The good news: Mezzobit has created the industry’s first “closed-loop” data and privacy management solution. And thanks to their sister organization, non-profit DataNeutrality.org, Mezzobit is the only data platform that’s squarely allied with first-party publishers and marketers in their battle to regain control of their audience data. Mezzobit lets enterprises with web and mobile properties to exchange data with their partners quickly, safely, securely, reliably. And best of all, affordably. Founder and CEO Joseph Galarneau tells us more.
Tell us how being a part of ER Accelerator has been an asset to your company.
We have a seasoned founding team: I’ve spent the past decade as a digital media executive, including as COO at Newsweek, and cofounder Joe Titlebaum has been a serial digital media GC and a cofounder at XM Satellite Radio. We’re very good at building and operating, but wanted to improve our sales, marketing and investment capabilities. ERA’s extensive mentor network has allowed us to quickly find folks who complemented our experience and abilities. And they’ve been, without exception, fantastic allies in improving our business.
Another key to success in building a start-up is quick iterations. The cycle of strategy formulation to field testing to revision has to be tight, and having a high density of smart folks here really helps. We have opportunities every day at ERA to bounce ideas off portfolio companies, mentors, and ERA staff, as well as float trial balloons during sales calls. This has dramatically collapsed our cycle time.
Tell us about your product or service.
Mezzobit puts digital publishers and marketers in control of how they collect and share Internet data.
Mezzobit’s Trusted Data Interchange (TDI) platform tackles these problems with cloud-based tools such as tag management, privacy management, and ultimately, mobile collection. But TDI also will provide unique insight into what happens on the client side — a world that’s typically invisible to publishers and marketers. Our customers will be able to atomically observe and control all data collection, tracking and transmission, and shut down anything that steps out of bounds.
How is it different?
Because Mezzobit’s founders are former digital operators, we are staunch advocates of first party publishers and marketers in regaining control over audience data. There’s a high level of distrust in the data ecosystem. Enterprises aren’t quite sure what data their business partners are collecting and what’s being done with it. And consumers are universally distrustful of online data collection, thanks to actions of the NSA and big Internet companies.
On the enterprise level, we tackle this problem by providing the only unified platform that both analyzes and controls online data sharing in real-time.
But we also believe that better data governance practices are needed to restore trust — just proclaiming “Don’t be evil” regarding data without offering proof, is a hollow claim. Industry standards and regulatory efforts are too slow and watered down to be effective. Mezzobit has developed proprietary data governance processes that directly involve customers and privacy advocates to create unmatched levels of transparency and accountability.
And finally, we offer the core TDI version – which focuses on tag management – for free for any website. Creating a trustworthy data ecosystem shouldn’t just be available to large companies with tens of thousands of dollars to spend. While Google has a free tag management product, Mezzobit’s much richer feature set and operational transparency sets us far apart.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
Our goal is to be the preferred trusted platform for enterprise data management, starting with the problem of Internet data and radiating outward from there. There are nearly a million companies in our target market, consuming more than $7 billion in cloud data management services. We currently have about 30 enterprise customers, including some large sites like The Daily Meal and New York Review of Books, and many other digital brands in pilot mode.
What is the business model?
By offering the most powerful free tag management system, we are able to deliver high value to customers from Day One, with no investment. We then sell subscriptions to paid modules that address higher value needs beyond tag management, like data leakage, management of privacy notices, mobile collection, and cloud-based data warehousing.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within 6 months?
We released our inaugural product last August, and are now working on our next-generation platform, to be unveiled at ERA’s Demo Day in late April. We also want to cross the 100 million monthly unique visitor mark in terms of data management, and we’re well on our way to that goal.
If you could be put in touch with one investor in the New York community who would it be and why?
There are lots of great angels and funds in New York. We have the best conversations with folks who understand the enterprise data space, but also know that the ecosystem is ripe for change with regard to first party control of data and respect for consumer privacy.
What is your take on the current scene in New York today?
I’ve been working in NYC technology for 15 years as a C-level digital media executive or consultant, and an inflection point seemed to occur around 2006. Prior to that, the city’s tech pulse was driven mainly by financial services. Recruiting good engineers was hard, but not overly difficult. New York Tech Meetup was a somewhat intimate affair being held at Cooper Union. That was the time when local start-ups began ascending, and Google’s local presence began growing.
Since then, it’s gone from hot to white hot, and a terrific ecosystem has developed around start-ups. You still don’t have the institutional memory of the Bay Area, which has more folks with the long view who have gone through boom to bust to boom cycles. And the Wall Street ethos of New York tends to favor start-ups here with stronger financial models than world-changing business models. But I think New York entrepreneurs are more pragmatic and applied than their West Coast counterparts, trying to solve real problems with technology instead of cooking up technology in search of a problem.
How will being in NYC help your startup?
I’m one of those people who thinks that New York City is the greatest place on the planet to live and work. We are an enterprise data company and have launched with a lot of partners and customers in media and advertising, who are just a subway ride away. The city is a great place for talent— there are plenty of smart engineers, marketers, and product people who don’t want to work in a faceless suburban office park. Frankly, while the Valley may still beat NYC in terms of total start-ups, no other place can match New York’s geographic density of entrepreneurial activity.