Class of 2014 Profile: Creelio Launches an Innovative Approach to Content Marketing

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This week I'd like to introduce to you Creelio -- an alum of SparkLabKC 2014 led by co-founders Steve Stava and Julie Edge. Creelio is a technology startup that helps business owners and executives tell their story online and build their thought leadership position. Through a high quality content platform for blogs and social media, Creelio ensures their subscribers make a great first impression online and build lasting relationships with content that engages their audience.

But don't be fooled into thinking that Creelio is a typical marketing agency. They have a disruptive technology approach that harnesses mobile technology and the freelance writer market. Creelio is radically changing the workflow associated with content creation, approval, and distribution. Plus, their focus on raising up the thought leadership position of executives and business owners helps them stand out in the market.

The Inspiration

The initial idea for Creelio came from Julie and Steve's experience at Startup Weekend in November 2012. They were struck by the number of startup founders that realized the value of content marketing and social media presence but weren't following through. It went something like this: "I know I SHOULD be blogging and sharing my story online... BUT I don't have the time...resources...know-how to make it happen."

They called this the "Should/But Syndrome." And it was a problem clearly in need of a solution. 

It turns out Steve and Julie are the perfect team to tackle this problem. Steve has decades of experience building technical solutions that solve human-heavy, inefficient processes. Julie is a great writer with a background in strategic leadership communications as well as in-depth knowledge of personality science.

What's the Value?

With Creelio, SparkLabKC got two experienced professionals and added another female-led company to our ranks. They both served as mentors to their fellow classmates and made a great contribution to the 2014 class. When asked about the value of the SparkLabKC program to Creelio, they highlighted five key areas:

1. Feedback 

For Creelio, the major value of the accelerator program was the mentors they were exposed to and the feedback that they received from a variety of sources. Steve says:

"The most exciting thing was getting exposure to so many different people, having the ability to get our product in front of them, and hear their reaction and feedback."

Over the course of 12 weeks, Creelio listened carefully in meetings with the SparkLabKC founders, mentors, and colleagues, and further refined their concept and execution.

2. Focus

The 12-week timeframe was important to Creelio as a time-boxed way to make very rapid progress. Steve flexed his coding muscles and advanced the Creelio App, while Julie wrote content and collected feedback from the other founders about what they wanted from their online presence. She also invented the company's VoiceScience™ -- how Creelio captures the unique voice/personality of a subscriber -- during their tenure with SparkLabKC. The pressure of Demo Day was a key motivator for accomplishing all that they did in those 12 weeks.

3. Collaboration

Collaboration between the SparkLabKC companies was also very valuable to Creelio. Julie remembers a Happy Hour brainstorming session that resulted in the creation of Creelio's tagline: 

"Everyone was in a great mood. Beer was flowing. Creativity was possible. We seized the moment and asked everyone to help us evaluate a list of taglines that we had been collecting.  With Post-it Notes and some markers, we listed all the options and started eliminating, refining and re-combining. In the end, our fellow entrepreneur Sara Davidson of Hello Fearless, who has some serious chops when it comes to branding and marketing, blurted out… ”Your Story. Your Voice. Our Job!” And it stuck."

4. Ah-Ha Moments

Julie's background in personality science (over 15 years of study, research, and practical application) led to an Ah-Ha! moment early in the SparkLabKC program. She figured out that Creelio could use personality science to develop a unique "voice" for their subscribers. Julie applied the Keirsey Temperament Sorter and the Hogan Assessment, which are personality assessments, to content creation. These explorations led to the creation of VoiceScience™, a major innovation that allows Creelio to ghost write with authority and authenticity, and represent their subscribers in their own "voice" online.

5. Potential Team Members

Another SparkLabKC connection came from their work with our Presentation Coach, Vincent Wagner. His background in theater is an asset to our companies as they prepare to present on Demo Day. It also fit nicely into Creelio's development of VoiceScience™ and engaging content. Vince is now Employee #1 at Creelio.

What's Next for Creelio

Since graduating from SparkLabKC last spring, Creelio has finished their Alpha and Beta trials, refined their process, and brought on paying customers for their first two product offerings -- Starter (2 promoted blogs per month) and Influencer Subscriptions (4 promoted blogs per month). They are in the midst of expanding their client list and developing several new product offerings, including white papers. Julie, Steve, and Vince are focused on continuing to stretch the possibilities of what Creelio can achieve for their subscribers, and closing the gap created by the "Should/But Syndrome" for small-to-medium sized business owners and executives.

They also recently launched the Creelio website. Check out their must-read blog about storytelling, content marketing, and how to develop your thought leadership position online. Remember: Your first impression has already happened online... what are you doing about it?