Tuesday, February 17, 2004
Interview: Jared Reitzin, CEO of mobileStorm
My interview today is with Jared Reitzin, CEO of mobileStorm (www.mobilestorm.com), an Encino-based startup in the permission-based email delivery market. The company is starting to look at raising a series A round of venture funding, after having entirely been funded by friends and family and revenue customers.
BK: What does mobileStorm offer to its customers, and what is your value proposition?
JR: mobileStorm provides businesses that have opt-in database with a fast, reliable, and efficient messaging platform. The service Stun!, allows businesses to create campaigns, deliver messages (email, sms, voice & fax), manage subscribers, review detailed reports, receive customer service, and obtain one low monthly bill. Our target customers are looking to:
1. Save money
2. Cut costs
3. Improve communication
4. Experience better response
5. Improve e-mail delivery rate to the Inbox
6. Build/grow their database and ensure its security
BK: What's your background, and why did you decide to start mobileStorm?
JR: I have 8 years experience in the technology sector. Prior to forming mobileStorm in 1999, I started a company called Katalyst Technologies. KMG was a new media company. We provided web-based communication and marketing projects for the entertainment community. We worked on many great projects and had a strong client which included Casio, Infinite Mobility, The Los Angeles Lakers, The San Antonio Spurs, MCA Records, Den.net, Interscope/Geffen/A&M and Transamerica. Previous to my work with Katalyst I was employed as a product manager for Interactive Light - a leading developer and provider of networked sports simulators for such companies as IBM, Sega, Microsoft, Sony, and Intel.
I started mobileStorm in 1999 with a focus on wireless content delivery and applications. We launched a few key projects with Vivendi&/Universal's top record label Interscope&/Geffen&/A&M's. As email marketing became more popular, we added on new services to enable our clients to deliver emails and manage their databases.
I regularly speak on panels and at conferences. I am a member of Xingtone's Board of Advisors as well as part owner Board of Directors member for wantickets.com, a popular online destination for club, concert, and event ticket sales.
BK: What's mobileStorm's differentiator in the permission-based distribution market?
Our clients receive a 40% better inbox delivery rate with databases as large as 2 million records, all within an hour or less. We also provide a comprehensive for additional messaging technologies including SMS, Voice and Fax, enabling our clients to communicate in more than just one way to improve their response rates.
BK: Tell me a bit about your financial backing--how did you start the business, and did you receive any angel investment?
JR: mobileStorm has only raised 40k to date from friends and family. We have been completely self-funded. Our last fiscal year (ending in July), mobileStorm grew 86% and showed a small profit.
BK: Do you have customers/revenue, and what's the next step for the company?
JR: We have over 50 customers. Some of our clients are highly visible and help build credibility, they trust us with their most valuable asset, and we even service clients that compete with one another. Some of our top clients include, Island Def Jam, Squaw Valley Ski Resort, Wantickets.com, and Interscope/Geffen/A&M, Avalon, Giant, Capitol Records, and After Hour Power.
The next step for this company is to raise money so we can build the version 2.0 of Stun. We're also looking to hire some key positions like a VP of Sales as well as sales team (both inside and out), VP of Business Development, and to expand our engineering and support staff. In addition, we want to strengthen our marketing efforts by launching targeted PR and advertising campaigns, and exhibit at top industry trade shows. Strategically, we intend to continue to strengthen our ISP relationships, work closely with our email backend provider, Strong Mail on a guaranteed inbox delivery program, the first of its kind in the industry.
BK: Finally, in what looks to be a fairly crowded space, what do you think is the most compelling reason a VC should invest in your company?
JR: It is crowded on the email ASP side but lots of these ASP's have failed to deliver. They don't have great inbox delivery rates, the ONLY provide email communication, and their pricing can be very expensive.
mobileStorm reaches the inbox up to 40% better than its competitors. When we have enough funds to become national you will see an incredible amount of companies who will switch to mobileStorm. Our client base will quadruple within a few months. Unlike our competitors, mobileStorm allows its clients to communicate in more than one way. We are positioned provide the first easy-to-use interface for email, sms, voice and fax messaging and all for one low monthly bill at a very reasonable price.