While working at Red Bull in the early 2000s, driving around the Red Bull car and helping to spend billions in marketing budget to target real world “PINOES” (People In Need Of Energy), I had two revelations. The first was that transformative experiences have the power to shape our behavior, our perception, and our relationship with the world. The second was that no one was measuring this powerful dynamic, and that it seemed impossible to accurately analyze.
We are currently in a massive cultural and economic shift from a things economy to an experience economy. Millennial spend on experiences is eclipsing their spend on physical goods. Car ownership is in steep decline globally, while Marie Kondo teaches everyone to throw away their possessions – collector mindset to simplification mindset. It seems like every day, another retail chain shuts down, lost in the commoditization and Amazonification of retail.
But we see a much larger story playing out here. The only brands that will be alive in 10 years are the ones that embrace this experience economy, and have the data-powered intelligence to use it to grow. All of the most innovative brands in the world are doubling down on experiential marketing: Lululemon’s free yoga classes, Guinness’ brewery tours, Michaels’ art classes and kids’ birthday parties, Budweiser’s beer museum, Nike’s in-store basketball courts and run clubs, Land Rover’s off-road driving experiences. As we become increasingly desensitized to digital ads, the best real-life branded experiences in the world are not only expanding, but have over 10x the ROI of any digital marketing. We’re now at the forefront of shifting these branded experiences from intuition-driven models to impactful data-based global campaigns.
“Stores can’t be just about distributing products,” explains Doug Stephens, Founder of Retail Prophet. “They need to be about distributing experiences – less stores, more stories.” Think about your favorite winery – it’s probably not the one with the best wine in the world; it’s the one where you remember having a picnic with your best friends, tasting amazing Zinfandel while playing bocce ball. The sun was shining on the lavender fields, and it made you feel exuberant.
At AnyRoad, we’re building an Experience Relationship Management platform (ERM) to measure and optimize this exuberance, and prove how it leads to increased brand love and additional revenue. My brother Daniel and I started by reimagining what Salesforce would look like if it were built today for the Experience Economy, measuring not just an organization’s relationships with its customers, but bringing in data sources from a plethora of touch points to optimize how those relationships are affected by what happens offline in the real world. Daniel’s background in journalism gave him a front row seat to an epic shift in marketing budgets. As many of the brands he worked with in the CPG industry started to shift budgets from print and digital ads to fully embrace experiential, he quickly realized that this was the future of brand engagement. Together, we had a holistic view of this burgeoning industry, and we realized that we were just seeing the tip of a monumental iceberg. From different backgrounds, we both recognized that as digital became oversaturated, offline experiences would change every industry.
When I met with David Ulevitch, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, he instantly understood the power of what we were building, having recently purchased a new Audi after a transformative Audi driving experience. We debated for hours about how this massive industry hadn’t been touched by technology, and how to best scale into this complex and misunderstood market. David’s long-term vision for creating the ERM industry combined with his expertise in building and scaling global enterprise technology like he did at OpenDNS, makes him the perfect partner for AnyRoad in this Series A round of funding, and we’re thrilled to welcome him to our Board of Directors.
With this Series A led by a16z, along with Rally Ventures, Precursor Ventures, board member Justin Kaufenberg (SportsEngine/NBC), and Marc Benioff (Salesforce), we’re accelerating the product breadth of our ERM as well as the expansion into new verticals. We’ve also partnered with the a16z Cultural Leadership Fund, an inspiring fund made up of the world’s greatest cultural leaders in sports, music, entertainment, and senior level executives – Sean “Diddy” Combs, Shonda Rhimes, Will and Jada Smith, Quincy Jones, Kevin Durant, Chance the Rapper, Nasir Jones, Will Packer, Charles Phillips, Edith Cooper, John Thompson, Robin Washington, Richelieu Dennis, Shellye Archambeau, and more. The CLF’s vision of bringing more people from African American and diverse backgrounds into technology is a key part of our ethos and commitment to diversity, and we’re thrilled to welcome them to the AnyRoad family. Also, we could not have done this without the support and guidance of our amazing seed investors who supported and believed in us even when we were trying to navigate the idea maze of experiential data.
Most of all, it comes down to the most inspiring, creative, and driven team I can ever imagine working with — who have spent countless years dedicated to building an important product in an often-overlooked part of the world that had not yet been eaten by software. We still have a ton to do, and this funding not only underscores the significance of what we’ve built together, but is the catalyst of future growth into a world where experiences make all the difference.
We’re hiring! We’d love to take you out for tacos, take you to Spain (we all just got back from the annual AnyRoad Summit in Barcelona), introduce you to our parents, and let you know more about joining the AnyRoad family. Open Careers here: https://www.anyroad.com/careers
We highly value diversity and encourage women and minority applicants to apply.
We’re redesigning how the best experiences in the world shape who we are – and we’d love to meet you!