In this interview, Peter speaks with Sophia Solanki, Founder of Narrato, the content publishing software that enables teams to manage their entire content workflow on one platform. Sophia has 15+ years of experience in content publishing and has run several businesses including an agency and a social media product. Having observed frustration and inefficiencies related to using fragmented tools to deliver content marketing, Sophia identified an opportunity to build a product that manages the entire workflow. She bootstrapped her SaaS using funds from the agency business and marketplace and is now raising Narrato’s seed round to further develop the product. Listen to this interview to hear how Narrato is innovating to optimise Content Marketing workflows.
[00:00:01] – Peter
Okay, so I’m here today talking with Sophia Solanki, the founder of Narrato. Hi Sophia, lovely to speak with you today. Would you like to give us an intro to us, a bit about yourself and a little bit about narrative, what it is and what it does.
[00:00:16] – Sophia
Thank you, Peter. Thank you for talking to me. And so I’ve been in the marketing space for a while now, so have close to about 16 plus years of experience. Started as a business consultant for about four years where I was doing projects around how to optimise Google Ads. And that was like 15 years ago. Very different from what it is now. But since then, I started my entrepreneurial journey first, a content marketing agency with social media product later, and now I’m running the marathon of Narrato, where I want to build a single platform where content marketers, content creators can come together, create content that wins, that performs.
And the whole idea behind building this platform is to have one place where everything starting from ideation platinum creation, content optimization, to even publishing, happens at the same place. And I know it’s a big vision, but we have worked with a tonne of clients through our journey and we’ve seen ourselves as an agency that currently this work happens on a very distributed stack. You start with Google Docs, you add sheets, sometimes a few project management tools, and then some optimization tools. And it just becomes so unproductive at the end of the day that you feel lost.
[00:01:43] – Sophia
So we thought there’s something there’s a need gap and something that we need to build such that teams can be more effective.
[00:01:50] – Peter
Amazing. So you’re essentially building or providing a tool that operates throughout the entire workflow of the content planning, scheduling, production, and publishing process. Effectively, from what you just said, it sounds like that Narrato can replace, say, five or six tools that your traditional content marketers are using throughout this process. So like you said, it sounds like a big challenge, but it sounds like you’ve got a lot of experience throughout that workflow and a lot of ideas to support and make that easier for people to manage this kind of workflow in one tool.
[00:02:39] – Sophia
Yeah, that’s sort of the idea. There are two ways we’re looking at it. One, we want to get people to do more and more on a radio. So if not 100%, we want to be the place where 80% of all your content work collaboration happens. But if you’re deep seated into some platforms and really like and they talk to us through either integrations or something else, then we are basically supporting that as well. And processes can be hard and we want to make sure that content teams are best supported. But the fragmentation of tools does affect a lot of productivity, and that’s what we’re trying to surpass.
Second thing that we are trying to do is also offer cool tools like we’re building an AI content assistant which has a lot of parts to it. Not just helps you with GPT-3 days writing with a lot of tools too. But it also goes beyond and gives you recommendations how better to optimise for SEO. What to answer. What people are really wanting to hear about. Gives you recommendations around content structure and what more. So it’s also the place where you can come and do a lot of this together rather than through like five different tools.
[00:03:58] – Peter
Yes. Okay. I really like this kind of value proposition of increasing efficiency by having one place to manage all of these different because there are a lot of different tasks that need to be done throughout that process. And I think if you’re not working in content marketing regularly, you can underestimate this. So I know, even when we set up hours, that there’s so many different tools that we were using and now we’re obviously using Narrato.
And I can see how this is going, this is going to help us. So it’s the efficiency in that workflow, optimising that, that I think is a real benefit. You have teams that are producing lots of content though, right? So I remember speaking with you and I think you were saying that there are teams producing hundreds of posts in a month. So how do you think that all really benefits this kind of team whose production of content is extremely high?
