Let’s talk a bit about Nickelytics. Who are you, what do you guys do, and how did it all start?
Judah Longgrear: I founded a business back in 2017 called the Nickel Ride. It was an on-demand rideshare paid for by advertisers. Even then, I was pretty bullish on the opportunity to integrate advertising into the rideshare and transportation industry. So, I ran that company, had some early success, and grew it into about five cities where we provided those free rides.
During that time, we started to develop this internal technology platform to measure the exposure of consumers to the ads. And we quickly realized that the advertisers were super interested in the data that we were providing. We started to consider and determine what was going to be our growth catalyst: was it going to be the rideshare business or the core ad tech businesses? We decided to double down on the latter.
The internal tech platform was actually called Nickelytics. So, we stuck with that name and we’ve focused on that domain ever since. It was a hard pivot. We didn’t shut the business down. Essentially, we just took what we had developed and stripped away the pieces that we weren’t focusing on anymore and have built the business back up since then.
Can you walk me through how your tech works?
Judah Longgrear: So, what we do is we wrap mobility assets, like Uber driver vehicles, scooters, bikes, and so on. Then, we place our advertisers’ ads on those assets.
We leverage our GPS data and partner with mobile device data providers. The data is analyzed to determine the consumers’ exposure and reaction to OOH advertising, which provides a meaningful return on ad spend (ROAS) and empowers advertisers to retarget effectively.
Where would you say you are now in terms of your business journey?
Judah Longgrear: Right now we’re growth mode. The last couple of years have been about building a solid foundation. We graduated from TechStars, partnered with over 30 clients, and raised a total of 1.2 million dollars in capital. We achieved some extensive revenue growth in Q4 2020 and we’re now captilizing on that momentum by currently fundraising on Republic. There is a large uptick in consumers getting back outdoors so our platform is being positioned to capture this opportunity.
I read about your experience in the international accelerator program in Italy. You guys were there when the pandemic hit. That must have been an experience.
Judah Longgrear: It was an amazing experience that was cut short due to the pandemic. It was supposed to be a three-month campaign in Milan and halfway through, the pandemic started getting really bad. That’s when we had to figure out where we were going to go and shuffle things around. I ended up going back to the States, and we finished the rest of the program virtually.
And now I hear that Nickelytics is looking to expand in Italy.
Judah Longgrear: We really weren’t looking to expand in Europe just because there’s so much opportunity in the U.S. and we’re still a relatively young company. But after going through that program and working with around 120 mentors, we became really familiar with Italy’s landscape from the point-of-view of a mobility provider and out-of-home advertiser.
We saw that there is a huge opportunity in the European market. And we see a lot of similar opportunities in places such as Germany, France and the UK. We had actually signed a number of partnerships with mobility providers as well as advertisers abroad. But once the pandemic hit, we temporarily hit pause on those. The goal now is to revisit an Italy expansion after we finish raising our current seed rounds.
And was there anything that you learned from your time in Italy that shapes the way you are approaching your expansion?
Judah Longgrear: We recognize that expanding to other markets creates unique challenges. But, fundamentally, business is about solving problems. The adoption of out-of-home advertising and various types of mobility is even more prevalent there, and that presents a similar set of problems that our technology can help solve. We’ve since connected with locals who could help us figure out the logistics.
We’ve spoken to companies who focus largely on digital advertising as part of their pivot during the pandemic. What kind of value would a service like yours add to their advertising strategy?
Judah Longgrear: What our technology does is marry offline, real-world advertising with a digital experience. Businesses can create a full omnichannel campaign to reach consumers offline. They get the real trust and credibility that an offline advertisement brings. At the same time, they’re able to follow that consumer online and digitally target them so they’re getting that message reinforced. The more times that a consumer is exposed to a brand, the more likely it is for them to engage that brand.
We’ve been locked inside and bombarded by digital ads over the last several months so there’s significant data pruning the affinity towards real world advertising. As we see more people moving around, thanks to the vaccine roll out, Nickelytics is in a unique position to be one of the winners that the market will support in the coming months and years.
Walk me through your creative process. Do you guys work with in-house creatives or do companies just submit their ads to you guys to print on the decal?
Judah Longgrear: We’re currently building a platform where everything can be done through our portal. We want to make offline advertising as easy as creating and deploying a Facebook ad. Through our portal, you can select the types of consumer you want to reach and design your work with our creatives. Then, you can launch the ad, which comes with real-time analytics to track how those ads are going, as well as the types of consumers who get exposed to it.
Our theme for this month at Mover’s Spotlight is to highlight creativity. Talk about the design or creativity principles of Nickelytics.
Judah Longgrear: Our creative thesis is twofold. Be bold but be simple. A lot of times less is more. That forces our clients to get really intentional with the message they want to convey. We’ve found that to be a really effective model.
As a company, are there business or strategic solutions that you think speaks highly of your creativity as an entrepreneur?
Judah Longgrear: I think we always have to be creative from a business perspective. We actually recently launched a product that answers a problem specific to the pandemic. Many of our rideshare drivers didn’t have access to additional protection while on the job. So, we launched a product called Ad Shield which is an in-vehicle shield sponsored by advertisements.
As a company, we always strive to be effective and efficient. Our decals are a product that the drivers could easily self-install. And we’re working on a couple of other products that help our clients get their message on the road in a time-efficient way.
Creativity is definitely essential to what we do as entrepreneurs in order to drive our company forward. As we found out this past year, it’s not always going to be straight line home. There will be a lot of obstacles and challenges. But we have to keep the ball moving forward, take it step by step, and look at opportunities when they’re presented.
Looking back, is there anything you would do differently?
Judah Longgrear: Monday morning looking back on the game, you always recognize things that you wish you could have done differently. But I think, for me, the biggest thing has been to just develop grit and patience. Understand that these things take time, and nothing is an overnight success. It takes a lot of failure and discipline to build something that’s larger than yourself.
But as for everything else, you can’t really get too analytical about the business decisions you’ve made. Because at the time, you looked at the data and made the best decision you could based on what was presented in front of you.
So, now that the vaccines are rolling out, you must be feeling pretty optimistic. People are going to start traveling and moving around again.
Judah Longgrear: Yes. We’re thrilled to see the great work being done by the scientists on this front. We’re certainly optimistic about the outlook for our future.
Looking forward, what can we expect from Nickelytics this year?
Judah Longgrear: Innovation and further product development. We have added some amazing talent to our roster and they’ll enable us to further develop our platform as we work to build the future of Out-of-Home Advertising.
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