Glass-Media. The Dallas-based startup has re-imagined the way customers see, engage, and even interact with a brand when shopping the old fashioned way — in person.
I picked the brain of Glass-Media’s founder, Daniel Black, to understand why he’d leave behind the glitz and glamour of lead generation, content/social media marketing, and SEO to focus on a dying art: physical shopping.
Where did you get the idea for Glass-Media?
I walked by a lot of storefronts to and from the office every morning. As a digital marketer, I was stunned by the antiquated marketing efforts of these brick and mortar retailers. The clear majority have valuable street-facing real estate (i.e. windows), but are drastically underutilizing the space given the enviable amount of pedestrian/vehicular visibility.
The vision was to empower brands/retailers to leverage their cross-channel marketing efforts to achieve a holistic omnichannel retail experience.
The best they could do was throw up a few banners or plaster their glass windows with old-school window clings. It got the best of me. I started casually popping in to these stores to talk with the owners about their physical advertising efforts. During my conversations I found that, in large part, many of them weren’t opposed to embracing tech and new marketing. They realize that they’re in a fight against online sales. But the right tech for engaging passersby just wasn’t there. That’s where the idea for Glass-Media came in.
The vision was to empower brands/retailers to leverage their cross-channel marketing efforts to achieve a holistic omnichannel retail experience. Thus, through a digital storefront, brands and retailers alike could boost store traffic, build brand awareness, increase customer engagement, and drive offline/online conversion — and that’s exactly what we’ve accomplished through our proprietary, end-to-end, digital point-of-presence solutions. (P.S. you can stop by the Fossil store at Stonebriar Mall or Galleria Dallas to get sucked in to your own Glass-Media experience.)
What’s been your biggest struggle with Glass-Media and how did you overcome it?
I think our biggest upfront struggle (besides raising capital), is our lengthy sales cycle. With traditional digital signage, enterprise contracts typically take between 18 and 36 months to close. For us, we’ve taken the appropriate measures to eliminate friction throughout the sales process and in turn, have shortened our sales cycle to between 6 and 15 months. Unlike our competitors, we’re able to launch a comprehensive proof-of-concept or pilot program within just a few months.
If you could go back in time, before you started Glass-Media, what one piece of advice would you give yourself?
I’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way. But I guess the biggest piece of advice I would give myself would be to raise a hell of a lot more money up front, we bootstrapped for far too long and as a result, could not quickly put the ‘dream team’ in place.
What was your first big “oops” moment and how did you resolve it?
I can think of two. The notion of fail fast, fail often can be very healthy for early-stage startups, but in our case, we should have committed to and put in place a far better, quality assurance and quality control plan before quickly deploying our solutions with our earliest customers. As a result, there was a lot of break/fix and troubleshooting going on that took our focus away from product development.
As for the second, early on, we were approached by several full-service marketing agencies as well as global manufacturers looking to partner with us. It took many months before we realized how slow and arduous they were to work with; tons and tons of bureaucracy. Today, over 85 percent of our sales and business development initiatives are handled direct and we’ve found that pivot to be successful.
What do you believe is Glass-Media’s biggest advantage?
Many retail technology startups in our space are founded by engineers whereas our core team is comprised of marketers, creatives, and retail operations folks. As a result, we’re better able to design, develop, and deliver custom tailored solutions all the while taking a quantitative approach to customer education.
The cross-pollination of ideas leads to rampant innovation; collaboration is king.
Aside from human capital, our biggest advantage is our unique ability to quickly scale projection-based point-of-presence solutions; we’ve mastered the procurement and deployment aspects of our business.
What’s the Golden Rule you live by?
The cross-pollination of ideas leads to rampant innovation; collaboration is king. We’re active listeners and have earned the trust and respect of our client’s by not shoving our technology/solutions down their throats. Instead, we educate customers based on an understanding of their real needs and acclimate when necessary.
Glass-Media will, of course, be one of our stars in this year’s Digital Dallas Startup Comedy Roast.
The event Wednesday night is sold out, but check dallasinnovates.com Thursday for a recap of the event.
A version of this content originally appeared on the website of Digital Dallas, a Dallas Innovates partner organization.
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