Q&A: Martyn Jobber, Hydra

Explain your business model so your grandma could understand it

I've been working in this industry for the best part of my life; she still hasn't got a clue what I do!

Hydra is the business behind the One Platform. One brings together the conversations that customers are having online across search and social media. The tool then lets our customers market to their customers using the words that work best on each platform.

I'm confused. Please elaborate

Say you want to buy a tv. You start searching on Google with the terms 'buy' 'LED' 'TV'. After a little more research, you drill down to a more precise purchase: 'Samsung' '42 inch' 'LED' 'TV' with some additonal terms: 'cheap' or 'free delivery'. You may branch out from a Google search to social media sites and blogs. You may use a different kind of language on these alternate searches.

The One Platform takes the entire conversation across all of these channels - billions of potential phrases - and crunches the data. We can then feed back to the customer with the target phrases and terms that they should be utilising to match up their products or services with the customer searching for them. Make sense?

If only there was some kind of video that could illustrate the process...

Try this.


I wrote the script for the video over one lunch time. I hate geekyness with a passion. We should be able to communicate what we do on a simple level.

Where does your knowhow come from?

Hydra is an offshoot of Greenlight Marketing, which is about ten years old. Hydra launched on 1st July, 2011.

What do think is especially innovative about Hydra?

We're different from many companies in the tech space in that we offer a totally bespoke service for each customer, a service that can be honed or overhauled instantly if KPIs change, and scaled up or down. A lot of SaaS companies can be quite introspective, focussing on what they believe customer needs, not their actual requirements.

Plus, we really are quite unique. We are pioneering 'phrase marketing'.

How do you make money?

We provide the software as a service (SaaS) using the Microsoft Azure platform. We have a monthly billable model. Usually our customers buy monthly pre-pay contracts. It's a real sweet spot: if you were trying to do this yourself, where would you start? The One Platform focuses on the KPIs that the customer has in place for success, be that brochure requests, sales, meeting requests or whatever. It then churns out the terms that meet those objectives.

And who are these customers? Small businesses? Or just the big boys?

At the moment, Hydra is definitely going after the enterprise size customer. Debenhams and BSkyB are already on our books. It's where we can create value very quickly. We haven't aimed for the smaller side of the scale yet.

How do you find skilled staff to power this high-tech start-up?

I definitely resonate with the skills shortage. We've got a great team but we've been looking to grow and it's hard to find good quality people with the relevant skills.

If you manage to track down the talent, what growth plans are in the pipeline?

Our goals are laid out. We want to be addressing new niches - our key milestones are growing our customer base and having a wide set of happy customers.

Do you have an exit plan?

At the moment I'm just maniacally focussed on Hydra.

Any advice for other tech start-ups?

Look at the cloud if you are launching a tech start-up. This allows you to cut costs. We took on six customers in space of 2.5 months. If I was required to buy that kind of data up front, it would have placed an enormous burden on cashflow. Now, if I need an extra 10 CPUs, I just flick them on. We switched on the service instantly: it took 25 minutes. It would have taken us three weeks to do it in house.

Find out more about Hydra

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