“Effective Executive” Series with Ric Calvillo of Nanigans

ricThis week’s “Effective Executive” interview is with Ric Calvillo, co-founder and CEO of Nanigans. Nanigans is pioneering the next evolution in media buying with its predictive lifetime value platform for performance marketing.

Ric Calvillo is Nanigans’ co-founder and CEO. Ric has over 20 years of startup experience, having founded and led three technology companies. Prior to co-founding Nanigans, Ric was Founder & CEO of Incipient, Inc., a venture-backed data storage infrastructure software company.

We asked Ric about his current role and the early days in his career as well as what is next for Nanigans for the remainder of 2013.

Can you explain your technology in simple terms for our audience?

Nanigans is the transformative SaaS platform for performance marketers, focusing on customer predictive lifetime value at scale. Most of our clients right now are in the e-commerce, travel and gaming verticals and use Nanigans across social and mobile.

 

What is the most exciting part of your role as CEO and Founder at Nanigans?

The most exciting part would be watching the growth of our customers, employees and the overall business. I started Nanigans in 2010 with the simple idea that performance marketing was inherently broken, and just a few short years later we’re up over 200 customers, 100+ employees and have offices around the world. Feeding off of the energy and successes of Nanigans employees is also contagious, and that vibrant culture is seemingly always on display walking around any of our offices.

 

Back in the early days of your career, what did you envision Nanigans to be? Have you met or exceeded your expectations?

I always wanted marketers to buy media based more on data than anything else. We know that consumers want to see a certain amount of offerings from advertisers and engage, especially online. For us, it was helping our customers find those purchase-minded consumers at scale and develop long-term relationships with their best target audiences.

 

In such a fast-paced tech industry, how do you keep up with the constant changes and developments?

We have an always-on engineering team. There’s no “easy solution” or “10 step method” to keeping up with the ever-changing tech industry. We focus on partnerships, planning and execution to ensure we’re always meeting goals. Our team meets every day to confirm nuances or updated plans, and we all sit together in an open floor plan to ensure open communication can happen in-person not just via email or phone.

 

You recently celebrated a huge milestone (1 Billion conversations enabled), how did you celebrate internally and how does this milestone motivate you and your Company to achieve future goals?

It’s always nice to highlight “big wins” for the company, so we celebrated the same way we always do, which means to take a step back for a moment and understand the impact and then move on. This industry changes on a dime, and we’ve seen great companies fail in the past few years so we don’t like to spend too much time on “accomplishments” but rather focus on how we can continue to provide value for our customers and innovate within the industry.

 

What is next for Nanigans for the remainder of 2013?

We’re focusing on how to best scale the business. In terms of verticals, we like ecommerce, travel, gaming and a few others while also looking at where to expand geographically. We currently have offices in Boston/NYC/SF/UK, which leaves a lot of opportunity on the table so finding the right combination for growth while continuing to maintain our level of quality and success for our customers is the main priority right now.

 

 

Can You Afford Not to Demand Excellence?

I recently had a conversation with an industry colleague who works on the client side. During that conversation, which took place at a marketing conference, he shared with me his experience at a certain other interactive conference last year: “One awesome week-long party paid for by my company. No real business takes place in terms of ROI. I can’t wait to go back.”

burning-wasting-money-600Huh? With that mentality, no wonder marketing is often the first line item when companies are facing budget cuts.

But wait a minute – aren’t you responsible for ensuring excellence for your company across the board at all times? In this day and age of record unemployment, pay cuts, “turning out the lights,” and more work with less resources, can you afford this sort of mentality on your workforce? Do you have any idea what the marketing department does with its budget? Are you assessing and measuring and demanding excellence on a weekly basis?

More importantly, if you have a marketing department spending money on events, travel, conferences and tradeshows, are you really measuring the ROI of such efforts? Do you assess the cost of the show (in full) and what it yielded for results? Do you pay attention to who’s going, what they’re doing and the expected results? Do you compare these investments to other marketing activities? Can you afford not to have such checks and balances in place these days?

Mind you, this was no multi-billion dollar company – although even they, too, are being affected by this global recession. This was a start up in a precarious and competitive industry. In other words, that kind of irresponsible mentality (like #11 here) shouldn’t be difficult to spot. But if you’re not paying attention – and not demanding results from every investment – then it could be missed. And such ignorance could cost you not only money, but perhaps a future layoff or worse.

Take the time to assess all of your  marketing activities – not just SEO or PR or advertising – but the dollars spent on every activity online and off. Demand excellence in everything and set parameters for employees. Prioritize in advance – know which activities yield the best results and which could easily be diminished with minimal impact.

Can you draw a direct line to results or positive ROI for each  marketing activity? If not, can you afford not to demand excellence and results across the board? I didn’t think so.

Corporate Twitter Entities – Yay or Nay?

There have been some interesting discussions lately – both online and off – around the business value of Twitter. As part of those discussions, we’ve noticed some varying opinions on whether or not corporations should establish their own entity on this rapidly-growing micro-blogging community.

When we first established @PerkettPR, we were immediately called out (coincidentally by PR/marketing competitors) for a few incorrect (on their part) assumptions:

1) That we had just joined Twitter without research, or a “lurking” phase

2) That we were only joining Twitter to promote our involvement in bringing TechCrunch MeetUp to Boston

3) That we would spam people (which in and of itself is an inaccurate label to use, considering the way Twitter works)

4) That we would not use our corporate entity wisely and that a “corporation” was not a “person” and therefore couldn’t participate in conversation

A few months later in March, some of these same naysayers have not only set up their own corporate entities (although most have yet to actually update/use them) but they have encouraged others to do so. That leads us to today and our questions to you:

1) Can a corporation participate in conversations on Twitter?

2) Are there certain types of businesses that should not establish a Twitter presence?

3) Do you follow any corporations on Twitter?

4) Why or why not?

Most, if not all, of our staff has individual entities on Twitter (mine’s @missusP if you’d like to engage). We spent months on Twitter watching, conversing (about business and personal issues) and getting to know the landscape before we established our corporate entity. We use @PerkettPR to share interesting developments that our constituents – those who choose to follow us – may find of interest. This can range from client news to agency news to events, interesting articles, blog posts and more. In doing so, we’ve developed new and stronger relationships with reporters, bloggers, clients – even new business prospects and competitors – as well as insightful feedback and new awareness opportunities for clients.

We believe our participation at an individual level helps us to truly understand the community and that we can engage both as indiviudals and as a team – just as in real life. This quote from Forrester’s Jeremiah Owyang also reaffirmed this belief for us:

“I can’t imagine ever advising a client to deal with an advertising, PR, or interactive team that doesn’t get social media….agencies must demonstrate they can participate before they can ever help clients with it.”

We have several clients who have Twitter identities. @mzinga and @Q1labs are the two most recent to join. It remains to be seen if all types of corporations can participate in – and benefit from – Twitter as much as individuals do, but obviously we believe great potential exists. What do you think?

Examples of businesses on Twitter:

@JetBlue

@CNN

@ssldl (This is a local library in one of our staff’s Midwestern towns. How cool is that?!)

@mahalotravel

@hawaiianshirts

@suddenlyslimmer

@hockeygiant

@speedypin