It’s time for the big reveal. [deep breath] I’m launching my new venture! Here’s a slice of the backstory…
Starting a new business is messy, frightening, expensive, lonely, not to mention risky. And yet, my entrepreneurial endeavours to date, despite many long days and nights, some deep, deep, deep, age-accelerating doldrums-y valleys, a handful of successes and the constant growl of uncertainty, I’m not quite yet ready to stop trying. And, you know what, ultimately, I think that’s the crux of it, the central thrill in being an entrepreneur — it’s the trying.
Trying something new always introduces a shock, or three, or three thousand, to the system. No matter how accustomed you might be with the terrain, the shocks come.
For example (going back to the beginning of my “career”), when I tried to land a senior agency role in a small team leaving Seattle for London back in May of 2001, my heart was racing and my head was exploding with excitement — how amazing would that be, I thought, if I could be so lucky and do something so adventurous. I’d only been with the agency for a little over a year, but I thought I had learned the ropes well. I certainly felt confident enough to try.
Well, I didn’t get the gig.
Not only did I not get the gig, but I was told that it was a little ambitious, if not presumptuous, of me to try. Ambitious? Yeah, ok, I can buy that. But presumptuous? Not quite. I was certainly gutted by the outcome, but I had gone into the application process and interviews knowing full well that my chances were slim to none. Those who know me might not think so, but I do also try to keep a balanced head. So, that didn’t work, but I went back to what I enjoyed. It wasn’t heart surgery or astrophysics (a nod to one of my heroes, Neil deGrasse Tyson), but I really enjoyed the agency work I was doing. Or, perhaps more precisely, I enjoyed the work I was learning, which was a lot; much of it under the wing of one Amber Nichols (anyone know where she went? I was so lucky to have learned from her).
But you know what, and maybe I didn’t communicate this well back then, I was enormously excited for my colleagues who did get selected to launch the agency in London. How phenomenal, I thought, to be so close to this product of the agency’s success? We were on a terrific run.
I tried and failed, but, of course, that’s far from the end of the story.
A short while later (two or three weeks I think) I was invited to join the London-bound team in another senior role. That agency was Avenue A. And it was May of 2001.
Here’s an ancient article describing the agency’s fabulous new digs in Seattle, the Smith Tower:
(Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce, 1 October 1999)
Call me a romantic.
Avenue A has since morphed several times to most recently become SapientRazorfish.
And I, too, have since morphed…into an entrepreneur.
It’s December 2016 and I’m trying again.
My new venture is MeasureMatch, a marketplace for companies to find and hire amazing, independent technology, analytics and insight experts directly and on-demand.
Here’s the story…
It was during a three year stretch (March 2012 thru Feb 2015), when I was attempting to establish and grow the EMEA presence of Chicago-based Signal, when a few important things happened.
I’d like to add here, not so much to sell, not so much to sell, but to set context, that Signal is a marketing technology company that was, and continues to, re-invent the centralization of enterprise data collection, including some pretty cool “identity management” facilities to enable something called addressable marketing i.e. the personalization of advertising delivery, media consumption and commerce experiences (yes, Minority Report-like). That go-to-market leadership experience, for which I am forever grateful to Marc Kiven, opened my eyes to an exceptional world of technology innovation and business opportunity.
So, these things happened:
- Call me a geek, but I totally fell in love with the world of analytics consultancies. Several had become valuable and valued Signal clients. They used Signal, but also Tealium, Ensighten and Adobe’s Dynamic Tag Management system, to structure and scale the execution of data collection for #martech and #adtech vendors’ products like Adobe Analytics, Webtrends, AT Internet, MediaMath, Rocket Fuel, Audience Science, and heaps of others. The skills, the problem-solving, the innovation, the smart risk-taking, the entrepreneurial energy, the impressive client relationships, the amazing applications of technology, the growing demand for their analytics and systems integration services, the personalities. What wasn’t there to like about these shops and what they were doing? I thought they were awesome. I still think that today.
