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September 14, 2017
Kitewheel – Giving Marketing Teams a Journey For Their Customers

Like many tech companies, marketers are struggling with legacy software that may have done great work in the past but just can’t keep up with today’s fast-paced tech world.

Mark Smith, Founder and President of Kitewheel
Mark Smith, Founder and President of Kitewheel

Kitewheel gives these traditional marketing approaches a more modern spin. Their Customer Journey Hub connects a brand’s legacy tools while orchestrating rules across these touchpoints, to deliver personalized, omnichannel marketing campaigns in real-time.

The company was founded in 2013 by Mark Smith, a startup veteran from the UK. Smith got his start in tech as one of the founding members of the Scottish startup Quadstone in the mid-90s. Quadstone was one of the earliest AI companies, mining sales, and retail data.

Based on their innovative technology, several companies in Massachusetts with large data storage were taking note of the Scottish company.

“We came to Boston because it was a great opportunity to grow internationally. We chose Boston because we had connections here to businesses like Thinking Machines Corporation who developed massive supercomputers we imported to Scotland,” Smith said. “We began at Edinburgh University with weather and chemical simulations, but Quadstone was founded on the back of some of the earliest data warehousing and analysis applications.”

In 2005, Quadstone was acquired by Portrait Software, which was then acquired by Pitney Bowes in 2010, and Smith became the GM of Customer Analytics. It was during this time that he began to re-assess how the needs of typical marketing clients were evolving.

“I saw a huge change in the power of the customer with hundreds of Marketing Tech companies trying to give a true, one-of-a-kind experience to brands,” Smith said. “However, most companies want things to be easy, and end up making-do using a legacy platform.”

Utilizing key resources from his business network of 20 years, Smith connected with a New Jersey business, Provenir, with a software engine that could help out with the growing needs of modern marketing teams.

In 2013, Kitewheel officially became its own business and has managed to stay bootstrapped throughout its lifespan. “We were lucky due to existing software being available to us to get started,” Smith said.

In order to fast-start the business, Kitewheel partnered with several nationwide marketing agencies over its first few years, despite some early struggles. “Agencies are sometimes difficult to work with due to the client-driven nature, and communication can become limited,” said Smith.

The company’s SaaS platform is a centralized hub where marketing teams can connect their different communication channels. Similar to Smith’s early tech background, the platform harvests data across the different channels in real-time, allowing teams to get the insights they need before acting on this information during customer interactions.

Kitewheel Screenshot
An example of what a Customer Journey looks like through Kitewheel.

For example, with Kitewheel, a marketing team can track and personalize omnichannel interactions with a customer throughout the lifecycle, from their first login on a web page to deal-closing conversations with sales teams.

“Customer experience platforms are hot tech. Agencies are spending top dollars on this kind of software,” said Smith. “It’s all about giving customers a real connection.”

Kitewheel’s developments have led them to publish findings on the benefits of increasing consumer engagement with customer journeys. As seen in their report, “State of the Customer Journey 2017,” Kitewheel has managed over 2.5 billion unique customer interactions to help their clients generate ROI.

The platform’s capabilities are not just limited to one specific sector, as lots of other companies are also finding value in Kitewheel. “There are six main industries Kitewheel’s platform caters to insurance, automotive, retail, travel, telecommunications, and healthcare,” Kitewheel’s President says. “We also have four pure tech company partners, three of them from the Boston area.”

This year the company began introducing Fortune 500 companies, like existing client Gerber, to their software through a new direct sales approach.

Rick Fuller, VP of Direct Sales at Kitewheel
Rick Fuller, VP of Direct Sales at Kitewheel

Currently, Kitewheel’s team comprises 35, with their headquarters located close to South Station. Since the company began utilizing a direct sales approach, Kitewheel has hired Rick Fuller as their new VP

of Direct Sales. Fuller has experience in sales and account management with Tableau Software and IBM through their acquisition of Boston marketing tech success story Unica.

Kitewheel is one of the many marketing companies to be attending INBOUND 2017. Besides Boston-area conferences and trade shows, the company has made two annual appearances at SXSW.

The company has also received accolades for their platform, including being named a Visionary company for Gartner’s 2017 Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs.  Today, Forrester named Kitewheel as one of leading companies in Boston’s MarTech sector.

Marketing teams live in an omnichannel world, where consumers frequent hundreds of channels. Kitewheel gives those teams a chance to take advantage of these channels and create a customer experience that is not only personalized but one a client can continue to use.

“It’s all about giving the customer a journey they can remember and ultimately come back to,” Smith said of his company’s mission.


Colin Barry is a contributor to VentureFizz. Follow him on Twitter @ColinKrash.

Images courtesy of Kitewheel