Daniel Vivarelli – Starloop – Making It Easy to Get Real Reviews for Your Local Business

Daniel Vivarelli is a regenerative entrepreneur helping businesses grow top-line revenues. He does this by intersecting commerce & ecology to generate outsized ROI for his clients. He believes humanity must transition to Regenerative Commerce, where every transaction triggers an act of regeneration.

He is currently serving as CEO at Starloop – a reputation management software that makes it easy to get real reviews for your local business. Starloop also helps the environment by planting one tree per each review.

Below is the transcript of his interview.

Let’s learn a little about you, share with our audience your backstory, where did your story begin?

Daniel Vivarelli: Since I was a kid, I’ve been fascinated with both entrepreneurship and nature. I always wondered, could the two could be combined in a meaningful way?

Then one day, we’re looking for a way to get more online reviews and thought “What if we could plant a tree for each review?” That day, the idea was born: One tree planted for every review. I knew at that moment, we had discovered something special. A truly original concept that had never been done before. I’d found a way to fuse business and ecology in a meaningful way that would help other businesses grow.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? What helped you to keep on keeping on?

Daniel Vivarelli: The idea of quitting has never crossed my mind but we’ve had our challenges along the way. As a reputation management company, our Members count on us to help them acquire five-star reviews and build strong reputations. When we first started, we did what everyone does, we just asked for reviews.

But it can be so awkward because asking someone, “can you write us a review?” is such a loaded question. They know you’re fishing for a good review, or you wouldn’t ask. So we worked hard to come up with natural language, tight scripts, better automation, and of course, planting a tree for each review. We kept working and testing, and our Members now consistently get more five-star reviews than any other solution we know of.

What are the most common mistakes you see entrepreneurs make and what battle tested suggestion would you like to share?

Daniel Vivarelli: Overlooking fundamental consumer behavior is the biggest mistake I see entrepreneurs make. Depending on which study you look at, 80 to 90 percent of consumers read online reviews to help them make buying decisions. So few business leaders realize how profound a shift that is … if they did, every business would be relentlessly focused on their reputation management.

The business leaders that have realized this profound shift in behavior AND strategically focus on acquiring reviews are quietly enjoying a huge advantage right now. You can be sure they won’t be letting the competition know just how much growth is being driven by their 1000 Google reviews. This is because having the most reviews in your market makes your competition irrelevant by making you the obvious choice.

The businesses that don’t fully realize this consumer behavior shift has happened will fall further and further behind. The common mistake of overlooking that the need for reputation management is now as obvious as every business needing a website and an email address. Your business is in a five-star arms race with every one of your competitors, and the business with the highest rating coupled with the most and freshest reviews wins. My suggestion: Start pursuing five-star reviews with strategic intent every single day forever. Because the cost of not doing so has competitors who get so many reviews that they become the undisputed market leader, and you’ll never be able to catch up.

In your opinion, what makes your company stand out from the competition?

Daniel Vivarelli: The number of reviews our Members are getting. We’ve worked hard to create an easy system that delivers an amazing conversion rate. We see so many overly complicated, expensive, and low-converting solutions out there.

People come to us because they want as many five-star Google Reviews or Facebook Recommendations as possible. With Starloop we’re delivering a solution that wins them more real reviews than ever before. It’s a combination of the right language, the right timing, and the tree planting.

It all comes together for a market-leading conversion rate resulting in our Members finally getting the reviews they deserve which allows them to attract more clients and increase sales.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think are instrumental to your success?

Daniel Vivarelli: Hah. It’s kind of weird to toot my own horn but If I had to pick, I’d say empathy, determination, and optimism. I’m higher than average for empathy which makes me sensitive to the needs of our Members, business people who are trying to solve their own problems.

In this case, they want an easy and affordable way to get as many genuine reviews as possible. Being sensitive to the pain traditionally involved in the review acquisition process has allowed me and our team to create a truly unique solution to this problem.

I’m also determined to help change the way the “Game of Business” is being played by showing that Regenerative Commerce, a model where every transaction triggers an act of regeneration, is the future. Along with many others, we’re proving this model successful in our own small way at Starloop.

What would you say is the biggest driver of growth for small and medium business right now?

Daniel Vivarelli: The revenue boosting potential and ROI from online reviews is staggering right now. Why? Because 80+ percent of consumers use reviews to help them transact, a visible five-star reputation delivers outsized ROI compared to every other form of advertising and marketing. To me, ignoring what 80 percent of consumers are doing seems like a bad move.

Think of it this way, I’d bet the farm that it’s faster, cheaper, and easier to get 1000 Google reviews (reviews that consumers are actually actively looking for) than it is to try and successfully execute any other kind of marketing campaign.

Think how expensive and time-consuming it is to try and be successful with PPC ads or social media. These things can take a remarkable amount of time, money, and frustration to develop. Also, their ability to actually boost revenues is questionable. Compare that to online reviews. You know consumers are looking for them. And you know they are much easier, faster and cheaper to get.

