Swiss startup sobu developed a platform that transforms social media into a way to share “qualified recommendations” from consumers themselves. People can share suggestions about the products or services they use, helping businesses reach a larger crowd, but also allowing influencers to earn money back on their ideas – part of the “buy-share-earn” model. 

The e-commerce startup was part of the 1-month Market Validation program here at swissnex San Francisco. 

What do you do?

I’m the CEO of sobu Group Ltd., an online service (social media & business network) developed at Swiss Post and spun off in 2016. It was launched in 2012, and now sobu is the largest referral platform in Switzerland. The service combines word-of-mouth referrals with social media. It’s a way for online shops to increase their traffic and reach more buyer segments and ultimately attract new customers. Users “buy” in one of their favorite online stores, then “share” their purchase with friends on different social channels, and “earn” cash if those friends follow that recommendation. 

Why do you do it?

Some people call it “conviction” some “stubbornness.” However, imagine if you were reminded, every day, that you are wrong. How long would you take it to quit? I’m this kind of person who has been told 1,000 times, “… that will never work,” “… we have never done this before.” This happens to me every day, and still, I try to not give up. It’s gratifying after a lot of hard work to see the acceptance of the product you believed in for such a long time being used everyday. To prove that I wasn’t so wrong – that’s why I do it! I’m realizing a dream that came to my mind in 2010. Since then, I followed this dream even to San Francisco and Pier 17. I think you have the opportunity once in your lifetime to go from an impossible-looking concept into a market fit. Right now, we’re trying to scale the business worldwide.  

What’s next?

We just signed onto a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for sobu USA and China. I have a few days to go to look to possible investors or business angels. Thanks to swissnex, the negotiation here in San Francisco was much easier to accomplish. A great change for startups like us. Finalizing the license would be the next step to grow as fast as possible.