Friday, March 10, 2017
Interview with Robert Blatt, MomentFeed
For today's interview, we thought we'd catch up with Robert Blatt, the CEO of Los Angeles-based MomentFeed (www.momentfeed.com), which recently announced a $16.3M funding led by Level Equity. It's been quite a few years since we spoke with the company.
What is MomentFeed up to nowadays?
Robert Blatt: We say to people that we do customer experience for multi-location brands. What that means, is for companies that have a physical presence in the real world, stores and the like, interaction with consumers today on mobile is now primarily through things that represent their stores, rather than directly with their brands. Our platform enables them to manage the digital representation of their locations, and engage with consumers in paid, social, and search, to improve that customer experience.
How did you get involved with MomentFeed?
Robert Blatt: I know you interviewed Rob Reed awhile ago. By the end of 2012, Rob had done a really great job of identifying the opportunity, and being a visionary on how social, local, and mobile would change how consumers engaged with brands. But, what Rob hadn't ever done is scale and build a business. I had been doing that for 20 to 25 years at that point, mostly in Silicon Valley, and a little down here. I met Rob and the board, because they were really looking for someone who could scale and grow a business. What I was looking for, was a place where I could create a company which truly could be the best place that employees had ever worked, to become the best partner that any of our clients had. There are only certain opportunities that have the heft and scale to serve that vision and that mission. I spent some time with the MomentFeed team, and recognized what they were doing and where they were going, and felt that this could become an enduring, long term company, that can be the best place that employees have ever worked and the best partner our customers ever had, so I jumped on in early 2013.
What's the biggest thing that the company has done since you came on?
Robert Blatt: The first stage, in 2013, was really nailing product-market-fit. We accomplished that, that did it well. However, instead of just very rapidly scaling around that idea, we decided to really define what the business needed to look like. Not just what the product needed to look like, but how to sell it, and to make sure that the people we sold it to were really successful using it, and stayed with us. What we did in 2014-2015 and most of 2016, was to really, really refine the business model, so that we could be a successful company, and not just have a successful product. That allowed us to grow very rapidly, growing from 75 to 100 percent a year, and maintain that growth rate. That allowed us to bring in a new investor, Level Equity, and we raised a little over $16M in capital to scale the business.
So what does your customer look like nowadays?,p> Robert Blatt: They are across the gamut. In car rental, we have people like Hertz and Avis. In the quick serve restaurant area, we have customers like Applebees and Chick-fil-a. There's hardly any coffee company, including Starbucks, which is not a MomentFeed client. We have virtually every juice and smoothie company as a client.
So, as you are heavily into the mobile area, what have you learned over the last few years?
Robert Blatt: We, as consumers, are doing everything on mobile today. But what's also happened, is we've narrowed down the set of networks that we use as consumers to engage with companies. Once you get past Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, and maybe Yelp and Bing, you've counted for 90 percent of all interaction. The reason those companies are growing so rapidly, is they are the intermediaries of everything we buy. At the same time, those networks have all figured out how to be as helpful and relevant as possible. If you ask Siri for where to get skinny legs jeans, or ask Google Maps for where to get a vegan burrito, they try to give you the best recommendation. But, in order to do that, they need a tremendous amount of information about location near where you are. It's that decision to use that information about places near you that has completely changed how those multi-location brands interact with consumers.
When I first joined in 2013, and we talked to a prospect, they'd say, “Thank god, you're here to shut down my Facebook location pages!” Instead, we'd tell them, we'll help you leverage them. They told us--we'll go talk to someone else to shut them down, then. In 2013, Facebook local pages, Google Pages, and Yelp were not all that active. But, over our 170 clients now, they are finding 80 to 90 percent of all consumer engagement is happening through those assets, representing their locations, rather than the assets that represent their brand. There are hundreds and thousands of representation of companies on Facebook, Google, Apple, and Yelp, in paid search and through social experiences. That change, from most of the activity on brand assets to having all that activity on location assets, is the biggest change since then.
Now that you have some new funding, what's the big goal for the company?
Robert Blatt: If you go back to what I said earlier, we want to be the best partner that our clients have ever had. Our clients are telling us that, because our platform is based on their location, there are so many other things they want to do to engage with consumers. They want to advertise on Facebook and Instagram, and they want to see what they can do with Waze, Snapchat, and Yelp. We can expand that for our clients, and in doing so enable them to be more successful. The second area, is that while we've grown pretty rapidly, we've grown the headcount in sales and marketing very slowly. We had wanted to understand what we were doing before doing it everywhere, so we want to grow our sales and marketing efforts, and of course our client success organization. The third are we are working on, is while we have by far the best relationships with the networks I mention, we haven't focused on agencies. We certainly have some very valuable agency partners, like Horizon Media and Razorfish, but we just haven't fully focused our energies on agencies, which are a key element in enabling our clients. So we're more rapidly growing our team, and expanding our work with agencies and channels.