- No surprise then that I started to long for my old digital media agency days. It was between 1999 and 2008, when I worked with Avenue A in Seattle and London (as you know from above), followed by Carat Interactive, Diffiniti (a Carat offshoot), Isobar and, lastly, with Neo@Ogilvy, where I was regularly tasked to craft solutions to address a wide-ranging number of marketing and business problems for brands like American Express, Microsoft, AOL, IBM and many others. The hours exhausting, the #adtech, well, it was advancing, and my skills emerging at best, but I really loved the work and especially the incredibly bright people* I was lucky to work with.
- And, so, my appetite and desire to start another business grew. I wanted to create something from scratch again.
The framework for MeasureMatch, as you see it today, started to form, though I didn’t even know it then, during the 14 months following my departure from Signal (between February 2015 and April 2016). That was when I had planned and attempted to execute a merger of several analytics consultancies across Europe.
Long story short, that merger didn’t work out, but the experience was nothing less than phenomenal. What I gained, in addition to a number of brilliant, life-long relationships, was a conviction that I had to get back into a services business, but at a substantive scale. And it had to create value from the advanced application of technology and data.
MeasureMatch is now that business.
I founded the company to address a number of acute problems all too commonly experienced by companies trying to advance their digital marketing, measurement, customer experience and insight capabilities. These problems include:
- Technology vendors: SaaS or otherwise, they provide powerfully valuable products, but many do not have, nor do they want to have, the people to properly service the companies that subscribe to their software. MeasureMatch Experts helps to fill this gap.
- Supply & Demand: Independent technology, analytics and insight services providers, while in considerable demand, are, silly as it may seem, very hard to find. MeasureMatch will also help to address this problem.
- Verification: There is little to no independent data for companies to verify the quality of contingent workers or consultancies in advance of buying their services. MeasureMatch helps here, too.
- Feast or Famine: Independent consultants, freelancers and consultancies are hungry for work and growth, but they all-too-commonly don’t dedicate time or resources to sales and marketing, so they regularly experience feast-or-famine revenue cycles. MeasureMatch is committed to attracting and retaining the best and most valuable companies, and their projects, for our Experts.
Importantly, if indeed the “CMO of tomorrow is the data nerd of today”, as was beautifully said by Foundation Capital’s Ashu Garg in “Decade of the CMO”, and you believe, like we do, that we’re just a year into a decade of phenomenal technology and analytics capabilities investment growth by organizations around the globe, then a workforce will need to be mobilized to truly realize that investment value. This is the opportunity we’re focused on serving.
So, that’s the abridged backstory and a quick introduction to my latest entrepreneurial endeavour, MeasureMatch.
Now, a few thank yous are in order.
Some of the incredibly inspiring data, analytics and/or technology savvy professionals I have had the amazing fortune of meeting, working with or getting to know include: Young-Bean Song, Iain Starr, Chen Zhao, Sandy Schlee, Anthony Kippen, Indranil Datta, Alessia Kosagowsky, Matthew Tod, Andy Fisher, Carmen Mardiros, Michael Notté, Nick Orsman, Ray You, Yali Sassoon, Keely Jacob, Tom Bate, Gary Angel, Thaer Namruti, Aurélie Pols, Alex Brown, Irène Labus, Matthias Bettag, Laura Parfitt, Geddy van Elburg, Robert Webster, Sébastien Manaches, Rob Jackson (look at you, Global Head of DBi at Havas Media!), Michael Feiner, Cristina Sagarduy, Oliver Schiffers, Ben Sidebottom, Louise Ainsworth, Sergio Maldonado, Caroline S. Henne, Karsten Courtin, Paul Newbury, Boris Musykantskii, Gemma Muñoz, Lutz Wiechert, Stéphane Hamel, Tanja Fröhlich, Pau Agulló, Adrian Kingwell, Jim Dravillas, Ira Helf, Julian Juenemann, Andy Cocker, Matthias Postel, Max Bernstein and many others. Thank you for being awesome and being a fantastic inspiration.
And, well, it would be terribly remiss of me not to extend a heartfelt thank you to my advisors: Maggie Boyer Finch, Shubu Mitra (also investor), Emma Marlow, Matt O’Neill (also investor), Peter O’Neill and James Dutton.
Last, but certainly not least, thank you to my friends, family, in-laws and extended family. You know who you are ;-)
Thank you for coming along with me on this adventure. I’d love to hear what you think. I am learning and trying every day.
Photo by Christopher S. Maloney (NorthLights) — Own work, CC BY 2.5,