Zaius: Is This Boston Startup the Holy Grail of Marketing Tools?

Founded in 2013 by former Endeca VP of Engineering, Philip Wickline, Boston-based marketing startup Zaius is helping business-to-consumer companies boost revenue by optimizing their customer lifecycle – from acquisition to loyal customers. 

Through their marketing application, Zaius simplifies the capture, analysis, and action on customer data in real-time, improving the consumer-brand relationship.

For Zaius, the product goes far beyond data. While there are many tools available today for marketers to collect relevant user data, making sense of those numbers and turning them into meaningful actions is a different ballgame.

Company CEO Wickline knows data and he knows customers. He also knows the real problem around big data:

“In my years at Endeca and Hadapt I came to see that companies want to be customer-centric, but they lack the tools and technical ability to do it. While advances in big data and analytics make it possible to understand and react to consumers in real-time, most companies will never be able to work with the raw platforms to achieve this. What’s needed is an application written for business users that can be used directly by marketers.” 

In 2013, Wickline – along with CTO, Spencer Pingry, (formerly of Netezza and AOL) – got to work on a product that could help an entire marketing department collect, analyze, and act on customer data – ensuring a more effective and efficient approach to a company’s marketing strategies.

             Founders of Zaius in Boston

Wickline and Pingry met in the fall of 2013 while Wickline was an EIR at Matrix Partners, a former investor in Netezza.

“We spent a good 6-plus months talking around this idea of understanding consumer and user behavior event-by-event,” Wickline told me. “We knew there was an opportunity for us to focus on companies serving consumers.”

In June of 2014 Zaius closed a $6.3 million Series A round from Matrix Partners, led by David Skok. Since then the company has continued to grow its customer base and its team – now at 30 full-time employees between their Boston and Virginia offices.

THE ZAIUS PRODUCT & MODEL 

As the company puts it, Zaius is “optimizing the relationship between people and brands.” The product is all about empowering brands to be customer-centric by optimizing their consumer lifecycle campaigns across email, web, mobile and paid channels.

Zaius’ software helps marketers understand the difference between their wide array of current and potential customers. You can’t market to all consumers in the same fashion. These days, however, with so much data at hand it’s difficult for marketers to truly separate and target their campaigns from customer to customer – until now. Zaius’ customer discovery capabilities stitch together events and behaviors across engagement channels, both helping companies understand customer behaviors at an individual level and allowing marketers to replicate their best customers. 

Additionally, the SaaS product will unlock the paths to success and failure, and instantly deploy campaigns to keep customers on the right path. Zaius users can drill down from any attribute to understand who their best customers are, how many they currently have, and how many they could potentially have.

One standout element about Zaius is its focus on the lifetime value of each customer. Through their Lifecycle Activation feature, Zaius enables you to take someone from an anonymous user to first purchase to repeat purchase, reactivate loyal customers who are at risk, and target campaigns at every other state of the customer lifecycle. 

     Zaius  


Zaius is all about turning analytics into insights, and turning those insights into actions. The UX isn’t built for technical people only, but is constructed with the business-side of a company in mind – making it marketer ready.

Furthermore, with the core team having come from big data analytics companies, Zaius is built for massive scale.

“If we’re going to truly solve this big data problem, then our product needs to support the companies with the largest customer bases,” Pingry said. “They’re the ones struggling with immense amounts of consumer data to collect, analyze, and activate on in real-time.”

JOIN THE MOVEMENT 

The Zaius team, who is working with everyone from brick-and-mortar businesses to top Internet retailers, is growing – and growing fast.

As with many companies here in Boston, Zaius is on the hunt for superb talent in order to ramp up the business. Wickline provided some insight into the type of people they’re seeking:

“We like people who are good problem solvers and who are drawn to big challenges. It’s a startup, so it’s hard work, but it should also be fun for the right type of person.”

Zaius’ Director of Talent, Ashlene Ferris, mentioned a few specific areas of need for the company, including data scientists, UI/UX designers, and sales talent. Ferris added:

“We like to build our team with talent from all different backgrounds, skills, and opinions, as well as where they’ve come from in terms of previous companies.” 

That diversity of opinions was unmistakably proven during my visit to Zaius’ North End office, as we got looped into a discussion about which celebrity each would choose as a company spokesperson. While answers ranged from the Patriots’ Julian Edelman, to actor Chris Pratt, to the classic Chevy Chase, one thing was evident – this is a fun group to be around.

Like Wickline said, it’s a startup and the work is challenging, but they also know how to let loose from time to time. Whether it’s an out-of-office get together or a darts tournament, the work-hard-play-hard balance is there.

Zaius is led by a proven team of industry veterans hyper-focused on helping companies who serve consumers. “I’ve never worked for a more customer-focused company than this,” Wickline said to me. And that’s saying something for a man of his pedigree.

This is another Boston startup that is poised to make a big move in becoming a leader in their space.

If you’re intrigued by the potential to join the team, you can check out their BIZZpage, careers page, or reach out to Ferris directly. One piece of advice going into your first interview, though – polish off your darts game. I think you’ll earn some brownie points if you can take down Pingry in a game of Around The World (I couldn’t).

Josh Boyle is Director of Community & Marketing, VentureFizz.  You can follow him on Twitter @jb_sid
 and keep up with his latest posts by signing up for the VentureFizz Weekly Email!