Startup Nomad’s ‘human billboard’ marketing blends digital technology with a personal touch -

Startup Nomad’s ‘human billboard’ marketing blends digital technology with a personal touch

Credit: geekwire.com

  • Dec 07 2017 23:50About: 4 days ago
  • 6 views

Walking on the campus at Washington State University, Jonah Friedl had an “aha” moment. He wasn’t just surrounded by fellow students, he was among an audience perfect for marketing.

“There were 1,000-plus millennials in the same place at the same time,” Friedl said.

That realization inspired the creation of Nomad, a Bellevue, Wash.-based marketing startup that launched last year.

Nomad hires people to wear tablets or smartphones that show ad campaigns, essentially turning them into digital billboards roaming city streets, sporting events and other popular locations. But the Nomad “billboards” go a step further by having the people it hires engage with potential customers. The interactions are tracked and analyzed to determine the effectiveness of the marketing and can be used to set the cost of a campaign.

Friedl started working on the idea as a college junior. The initial concept was limited to simply putting tablets displaying ads on students’ backpacks and having them walk through crowds.

“What we quickly learned is that the tablets are attached to a person, and they are marketers on demand,” he said.

So the business expanded to include conversations between marketers and potential customers. Nomad also added smart phones hanging on a neck lanyard to the mix. And the company began using the devices’ cameras to record the interactions, so that businesses running a campaign could learn whom the marketers were engaging with and how people were responding to their product or service.

“The privacy concern is valid,” Friedl agreed when asked about the use of cameras. The information is analyzed to estimate the age, gender and race of a person and how they responded — with smiles or frowns, for example — and then the images are erased.

“It’s not much different than information that is collected from a cookie when you browse a webpage,” he said.

After some successful campaigns while still at WSU, Friedl partnered with David Greschler, a long-time neighbor who has sold companies to Microsoft and Dynamic Signal, to continue growing the company. Friedl, who is the CEO, and Greschler, COO, have been joined by Brett Boese, who works on business development and Derek Dawson, in software development.

Nomad has an interesting approach to recruiting. Prospective marketers signup on the website, including information about their interests and when and where they’re available to work. Nomad does some vetting to select suitable people. Then when a campaign starts, the site looks for marketers who would be a good fit to hit the streets.

They get a “Tinder-style alert that there has been a match,” Friedl said, and the person can respond as to whether they want to participate. So far, 3,500 people have signed up. Assignments pay $10 an hour or more.

“There are plenty of part-time jobs available, but nothing as flexible as driving for Uber,” Friedl said. “This is a way to earn some pretty good money, totally at their leisure.”

We caught up with Friedl for our Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.

Johah Friedl

Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “Nomad is a software platform that allows brands to market in the real world with the same ease, accountability and effectiveness as the digital world. Just like launching an ad on Facebook or Google, our customers select the right people to represent their brand and deploy them at the optimal time and place (inside cities, campuses, events, trade shows, etc.). We then use the sensors of everyday devices like phones and tablets to measure the performance and effectiveness of interactions to make customer conversations better and more effective over time. The result is an end-to-end platform where brands can deploy, measure and optimize their campaigns and leverage an ever-growing set of demographic data to better engage customers in the real world. Our customers include Zipcar, Soylent, YouTube and LimeBike.”

Inspiration hit us when: “I was working for a local business while attending WSU and I was given the job of getting more students through the door. I knew that connecting with students in-person could be effective, but it was labor intensive to manage and nearly impossible to track performance.”

VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “It’s always been important that we test the market before we build product. We bootstrapped to build a minimum viable product and get early customers, raised angel money to figure out market fit, and we’re currently raising a VC round to grow our technology and scale operations.”

Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “A willingness to take risks, experiment and learn. Pushing the edge of our capabilities forces us to continuously think about customer pain points and how we can help solve them with technology.”

The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Keeping our product lean until we truly understood market fit.”

The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Not listening to our customers sooner. We decided to open our ears a few months back and we quickly discovered that Nomad can help brands across multiple industries and sectors.”

Would you rather have Gates, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Bezos! First he was thinking of the cloud years ahead of anyone else and now he’s trying to get people into space with Blue Origin. I want him in my corner for whatever comes next.”

Our favorite team-building activity is: “We call it ‘Friday drink and think.’ We make craft cocktails in the office and discuss success and what we learned from the previous week. It’s a good way to transition to the weekend and it keeps the team thinking at a high level about our common goal and vision.”

The biggest thing we look for when hiring is: “Someone who isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty. Every hire has to experience being a Nomad for a few days. We believe in learning by doing.”

