In a land before Facebook timelines, two French tech-cowboys were brought together by fate in New York blazing trails during the internet’s Wild West period. Perhaps that’s a little overly dramatic, but that’s pretty much how our social media management one-stop-shop Agorapulse eventually came to be.
We at Agorapulse are always working on deepening the capabilities of our social media management tool and staying current with the changes in the ever-evolving social media world.
That spirit of innovation and the desire to make life easier (and less stressful) for others is ingrained at Agorapulse—because those traits are infused in the company’s French co-founders, Emeric Ernoult and Benoit Hediard.
In 1993, Benoit’s twin brother was working the same internship as Emeric, slinging copies at a print shop in New York. Emeric and Benoit met by chance and hit it off immediately.
After the internship, that shared drive and passion for innovation took Benoit, armed with his mechanical engineering degree, to India then Paris, where he eventually joined PixelPark, one of the biggest European web agencies at the time, and expanded his career from developer to IT management.
Meanwhile, Emeric was quickly and steadily establishing his reputation in law: first, in the United States, as an in-house lawyer in the French embassy and then an associate at Winston & Strawn in Washington, D.C, then back to Paris. Once in France, he shifted careers as CFO and General Counsel to JLMD Ecologic Group then as general manager of Ceramconcept.
Though both Emeric and Benoit were shining brilliantly in their careers, they kept feeling a pull inside them to do more, to be more, to help more.
In the middle of the 2000s, the Internet was like the American Wild West, with businesses, both wonderful and terrible, booming and failing.
Now both in France, Benoit and Emeric saw the vast possibilities of the unfurling online world and wanted to be part of it.
During this time, Benoit and Emeric came up with a revolutionary idea: to create a place on this new thing called the Internet where businesses could get social with their customers online.
Launched in 2001, Affinitiz (think Agorapulse 1.0) was a community-oriented B2C focusing on family, friends, associations, alumni, and passions.
And it was an overnight success!
Actually, no. It wasn’t. (That’s not how success works.)
The journey to eventual success was an arduous routine of:
And so on.
If that sounds like a loop, it’s because it sometimes felt like one.
Benoit and Emeric didn’t want to merely create a company but also to craft a business that makes work meaningful and truly eases the grind and stress of social media managers and agencies everywhere.
And that ideal business would also be a creative, healthy, and innovative environment filled with people who worked hard and took pride in their work.
Building such a company from the ground up required a perpetual focus and (an almost obsessive) dedication to the goal. The goal wouldn’t be achieved with regular hours and a lackluster spirit.
Emeric and Benoit had to give this dream almost everything they had.
For almost ten years.
Emeric and Benoit trudged along for nearly a decade, taking side jobs to live, tightening their belts, making hard sacrifices, and even wrestling with the nagging family members and friends who questioned their dream.
The pressure from outside forces sometimes felt extreme. Why would anyone give up their full-time lucrative jobs to pursue such a dream?
The co-founders would recall the advice from Gail Goodman, the CEO of Constant Contact at the time, to keep them motivated: “To decide if you should continue as an entrepreneur or stop, you should think: If things are going up and to the right, even slightly, keep going.’”
And things were going up—slightly but still going up.
As Benoit and Emeric worked on Affinitiz, Facebook was morphing into the giant that it is today. It slew MySpace and continued defeating competitors in the emerging social media arena. As it grew more powerful, Benoit and Emeric decided to shift their idea of forming communities on Affinitiz to creating a tool.
They put their technical prowess and business acumen together to engineer some of the first Facebook marketing apps.
When McDonald’s, Playstation, and Microsoft needed to run Facebook contests and promotions, these golden companies turned to marketing tools, such as Affinitiz.
The spark was lit and caught fire but briefly. The apps market was difficult to grow in the long run and had high churn rates.
Again, driven by the vision of what could be achieved, how social media could be made more manageable and as an instrument to help business rather than complicate it, Benoit and Emeric pivoted from apps to concentrate all their enthusiasm on social media management and its capabilities.
Affinitiz evolved into Agorapulse.
By 2011, Agorapulse was launched, with a focus on full social media management, including Facebook and Twitter. (Instagram and YouTube would come later.)
The passion for making sense out of chaos and giving meaning to work had grown even stronger throughout the tougher times of Agorapulse finding its footing and then maintaining (and even gaining) ground on the social media landscape.
Now, Agorapulse is no longer a dream but a reality (although like any successful entrepreneurs, Benoit and Emeric plan on it going deeper and farther in the social media realm with innovations and new features).
The company, headquartered in Paris, employs more than 60 highly skilled team members from all over the world with a rapidly growing user base of over 20,000 people across 6,000 accounts. Agorapulse has remained bootstrapped to date since its inception managing to achieve $10 million in annual revenue, with year on year growth at 80%.
Agorapulse recently completed a funding round of $18.5m (USD) from three investors—Cipio Partners, Entrepreneur Venture and Hi Inov—to fuel the next stage of its growth targeting annual revenues of $100m.