Who are you and what business did you start?
I’m Anna Anisin, an entrepreneur, currently the founder and CEO of Formulated.by, a boutique B2B experiential marketing firm headquartered in Miami. We specialize in building and engaging data science, machine learning, MLOps and other data related communities. We do this with our own Data Science Salon event series, by hosting unique conference experiences online and in-person, as well as creating webinars, blogs, podcasts, newsletters, hackathons and mentorship initiatives.
What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I’ve always been very entrepreneurial from a very young age. Being an immigrant in the US, I wanted to be and do all “THE things” all the time and was constantly creating something, be it art, paintings, videos or written content — I thought that I absolutely had to do something with my life. I launched my first business at a very young age of 16 — it was an eBay store that I ran successfully for five years. It pretty much paid for college and then some.
Later on, I co-founded Passare, the number one collaboration software in the funeral industry as well as joined the founding team at Domino Data Lab, where I assisted in building the most powerful enterprise data science management platform on the market and this is where the idea for Formulatedby was born. We had such success at Domino with the playbook I executed, other similar companies started approaching me for advice.
Describe the process of launching the business.
This business really came together gradually. I didn’t have a business plan, but I did have a pretty clear playbook for B2B SaaS start-ups, like Domino, who were interested in the data space and it just took off from there. I had a very small team of three for the first two years and then doubled and tripled every year since then. We’ve been able to carve out a niche, which has worked really well for us. We’ve collected so much data across this niche, this data allows us to really understand the personas in data, thus our ability to give very clear, precise advice to our clients. Having access to this data also gives us a competitive advantage over other general B2B tech agencies.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Our partners and clients collaborate with us because of our familiarity with the data industry and also because we have a ton of data, as I mentioned above. We provide experiential marketing services for this industry in particular and we know exactly what trends are going on, where the community is active and what kind of content is relevant to them. We have our own data science community with over 65k members, with which we’re continuously engaging and collaborating. This keeps us ahead of all trends and helps us to create valuable products and services for our clients’ communities with similar audiences too.
Most of our clients have been with us for years, mostly due to our ability to pivot fast and adapt to new circumstances. As an example, when COVID started to disrupt the event industry we quickly moved to virtual and adjusted our entire offering to virtual events. Being agile helped us to keep up with the services we’re promising to our clients, even during a pandemic.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
As I mentioned above, we’re always pivoting new strategies to provide the most value to our clients and the data community. Right now we’re amplifying our business model to hybrid events. We hosted the first hybrid Data Science Salon last month in our hometown Miami and more events are coming up very soon. I’m convinced that hybrid is here to stay and the team is focused on creating memorable event experiences for those joining face-to-face and online.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
One of my favorite and most valuable life lessons is not being afraid to fail. Failure is a huge part of entrepreneurship and my success in general. I’ve taken every failure as a lesson and moved forward to do something greater every time. Also helping others is extremely important — you get back what you put out there.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Many! As we have already been hosting virtual events prior to the pandemic we’ve been using a large tech stack for quite some time. We host most of our webinars and events on Fondi and Hopin, depending on a client’s specific needs. We’ve been experimenting with many different tools and found that these ones are best for engagement and efficient event production. We published a list with “the top 5 hybrid event platforms” if you’re interested in reading more about our findings.
For networking and community engagement we leverage a combination of different tools, such as Slack, Twitter, LinkedIn to keep the conversation going prior and after the events.
Another important tool to engage with our community and personalize communication flows for registrans is our Customer Relationship Management System (CRM). We leverage Hubspot to have campaigns in place to upsell multi event packages, buddy passes and post-event archive access.
Eventbrite is another essential platform for us. As with a physical event, organizers of virtual and hybrid events need an event ticketing platform. We stuck with Eventbrite, and were able to automatically connect registration to our CRM and virtual conference platform.
Also, we’re currently building a new exciting community hub for our Data Science Salon community. We’ll be launching the platform next month, so stay tuned on our socials =)
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I really enjoy and get re-inspired every week by the “How I Built This” Podcast with Guy Raz.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Make sure to meet as many people as possible. This doesn’t always have to be done in person. You can meet many new people virtually every day. The larger you grow your network, the more opportunities you will see opening up for you. Once you have a nice sized network, don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice. Remember that the answer is always NO if you don’t ask.