Five With: Jonathan Dyke, Founder, Spring
Armed with time at three tech companies, Jonathan Dyke is two full years into his latest startup: Spring. Using the two-sided marketplace model to bridge the gap between digital marketing and in-store commerce, the startup creates cash-based incentives for consumers to spend at their favorite places. Businesses receive valuable customer info, customers are incentivized for frequenting their favorite spots — it’s easy to see why it’s a win-win.
Jonathan’s cut his teeth on both the startup and “offers” businesses, founding edo Interactive, an early-stage venture that’s a pioneer in the card-linked offers category; and spending 14 years at CEB (nyse: CEB) in almost every role from sales to IT, including Chief Information Officer.
We talked to Jonathan about Spring’s evolution, building a marketplace business, and that element so elusive to all startup founders: time.
1) Why did you start Spring?
We saw a structural flaw in digital marketing in that it is not connected to in-store revenue results. Businesses large and small spend billions of dollars every year to market their business to consumers and they have no clear view into the value of that investment. It’s a $250B+/year problem so it is worth solving.
We bring two data environments together – the internet that we all carry everyday (on our phone) and payment transactions from cards that we all carry. We have the ability to connect any digital media (search, display, social, email, mobile) to in-store revenue. This allows marketers to move from tracking clicks, likes, views, open rates, etc., to actually tracking what matters in the physical world – in-store revenue. We spend most of our time with marketers helping them understand the concept of “buying revenue” with “guaranteed results” rather than “placing media” that may or may not move the in-store revenue needle.
2) How has Spring evolved since it started?
Having been around the block a few times, we knew we wanted to have a fully baked plan well before we starting spending money. For example, we spent a year building relationships with our strategic partners before we hired our first team member. We also knew that larger companies take time to make decisions and want proof points so we started Spring in the local market of Chicago. Independent businesses can make decisions more quickly so we were able to build the platform, show market fit, generate revenue, enroll consumers, create case studies and build a list of reference-able clients so that when we went to the larger companies we had a story of substance. That strategy is paying off as we take the Spring marketing solution to the top 500 retailers and food companies in the US. In fact, many of our best leads come from people that experience Spring as a consumer first.
3) What is Spring doing that the other guys aren’t?
Well…that depends on what others are doing – right? We are very focused on executing our plan. We are seeing the marketplace network effects come together nicely especially as we start to work with our large distribution partners. That is fun to watch.
4) What are some of the most important factors to consider when building a marketplace business?
- Patience. Building a marketplace takes time but once it’s built it creates significant value for all stakeholders – consumers, clients, investors, and your own team.
- I like to use this chart to illustrate what we consider to be important as we think about building Spring:
5) What are the biggest challenges you face as a startup founder?
Time. Time is the enemy. Everything we do is a race against time. We work on very, very short timeframes and the rest of the world is comparatively slow. In our world, a ton can happen in a few days so we have to remind ourselves that many of our partners think that getting something done in a “few quarters” is fast. So we have to calibrate for that which can be frustrating but as clients see more value and scale, they tend to start moving a little faster.
Stay up-to-speed: @springrewards