Blue blazing our way to startup Katahdin

Add our story to the long list of right solution/wrong time startups…

tuzag began in 2013 as a bootstrapped interactive TV platform structured around dynamically generated, individually tailored ads based on viewer attributes most likely to generate brand engagement. During prototyping, we tossed the interactive TV part overboard (even we realized pretty quickly ITV was overly ambitious) to focus on tailored digital advertising.

However, what we created was a media-independent expert system for tailored content, along with content architecture and cognitive-behavioral data mapping methodologies that enabled true, one-to-one conversations throughout the customer journey. And it works. Astoundingly well. Except for the part where people adopt the platform.

We have a decent list of conversations that go something like this:

“You’ve absolutely nailed it. That’s what the next generation of data-driven, integrated marcom looks like. It fits seamlessly with our existing advertising, marketing, sales and CRM stacks. And there’s no way our team can make that work.” If one more meeting ends in “This is awesome. Sucks to be you…” there may be screams (professional screams, of course, reserved for an empty elevator or parking garage).

Rarely does anyone question the value. Rarely does anyone question the solution’s elegance. Concerns tend to cluster around two areas:

  • The business challenge of implementing a strategic solution in the midst of daily tactical deadlines; and,
  • The creative team’s skill sets must evolve to take full advantage of the platform.

Entrepreneurs are all about opportunity and, on our path to a high-growth software company, we’ve found a couple of good ones. They may make us weaker candidates for outside investment in the short run but will help us stay close to the path without going broke (after all, no margin = no mission).

Opportunity #1: We’re going to help companies get their content architectures ready for supporting individually tailored conversations at scale. Organization, calendaring, budgeting, and workflow focused on creating and maintaining a reusable knowledge base are significantly different (and more cost effective) than processes oriented toward developing content for fixed marketing tactics.

Opportunity #2: We’re going to be the tailoring partners for companies ready to leverage our capability but not ready to leverage within their current team and/or workflow. In other words, we can be our clients’ tailoring experts, building and managing tailored programs for them on a contract basis.

Sure, we’re a software company that built software only we’ll use for now. But doing so will make the software better, prepare companies for faster success when they do adopt our platform, and provide a useful set of demonstration applications that will help companies see how our approach significantly enhances the lifetime value of their customers.

On the Appalachian Trail, side trips are marked with blue rectangles (white rectangles denote the main trail). Some of the coolest hikes are “blue blazes;” we’re psyched for tuzag’s blue blaze en route to our vision of a one-to-one world.