Tell us about your business (what product or service you provide and who your target audience is)
In 2011, twelve years after founding Marketsmith, Inc. ̶ an industry-acclaimed strategic, direct response marketing firm which is currently the 7th fastest growing company in New Jersey ̶ Monica launched I.Predictus.
I.Predictus is a transformative platform that takes big data from a multitude of disparate sources from marketing and omni-channel environments, and then organizes and standardizes that data to understand the true accountability of every dollar of our clients’ marketing spend. It takes unstructured information from call centers, retail, the web and media companies, and converges it in a standardized structure in order for marketers and brands to be able to make better, real-time buying decisions in a complex omni-channel environment.
Please tell us what being a business owner means to you and why you became an entrepreneur in the first place?
As far back as I can remember, I just always thought I’d be an entrepreneur. My grandfather was an entrepreneur and I was fascinated by what he did, even as a child. When my brother and I played radio station as kids, he was the DJ and I was the owner. I could have been anything – so why was I the owner? I honestly don’t know how to explain it, other than to say it’s just innate to me.
What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?
As I was growing up, Celiac Disease affected my ability to retain information, which manifested itself in severe learning disabilities. During my high school and college years, I struggled but was very fortunate to have a few mentors who guided me to higher ground.
One of those mentors came in the form of my first job out of college at Waldenbooks. It was the most fascinating and important experience of my professional life. I was exposed to an incredibly challenging environment filled with corporate obstacles and brilliant people who gave new meaning to “survival of the fittest.” I was soon immersed in the upper echelon of the Waldenbooks marketing culture, but to say it was all wine and roses would be an absolute lie.
I was eaten alive daily by my naiveté of business culture and inexperience of business etiquette. In this personal turmoil, however, there was a defining moment which started me on the journey I find myself on today. At the time, I was living with my eldest brother Michael and his family. One night, after coming home utterly defeated by my work day, my brother, in his stoic and direct way, wanted to know the problem. I explained that everywhere I turned, I seemed to do the wrong thing – in terms of getting along with people, sharing ideas, and navigating the bureaucracy. He looked at me, puzzled at my weakness, and said quite simply, “Read.”
I said, “Excuse me?” He repeated himself, this time staring a little longer at me, perplexed that I had a problem with what he was saying. He went on to tell me that I had access to the greatest resource in the world to learn about business, the psychology of people, and how to succeed – with thousands of books at my disposal that could help me figure out how to navigate my career. At the time, I was terrified because reading was not an easy task for me. But, I did what he said, not only because I always did, but because I had nowhere else to turn. The next day, I collected all the business, self help, and psychology books I could get my hands on. And it changed my life.
It would be almost a decade of failed employment opportunities and thousands of books from guys like Tony Robbins, Donald Trump, Zig Ziegler, and M. Scott Peck before I decided to go my own way by founding Marketsmith, Inc.
What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
Successfully founding two industry-acclaimed startups. In 2011, twelve years after I founded Marketsmith, Inc. ̶ an industry-acclaimed strategic, direct response marketing firm ̶ my team and I were set to embark on the company’s next major phase of growth. Unfortunately, industry capabilities failed to allow for a comprehensive, omni-channel view of media response and marketing performance across all customer touchpoints. I was unwilling to let the lag between shifting consumer behavior and emerging marketing technology slow business growth, so I resolved to tackle the challenge myself by launching my second startup, I.Predictus: the first-ever day trading platform for programmatic buying and the only cloud-based media management platform designed specifically for the direct response industry.
I was entering a male-dominated technology industry at a time when the nation was in a recession and VCs were tightening their belts by the day. The personal and professional risks were enormous, but I was committed to achieving the potential I knew I had uncovered and I wouldn’t let anything stop me. I assembled the right team with the right talent and the right advisors, and I became one of the first women to successfully raise capital in the tech arena – and during a recession no less.
Now, in 2014, I.Predictus is fast-becoming the standard for programmatic buying in the direct response industry, and Marketsmith, Inc. is the seventh fastest-growing business in New Jersey.
What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?
It’s tough to say, mostly because I’ve been given so many strong pieces of advice. If I had to pick one, I’d say the best advice that I’ve ever gotten is to always have a plan. And not just to have a plan and be prepared for the worst, but to make absolutely sure that you can survive the worst if and when it comes.
What has been the most effective marketing initiatives or programs you have used to promote your business?
We created this bright red package mailer, and inside it was a beautiful journal that said “Dare to Dream.” This was back way before the journal was a hot trend, so it really stood out. It was disruptive enough but, on the inside, I feel it was very useful and very successful. Ultimately, the simple but authentic gesture resulted in multiple new client acquisitions.
What one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?
Be very sure of two things – that you have great support at home, and that you have a long enough runway. Maintaining a work-life balance as a small business owner isn’t difficult, it’s near impossible. Having a solid infrastructure at home is critical. It’s all about the support system.
Are there any resources or tools you’d like to share with other small business owners that have helped you run your business?
This might sound painfully self-promotional, but I truly believe that nothing has revolutionized the way I do business more than the I.Predictus system. The ability to aggregate data from countless, disparate sources and then converge it into one comprehensive view of marketing performance and media response changes everything. As unbelievable as it sounds, I.Predictus’ B.E.S.T. analytical engine compiles a detailed analysis of a client’s 16-week historical and future media spend in just 7 minutes – that process traditionally takes 7 business days (and a lot more employees)! Factor in top notch web attribution and an unparalleled predictive modeling tool that optimizes the media buy in real-time, and it’s impossible to deny that this really is a game changer.
Do you have any new projects coming up ? If so, please tell us about it.
Always! The second we hit a milestone or do a post-mortem on a project, we’ve got five to ten more lined up right behind it. At this exact moment, we’re coming up on a series B financing round for I.Predictus and we’re in the middle of talks to decide whether to go with Angels or institutional investors.
What do you do for fun/relaxation?
What we do with the kids and without the kids are two different experiences. When it’s just Amy and I, we enjoy the movies and hanging out with friends. When it comes to the kids, even when work gets crazy(…er than usual), we never miss family night. We’ll do a movie night, have a dance party, sing karaoke – something focused on the kids at least once a week.
What is Number One Business Goal you plan to accomplish over the next year?
My number one goal for 2014 is to bring I.Predictus and Marketsmith, Inc. to a place where they are independently thriving, doing good work, and uncovering groundbreaking insights to lead the entire industry to a better future for brands and consumers alike.
You want to write a book on…
I want to write several books. That’s actually what I want to spend the next part of my career doing. I intend to write on being in business, starting companies, adopting children, and starting nonprofits.
What’s the best way for our readers to connect with you?
Company Website: http://ipredictus.com/
Phone: (973) 794-6464