Startup Stories: Ran Sarig of Datorama

Within 5 years, Datorama has become an industry leader, working with more than 2000 brands, 300 agencies, publishers, and tech firms, and counting L’Oreal, Foursquare, and Godaddy among their clients. We spoke with Ran Sarig, Datorama CEO & co-founder, about his company’s meteoric rise.

Tell us about your company’s beginnings. What did you see (or not see) in the market that led you to launch?

Founded in 2012, Datorama was born out of my co-founders and my own recognition that there was white space for a marketing-specific solution that could drastically reduce the complex data problem suffered by marketers of all stripes. As all three of us had experience in the marketing horizontal — in various capacities at advertising technology (AdTech) providers and at advertising agencies — it was abundantly clear through professionals’ daily struggles that there was a need that wasn’t being addressed. After spending some time doing discovery and exploration, it became very clear to us that artificial intelligence (AI) would be the critical technology that would enable us to surmount the emerging and evolving data woes.

What were some of the biggest challenges that your team faced at zero stage?

Probably the hardest part of starting a company is taking that initial leap of faith. Obviously, there’s a tremendous amount of risk involved from a fiscal and career perspective. For each of the three co-founders this was not an easy decision to make as we all had enjoyed strong trajectories and were reaping those benefits. Ultimately, it was clear that our idea was so powerful it needed to be pursued, especially as it would present an opportunity for Datorama to be a first mover in the marketing technology (MarTech) space.

It seems so long ago that we took that initial step but since then Datorama’s grown significantly. We tripled and are now doubling revenue and headcount for four years now. After the first half of 2017 we are on track to do it again. Now our biggest challenge is keeping pace with our momentum. Scaling the business while maintaining our unique culture and focus on innovation is not easy to do. While we’ve made some mistakes, we’ve been quick to course correct and refocus. I am very proud of where the company is today with a global footprint of 16 offices. Since inception we’ve always had a global presence but now at this scale we’re a truly diverse, multi-cultural organization.

Let’s look at the science behind your product. What makes it different from other offerings in this space?

As today’s marketers are burdened by a plethora of point solutions, they are now adopting an integrated approach that connects marketing performance, outcomes and investments across all of their channels, programs and stakeholders. Customers using Datorama’s marketing intelligence platform as the backbone of their marketing organization produce a single source of truth to power better decision making and collaboration. To this end, Datorama provides marketers with smart, assistive AI machine learning technology, out-of-the-box data modeling and automated insights to connect, unify, analyze, visualize and act on their data immediately — at any scale — with high performance.

Essentially, this provides our customers with the ability to leverage AI to collect, cleanse and mash all of their marketing data together, which can reveal all-new insights not previously seen before. The end result is a straightforward way for marketers to analyze their efforts to determine their return on investment and make better decisions going forward to improve campaign performance.

As far as I am aware, Datorama is the only company to: 1) Apply machine learning to data integration; 2) Have flexible data models that adjust on the fly with user’s needs; and, 3) Leverage AI technology to elevate critical business insights in real time. All of this is delivered in a productized way, which differs from many businesses that provide AI solutions but require lengthy service engagements.

How do you translate your brand’s message in a way that gets you heard above the noise?

One of the greatest challenges operating in the MarTech space is standing out from the crowd. To put things in perspective, in 2011 there were about 150 organizations in the different MarTech landscapes. Today, there are around 5,000. Due to this saturation, there is a lot of confusion in the marketplace and overlapping messages. And we haven’t even gotten into the problem of AI companies overpromising and under delivering — don’t get me started.

For us, the plan was simple. Early on the team’s focus was to onboard as many customers as possible. We sought to prove our value by gaining customer traction and delivering success for them. Now, as a company that’s considered the benchmark in marketing data integration, it makes telling our story easier. The reactions we’re seeing from journalists, third-party research companies like Gartner and Forrester, and from other industry-focused influencers makes it clear that we’re leading the pack with our platform. This is further substantiated by the impact we’re making with our install base, which obviously wouldn’t be possible without a truly cutting-edge solution that delivers on our value proposition.

Let’s talk about brand values. What means the most to your company besides industry success?

At Datorama we’re completely obsessed with our customers. The biggest thing each Datoraman is focused on is ensuring our client’s success. In fact, this has become so central to our mission that we’ve made it a point to measure our very own success based on our customer’s performance working with our platform.

There’s always been this rivalry between Silicon Valley and NYC in tech. What are some tangible benefits to being based in NYC?

While that may have held true several years ago, I don’t think that a rivalry exists anymore as we’re more connected than ever and certain regions specialize in specific industries. New York City’s Flatiron district, for example, has become home to many of today’s leading AdTech and MarTech companies, which is why we decided to put our global headquarters there. For Datorama it’s important to be in New York because it’s, arguably, home to some of the greatest advertising and marketing teams on the globe. As this is our core customer, we find it beneficial to be so close — literally and figuratively — so we can work in partnership with them to deliver greater product innovation and the best customer service possible.

Name one place in your company’s NYC neighborhood that you and your team just can’t live without.

Datoramans are a bit spoiled now that we’re a few doors away from the flagship Eataly, but that’s only the start. Our New York-based team has always been a fan of Dos Toros, so much so that a group carved the logo into a pumpkin during a Halloween get together. I think it’s safe to say it’s always on their minds — just kidding. Personally, I have been a big fan of Eataly’s La Birreria, which is the market’s rooftop microbrewery and restaurant.

Learn more about Datorama here.

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