While we’re spending a great deal of time analyzing billion dollar Unicorn companies, it is important not to lose sight of the capital-efficient, bootstrapped or minimally capitalized companies that have achieved success, provided significant return on investment to their stakeholders, and built value for their customers. Read Janine Popick’s wonderful story!
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start with some of your background. Where are you from? Where did you grow up?
Janine Popick: I grew up in a small town called Wingdale, New York. It’s about an hour and 40 minutes north of Manhattan. It’s pretty rural. My dad was an engineer for IBM for 35 years. My mom was a nurse. I went to public school and had a great education, but I really felt the need to get closer to Manhattan. I went to Hofstra University, which is about half hour away from Manhattan. I studied Communications and frankly, wanted to be in television behind the scene either writing, producing, or directing. My first job out of college was with WCBS TV and I was in sales and a little bit of marketing. I realized that that was not what I really wanted to do. I quickly left and took a job as a salesperson selling newspaper space in Brooklyn for a local community newspaper. I decided that after I was in sales, I was going into direct marketing. I did lots of direct mail for small direct marketing agencies in New York.
I really got the hankering for direct marketing. When you could actually publish something in a direct mail piece within a certain amount of time, you can really understand the metrics behind whatever marketing you’re doing. After a couple of years, I decided to move to the West Coast and do the same thing for Silicon Valley companies or rather apply the direct knowledge from those consumer type publications into more B2B companies. My first client was Symantec. I was marketing everything including enterprise software. It was still B2B but it was a little bit more on the consumer side marketing software like Act! We were doing a lot of acquisition pieces to try to get new customers in the door. It was just awesome. It was fast and furious. We got to see direct response within days of doing something to customer bases.
Sramana Mitra: What years are we talking?
Janine Popick: I moved out here in 1993. Around 1994-1995, I worked for Symantec. In those days, you could send out a direct mail piece and get an 80% upgrade rate because there were few upgrades going on at that time. You get software delivered to you in your mail. Then I made my way around a couple of other Silicon Valley companies. I made my way back to Filemaker around 1997. I went to a company called Xoom.com. We would provide clipart for you to put on your personal homepage. That was around the time when things were really bubbling. A group of us took Xoom.com public and were purchased by NBC.com to form NBC Internet.