It’s cheesy, but a five-star gold rush is happening right now. In fact, reviews can make you so much money that some businesses buy fake reviews to boost their numbers and make it look like they are the true market leader. Getting reviews is easy once you know how so taking this kind of risk is pretty dumb since governments have started handing out large fines for businesses getting caught with fake reviews. So yes, a huge driver of growth can be had from your online reviews, and the ROI from your reviews is higher than any other form of advertising or marketing by a long shot.

Does Starloop really plant a tree for every online review and if so, where are they planted?

Daniel Vivarelli: Yes, we really plant a tree for every review, it’s just one of the reasons our Members get so many reviews. I’ll just get this out of the way though; if you write a review through Starloop, we’re not coming over to your house to plant a tree in your front yard.

The way it works is very simple. We help our Members get reviews on sites like Google and Facebook. At the end of the month, we add up all those reviews and send financial support to our planting partners who then plant the trees. These planting partners are NGOs whose sole mission is to help reforest Earth.

They run large teams and plant millions of trees every year around the world for various organizations and brands big and small like Starloop. We’re on a mission to plant 1 million trees. To date, we’ve helped our Members get 70,000 reviews, and we’ve planted 70,000 trees. We’re proud to be a small part of the solution to climate change and to be an example of how Regenerative Commerce isn’t just good for the planet but also awesome for the bottom line.

Is it true that more than 80% of consumers read online reviews?

Daniel Vivarelli: The exact percentage of consumers that now read online reviews will vary from study to study. Some say low seventies, some cite results closer to ninety percent of people reading reviews. Whatever the actual number is … one thing is sure: Consumer behavior has shifted profoundly in a post-COVID world.

Your online reputation is more important than ever as most consumers are now reading online reviews to help them determine where to spend their money. And this isn’t some fad that is going away next year. Not only are your online reviews important right now .. they’re only going to get more important moving forward with the advent of augmented reality coming down the pipe.

Imagine five years from now, people walking around with AR glasses, looking at a store, and seeing the star rating and reviews on an AR overlay. That’s where all this is going. The businesses that understand this are focused on getting maximum reviews now. Because it takes time to get hundreds of reviews (it’s not an overnight thing) and because we are never going back to a world with no online reviews.

That’s what’s coming. Right now, your reviews are following you around online from search, to maps, to directories, to social. Depending on what consumers see and read about you determines whether you or a better-reviewed competitor is getting the call.

So online reviews can be a great driver of sales growth, but are they easy or hard to get?

Daniel Vivarelli: The short answer is that reviews are hard to get. When we asked ourselves why, what we discovered was a simple answer: Humans are busy-lazy people. Think how busy you are from the moment you wake up. All day long, you are dealing with your own priorities so when your plumber or hairdresser asks you for a review, how important is that to you really? Not very. You’ve got a million other things to do.

So, although reviews can help attract a lot of new customers and drive sales growth, they are hard to get unless you know now.

Thinking of Musk, Blakely, Branson, or Bezos, how important is it for a leader to be mindful of his own personal brand compared to the company? What lessons did these moguls teach you?

Daniel Vivarelli: When we have true alignment, everything just falls into place. It isn’t always obvious and can be a challenge to figure out for sure, but … when you align “who you are” with “what you do”, the big stuff just comes together without much effort. I’m fortunate to have founded a company that fuses together my interests in business and ecology.

I’m working with our CTO, Ricardo Soares, and a great team to build a world-class product that helps businesses grow while helping the environment at the same time. For me, I’m in alignment with all my values. The personal brand is just an extension of me being me. These billionaire CEOs have taught me that not every thought I have needs to be a Tweet (cough. cough Elon) and that my job as CEO is to look as far down the road as I can and focus on making a small handful of great decisions every year.

What would you say is the main difference between starting a business at the time you started yours and starting the business today?

Daniel Vivarelli: It’s such an exciting time to be an entrepreneur. I got started 30 years ago and the barriers to starting a business are lower now. So much is either free, cheap, or just easier. It’s hard to fathom that Google has given “word of mouth referrals” actual infrastructure in the form of Google Reviews. And that anyone can tap into that for free with a Google My Business profile.

The combination of social proof (with the reviews) and visibility (with Google Maps) can be a life-changing combination. One of our oldest Starloop Members, a business owner from our original beta test, went from 0 Google reviews to over 1600 reviews in 5 years and he’s grown his sales revenues and team more than 10x in that time. Success isn’t rocket science. I think we humans overlook stuff if it seems too simple.

The formula is clear as day: Reviews + Visibility = > Revenues. It’s kind of crazy that Google provides the ability to execute all this for free. I wouldn’t say it’s easy, but it’s never been easier to start and succeed in business.

What’s your favorite “business” quote and how has it affected your business decisions?

Daniel Vivarelli: I remember seeing an interview with Steve Jobs. He was asked a common question: “What’s the secret to your success?” Job’s paused and answered, “Saying no. That’s the secret.” When asked to explain, he said there are too many good things Apple can be doing. But good things are boring … good things are a trap.

Jobs didn’t want to pursue good things. He let his competition chase good things. Instead, he focuses Apple on a small number of great things. You can only chase great things by saying no to all the common good things. You can’t do it all. His words left a mark on me, and he’s one of the reasons that for getting online reviews, our Starloop software has evolved the way it has.

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