Angel investors invest in people as much as in business plans. They look for entrepreneurs who have started companies before and who have extensive industry experience.
Daniel P. Maloney, CEO of PinLeague in Oklahoma City, is one such entrepreneur.
Maloney built his first company while he was still in school to pay his tuition. At YouTube and Google, he helped incubate new projects such as the street view application within Google maps. Maloney next led AOL's video business, rebuilding it from No. 13 to No. 2 in U.S. online video.
After being with these Internet giants in Silicon Valley and New York, Maloney moved to Oklahoma to start his next company.
“I'm having a lot of fun,” Maloney said. “Oklahoma has an extremely passionate and rapidly growing technology industry. People have been very welcoming. It's easy to collaborate. We are finding high-quality talent. PinLeague has nine contributors on our team and will likely double that in the coming months.”
PinLeague builds analytics and marketing software that helps businesses understand what their customers and audiences are interested in as “pinned” on Pinterest. Companies then use that information to better target their marketing efforts and increase their social media ROI.
Maloney is a strong advocate for Pinterest as a marketing tool for business.
“Facebook is about who I am at a given time,” he said. “Twitter is about what's happening to me right now. Pinterest is about who I want to be in the future. That ‘aspirational' element makes Pinterest powerful for marketing because who you want to be has implications for what you buy, where you go, projects you do, and things you learn. In all the activity of pinning cool stuff on Pinterest, there is a lot of commercial intent.”
PinLeague has had paying customers from Day One. The company has bootstrapped its first-year growth without external investment or outbound sales and is working with i2E on its first round of startup financing. PinLeague serves clients as diverse as Target, Gannett and the Humane Society.
“People seek us out,” Maloney said. “We have a really innovative product and have gotten some great coverage from technology bloggers who specialize in the Pinterest space.”
Imagine, as Danny Maloney does, the next wave of technology innovation. “We are going to see 10 more tech markets like Austin and Boulder emerge across the country,” he said. “Oklahoma City should be one of them.”
Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state's technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.
DID YOU KNOW?
More than 40 percent of Pinterest members use Pinterest to associate with retailers and brands with which they identify. Nearly 70 percent of online consumers who visit Pinterest find an item they then purchase.