This week we sat down with Daniel Vivarelli from Starloop to discuss how online reviews can make or break your business regardless of what you do, and how you can integrate philanthropy into your business to make a difference in the world while disrupting the space you do business in.
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Jason Yormark: Hello. And welcome to another episode of the Socialistic podcast Social Media Agency Stories. I’m excited about our guest today really unique theme topic that I can relate with today. We have Daniel Vivarelli from Starloop.Com. Daniel, welcome to the show.
Daniel Vivarelli: Thanks for having me, Jason.
Jason Yormark: Absolutely. So let’s just get right into it. Tell us a little bit about yourself, your history, what you’re doing, all that good stuff, and we’ll take it from there.
Daniel Vivarelli: Yeah, for sure. All right. So I guess you could call me a classic pizza, really…I was born in Canada to French, Italian parents, raised in Australia, and I’ve been taking advantage of my nomadic Internet lifestyle to travel the world with my family whilst building what I believe is to be a really great business. I’m the founder at Styleloop.Com. We create software that helps local businesses get reviews on sites like Google and Facebook. And for every review that we help them get, we plant a tree. I think we just recently passed by 55,000 reviews. One and 55,000 trees planted milestone.
Jason Yormark: That is really cool. Tell me what brought you to that idea? What in your life experiences and how did you come to starting this business and wanting to kind of integrate kind of a philanthropic element to what you do?
Daniel Vivarelli: Yeah. Yeah. So, I mean, you know, growing up, my formative years was on the north shore of Sydney, so right on the Coast, I was a sea Scout, too. So I got to do a lot of camping, a lot of sailing, a lot of surfing. I think that just really connected me to the planet and to nature and the other that I got. It’s just about realizing that because I’m such a nerd, right. I started thinking about our biosphere, basically, as the operating system for the planet, like Earth is the biosphere, this very thin layer of life that’s on top of the planet. And but you don’t have to look around very far these days to see that we’re kind of making a mess of things. I don’t want to bump people out, but we’re clear cutting forest. We’re dumping so much trash into the oceans and all the rest of it, so we can be doing a lot better. And when I turned 40, I came up with a personal mission that I wanted to plant a million trees before I die. And I didn’t know how I was going to do that. I’m just a firm believer. If you set your intention that God the universe, whatever will start to connect things for you if your intentions are true. And if they are strong. And so, sure enough, a couple of years later, I started this project with helping our clients get online reviews. We’re trying to get more reviews because it’s a busy world out there. You are somebody to write a review. Well, then you cross your fingers and hope that on the list of a thousand things that are a priority in their life that they’re going to switch you in somewhere to take the time to do that. And, well, we were doing okay. But I felt like we could do better. Kind of had an AHA moment of what if we plant a tree. And as it turns out, that increase conversion rate in the way that we wanted them to. So everybody was winning. Our clients were getting more reviews that help them attract more business and increase their sales. Because human beings being human beings, we gravitate generally to the highest rated, most reviewed option available to us in any given marketplace. So they were getting what they want. And I was selfishly getting what I want, which was one tree closer to getting my million trees planted. So win win for everybody.
Jason Yormark: That’s awesome. I’m just kind of curious in terms of how do you facilitate something like that? Do you partner with an outside organization and just kind of invest in that sort of thing? Really, the Genesis of this question is really more around agency owners or potential agency owners or folks that are looking to start a business technology service based the complexity of being able to integrate some sort of philanthropic element. I’m just kind of curious about how you were able to kind of do that and how complex that might have been.
Daniel Vivarelli: Yeah, for sure. I had discovered a company called Ecosia, and they were a search engine who basically was white labeling Bing. So they did a deal with Microsoft or Yahoo, whoever Alan was being at the time and just said, look, can we use your search engine? We’re going to put a logo on it. And for every X amount of ad revenue dollars that we get, we’re going to plant a tree. And so that to me, kind of, amongst other things, started rewiring my brain on what business could be like. That business could be used as a force for good. And that along with the story of Tom’s Shoes. Are you familiar with those guys?
