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Building a VC-Funded B2C CRM Company From Virginia: Zaius Founder and CTO Spencer Pingry (Part 2)

Posted on Tuesday, Oct 16th 2018

Sramana Mitra: Let’s go back to the beginning and tell me how you got the platform built and how you got to the 10 to 15 customers. That is one of the most important parts of the story.

Spencer Pingry: Having been at Netezza, me and one of the other guys had spent a lot of time working with digital media companies and different companies that had this problem. We built the platform by consulting with some of these large news sites.

We built it on our own. We bootstrapped the first part and then we got some seed funding from some individuals to build the platform. Then as we started to develop the interface on top of this platform, we were doing things like funnel-based analytics, basic reporting, and dashboarding. We started talk to these people and recruit them onto the platform.

Sramana Mitra: Where were you doing this?

Spencer Pingry: In Virginia.

Sramana Mitra: What kind of customers were you accessing or going after? Who were these early customers?

Spencer Pingry: We were really going after enterprise customers that had a major data problem but had a smaller use case that we could go in and develop against initially. Typically, we were finding people who knew they had larger problems and that had a smaller environment for us to test out.

Sramana Mitra: Then what happens after this? By the way, where was your seed financing from? Was it friends and family?

Spencer Pingry: People we knew.

Sramana Mitra: How much was it?

Spencer Pingry: About a million dollars.

Sramana Mitra: We are in 2013 now?

Spencer Pingry: Yes. We had built a platform. We had a handful of customers using it. We had a few who were paying for it. Most of it was test cases. That’s when we came to realize a couple of things. One was that events weren’t the problem that people wanted to solve. We were doing event analytics like page views and things that were very usage-based but not people-based.

Through working with these clients and talking to them, we found that everything was shifting to people-based analytics. That was one piece of the puzzle. The other piece was that to really solve the marketer’s problem, it had to directly interact with the action side whether it be email or advertising or whatever channel it is. We knew that the analytics and the action had to be tied together.

Sramana Mitra: What do you mean by people-based analytics? Are you talking about role-based or people as customers?

Spencer Pingry: Customers. Instead of focusing on devices or browsers, it was about the people that were using the website and the people that were using the apps.

Sramana Mitra: Then what did you do with that realization?

Spencer Pingry: The other part was that we figured that we weren’t going to survive in our current model without some real funding. We had this platform that we believed that we could extend and manipulate to be a people-based analytics platform. We needed to go back to a product development mode to do that. We could try to do it while the train was still going on the tracks, but it was going to be a hard thing to do and maintain that same customer base. We started the funding experience.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Building a VC-Funded B2C CRM Company From Virginia: Zaius Founder and CTO Spencer Pingry
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