Boulder-based TapInfluence planning 40-plus hires over coming year

BOULDER — Armed with a $1.5 million bridge round of funding raised this summer, TapInfluence Inc., officials expect Wednesday’s announced addition of three new executive positions to be just a small piece of the growth that the marketing software firm is projecting for the coming year.

Chief executive Promise Phelon, hired in March, said in an interview Wednesday that she expects the 43-person company to double in size over the next 12 months. The company, based in east Boulder, is also eyeing a move to downtown Boulder in the coming months, although Phelon noted that the search for a site in the high-demand area that will accommodate the company’s growth is ongoing.

TapInfluence announced the hires of chief revenue officer Frank Sette, vice president for customer success Colleen Callahan and vice president for engineering Joe Scharf, bringing in leadership experience from notable companies such as Trulia, SendGrid and Vendini to help grow TapInfluence’s software-as-a-service offering.

TapInfluence provides a SaaS platform that helps marketers automate the process of finding key online influencers and connecting with them to create sponsored content featuring their brands. In addition to making the connections and managing workflow, the software provides analytics to measure the value each piece of content created in terms of sales and leads.

The idea of connecting with online influencers to promote brands provides client companies with an alternative to placing banner ads on websites and hoping to get clicks.

The shift in company focus to a primarily SaaS model has marked a significant shift for TapInfluence, which previously had employed more of a services-based model as it worked to connect brands with TapInfluence’s large network of influencers. The software platform automates the entire process and drastically reduces the cost of such campaigns for client brands.

Phelon said the combination of a push from consumers for social recommendations and content instead of advertising to help them make purchasing decisions, combined with TapInfluence’s software and scalability, is driving the company’s rapid growth.

Founded in 2009 by chief product officer Rustin Banks and chief marketing officer Holly Hamann, TapInfluence went through a transitional period last year as it moved to the SaaS-centric model in which the company eliminated an unspecified number of jobs, reducing the staff size to 25 at one point.

But the company has added 15 just since Phelon’s arrival as demand for the software offering has grown quickly this year, spurring the need for the bridge round of funding, which came from a combination of existing investors and large Silicon Valley angel investors.

“We had more inbound interest than we could manage, so (the funding) was to immediately grow the sales team,” Phelon said.

TapInfluence, which previously had raised a total of $9.1 million in venture capital, doesn’t disclose revenue, and Phelon declined to divulge the company’s specific fundraising plans other than to indicate another round is likely on the way.

“Our next round will be substantially larger than (the bridge round),” Phelon said.