[00:05:00] – Sophia
Yeah, so for them, there are lots of different aspects where Narrato becomes super, super powerful. Like in one of the cases, there’s a consumer tech company which was building hundreds of pieces of content to target more and more of these long search words. And now for them, the biggest bottleneck was actually publishing it to their CMS. And every piece of content they had to publish was taking them 30 to 40 minutes. So what Narita helped them do was they use our API, they built a quick integration and we helped them out support it through the process. And now that whole thing gets done by change of that status. So they’re saving like close to about 200, 300 hours every month. It was huge.
[00:05:49] – Peter
[00:05:50] – Sophia
So for them, the big thing was publishing for another team who’s doing the same. And they are in the Health Tech space. They’re creating hundreds of pieces of content and dealing with a lot of writers. And they like working with freelance writers because that gives them more control over the right people for the right content. And just managing a team of 20 writers was getting very difficult. So they tried to do it through air table and then they figured could give them a lot of benefits. They’re using the whole assignment of cars, everything happens on our platform. But then I think that was a big win.
There are lots of these areas in which we’ve seen teams find efficiency and been able to scale up their processes, but there has been even cases where there’s an agency serving by close to 50 to 60 clients doing thousands of pieces of content every month who have managed everything on the platform. And there are these bulk actions and automations that set up. It just makes things run like a very small engine. Can actually just give you that efficiency, taken a lot of different areas.
[00:07:11] – Peter
Sounds fantastic. Yeah, because obviously these teams are planning their content and they’re writing the content in Narrato. But that part you mentioned of the publishing. So typically, I think writers could be writing in Google Docs, and then when it comes to publishing, they’re copying their content and putting it into WordPress or whatever their CMS platform is. And I can see how time consuming that process is for them, speeding up this publishing, just publishing directly, integrating with the CMS and publishing directly from the content they’ve written in Narrato. It sounds like a really great benefit.
It sounds like you have a lot of great features and you come from this background in content marketing as well. So I can see how through your own insight and your own experience, you’ve been able to kind of envision this product, a great product that manages the entire workflow. How have you managed innovation when you’ve been thinking about Narrato and building your product? How have you approached innovation in order to build a product that has some differentiation within a competitive marketplace?
[00:08:30] – Sophia
Yeah, I think the way we approach innovation is that everything should be customer driven. So we talk a lot to our users, so we walk into conversations after conversation. We don’t want to be different for the sake of being different. So if it’s the case that our competitor does something a certain way and that’s working for our clients, and we need to do something similar on our platform, we’re not at worst to the idea. And we do sometimes adopt some of those workflows processes or ways of doing things, but most of how we want to look, feel comes from our users.
Which is why I think it’s for us a deep focus area that we need to be very intuitive. We want to make sure what we’re building is prioritised to what our users need the most. And that’s how we work. So even ideas in terms of how the features should work, what’s important, not important. What we should be building, often comes from a lot of these user conversations that we track, we record, we basically hear through and work. So I think all your ideas when it comes to innovation, at least our philosophy has been it comes from people who use the product, and you should be just listening to your customers and your market.
[00:09:51] – Peter
Great. Okay. I like it. So you’re always evolving based on what you’re observing through your users and how they’re using the platform and what they need. I noticed that you have a marketplace as well. Could you tell us a little bit about the marketplace and how that works in the ecosystem with your product?
[00:10:12] – Sophia
Right, so we actually started out as a marketplace initially. So back in the 2020, that’s the first product or application we put out and we saw a lot of users using it. And then we again started thinking about this whole workflow of what happens beyond it. And then we realised that there were lots of these pieces that were still missing and that’s when we and being an engineer and having built another product, it’s so much more enjoyable to build a software. So we decided to build the radio as well. But right now, how the two systems talk to each other is that there is a shallow integration that we’ve built.
So there’s a workflow that happens in the marketplace which helps you and the marketplace does automatic creator matching and it’s all automated, so we don’t have any manual editorial processes there. We wanted it to be like a product. It works. Once the work gets done, then teams can actually move their work onto their workspace, into all the internal management there. So that’s how the two applications at the moment are talking to each other. But in the future we do envision we hear from a lot of our customers that they do want a deeper interface between the two, where while using the software, they are able to also leverage the marketplace through it.