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Test the market. Nine out of 10 ideas can be tested without writing a single line of code. See if anyone will pay for your solution.”



Follow Us on Twitter

Walking campus Washington State University Jonah Friedl “aha” moment. wasn’t just surrounded fellow students among audience perfect marketing. “There were 1000-plus millennials same place time” said. That realization inspired creation Nomad Bellevue Wash.-based marketing startup that launched last year. hires people wear tablets smartphones show campaigns essentially turning them into digital billboards roaming city streets sporting events other popular locations. “billboards” step further having hires… Read More

Related stories with Startup Nomad’s ‘human billboard’ marketing blends digital technology with a personal touch

California officials warn against use of navigation apps steering drivers to empty (burning) streets -World News
California officials warn against use of navigation apps steering drivers to empty (burning) streets 4 days ago
Navigating the Los Angeles area and avoiding traffic is a difficult enough proposition, but it must be especially scary this week for people fleeing or trying to steer clear of the wildfires that are wreaking havoc on the region. Because so many folks now
Amazon wins $3.6M in lawsuit against vendor that manipulated automated purchasing system -World News
Amazon wins $3.6M in lawsuit against vendor that manipulated automated purchasing system 4 days ago
A jury in Seattle awarded Amazon $3.6 million after the tech giant sued a vendor for manipulating its automated ordering system and refusing to accept return of its own products. Amazon filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for Western Washington las
NHL to open expansion application process to Seattle; season-ticket drive will gauge interest -World News
NHL to open expansion application process to Seattle; season-ticket drive will gauge interest 4 days ago
OK, the Sonics aren’t coming back (just yet), but Seattle moved a step closer to giving hockey geeks (raise your hand — are you out there?) a reason to celebrate on Thursday when the NHL announced how it feels about an expansion franchise in the c
CityBldr raises cash and prepares to expand software that reveals hidden real estate value to California -World News
CityBldr raises cash and prepares to expand software that reveals hidden real estate value to California 4 days ago
Seattle startup CityBldr is breaking new ground, boosted by fresh funding from undisclosed investors. The startup’s chief executive, Bryan Copley, isn’t commenting on the investment but SEC documents reveal CityBldr has raised $2.9 million of
Perfection is reachable through violations and oversights -World News
Perfection is reachable through violations and oversights 4 days ago
  Perfection is reachable through violations and oversights   There is no one in the world with entirely perfection,
11 lakh people stole from Railways in 2016 -World News
11 lakh people stole from Railways in 2016 4 days ago
Railway Protection Force, which arrested over 11 lakh people across the country for stealing components from railway tracks and infrastructure in 2016. From copper wires to iron bolts, towels to wash basin, blankets to faucets, nothing was spared.
Cong struggles to control fallout of netas' self-goals -World News
Cong struggles to control fallout of netas' self-goals 4 days ago
Sheila condemns "attempts by some Cong leaders to weaken Rahul"
The relationship is not the puzzlement, but human is the protagonist -World News
The relationship is not the puzzlement, but human is the protagonist 4 days ago
  The relationship is not the puzzlement, but human is the protagonist   Most relationships have no diffi
Sibal on a sticky wicket over appearing for Waqf Board -World News
Sibal on a sticky wicket over appearing for Waqf Board 4 days ago
A list showing which lawyer appeared for which side, part of the very same December 5 order sheet, showed that Sibal appeared for UP Sunni Waqf Board, whose civil appeal has been numbered ‘4192’ of 2011.
Some now put Bhole Baba over Babasaheb, says Modi -World News
Some now put Bhole Baba over Babasaheb, says Modi 4 days ago
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi poked fun at Congress heir imminent Rahul Gandhi by saying that he was remembering "Bhole baba" more than "Babasaheb" (Ambedkar) these days, continuing the exchange of barbs with the Congress vice-president in
Dubious claim of week: Air Force’s “EMP missile” could disable N. Korean ICBMs -World News
Dubious claim of week: Air Force’s “EMP missile” could disable N. Korean ICBMs 4 days ago
CHAMP microwave pulse can disable electronics, but “frying” ICBMs is a long shot.
A Closer Look at the All-Black NikeLab ACG Gaiter Boot -World News
A Closer Look at the All-Black NikeLab ACG Gaiter Boot 4 days ago
Last month, Nike introduced the rugged GYAKUSOU Gaiter Boot, presenting two new iterations of the style. Now, Notre is revealing an exclusive, more comprehensive look at the NikeLab ACG Gaiter Boot's black colorway. A companion to the ACG Holiday 2017 col