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Emeric Ernoult traded his career as an attorney in Washington, DC for the entrepreneurial life by creating AgoraPulse, one of the industry’s leading social media management tools. As the co-founder and CEO of a tech startup, Emeric has built a successful product that competes with some of the biggest players in the market, yet keeps a humble perspective and a lean team. Learn more about his journey, including how the idea for AgoraPulse came about, how he maintains work/life balance, his advice based on what he’s learned along the way and more in our exclusive interview with Emeric Ernoult.
How did you go from law to social media management and what was that transition like?
Actually, the transition was from being a lawyer to being an entrepreneur, being in Social Media management just happened as the consequence of a long entrepreneurial journey but was not the initial intention. The initial intention was just to move away from providing services to provide a product. Offering services is tough because you are the product you sell and that makes you a “slave” to your business (you sell your time!), when you sell a product, you are not the product, so eventually, if you build a great team, you can have more freedom. Also, a service business has very little value as an asset where a product business has much more value. I knew I would work a lot, but at least, with a product business instead of a service business, I would build an asset over time as well as get a chance to be free from the business eventually. Lawyers are never free, they always work like dogs, even when they’re 60! That’s not the life I wanted to project myself in.
when did you come about with the idea of creating a social media manager?
Our first business in 2001 was software that allowed anyone to create their own community online. When Facebook, Twitter and the other major Social Networks came along, we quickly understood businesses would not invest in creating their own communities but rather seize opportunities arising from existing Social Networks. We had to pivot and help them do that.
Lesson Learned: offer people what they need and ask for, don’t try to sell them something they don’t want!
how does AgoraPulse differentiate itself from competitors on the market?
Funny enough, there are not so many Social Media management tools out there. There are a lot of tools to publish on Social Media (too many), but very few that actually allows you to manage the whole stack: publishing, monitoring, measuring. Our key differentiator is that we make it very easy to manage incoming messages, unlike tools like Hootsuite that are very confusing for that. Our main focus is to make Social Media management easier and faster as too many users we’ve talked to felt that managing Social Media was overwhelming. We want to fix that!
Where did the name for Agora Pulse come from?
Great question! In ancient Greek, Agora means “the people”. Actually, the Agora in Athens was the place where the people gathered. So basically, what we wanted to infer with our name was that we were the way to get the pulse of your people.
Where do you see the social media going in the future?
Our big vision is that Social Media will eventually move out of its silo and connect with other channels (CRM, email marketing, etc.). Having too many siloed channels doesn’t work and is not scalable. That’s also something we’re looking forward to seeing change.
What has been your most memorable accomplishment and why?
Our most memorable accomplishment is to have been ranked among the best social media management tools of 2015 among companies that have raised millions of dollars and have hundreds of employees where we are bootstrapped and have a team of 15! We’re pretty proud of that.
Who is your business mentor and what have you learned from them?
I don’t have one mentor, I have several. There’s no way one single person can know everything you need to grow as an entrepreneur. I’ve had up to 4 mentors along the years, all playing different roles at different stages of my journey. What I’ve learned from them is to never make big decisions without talking to them! In a nutshell, making big decisions on your own without testing your assumptions on others is a dangerous way to make decisions.
When you face roadblocks or feel discouraged, what drives and motivates you?
I go on vacation! There’s nothing worse than hitting roadblocks, feeling discouraged and staying in a depressed mindset. When that happens, I tend to take time off to recharge, I usually come back to things with a refreshed view of things and what seemed impossible before I left suddenly looks a lot less problematic.
When not working, what do you like to do for fun?
Kitesurfing, I love kitesurfing! Apart from that, I enjoy spending quality time with my family (I have 2 boys). They remind me that business is important, but I’m doing it also for them.
What advice do you have for others looking to start their own business, specifically a technology start-up?
My first piece of advice is to learn how you build a technology startup by working for one of them! There’s nothing more difficult than starting a technology startup if you have no experience in what it requires.
The second piece of advice is to make sure you’re solving a big enough problem for a large enough group of potential users. That’s the most common mistake I see in young startups that create solutions to problems nobody really has and they end up failing.
Video: Agorapulse Facebook Management Suite
Learn more about the Facebook Management Suite that Agora Pulse offers in this video:
Big thanks again to Emeric for taking the time to share his words of wisdom with us. What did you find inspiring about his story?