By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2014, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
Brides and weddings are big business — just ask any parent who is paying for one.
So Tailwind co-founders Danny Maloney and Alex Topiler thought they had a pretty good idea back in 2011 with BridesView, a visual wedding planning platform.
BridesView began growing, but the founders soon noticed that a lot of their visitors were coming from a (then) small site called Pinterest.
The pair analyzed traffic data from Pinterest and then focused BridesView on providing content that matched brides’ interests and emerging industry trends on Pinterest.
Before long, Maloney and Topiler realized that they were on to something that could apply to any business — not just those in the wedding industry.
They left BridesView at the altar, started Tailwind and haven’t looked back.
Tailwind began as a Pinterest analytics dashboard.
“But once we had members with us for six to 12 months,” Maloney said, “we began hearing that the analytics were interesting, but customers really wanted us to help them apply insights in practice. After all, most marketers are not data scientists.”
Tailwind listened and expanded their offering to become an integrated marketing, analytics and management platform that equips subscribers to create, optimize and analyze visual marketing campaigns, all in one tool.
Today, Tailwind serves more than 30,000 members from 145 countries, including world-class brands such as Disney, eBay, and J.C. Penney. Tailwind has helped members generate more than 10 million pins.
Not just luck
Is it luck that Maloney and Topiler recognized the potential of Pinterest and built a business at the leading edge of the visual marketing wave?
But we think it’s more that these experienced entrepreneurs weren’t wedded (excuse the pun) to their original idea. They were willing to listen to the market and were able to recognize that they needed to step back, reconsider and take a different direction than the one they first planned.
Most startups make changes willingly or unwillingly — especially in their earliest phases.
Entrepreneurs have to stand nose to the wind, listen to their customers and prospective customers, remain flexible and be willing to change course.
Center offers ideas
Experienced entrepreneurs like Maloney and Topiler at Tailwind, understand this; first time entrepreneurs, maybe not so much.
That’s the “why” behind the Oklahoma Proof of Concept Center, where i2E helps emerging technologies find their path forward. It’s the reason for i2E’s Immersion Venture Assessment Program with workshops in Tulsa and Oklahoma City designed to help entrepreneurs determine whether they have a product-market match.
It’s critically important for Oklahoma entrepreneurs to be able to efficiently and cost-effectively validate potential markets and customers before they ever invest in their first prototype or get too far down the expensive and time-consuming path of trying to launch their company.
We supply the tools.
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.