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“Sumpto’s vision is to cultivate peer influence into brand advocacy and loyalty by transforming traditional marketing efforts into a collaborative process between brands and college students.”

This interview was made possible by our friends at Guidant Financial:
Guidant Financial
The leader in alternative startup, franchise and small business financing.

Sumpto measures the social influence of college students and provides brands with a platform to target, reach, and engage with the college demographic. The platform, which is exclusive to the college demographic, allows brands to leverage word-of-mouth recommendations and peer influence by organically inserting their message and product into the student’s conversations on social networks.  Sumpto’s vision is to cultivate peer influence into brand advocacy and loyalty by transforming traditional marketing efforts into a collaborative process between brands and college students.

After the college student provides a valid .edu e-mail address, they connect their Facebook and Twitter and receive a Sumpto Score, which is a measurement of their social influence. Students are then eligible to claim their weekly Sumpto Reward, which will be an exclusive promotion or free products. Sumpto Rewards are split into three tiers, where students with the highest Sumpto Scores are eligible to claim the most valuable Sumpto Reward and so forth. Since Sumpto’s network is comprised solely of influential college students, we can provide more precise targeting and engagement metrics for brands and Sumpto Rewards that will resonate with college students.

MO: What inspired the idea for Sumpto?

Benjamin: While I was at the University of Miami, I noticed how connected and influential college students were to one another. One of my friends uploaded a funny picture and I remember seeing the 15 or so comments and 40 or so Likes, all from college students from different schools across the nation. Once I graduated, I was able to take a different perspective and saw the untapped value in providing brands a platform to target and engage with influential college students. I combined these concepts with the one thing I knew best- college.

MO: Can you talk about the process of developing Sumpto from the initial idea to creating a brand around the concept? What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced and how have you overcome them?

Benjamin: The concept is to reward college students for being part of a demographic that is extremely difficult to reach, represents the beginning of brand loyalty, and has infused their daily lives and friendships into social networks and peer influence. I think one of the largest challenges that we are currently facing is balancing brands with students. If we offer one Sumpto Reward that isn’t that great, doesn’t resonate with the students, and limits it to a certain type of student, then we’ve lost all credibility and trust from our network. With college students, it’s all about immediate gratification; how can you help me now? It doesn’t matter what we received from the brand or how our network should act; we always have to be cognizant that our integrity and validity is constantly being tested every day not only through the Rewards but also through every post and tweet.

MO: How is a Sumpto Score calculated? Is it just a social media measure of popularity?

Benjamin: It’s more than just popularity; it is a measurement of their peer influence. College students are at a unique time in their life where no one has really had the opportunity to become extremely wealthy or super famous, most of their friends are in college as well, and they use social networks for both social maintenance and discovery of new friendships. Due to this, they all are peer influencers; not social broadcasters or uber-influencers who have hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter and no personal relationships with their network. College students are all influential, in varying degrees, and we measure their influence with our own proprietary algorithm. Whereas some other platforms place brands in touch with, say, a Kim Kardashian…Sumpto provides a more targeted approach, and place brands in touch with the ‘Kim Kardashian’s’ at Ohio State, Syracuse, Georgetown and so forth.

MO: What kind of rewards can Sumpto users expect to receive each week?

Benjamin: Sumpto Rewards will either be an exclusive promotion that offers a huge discount or free samples of a product or service. It may be more than 50% off an online retail site, free energy drinks, or a limited time only promotion to a grocery store, for example. The Rewards will be always exclusive to Sumpto and our network of influential college students.

MO: Other than money, what are the biggest barriers to your success right now?

Benjamin: User acquisition. It’s going to be difficult to have students sign up and try this out. I’m sure some will be skeptical and hesitant; fortunately, we’ll be launching with a signup contest on a popular college website which gives us immediate credibility and awareness. Once we achieve a strong network of influential students, brands will then be more inclined to implement even better Sumpto Rewards, and the two will hopefully expand together. Sumpto’s value will be determined by the size and quality of our network of influential college students.

MO: Can you talk a bit about the launch you’re preparing for later this month?

Benjamin: We’ll be launching in a few weeks and are holding a sign up contest on BroBible.com, a website covering everything college. Once the student signs up and connects to Sumpto, they are automatically entered to win over $1500 in prizes and are eligible to claim their first Sumpto Reward. We have also begun speaking with brands that have a great product or service and could benefit from targeting and engaging influential college students. It’s going to be both an exciting and stressful time…and I can’t wait!


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