?
When looking at social media we felt most solutions ignored the key elements of this important communications channel: context and customer. So we built VinTank, an interest graph listening tool that gave the highest level of contextual signal and that connects to customers to really correlate sales to social media. Now we are the largest software solution in the world (we power over 4500 wine brands) with the largest database of wine consumers and preferences in history.
What apps or services are essential to the operations of your business?
In my first company I raised 15.6 million dollars. Much of it was wasted on operational costs imposed by the VC’s. When we started VinTank we did it all from our personal savings and the business income. That required us to find frugality in EVERY operational overhead without sacrificing efficiency and scalability. Without modern services and apps it would have been impossible to be so efficient and effective.
I would start with Google Apps, ALWAYS (don’t forget Chrome, Gmail, et al.). Then the utilization of the foundational social media networks (Twitter first, LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, Scribd, Vimeo, Foursquare, et al.).
What apps, services or gadgets do you recommend to other business owners?
My iPhone 5 – I can be anywhere and do anything that is relevant. If I can’t do it, it can wait.
Google Apps. What we get for our investment is 100X.
Favorite mobile app(s)?
Favorite personal app(s)?
Path: I live such a public life that it is nice to feel some things are private with my most intimate friends. Comixology: I have always been a comic book fan but not as a collector but as a reader. This app brings 1000’s of amazing comics to your mobile devices and beyond. Flipboard. iBooks (but I wish they had a larger selection).
How can others reach you?
If you have a suggestion for someone we should feature, additional questions we should be asking, or would like to be featured on Firmology’s How I Power My Business series, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: How I Power My Business