Heather K. Margolis, founder and CEO of Channel Maven Consulting, today unveiled her latest business launch. The new company, called Spark Your Channel, emerged from stealth mode with a marketing automation platform. It's designed for vendors that want to boost and simplify demand-generation with channel partners.
Spark Your Channel, the company says:
- Enables channel partners’ sales and marketing teams to quickly and easily personalize and share vendor-provided multimedia content, such as webinars, podcasts and especially video.
- Supports personalization and sharing of text- and graphic-based content, such as ebooks, sales sheets, presentations and infographics – so all assets are accessible from one place.
- Serves channel sales partners in such sectors as IT, telecommunications, automotive, automotive, manufacturing, insurance and financial services, among others.
Several channel veterans have made angel investments in Spark Your Channel, and York IE of Manchester, N.H., is now leading a seed funding round in the startup, Spark Your Channel disclosed.
Interview: Heather K. Margolis Explains Spark Your Channel
Founder Margolis is a well-known entrepreneur and channel adviser across the IT industry. But what inspired Spark Your Channel's launch -- and how will Margolis and her team build out the new business? ChannelE2E pursued answers, perspectives and next moves in this interview.
ChannelE2E: What inspired you to launch Spark Your Channel?
Margolis: I spent the last decade running Channel Maven Consulting, a marketing agency specializing in the tech channel. I, along with my team, got to know firsthand what works and what doesn’t. The biggest pain point for both vendors and channel partners throughout the industry has been through-channel demand generation – how vendors support lead gen through their sales partners. Simply put, vendors spend a lot of money on marketing content and tools for their partners that either don’t work or go unused. I decided to look into it -- not just from a channel perspective but also from a demand-generation perspective – to discover why the marketing platforms weren’t working and why partners weren’t using them even though they’re free in most cases.
ChannelE2E: What problem or challenge does Spark Your Channel solve?
Margolis: First and foremost, Spark Your Channel helps vendors and their partners do demand generation the right way -- by leading with multimedia content (including video, webinars and podcasts) and following data privacy rules. With Spark Your Channel, partners don't need to risk being fined via CAN-SPAM laws, GDPR, CCPA or any future regulations because they don’t have to load their contacts into our platform as they do with others. Don’t get me wrong; there’s a time and place for email marketing, but we believe it should be done on a platform licensed to the partners, so they have control of their lists. At the same time our solution enables partners to share content in a way that allows vendors to see statistics about how the content is used and viewed. (As an aside, partners can use HubSpot or MailChimp for free if they have fewer than 2,000 contacts.)
ChannelE2E: Who is your target customer – technology companies, their partners or another audience?
Margolis: Of course, tech and IT channels are a primary target, but Spark Your Channel also can be used for through-channel marketing in other industries like automotive, manufacturing, insurance and financial services channels.
Spark Your Channel also can enable direct sales teams. We’re already speaking to companies with sales teams of 20 or more about how to use our platform to boost direct demand gen.
ChannelE2E: Is the service available now or still in beta testing?
Margolis: We are in beta testing now but rolling into production in a week! General availability is set for February 24.
ChannelE2E: Did you refine or adjust the platform and company focus based on tester feedback?
Margolis: We have. We've been fortunate to have amazing feedback and brainstorming from our community, including some that led to content being automatically customized and sent to partners, so they don’t even have to log in to the platform!
ChannelE2E: How did you initially fund the company during the first few months?
Margolis: Our origin story is a familiar one of believers bootstrapping a good idea. Besides myself, my husband, who is an entrepreneur himself, believes in Spark Your Channel as much as I do and was willing to put some of our savings behind it. We also have an angel investor who is very involved in the tech channel and believes in our platforms ability to transform through-channel marketing.
ChannelE2E: Are you now seeking funding and/or funded by third parties?
Margolis: We recently had an investment from York Group based in New England, but we’re still raising on a Seed AA round from micro and seed VCs.
ChannelE2E: What are your 2020 priorities and goals for Spark Your Channel?
Margolis: In 2020 we are focusing on helping IT and telecom vendors get more out of their demand gen with partner dollars. We're already having some great conversations about multimedia content for partners and helping them develop ideal communications that gain exposure for content without bombarding the prospect with emails or breaking CAN-SPAM laws or privacy regulations.
ChannelE2E: How will Spark Your Channel’s priorities evolve for 2021 and beyond?
Margolis: We're already working on some integrations with other tools, and I see that continuing into 2021 and beyond. Unlike some other channel marketing platforms, we don't aspire to turn Spark Your Channel into a "hub". Vendors already have plenty of platforms for partners to log into. Instead, we want to focus on finding ways to integrate our solutions with other platform providers to deliver an ideal outcome for partners and their vendors.
ChannelE2E: Anything else you care to mention?
Margolis: In addition to changing how the through-channel demand gen is done, we’re changing the pricing model as well. We want vendors to give Spark Your Channel to as many partners as possible, so we charge by partner organization rather than users. That means a partner’s entire sales team can benefit from personalizing content, including video, webinars and podcasts. Our entry-level pricing plan is affordable even for small to mid-sized vendor budgets.
Disclosures: ChannelE2E Content Czar Joe Panettieri is also an angel investor, and a member of the York IE SaaS Syndicate on Angel List. York IE is leading Spark Your Channel's seed funding round. Panettieri is not currently an investor in Spark Your Channel. His angel investments are disclosed on LinkedIn.