Jason Yormark: No.
Daniel Vivarelli: Yeah. So Tom was the other business that rewire my brain with their whole premise of Buy one, give one for your listeners who don’t know, be surprised if they don’t, because it’s such a huge brand now. But the premise behind Tom’s Shoes is you buy a pair of shoes and they’ll give away a pair of shoes to a kid who needs a pair of shoes predominantly in places like Africa and Asia. And so Tom’s, for me, was just kind of like a moon landing moment. You know, you hear all people like, going, I remember where I was when man landed on the moon for me. I remember where I was when I first heard about Tom’s because I was like, wow, that’s crazy. The world does not need another shoe company. When Tom showed up, there was already like, 100,000 shoe companies on planet Earth, and they come along with this very remarkable premise. And next thing you know, I mean, this is I don’t know how much it’s worth, but it’s worth a lot. They managed to in market share on the back of, well, smart execution, for sure. But on the back of a really great, remarkable promise. And so for me that started just like opening my eyes to what’s possible that business doesn’t just need to be about cash. And it could be a bit more holistic in that. But that to me also meant that I could dovetail two of my most favorite subjects in the world, which is ecology and entrepreneurship.
Jason Yormark: Yeah, I love that it’s such a cool concept and idea. How long has Starloop.Com been in business and tell me a little bit more about… I’ve seen a lot of online review platforms I’m just kind of curious about, aside from obviously the philanthropy side of what you’re doing and planting a tree with every review. Are there other things that you guys do specifically that’s unique or different, and then just kind of go into a little bit about the importance of having an online review strategy and what that can mean for a business?
Daniel Vivarelli: Yeah, for sure. I’d say one of the things that we do that or at least that was a little bit different. The tree planting, I think we’re still the only one that’s doing that. And that was something that we started like five years ago as an agency. Actually, that’s how the concept started. We’ve only been a software as a service company for about a year. Yeah, basically pivoted the agency. I was like, alright, it’s been fun to travel the world and have a great lifestyle business, but I want to get serious about it so I brought on CTO and we developed a platform starloop 2.0 from the ground up. Aside from that, what was the second part of your question? Sorry.
Jason Yormark: Just how or why businesses should be taking seriously the idea of having a tool like yours to kind of consistently be building up their online reviews as opposed to what else they might otherwise be doing?
Daniel Vivarelli: Yeah, for sure. Look, I’m Super biased. So you got to take everything I say with a grain of salt. But I think if you stack up a hundred of any of your typical tools of the trade in digital marketing. So 100 cold emails or even 100 warm emails for that fact, 100 tweets hundred Facebook posts, 100 Instagram posts, or 100 online reviews on Google, for example, like, just in my experience, most people can’t do social very well. So a hundred Facebook post is not going to really impact their bottom line. And plus creating a hundred Facebook post. Man, I’m getting tired just thinking about the amount of work that would need to go into that. But 100 reviews on Google for a lot of businesses, that could be the difference between them struggling and then absolutely thriving in the phone ringing off the hook.
Jason Yormark: so can you take…I mean, I kind of understand conceptually how platform like yours works, but can you just from a high level can help somebody that might be listening that knows that they need to do better with it.
What conceptually does your product do that’s going to help them with this? Just take them through that.
