Q&A: Reflections and Projections From the CEO of Choozle
A year of growth gives the Denver-based digital advertising firm lots to look forward to
Reviewing 2017 and looking forward, Choozle, a Denver-based digital advertising software firm, celebrated key milestones, including 120 percent revenue growth from January to December 2017, paving the way for a recent $6 million Series B capital raise. The funding will support continual product innovation and general growth.
With a focus on hiring for diversity and inclusivity, Choozle added four women to the development team in 2017. New hires this year will fill roles in the development, marketing and sales departments. Also looking ahead, Choozle will relocate its headquarters into a new 15,800-square-foot space at Catalyst in the River North (RiNo) neighborhood. The company will further expand its presence with satellite offices in London, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, St. Louis and Atlanta.
We recently spoke with CEO and co-founder of Choozle, Andrew Fischer to learn more about the business and what it takes to steer the ship.
CB: DESCRIBE CHOOZLE – INSPIRATION, LAUNCH, EVOLUTION OF THE BUSINESS?
AF: Choozle was founded in 2012 and the first iteration was actually a media creation engine where consumers could create a 'Choozle' of things like multiple pairs of shoes, for example, and then share with friends so they could vote on the choices. Through a series of key introductions and partnerships, we decided to pivot into advertising technology space and we relaunched in the Spring of 2014 with a vision to make data-driven advertising (aka Programmatic) easier to understand and navigate. Back in 2014, the ecosystem was complex and expensive - one needed material resources and technical knowledge to get in the game. Choozle's model democratized the space by offering simple, self-service programmatic advertising to the wider market.
WHAT HAVE BEEN THE HIGHLIGHTS AND GREATEST CHALLENGES FOR CHOOZLE?
Being the 'approachable' programmatic platform has been an equally exciting and challenging position for us. We liberate marketers and advertisers from the hassle of traditional media buying, and that sets us apart. Being in the advertising technology space, however, does have its trials as the digital marketing and ad ecosystem is becoming increasingly complex. Choozle has a few things in our pipeline this year that we think will further set us apart from other programmatic software, and we're fully welcoming the trial-and-error it'll take to get there.
WHAT ABOUT THE MARKET WAS/IS RIPE FOR CHOOZLE'S OFFERINGS?
Our typical customers are small- to mid-sized independent advertising and marketing agencies. They're often coming from a managed provider where they send an insertion order for their digital ads but not actually running the campaigns themselves. While we do offer limited managed services, we're primarily geared to help marketers bring their programmatic advertising in-house, so they can have total control over everything from budget to targeting and everything in between. These marketers have the strategic vision, they just need to be educated on how to execute, and we're structured to help with that.
WALK ME THROUGH THE MILESTONES BETWEEN 2016 AND 2017 THAT PRIMED CHOOZLE FOR GROWTH?
Despite the industry reaching saturation, in 2016, Choozle tripled our revenue and achieved profitability thanks to continued innovation in our product offering and widespread, global adoption of our platform. Achieving hyper-growth while staying lean gave our investors the confidence they needed to double-down on our scale and success. In 2017, with the help and input of our customers, our team was able to hone in on product enhancements and additions that continue to make us a unique player in the programmatic sector. In November, we raised $6 million in Series B Funding from previous investors, allowing us the freedom to add 30 new team members across the country. Lastly, we landed on a few notable lists in 2017 such as Inc.'s Fastest Growing Companies and Best Workplaces, and No. 1 on Ad Age's Best Places to Work, which is a testament of our top commitment to people and culture.
HOW DOES BASING YOUR BUSINESS IN COLORADO PRESENT CHALLENGES AND/OR OPPORTUNITIES?
We're incredibly proud to be headquartered here in Denver. Colorado is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the technology industry. We have great leadership (shout out to our friend Tami Door, President and CEO at Downtown Denver Partnerships) that is constantly pushing us forward in terms of being an entrepreneurial, smart city. It's also just a fantastic place to live and work and smart, like-minded people are flocking here for the growing opportunities in the industry. That optimizes the hiring pool for us, which we're grateful for. It also doesn't hurt to be so close to the mountains for our bi-annual summits.
WHAT DO WE HAVE TO LOOK FORWARD TO IN 2018 FROM CHOOZLE?
Considering the strong industry fundamentals like a $94 billion global advertising projection for 2018, Choozle is going to be changing our positioning a bit over the next nine months. Stay tuned - but what I can tell you is that we are in pursuit of new business milestones by continuing to expand our capabilities by partnering with industry leaders to create robust solutions for independent advertising agencies.
ARE YOU HIRING?
We're going into 2018 with some key hires already under our belts, and we're excited to continue with that momentum. The teams that will see more new faces this year will be sales, front- and back-end development, and customer support. Together our team will continue to power the innovation in our platform which enables industry differentiation. We look forward to continuing our mission to transform the advertising technology industry with our focus on platform design and industry-leading support.