Provo residents and Los Hermanos loyal followers know that March’s devastating fire made the restaurant’s Provo location a total loss. What most Provo residents may not know, however, is that it also made things difficult for the company that sat on the second floor: Stoke.
“I was like, all right, I guess we’re homeless and we’ll be working from home,” Stoke founder and CEO Sam Fonoimoana said. “But we definitely had a meeting the next day about working remotely.”
After all, Adobe Summit was only a few weeks away.
Stoke is an analytics company that has created a way for businesses to connect data from their customer relationship management software to data from analytics of their website and provide a better look at what marketing strategies work for companies. In summary, Stoke created a way for businesses to see how their promotions on social media or elsewhere actually lead to the bottom line of a sale, or a sign up from a new customer, leading to more strategic sales and marketing decisions and a more relevant customer experience.
It’s the brainchild of Fonoimoana, who began his career in financial planning for large companies, like Adobe. He discovered a love for working with data and moved to doing marketing analytics for companies, connecting marketing to sales for companies like Domo. After moving his family to Hawaii, he decided to create his own company that focused solely on connecting marketing to sales.
“I thought, you know what, I think I could do this better than anyone else because I’d been doing it for all these companies,” Fonoimoana said. “So I took the leap and here I am today.”
Fonoimoana also felt confident he would be able to find several clients, since he had already done similar work for well-known companies like Adobe and Domo. Unfortunately, growing his business on Hawaii, where there are few tech companies, proved to be difficult and prompted him to move his family back to Utah.
“It was getting tough traveling in every other week. I told my family, I told my daughters, well either I can just move out there and you guys can stay here, they’re like, yeah, that’s a good idea,” Fonoimoana said. “I’m like, no, no, I was just joking, everyone’s moving out there. If I’m going down, we’re all going down. No more beach for anybody. If I can’t go to the beach, then no one’s going to the beach. So we packed it up and we’re back over here now.”
Fonoimoana said he still has his sights set on Hawaii for the future, but for now, growing in Utah is the best thing for his company. Plus, the move allowed him to start a partnership with David Acheson, co-owner of The Stoke Group, a marketing and content creation company.
Acheson said partnering with Fonoimoana was a great opportunity because of what he was doing with analytics and data.
“The fact is, companies spend money on marketing, and in some ways, it’s like they’re just throwing it out there,” he said. “The expertise that Sam has got and the brilliance of what he does with the analytics is mak(ing) it so that with digital marketing ... you can then say, this piece of content ... you’re able to link it all the way from when you published it and somebody read it, all the way through to the influence that had on them actually making a $1.2 million.”
That’s the magic, Acheson said, and the unique aspect of what Stoke does that can’t really be found anywhere else.
But Fonoimoana’s brilliance isn’t what won the company an award in the Adobe Partner contest. With a team of analysts, Fonoimoana created a technology companies can sign up to use, and they simply plug in the things they know they want data from, the software will link together their analytics and their customer relationship management software. Right now, the technology is only compatible with Adobe Analytics, but the company is working on a version that will take Google Analytics as well.
“We’ve been doing consulting now, we’ve been solving this problem manually now, connecting marketing and sales data, and we might be able to help 20 customers in a year, to be able to do this,” Fonoimoana said. “But we want to build a product that can now help 200 or 300 or 400 companies to do that.”
So the technology was created, but Stoke still had to enter it into the Adobe Partner contest in time for the Adobe Summit, which took place in Las Vegas from March 26-28.
Fonoimoana was presented with another problem. His wife had just given birth, and he was in the hospital on the day the video had to be submitted, and of course Stoke no longer had any offices to use. Ever the problem solver, Fonoimoana went into the bathroom attached to his wife’s room and filmed the entry video there. He said present family members made fun of him, but he told them they would be laughing when his company won. And laugh they did.
“So they’re at family dinner (after the awards), I’m like, guys, I got second place with the bathroom video!” Fonoimoana said. “The show must go on, so whether we had office or not, that’s all right. We just get it done.”
Fonoimoana and Stoke took second place at the Adobe Summit Adobe Partner awards for their technology. The principal product manager for Adobe Experience Platform, Jeff Chasin, called the technology a “game changer.”
“It makes integrating important full-funnel data directly into analysis workspace so easy,” Chasin said. “Most clients we know get their CRM data integrated in about an hour, giving Adobe Analytics users a real advantage.”
Mark Boothe, the head of social experiences for Adobe, said he would recommend the Stoke technology to anyone.
“I come from a company that has really incredible analysts, I’ve never seen anyone do what Sam does. His vision for analytics, his vision for stitching together things to be able to tell a really good story is beyond anything I’ve ever seen,” Boothe said. “As anybody who’s looking for something to do with analytics or figuring out ways to use data to tell stories, I mean you need a really good analytics solution ... but you also need really good talent that can help you tell the stories using that data, and for me, Stoke is the group to do it. Sam personally is the guy to do it.”
Fonoimoana isn’t satisfied with just changing the game for marketing analytics and data, however. He wants to use his position to show other Polynesians that they have more options than they might think. He said, at least in his generation, it was sort of a given that sports was a way to success for Polynesians, and when he was back in Hawaii, people would be shocked that he owned his own business.
“One thing I like to do, even for the youth today, just talking with my kids, my kids go to Timpview and all their friends, they think there’s only so many options for them as Polynesians,” Fonoimoana said. “I do this of course to have a successful business but I like to show that to Polynesians, we can do other things, other than sports or whatever it is.”
Stoke is still looking to expand all members of its team, and for a new office space in Provo. Working remotely has gone pretty well for them so far — Acheson said it’s thanks to good planning — but having an office space will be nice, instead of occasionally meeting up in a temporary space in the Zions Bank building.
“We’re still figuring it out but I’ll tell you what, I love this area right here,” Fonoimoana said.