Daniel Vivarelli: Sure. Think of style loop as a way to essentially systemize the most important part of reputation management, or at least what I believe is the most important part, which is review acquisition. There’s a lot of aspects to reputation management, but quite frankly, the thing in my experience that will boost sales the most is the acquisition of the most reviews genuine, real reviews, as you possibly can, and to ideally create a huge gap between yourself and then second option. And so, for example, we have one of our members who’s been with us since our initial beta test. I mean, he started with two Google reviews. He had one guy that he employed, and he was struggling to keep him busy. Asked if we could help him back then. I wasn’t so confident because we were still like crazy ideas around planting trees and getting reviews. I don’t if it would work right, I said, look, we got this beta test. You want to jump on board? You’re welcome to look, by the time he got 100 reviews, life had completely changed for this guys struggling business. By the time he hit 200 reviews, he hired an extra an extra guy, and at last check, he was at 1400 Google Reviews. They’re called odds on home inspection services. If anybody wants to check them out, odds on home inspection. But for about every 200 reviews that he’s gotten, he’s had to hire an extra home Inspector. I think they’re up to a team of nine now, and that’s just based on the back of their online reputation.
Jason Yormark: That’s amazing. Something you had said earlier. I didn’t want to kind of ruin the flow of our conversation, but I want to go back to it. You said curious a little bit about you said you were an agency, or it sounds like you’re service based before you pivoted to technology platform software as a service. Tell me a little bit about what you did before and what was your reasoning for making that transition. And on top of that, I’m kind of curious about it. Sounded like that the tree planting thing existed in that previous world, which I’m kind of curious about how that worked as well.
Daniel Vivarelli: Sorry. Can you ask the first part the question again?
Jason Yormark: Yeah, I’m curious about what you were doing at before starloop.Com. It sounded like you were an agency or service. So what were you doing before? And what was the reasoning for that transition?
Daniel Vivarelli: Yeah, I was a classic Jack of all local digital marketing guy like you wave some money at me to solve a problem, then I would figure it out if it’s a local HVAC company that needed to run some Google ads. I’m not expert at it, but I’ll muddle through and I’ll figure it out. I’ll find some people that kind of thing. My background, the way it all got started as I was kind of a cliche in the late 90s, I was a snowboarding web designer. That’s how I kind of got my toe in the water. As far as doing anything digital, like a lot of young guys at the time, I I was doing my best to stay self employed and not have a boss and enjoy a really good lifestyle. And one thing led to another. But I quickly figured out that I didn’t really want to trade time for money anymore, and that’s when I realized that I could trade value for money, which is, I think, just a beautiful equation. It really frees us from having to turn the mill in order to have no money actually coming in. So, yeah, around. I don’t know. It must have been seven years ago or something like that. Do you remember when Google first launched the reviews for businesses like that? Google didn’t ask anybody like, Can we do this? They just flipped a switch. And for tens of millions of businesses around the planet who had never been beholden to reviews in their lives before, a local plumber, local accountant, a hair dresser. They’re like finding out like people are saying stuff about you guys online and leaving you a star rating. And they’re like, what the heck? And you got to think too. Like, Jason, I’m sure you’ve worked with enough local businesses. That part of you, part of your heart goes out to them that they’ve got now yet another digital thing that they have to contend with when they’re just trying to get their head around all the digital stuff that they’ve had to already. And whilst they’re some of the most time porous people on the planet, self employed people. So, yeah, I saw that happen. But it wasn’t until a year or two later that I really just started to understand how much of an impact the reviews were having on sales. And the AHA moment for me, I think, was a paper published by a guy called Michael Luca called Online Reviews and Reputation. The case for Yelp.Com. He’s a professor at Harvard School of Business. This is a paper that would put an Insomniac is sleep. It’s super boring. But for a guy like me, I was like, going, this is insane. Like what he had discovered. And I’m paraphrasing here because this is going back five, six years when I read this. But he discovered that by taking publicly available tax filing data from the state of Washington and Correlating that with their the same businesses, yelps star reviews, he could see that businesses that had managed to increase their star rating by one star had revenue increases something in the vicinity of 15%. Yeah. And I was like, damn, like, that’s insane. And that’s just Yelp. I know that Yelp is a big deal for, like, certain industries, but it’s not a big deal for a lot of them. In fact, there’s a lot of a lot of types of professions that people would never go to help first to search for. They are definitely going to head to Google as the first protocol to find a lot of different kinds of businesses. And so I thought to myself, Well, if a star increase on Yelp is having that kind of an impact, like Google must just be. Yeah, the thing that’s going to really, really make the phone ring. And sure enough, like the smart businesses, like for over the last five years who have somehow caught onto this, they’re just, like, stealthily executing one of the smartest, most lucrative marketing campaigns in plain side of their competitors, like their competitors probably have no idea why their phones are ringing less and less. And Joe down the road is just looking always like, he’s just got too much work to handle, and at some point they’re going to jump online and go, oh, damn. Yeah. He’s got 359 reviews, and we’re sitting on two. Yeah, they’re going to connect for dots eventually because it’s just that profound impact it can have.
