Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mat Harris of BizGreet Talks about His Startup

Mat Harris of BizGreet Talks about His Startup

Where are you from originally?

I grew up in Allen, Texas, which is a suburb north of Dallas.

What university did you go to?

Baylor University, BBA ’96, Marketing & Broadcasting double major

Baylor University MBA '01

What brought you to Austin?

My wife and I got married two weeks after graduation, and she wanted to come to the University of Texas to finish her teaching degree, and we never left. That was 13 years ago.

What is the idea behind your startup?

BizGreet rests upon the idea that personalization matters, and that businesses need a way to automate personalized video campaigns. Everyone probably knows that personalization matters, instinctively if not empirically. When I say your name, I can stop your brain. For a second. Slow you down long enough to actually hear what I have to say next. BizGreet automates this process, allowing any organization to mass customize video messages to any number of individuals personally, with minimal effort.

What need does it fulfill?

For B2B clients, BizGreet either replaces or seriously augments cold calling, direct mail, and e-newsletters in the lead generation process. We are seeing B2B clients land appointments with companies they don’t have any sort of relationship with, by only sending out a BizGreet campaign to a handful of prospects. B2B clients need to know which prospects are actually leads. BizGreet streamlines the process while maximizing the outcomes. For B2C Clients, BizGreet is beginning to replace mass media, broadcast, and web banner marketing campaigns. We can send a BizGreet campaign to anyone in a contact database. Some of the companies we are talking to have 120,000 or more contacts that they don’t do a good job of tracking and keeping in touch with. We say, bring it on. BizGreet gives marketers real ROI. Which persons responded to the call to action? Who watched the video? Today especially, marketers need real, measurable results, and are hungry for specific business intelligence on their customers, not just demographic reach projections or aggregate data on a population.

What exactly does your product do?

BizGreet campaigns deliver personalized, custom marketing messages to individuals, and provide immediate calls-to-action that people can respond to in the moment. Then, BizGreet tracks each response and delivers instantaneous information to our clients, who can decide how to best follow-up.

Who is it for?

B2B clients use it to open new sales opportunities, and as pre-tradeshow lure or for post show follow-up. B2C clients use it to directly sell to end users, or to
communicate something in a very personal way. Non-profit orgs and politicians use it for fund-raising and donor communications.

What was the most challenging aspect of starting up a business?

The toughest challenge in starting a business is believing in the idea and in your
own capabilities long enough to make the business viable.

What is the next step for you and your startup?

The next step is to fund the business. We are pursuing a bootstrap strategy and
landing new opportunities every month, while we also prepare for a capital infusion. Capital will allow us to catalyze further development and reach software milestones quickly.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?

Right now, the most important element you can build into your business is
flexibility. Remain agile. If you’re a software startup, use an agile development
process if at all possible, but don’t stop there. Run small batches, make a handful
of presentations and ask for the sale. Close a few deals, listen to customers,
react to them, review with the team, and then do it again. Build feedback loops to
make it easy to hear from customers. They’ll tell you what thousands of dollars and months of market research can’t tell you…how to actually satisfy a real customer.
Be willing to shake things up. At the same time, put some stakes in the ground on core values and unmovables. All of this presumes that you operate a bootstrappable business. Today, you have to be able to bootstrap and prove your leadership aptitude and your business’s viability before looking for investment dollars.

Build with the right people, not just the people you like. Look for intelligent
people who are happy to disagree with you, and will stand up for their points of
view. There’s no such thing as a superstar CEO who is 100% operational/administrative and 100% sales/evangelistic. Start with one person who is great where you are weak, and who can be openly critical of you and still stand up for you. Tie yourselves together and don’t look back.

What Austin-based resource have you found to be the most helpful and why?

I found Leadership Austin to be one of the most helpful organizations for personal development. I graduated from the Emerge class at the end of 2008, and look forward to opportunities to serve in the community with the wonderful people I met through the program. Leadership Austin was great because the trainers forced me to focus on my own core values and on being true to my own leadership style. I have key strengths and core values that make me who I am, and Leadership Austin helped me to embrace those and learn to leverage them to get things done.

Best regards,
Hall T.