Thursday, March 29, 2012
Interview with Matt and Amanda MacNaughton, PromoJam
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
What's the best way to get the word out about your brand on social media? For a number of high profile brands, it's by using the software and services of Los Angeles-based PromoJam (www.promojam.com), which just announced a round of funding to accelerate it efforts last week from Golden Seeds and the Band of Angels. We spoke with Matt and Amanda MacNaughton, the brother and sister team behind PromoJam, to hear more about the company's platform.
What is PromoJam?
Amanda MacNaughton: PromoJam is an enterprise, social marketing technology platform. Basically, we've built a platform that allows businesses to build social media promotions across multiple social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Linkedin. We also have a mobile platform, which integrates with Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. The whole concept behind PromoJam, is that it's a one stop shop to come and build promotions, which you can launch across multiple networks to reach different targets.
Matt MacNaughton: Our mantra, is to reach social media users everywhere. Our platform allows clients to run campaigns in front of their customers, wherever it's best to reach those customers. That might be a campaign on Facebook, or it might also run on our client's website, it could also be on the ground in their retail or restaurant location, and via a mo bile plaform.
Amanda MacNaughton: An example of this is we powered a promotion for Rock the Vote, a big campaign for them. It was a QR code campaign using a hash tag, and we printed that on T-shirts, buttons, wrapped cars, and launched that at SXSW. The idea is to take social media promotion to even things like T-Shirts, and launch that into social actions. What people were able to do there, was they were able to scan a QR code on the shirt with their phone, and that launched a mobile promotion on their phone, and got people to register to vote from their phone.
How did you two start the company?
Amanda MacNaughton: Matt and I are a brother-sister team. We come from ten years of marekting experience, running marketing for W Hotels. Matt came from the music industry, on the digital side. Through that, he saw a gap in the marketplace. He had been at Interscope, working with artists, and saw that people online constantly wanted new content from those artists. However, artists are not incentivized to give content away form free. We had the idea, is how about we sell that content to brands, who can use that for social updates. In 2008, we built applications for musicians Travis Barker and DJ-AM, which provided a mixtape in exchange for a tweet. We were written up by several tech publiications, including TechCrunch and Mashable, and suddenly every single label was calling us, that day. We ended up promoting a listening party for Rihanna, music for Pearl Jam, and are now working with every single label in the world.
Matt MacNaughton: I started in the music business, and I saw the big opportunity to build a comprehensive platform to license to companies of all sorts of sizes, shapes, and markets. We quickly branched out of music, working with television companies like NBC Universal, and working with film studios like Paramount and Warner Bros. Now, we're getting into brands. Amanda mentioned Rock the Vote, but we've also worked with Blackberry, OfficeMax, and more.
Your round looks to be much larger than is typical for angels, how did that come about?
Matt MacNaughton: We hadn't decided if we wanted to raise a Series A, but we were approached by Sara Weinheimer of Golden Seeds, who was really interested in what we were doing, and talked to us about her group,. Golden Seeds is focused on companies where there is a female co-founding entrepreneur. The more we talke dto her group, and met with their members in New York and San Francisco, and we got excited about plugging into really smart investors. Talking to them, we were then introduced to the Band of Angels, which also had a wide group of really experienced software entrepreneurs and investors, in Silicon Valley, and that really sold it for us. We said--let's put these two forces together, and put some really smart people behind our company. Before that, we'd bootstrapped everything ourselves. Our criteria for investment, was getting a team of resources and smart people, which is what we found with Golden Seeds and the Band of Angels.
What plans do you have for that new funding?
Matt MacNaughton: We're using it to focus on our technology. We have a really great VP of engineering, and we're building a team around him right now. We're hiring senior developers, and we're also focusing on sales operations as well. We're bringing in an exciting director of business development, focused on brands and entertainment, and we'll be looking to grow our footprint in the entertainment and brand areas this year.
It seems like we run into a lot of people looking to do social marketing for brands. What's special about what you offer?
Matt MacNaughton: What's special about what we're doing, is our platform really allows clients to run campaigns that are effective. We target customers in ways that reach those customers, and where they pay attention. If you run a campaign on Tumblr to reach your target customers, we are in Tumblr speaking their same language. If you want to reach people on the ground, or mobile phone, it's a comprehensive platform which reaches social media users everywhere.
Amanda MacNaughton: The biggest thing that differentiates our platform, is the flexibility to run your promotion anywhere, whether that's your website, Facebook your blog, or the real world. One central piece of our technology, is you can login and build multiple promotions, track them in real time, manage lead generation, and your email collection seamlessly in one place. It's more flexible than any other platform, by allowing you to run promotions anywhere. There are lots of startups focused on Facebook, and we can do that but also run it in your website, in Tumblr, and Twitter. We're kind of a one stop shop for social media marketing.
You two are brother and sister. Did you think twice about starting a company with a family member?
Amanda MacNaughton: No. It's actually funny, we had talked about starting a company a year before we did, so we had lots of time to plan. Matt and I work fabulously together, because we trust each other. If we ever get in a tiff, it's over in five minutes. I think it's nice because we can be really honest with one another. Sometimes, with partners, you've got to curb your thoughts, but we can be brutally honest with each other.
Matt MacNaughton: We make decisions quicker, because we can put all of the options and choices out there, and come to a decisions, because we never have to hold anything back. Amanda and I have been collaborators for years, even when she was in New York, and I was in California.
Amanda MacNaughton: The funny story, is this is actually the second business we've started together, because in elementary school we started a dog walking company. I did the marketing, and Matt handled the business part of it going door to door. It was a lucrative business, walking dogs when we were kids.