Jason Yormark: I have a selfish question for you, because this is what’s really interesting to me that’s come out of this conversation. And I can relate to your journey in terms of I love what you said about trading your time for money. I can totally relate. The agency space is super competitive. It’s a grind having to consistently find new clients and manage those relationships. I’m not where you were at quite yet, but I could see myself getting there. And I always think about, man, what’s going to be the next thing that I do that’s maybe not having to deal in a similar type of environment. So what I’m really curious about is obviously there’s a lot of people or businesses that do what you do in terms of online review management. I’ve experienced them. I’ve seen them. What is the true differentiator for you when you kind of decided to launch StarLoop.com was the differentiator the planting a tree thing? Is that really what you would attest to the success that you’ve had and the growth that you’ve had as a business? Is it really come down to that? I mean, obviously it assumes that you’re delivering on a technology side and it’s doing what you say. But are you doing what everyone else is doing in the real differentiator in terms of your growth? Is that philanthropic piece? Is that really what’s been able to separate you and allow you to kind of do what you’re doing?
Daniel Vivarelli: Yes and no. A two part answer to this. I mean, look, it doesn’t hurt that we do have this very compelling differentiator, as you call it. I like the term that Seth Golden uses for this kind of stuff of purple cow. This purple cow story never do. No. So, Seth, Godin, he has this premise of when it comes to marketing, you want to come up with a purple cow and what’s a purple cow he’s like, well, imagine you’re driving down the highway and there’s cows. He’s like, you would never stop and take a picture of a cow. Why? Because cows are boring. But if you were driving down the highway and you saw, like, a bright purple cow, you’d be like, Damn, there’s a purple cow like you would pull over and get a selfie in the whole deal. Right? And so the tree planting for us is a purple cow. And that doesn’t hurt on a whole bunch of levels, whether it’s attracting new members, getting new talent or having people who are interested to chat to me, like yourself today. But here’s the thing. Even if we didn’t have the tree planting, I still would have given this a go, because, look, I came from I spent ten years living in a town of a small town, and it boggled my brain that it seemed like every two to three years, a new hamburger joint would open up. And I’m like, there’s already, like, 20 hamburger joints in this town of 30,000 people. Like, what the Heck’s going on? Is there a room for another one? And I really do believe that if somebody’s just passionate, if they’ve got an idea, a concept or and they just feel like it’s time for them to execute, like, just go for it, just punch it. You’ll you’ll figure something out, a way to stand out and sell a burger, fries and Coke, just like everybody else. Just put your twist on it, you know?