[00:11:43] – Sophia
So basically that’s what we are envisioning for the future, probably a deeper integration between the two. And as far as running a software business plus the marketplace business goes, I think at the end of the day, for us it’s just the product. Even the marketplace for us is the product. So the idea really is to enable content teams to be able to do more, faster, better, and to be able to win with what they are doing with the content marketing processes. And it just feels like a content marketplace is basically a very important thing because the need for creators is just as big as the need for bringing efficiency to the process.
[00:12:28] – Peter
I see. So the marketplace is essentially services that potentially well in the future that Narrato users could also benefit from if they’re looking for freelance writing support or so and so. Is that how it works?
[00:12:49] – Sophia
Yes. So we have a lot of common users right now. So there are users who are basically ordering a lot of content. The marketplace getting the work done and then basically adding it to their workspace through a click and then processing it on the software. And then we have users who started with the workspace and they realised the team doesn’t have sufficient bandwidth to do what they require to get that, so they’re getting additional bandwidth out of the marketplace. So while Marketplace is a supplementary service, but we’ve seen it very synergistic with our primary offering.
[00:13:30] – Peter
Great. I see it looks like they’re really complementary together. And then I was interested in how you funded the business in terms of building the product. Did you put strap so far using potentially the marketplace, a source of capital or revenue to build the product?
[00:13:53] – Sophia
So we bootstrapped earlier on and I was running an agency business also earlier, which I no longer do, so some of the funds came out from there as well. But we have some good news on the horizon as well, where we are getting some partners on board. So there will be some external funding that’s flowing into narrative. So it’s going to be now a mix of our own funds plus some investment partners to basically push our journey through.
[00:14:27] – Peter
Great. What kind of round are you raising? Would you consider it a seed round or angel funding?
[00:14:37] – Sophia
It’s a seed round, yeah, seed round.
[00:14:39] – Peter
Supplemented by your kind of bootstrap.
[00:14:42] – Sophia
Bootstrapping revenue, whatever we have got so far with bootstrapping.
[00:14:47] – Peter
Great. And Sophia, what are your plans for the arrangement with the future? How will you use the funding and what are your plans for the business and the product going forward?
[00:15:00] – Sophia
I think we’ve built a solid core product. Right now, our next priorities is, one, to actually get it to a level where we think, one, it is a very solid brand. Second, it’s a place where people can come get started. UI, the user experience is a big area of focus for us. So that’s number 1 second is we’re going to continue expanding scope in terms of what more users can do at the beginning of their journey, at the end of their journey, which is at the end of the journey, which is all about publishing, pushing the content to the right place.
So a lot of integrations and what. All we can support at the beginning of the journey is planning, which is like starting all the way from research, et cetera. So we already have some very solid features like SEO content pre that you can generate topic and idea generators that exist. But we want to strengthen that capability and we want to at one point in time, build a very neat feedback loop where we will start pulling a lot of your performance data, have insights and then give you ideas right at the beginning of the journey to create more content that works similarly or better.
[00:16:23] – Sophia
Like I said, we have a big vision, there’s a long way to go and there’s lots to do, but these are sort of our top two to three things or priorities for our next leg of work.
[00:16:37] – Peter
Fantastic. Well, it sounds like there’s lots of improvements and new exciting features to come out and it sounds like the product is going to continue improving, so I look forward to seeing how that goes. Sophia, thank you for joining me for a chat, but anybody who’s interested in checking out Narrato, would you refer them to the website in. Narrato.io to take a free trial or to cheque out the platform?
[00:17:04] – Sophia
Yeah, absolutely. So anybody and everyone can go cheque out. Narrato at Narrato.io if you want to reach me personally, just drop me an order. So fat. Narrato.io or paying me on LinkedIn. I’m there on Twitter, not so active. So LinkedIn is probably better. But you’re very accessible. Our team loves talking to whoever’s interested in what you’re building or in the same space and trying to solve problems around quantum strategy marketing. Find us on Narrato or just drop me a note.
[00:17:38] – Peter
Great. Okay, super stuff. Okay. Thank you, Sophia. Been great to chat with you. Speak with you again sometime soon.
[00:17:46] – Sophia
Yeah. Thanks, Peter.
Final Words on how Narrato is innovating to optimise Content Marketing workflows
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