The Trend Catcher: Influencer Platform Founder Rides the Tide of Big Data
Though challenges emerge every day, good things are bound to happen if you stick it out.
Edwin WONG 王江源
Co-founder, Cloudbreakr 共同創辦人
Edwin, 28, gained insight into the social media’s ongoing momentum when he was studying marketing at PolyU. Aspired to ride this popular wave and leverage his expertise, he set up Cloudbreakr, a social media analysis platform. By analysing big data, the platform is helping SME users and big brands to understand the market trends, create unique content and improve the effectiveness of influencer marketing. ‘Cloudbreakr stands for “windsurfer”, who stays on top of market trends,’ Edwin explained.
28歲的Edwin 早在理大修讀市場學時洞悉社交媒體如同一股浪潮，他亦決意以自身的專長乘風破浪，成立社交媒體分析平台Cloudbreakr——透過分析大數據，協助中小企用戶及品牌瞭解市場趨勢，創作獨有的內容及提高網紅廣告效用。「Cloudbreakr 的意思就是『滑浪的人』，亦寓意著大家在潮流上。」創辦人Edwin說。
At present, apart from the local business, Cloudbreakr also operates in four important Asian markets - Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Malaysia - and has partnered with more than 200 international brands. With such a promising prospect, it has already raised tens of millions of funding. But Edwin admitted that his windsurfing endeavour has not been free of hardship and there were frustrating moments. How did he get out of the predicament?
Averse to Study: The Beginning of Entrepreneurship
Never quite interested in academics since Edwin was a kid, he said this ‘disadvantage’ paved his way to entrepreneurship when he studied marketing at PolyU. ‘I didn't care for studying in university. Then the professors and the department staff advised me to take part in entrepreneurial competitions, which I’ve become fond of.’
In his third year at PolyU, Edwin was awarded a HK$120,000 seed fund from the PolyU Micro Fund Scheme for establishing a social enterprise, which provided an online sales platform for restaurants and small and medium-sized brands to run one-for-one marketing on ‘suspended’ services as an effort to promote consumption with conscience. The experience has made him think a lot and led him to contemplate the creation of Cloudbreakr. ‘Following the experience, I really wanted to create a software to identify the right spokesperson and media for different brands, and find out how key opinion leaders and online public opinions have an impact on the brands’ value online.’
Gain Experience at Work for A Better Foundation
The experience in social enterprise was a practice for Edwin. Thereafter he briefly worked for a marketing company to gain experience and later formed a new team for the new venture. Cloudbreakr rolled out in 2016, which combines data analysis and influencer marketing to provide clients with marketing tools and service solutions. This project was also supported by the HKSTP-PolyU Tech Incubation Fund. He recalled that upon the company’s launch, for a client whose product design conveys a strong sense of social mission, his team helped the brand to identify bloggers and celebrities who are enthusiastically involved in charity, as well as media keen on charity news coverage. The series of publicity manoeuvres gave a significant boost to the brand’s charity sale.
Although the company fared well at the beginning, Edwin soon encountered the first challenge. He believed it was due to their focus on Instagram analysis - while their competitors in the market were running Facebook marketing or other related businesses. Many brands also did not pay much attention to Instagram and allocated bulk of their resources to Facebook. Edwin had to wait for the right moment. ‘It takes time to educate the market. When the growth of registered users failed to convert into business, we had to consider different attempts. Suddenly, the business opportunities come in.’
Edwin went on to explain, ‘At that time, we must work hard at building customer confidence. We knew that, in the field of analytics software, we can’t compare with international and Mainland Chinese companies in terms of resources. Our edge, however, is the precise analysis of the local market – for example, users were able to know about market trends through emails and articles. It took only several weeks to see results.’
Brace for Herculean Tasks and Keep Trying
From the entrepreneurial practice in campus life to expanding Cloudbreakr into overseas markets, Edwin is a rare case of diving into entrepreneurship right after graduation. He referred to the whole journey as long-distance running, scattered with hurdles such as issues on personnel changes, products and data collection. Once overcome, they leave behind a valuable experience. Edwin recounted how a partner’s departure made him feel pity and worried about deterring the investors. Instead, investors remained full of confidence and supported Edwin with a cheque, saying, ‘I have faith in you, just go ahead with confidence.’ In addition to the courage of trying and optimism to embrace failures, he credited the team's eagerness to act and determination for being able to overcome every challenge.
The road to entrepreneurship often brings personal growth. Looking back at the three years since Cloudbreakr was created, Edwin saw a lot of changes in himself except for one thing – he still resists admitting defeat. ‘I was quite naive in the past and took action without much consideration. But with more experiences, I’m now able to see things from different perspectives, for instance clients don’t only care about effectiveness, but also policies, costs, etc.’
‘Cloudbreakr is Like a Point-and-shoot Camera’
Nowadays, consumer brands, institutions or even political parties reach out to the general public through social platforms. With trending topics on the Internet changing at lightning speed, Edwin had high hopes for future developments in big data at Cloudbreakr. Big data will drive the application of AI, which will not only track trending keywords or topics, but also develop insights into the connections between hot topics and even predict future trends. ‘If a brand intends to seize on a topic, we can use our tools to identify what’s happening in different regions. Such data will effectively help customers to plan future marketing strategies, positioning, content and so on.’
For an entrepreneur, the company is no different from his own child. Edwin felt that, however, Cloudbreakr resembles a point-and-shoot camera, and that he would be an enthusiastic photographer. ‘Not every shot by a point-and-shoot camera is a good shot. Sometimes it was overexposed and failed. Sometimes it took a great photo and I would ponder how to duplicate this success. For me, Cloudbreakr is where ideas come true. Without it life might be dull. Now I’m full of motivation to keep pushing for my goals.’