Jason Yormark: Yeah. No, I love that. Yeah. I think about that. I often find myself sometimes paralyzed, I’ll have an idea, but I’ll just be like, yeah, man, I’m pretty sorry doing that. But at the same time, it’s pretty rare for somebody to invent or do something that’s never been done before. It’s pretty rare. It’s really about figuring out what you’re passionate about and figuring out what’s going to make you different or unique that you’re going to be able to compete with. So, yeah, to see how the… Oh go ahead
Daniel Vivarelli: I was going to say, yeah. And just kind of based on the sort of pre conversation that we had. I want to jump in on that of figuring out how to make one unique and how to make one have that point of differentiation that gives them the competitive advantage. And if it is going to revolve around something that I believe is for social environmental good, like, I know this is gonna sound woo, and it’s going to sound naive and really optimistic. But I believe that’s pretty much the way forward for every single business and that businesses that don’t start figuring out this piece. I’m gonna start getting left behind in the dust. I remember hearing about this lawyer, and he was I don’t know if he was like doing family law, like divorces, Wills and estates, real estate contracts, that kind of thing. But I can’t remember what the tipping point was or the trigger, but at certain X amount of whatever contracts or something, he would go to Walmart, he would buy a bike and he would take it to a local orphanage. And he had, I don’t know, a counter, which was like 147 bikes delivered, you know, and I always found out really remarkable because think about, like, in any given town, there’s countless number of lawyers to choose from, and they’re all saying the same thing. We’re a good law firm, you should trust us, give us a call. But now this guy is most likely, I would imagine in his community being talked about at barbecues at dinner time watercoolers, you name it, the amount of good for his business that’s being done by him, doing good for his community will be immeasurable and probably paying back 100 fold. I think, quite honestly, it’s up to every business to find a KPI, that’s something more than just dollars and to go all in on that.
Jason Yormark: Yeah. No, I love that this has been interesting because I’m starting to think like we do. We have our socialistic care program, which I think is kind of our first a way of trying to figure out how to have something like this in a service based environment. But now I’m starting to question, is there a better way or more impactful way to do something? So it’s got my wheels kind of turning a little bit in terms of what could that look like and trying to kind of zero in on something that’s maybe a little bit more specific or tangible, as opposed to just kind of a general kind of approach. So super interesting stuff. I really love what you’re doing. I couldn’t agree more about the online reputation piece, a huge component to what we do and what we advise for our clients. I’m definitely going to take a harder look at what you guys are doing and see if that’s a good fit that we can partner around for sure. But anything that I didn’t ask you that you might want to throw in that relates to our conversation before we wrap things up?
Daniel Vivarelli: Let me think here. No. I mean, I think we kind of covered it if it’s a local business that’s listening, regardless of whether you guys are considering Starloop.com or not, If you are a local business, I beg you, like, just if you haven’t got a solution in place to get reviews, like, just start taking this seriously. You don’t want to wake up a year, two, three years from now with figuring out that you’re at the back of the pack for all your competitors when it comes to reviews and reputation. I really want to employ business owners to think about how they shop. Like, think about how you shop. Even if it’s just Amazon, you will gravitate towards the highest rated products on Amazon. You’re not looking for perfect. You’re just looking for something that has a healthy ratio of positive to negative reviews. And that’s going to get you to transact. Well, in every town, USA, for every profession, there’s somebody typing in hairdresser and accountant and CrossFit gym and plumber, and they’re deciding who to call first using the exact same basic human psychology. Yeah, that’s the last thing I would leave your listeners with. Just get on it. It takes time to build a reputation. And every day that slips by where you don’t have a strategy or a game plan in places a day that your competitors can pull further ahead.
Jason Yormark: Ah I love it. That’s awesome stuff. Well, that’s awesome. I really appreciate your time having you on the show some really insightful stuff where can people find you your business, all that good stuff?
Daniel Vivarelli: Yeah. So starLoop.Com and just Hello@starloop.Com if they want to reach me.
Jason Yormark: Okay. Awesome. Well, Daniel, thank you so much for being on the show today. Really awesome stuff for the audience and myself, for that matter. So thanks so much for joining us today.
Daniel Vivarelli: Pleasure, Jason. Thanks for having me.
Jason Yormark: Awesome and that’ll do it for this week’s episode of Socialistics. Make sure you like, subscribe, share, all that good stuff. Show Notes I’ll have everything in there we talked about today. Thanks for listening. And we’ll catch you next episode. All right.
Jason is a 20+ year marketing veteran including time spent at Microsoft overseeing social media for Microsoft Advertising & Office for Mac. Once named to Forbes Power Social Media Influencers List, Jason is the owner and founder of Socialistics.