July 10, 2018

Optimove: The Science-First Relationship Marketing Hub

Optimove was founded in 2009 by Pini Yakuel and Shachar Cohen, two business partners who met while attending Tel Aviv University in Israel together.

“The story of me and Optimove are intertwined because we started the company right out of school. All of my professional life has been with the company,” he said.

From the outset, the goal was to build software that could give marketers a better way to model customer data, but before they were able to build a platform and raise the money to launch said platform, they operated as a consultancy, named Mobius Solutions, for companies to build customer analytics and offer insights.

“We gained a lot of experience through the consultancy years; we worked with clients, we solved their problems, we got their data, we played with their data, we optimized their models, refined them, and made them better and stronger. ”

Once they saved enough money, they launched the Optimove software platform (and changed the company’s name accordingly) in 2012.

Optimove CEO Pini Yakuel
Optimove CEO Pini Yakuel.

When the original Optimove platform launched, the first iteration of the software analyzed companies’ customer data while offering insights on it, done so at a time before such software was commonplace. The aha moment came when the founders asked customers for their marketing logs, campaigns, and messages to base the insights on, but to their surprise, no data was being logged.

“We said okay, if it doesn’t exist then we’ll just build a system that builds the marketing campaigns and tracks them and stores them, and then we’ll have the data to do the optimization we wanted to do to begin with. Once we had this capability, we added the marketing automation.”

This would form a basis for the Optimove platform as we know it today, called the Relationship Marketing Hub. It collects customer data and tracks marketing campaigns, makes insights based on what works and what doesn’t (through its Insight solution), and can orchestrate communications, messages, and campaigns to potential clients via cross-channel marketing automation end (through its Engagement solution).

At the core of the platform is a heavy data science component.

“First and foremost, we are a CDP—a customer data platform. That means we built a data warehouse for the marketer. We take all the data the marketer needs and can use it—we mostly rely on first party data—we take all of that data, we cleanse it, we organize it, and we make it marketer-friendly. So we democratize data for the marketer; the marketer is no longer reliant on the IT department and different departments to get access to any kind of data they want.”

And then there’s the company’s marketing optimization bot: Optibot, which uses machine learning to autonomously optimize campaign performance and discover opportunities to boost performance in the data. It allows a marketer to run tests and experiments to test a potential campaign’s effectiveness.

“With Optibot, we allow the marketer to do what the marketer does best, which is to design an experiment—to ask a question—to do something that humans can do way better than machines, but once the marketer designs an experiment, we let the machine do the optimization by testing out different variables,” the CEO said.

Their prime customers are larger Internet companies and enterprises. Some of their customers include 1-800-Flowers, Chubb, and more.

Over time, the company has seen impressive growth. Bootstrapped from the beginning, Optimove grew by about 100% each year over its first few years, and has continued to grow at over a 50% clip each year. They opened their second office in London in 2015, and in 2016, the company received $20M from Israeli Growth Partners. Optimove opened up its New York office in that same year, where Yakuel works today.

Today, the company has roughly 200 total employees: 150 in Israel, 30 in New York, and 20 in London. The company plans on doubling the headcount in the New York City office over the next year. And in the name of further growth, the company acquired DynamicMail in May, whose email marketing tool turns static HTML emails into interactive content.

Closing our interview, I asked Yakuel for two things: his mission as a founder and his vision for his company:

“I see my relationship with the company kind of like my baby, and today it’s no longer like a baby but more like a father/child in a way so my mission is to make sure my child is happy and healthy. That’s kind of like my personal mission and I’m really excited about creating jobs both in New York and in Israel.,” Yakuel said. “As for the company, our mission is to really help brands to display intelligent communication. This is kind of what we aim to solve.“

Alexander Culafi is a Staff Writer at VentureFizz. Follow him on Twitter: @culafia.