Motiva: A Different Kind of Marketing Technology Company

David Gutelius
Motiva AI
Published in
3 min readSep 20, 2016


Digital marketers often treat customers more like walking transactions than people. They’re chasing the single click — which hopefully (maybe) leads to that single transaction.

Marketing technology (“Martech”), meanwhile, has blurred the line to where advertising and marketing have become hard to tell apart. It’s Madmen meets Ad Tech — where “targets” are constantly bombarded and their personal data surveilled and mined, all to deliver a small bump in response rates. It’s almost as if they think we are dumb enough to confuse an optimized digital offer with a relationship or with an understanding of our needs. We aren’t that dumb.

And we’re all tired of it.

Motiva starts from a different place. If Martech is typically all creepy push, Motiva is about listening, learning, and serving.

What does that mean? Let’s start with the why.

The marketing and sales process is really about building relationships. Transactions or sales reflect good relationships and trust. Our ultimate goal at Motiva is a deeper relationship between firms or organizations and the people they serve. Marketing used to be about this — not clicks.

Key to building a good relationship is active listening. Listening is different than spying. Active listening is like sitting down to coffee with a new friend and engaging in a give and take conversation. Martech today (following Ad Tech) is like sitting in a tree outside someone’s house with binoculars, rifling through their trash, and pelting them with pebbles when they come out. That’s not the world we want to enable — or live in.

Be a friend, not a creep.

Relationships pave the way for more than a single transaction. They can lead to multiple transactions, word-of-mouth, good karma, and all kinds of unexpected positive outcomes.

On the other hand, optimizing only for transactions leads to doing whatever you have to in order to get the click or sale done. We think that’s short-sighted and leads to questionable choices that are not in best interests of customers or firms.

Now for the what.

Over time, we’ll offer assistive, intelligent technologies for marketing and communications that are geared to building persuasive, high-trust relationships between organizations and the people they serve. We mean both B2B and B2C. We also mean governments engaging citizens, nonprofits engaging supporters, and schools engaging students and alumni alike. In short, anywhere we can help build a relationship that provokes action based on listening and learning, we’ll pursue.

It’s a hard, high-quality problem. The technology we need largely doesn’t exist today. It’s not slight improvement on something, it’s not a remix. It’s a different approach, solving for a different set of outcomes.

Our first product, Motion, is an intelligent plugin to marketing automation platforms that automatically adapts campaigns to audiences based on their feedback and behavior. Consider this a first shot over the bow of Martech as it’s typically done today. Instead of an undifferentiated static blast, Motion creates a campaign that listens, learns, and serves your customers and your company better.

We’re just getting started. We hope you’ll join us on the journey.



David Gutelius
Motiva AI

CEO @MotivaHQ, Founded @dataguild, Investor, Advisor