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Eship Alums Sell eCommerce Analytics Company

Friday, June 3, 2011

Two Wisconsin School of Business alumni have sold their e-commerce analytics company to a major player in the social media field less than one year after its launch. Read coverage in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

In May 2011 Corey Capasso (BBA ’09) and Andrew Ferenci (BBA ‘09), along with fellow UW-Madison graduate Dan Reich, sold their startup company Spinback to Buddy Media for an undisclosed sum. Spinback technology includes EasyShare™, a social plugin that allows consumers to easily share products and purchases via Facebook, Twitter and email; and EasyTrack™, an analytics dashboard that helps companies measure the return on their social media investment. Buddy Media is the leading Facebook management system for global advertisers.

Before Spinback, ecommerce retailers had no easy way to track the effectiveness of social media beyond just “click-throughs,” “follows,” and “Tweets.” They can now accurately measure social sharing and the traffic, conversions, and sales that result.

“Tens of millions of websites have added sharing buttons,” said Michael Lazerow, founder and CEO of Buddy Media. “Very few of them, however, can actually tell you how many sales were driven by these buttons. With this acquisition, Buddy Media can now answer the question ‘what is the ROI of social media?’ better than anyone else in the market in a holistic way, both on Facebook and off, and on Twitter and email."

Since its debut in October 2010, Spinback has built a client base of more than 20 leading retailers. They report $2.10 in incremental revenue from each Facebook wall post and a 10.9% conversion rate for Facebook “shares” that lead to purchases.

“The reason we were successful so quickly with Spinback,” Capasso said, “is that it solved a very big problem, and it fit the needs of its clients our clients with respect to the current market conditions in social media.”

Capasso and Ferenci call themselves “career entrepreneurs.” Both started their first companies while in high school, and then honed their skills as entrepreneurship majors at the Wisconsin School of Business.

“Andrew and Corey were among the second and third classes from our new entrepreneurship major, which launched in 2007,” said Jon Eckhardt, associate professor of management. “The program provides an academic home to students who aspire to become career entrepreneurs.”

Both Capasso and Ferenci praised the personal attention they received from Wisconsin School of Business faculty, especially Eckhardt and Assistant Professor of Management and Human Resources Phil Kim, during their time in the program.

“One of the things I found most helpful was the case studies,” Capasso said. Instead of just studying general business development, “we focused on specific aspects of starting a business such as the launch, and the impact of poor decisions.”

“We dove deep into the case studies,” Ferenci agreed. “We learned a lot from others’ past ventures and their success and failure.”

Capasso, who was named one of BusinessWeek’s Best Young Entrepreneurs in 2008, was advised by board member Joe Boucher while he was in the program. Ferenci was a recipient of the Pricer fellowship, which is funded by alum Jim Weinert to honor Professor Bob Pricer. The fellowship provides $2,500 in funding to one undergraduate student a year who is studying and actively pursuing entrepreneurship.

“Corey and Andrew represent exactly the kind of students we want in the program,” Eckhardt said. “They don’t just have great ideas—they make them happen.”