Born and raised to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a futures and commodities trader, Adam Soroca learned early on that this path just wasn’t for him.
Soroca, Co-Founder & CEO of programmatic advertising startup, nToggle, who recently announced $5.6 million in funding led by Sigma Prime Ventures and Bessemer Venture Partners, grew up in Stamford, CT the son of a trader.
“I gave the trading world a shot,” Soroca told me. “Wasn’t for me.”
His senior year at Middlebury College in Vermont, Soroca took an entrepreneurship class and knew he was meant to build businesses. Upon graduating, he made plans to move to Steamboat Springs, CO. Of course, his father wasn’t going to let him be a “ski bum.” So he started a ski-centric company, where he’d learn the ropes around building and running a business.
In 1996 he returned to Boston and got his first taste of advertising and internet with Cybersmith, where he’d been tapped to build out an advertising platform for the company’s series of internet cafes.
He would roll into a business development position with internet retailer, MotherNature.com, expanding its ad platform and affinity programs. This eventually led him to Lycos in 2002 where Soroca served as General Manager for Search Services for three years, gaining invaluable knowledge and expertise around an emerging digital advertising market and targeting techniques that are commonplace today.
It was in 2005 when General Catalyst came calling and recruited Soroca to join Jumptap, a mobile advertising startup, as its Chief Product Officer and General Manager. Soroca would oversee product management, operations and strategy for eight plus years, before Jumptap was acquired by Millennial Media in 2013.
This eight-year run, taking a startup from inception to successful exit, embedded the entrepreneurial bug securely into Soroca, who also sits on the Board of Advisors for Boston-based startup, CoachUp.
He remained with Millennial Media for about 9 months, until his “AHA” moment hit him while on vacation with wife, Karen, who now heads up marketing for nToggle.
“I was out for a run in Palm Springs, and it just came to me. I got back and told Karen, I have my next business,” Soroca explained to me. Adding, “I had been living a real and apparent problem surrounding programmatic advertising. I was advocating to make a significant investment increase our capacity, but we’d still be smaller than the mainstream online DSP’s [demand-side platform].”
After spending much of his vacation calling around to industry experts, friends and trusted advisors, all of whom believed in what Soroca had conceptualized, nToggle was born to deliver greater efficiency and transparency in programmatic advertising.
How Does nToggle Work?
Using a proprietary algorithm-driven software platform nToggle helps supply and demand partners manage the ever-expanding bid stream. nToggle's big data platform “toggles” real time bidding requests across all digital media utilizing the latest analytical and machine learning techniques to optimally match supply and demand.
According to the company, nToggle's launch is happening at a time when companies on all sides of the media equation feel overwhelmed by the complexity of programmatic inventory.
Simplifying it, nToggle is eliminating the industry inefficiencies within by handling programmatic ad-buying requests. Essentially doing a lot of work that many platforms don’t want to invest in fielding.
“Because we’re improving the process from both the buy and sell sides, nToggle isn’t a threat to the industry. We are going after a big problem in an industry that acknowledges that problem and we have a team full of industry experts leading the way,” Soroca said.
The number of transactions that occur across digital advertising is enormous and they happen in milliseconds. In order for that to be accomplished it takes a significant amount of expensive infrastructure. nToggle’s technology is reducing that infrastructure and streamlining programmatic processes that exist today.
The Future of nToggle
nToggle, whose team currently stands at 15, including contractors, is surrounded by industry experts with deep digital experience. Alongside Soroca are co-founders Ben Gordon, Chief Technology Officer and Shrikanth Mysore, Chief Data Scientist. The startup is hiring aggressively, mainly on the engineering side.
The team also features digital leaders from Ad.com/AOL, Boston Technologies, Jumptap/Millennial Media, Kayak, Media Crossing, Microsoft and Twitter. Notable angel investors with deep digital advertising roots include Mike Baker, DataXu CEO; Ric Cavillo, Nanigans CEO; John Hadl, investor and industry veteran; Eric Roza, DataLogix CEO; Howie Schwartz, former founder and CEO of Human Demand; Chris Scoggins, DataLogix SVP/GM; and Sourabh Niyogi, co–founder, CEO MdotM. George Bell, former Jumptap CEO, and Hadl, who was a Jumptap board member, also serve as independent members of the Board of Directors.
I asked Mike Baker what had him excited about the future of nToggle:
“The internet economy is ad supported, programmatic advertising is the fastest growing part of the $600B media market, and yet there are massive inefficiencies in the routing of programmatic bid streams. nToggle is well positioned to help industry players further evolve this dynamic market.
Just look at what the OpenRTB standard did to grow the programmatic market: originally proposed by DataXu CTO Bill Simmons, a number of programmatic market participants (DataXu, Turn, MediaMath, Rubicon, Pubmatic, AdMeld) all standardized on a transaction processing protocol that enables the players to spend less time integrating systems and more time creating value added applications. OpenRTB today is an IAB standard and it worked to grow the market better than anyone of us could have imagined. nToggle could well do something similar.”
Of course, Soroca, whose run of success speaks for itself, is excited and optimistic about the future of his young startup, but it’s his take on the industry that really has the future looking bright:
“We’re improving everyone’s way of doing business. The leaders in our space want this. The entire industry is rooting for our success.”