In the late 90s, Rex Briggs was featured on the cover of WIRED magazine cover showcasing his belief on how data and technology will transform how businesses operate and make decisions. Fast-forward to 2019 and Brigg’s WIRED interview has become a reality. Brigg’s company Marketing Evolution uses patented technology, sifting through hundreds of data sources to insightfully measure the success of marketing campaigns. The company’s pioneering platform enables marketers to maximize their media spent and brand impact with data-driven insights in a world that’s now driven by the pursuit of ROI optimization.
AlleyWatch sat down with founder and CEO Briggs to understand how data measurement in marketing has evolved over the last 20+ years, Marketing Evolution’s future plans, and most recent round of funding, which brings its total funding to $50.7M across four rounds.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
Marketing Evolution raised $26.1M in growth financing. The round was led by Energy Impact Partners (EIP), a leading utility-backed energy investment and innovation firm, with continued participation from existing investors Insight Venture Partners and Zetta Venture Partners. This funding brings the total invested to date to $50.7M.
Tell us about the product or service that Marketing Evolution offers.
Marketing Evolution provides powerful marketing measurement and optimization solutions that increase campaign performance, sales, and engagement. Leveraging patented technology and data from hundreds of sources, our breakthrough person-centric approach provides marketers with actionable insights to prospectively recommend media, message, and budget allocation. Marketers that want more sales and profits rely on Marketing Evolution to deliver accurate unified marketing measurement across both online and offline channels, while maximizing their media spend, marketing ROI, and brand impact.
What inspired you to start Marketing Evolution?
Using data and technology to create more personal and profitable marketing has been a long-time passion of mine. I was fortunate to be featured in a WIRED magazine cover story called “The Promise of One to One (A Love Story).” The article described what I was doing with neural nets and marketing tech to create more relevant and profitable marketing. That cover story was in 1998! I founded Marketing Evolution because it was obvious to me that the data and technology needed to transform how a business makes decisions was within our grasp. Building our ROI Brain has been a lot of work and we’ve made so much progress. Now it’s about scaling the adoption of the ROI Brain.
How is Marketing Evolution different?
The growing issue of bad data quality in marketing is a leading contributor to wasted media spend. Marketing Evolution developed the first marketing measurement solution to incorporate an extensive process for assessing and validating data quality into its standard product, from data arrival to ingestion and consumption, covering representativeness analysis and anomaly detection. Data quality assurance is one of the core pillars in Marketing Evolution’s product design and development.
What market does Marketing Evolution target and how big is it?
We are currently focused on marketing optimization, in particular, advertising optimization. A marketer that spends $10M or more per year is a good fit. A marketer that spends $50M or more a year is a phenomenal fit. We estimate that the TAM is about $8B.
What’s your business model?
Who do you admire in the startup world and why?
I admire what Elon Musk achieved with leading his company through the production hell required to scale Model 3. People will tell you it isn’t possible, and as a CEO, you have to know your business well enough to push for more. At the same time, he understood when to pivot to include people in the manufacturing process. It is important to know when to adjust to achieve the overall vision.
What was the funding process like?
It was quick.
Last year was a competitive process. We went with Insight Venture Partners and I really wanted to get Energy Insight Partners (EIP) into the round too. This year, I let EIP know we were raising, and they were engaged. There were other suitors, and I felt that EIP was a really good fit for us at this stage. They have a very cool model to help us open a new industry with software we know they want and need.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Time. The board wanted me to make the rounds and I did. I would have loved to put fundraising time into the product, spending time with customers, and being involved in more of our hiring decisions.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
We’ve proven product and market fit, and our new Gen4 technology is way ahead of the market. The due diligence with chief marketing officers and our customers confirmed that we deliver what they need.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
I’d like to hire a great CFO. It will be our first hire, and I think we are ready for the financial and operations expertise of a proven Enterprise SaaS CFO. At the same time, we will have 100 percent of our customers on Gen4 – we are finishing the migration now, and I’ve got some core enhancement to the product that I am excited to bring to market. All of this will support our revenue and margin growth.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
I would encourage raising. The next economic cycle is coming at some point and it is important to have the cash in the bank to allow your company to thrive rather than just survive during a downturn.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
Hiring great talent that love being in a growth company. In particular, hiring an expert in media buying technologies and workflow is key. NYC is a great city to find that talent, and I’ll start the interview process soon.
Expanding customer success is key. We moved to a vertical Customer Success structure, so we are looking for people that have worked in finance or retail that also have advertising agencies and SaaS marketing tech in their resume. We want someone with a passion for helping customers in that vertical succeed.
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
Masala King on 34th & Park. Not fancy at all, but I like the lamb curry and given my food allergies, I can always trust that they are keeping me healthy.