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Mineful: mindful of important customer data!

Data is a massive resource and all companies are looking to leverage customer information in unique ways to boost their businesses. Mineful, a commerce data startup operating out of Chicago, is on a mission to make customer data actionable in new and exciting ways.

With a focus on appealing to customers on a personal level, Mineful offers an intelligent email marketing tool that keeps track of various types of customer data based on shopping cart abandonment, purchase history, website activity, and more.

This data can help businesses reach out to customers a month after they’ve bought a consumable product, for example, and remind them to reorder before they run out. The data can be used to predict which customers are most likely to leave the service and aid businesses, helping them cater to these customers in the form of personalized messages or timely deals. These are only a few examples of what Mineful can help companies do to connect with their customers on a more personal level than your average blind email blast.

As a lover of statistics and all things data, Mineful founder Jaime Brugueras sought to escape the consulting world that so often let valuable data fall by the wayside and set out to start a company of his own. We sat down with Brugueras to discuss the inspiration he finds in his grandfather’s struggle for education and his passion for actionable data.

What is the backstory behind Mineful?

I love math and I love numbers and I love data. I liked it so much that I finished a Ph.D. from UIC, University of Illinois at Chicago, in statistics in 2006. After that I was quickly hired to do marketing analytics and data analysis for big companies like Allstate, McDonald’s, a few consulting firms, etc.

But with everything I did the end result was a Powerpoint presentation and it was frustrating. I decided we needed to do what Amazon does and take action. We can’t just report on how things are and then what to do. There are certain places and opportunities where a business can react quickly by using data.

That was the general idea: how can we make data more actionable to everybody? That’s where the idea grew and then we started to focus on the commerce side. That’s what we do: we give the user accessibility to their own data so they can then act to increase sales, but with us it’s more personal.

It creates a better relationship rather than mass emailing everybody. It lets you set up the conversation based on each client’s schedule.

When did you decide to embark on the path of entrepreneurship?

As soon as I graduated from school. For me, getting the Ph.D. was a challenge. I asked myself, Could I do this in a reasonable time? Can I do this? I got out of there and said, “Okay, I did this.”

I started consulting and making good money and it was easy. I knew I could get a job easily. I now had a degree but I wanted to see if I could grow a company. That’s what motivated me to do this.

The other motivation was the frustration that I was experiencing consulting. The whole time I thought to myself, “what a waste of money and time.” I just spent three months analyzing all this data from everywhere, cleaning it, and then making it pretty so that everyone could understand. Then it was just one meeting and nothing happened.

I kept thinking, you guys just wasted three months of paying me a pretty good salary and nothing is done with the information that I created. That’s when I went out and started on Mineful.

What’s the most difficult thing you’ve had to do as an entrepreneur?

The sacrifice -- I’ve put myself and my family through this and it hasn’t been easy and we’ve had some rough times, especially when I was starting out.

I have a wife and two kids; one of them is four and the other is three. I’ve had to travel a lot, I’ve had to be out late nights and that was kind of hard. It still is, but now we’re kind of used to it.

If you had all the money in the world, how would you spend your days?

I would be managing. I would be a project manager rather than a doer. No, I think I would spend more of my day talking with people, talking with clients, being out there. Not networking. Networking is good, but I’ll let the sales guy do that.

I want to just talk to people and learn what they’re doing, what they’re experiencing -- not just with my product, but in general. I think that way I could come up with either the next best feature or the next best product or the next best complimentary technology -- the next best retail store.

I would be more freely thinking rather than doing the day-to-day things.

If you could have one super power, what would you choose?

Easily the ability to time travel, because then you know what’s going to happen in the future so you can go back and do it first.

Who are some people that inspire you?

From the beginning, my grandfather inspires me because he came from a not very good place but he was the first in his family to go to college. Education has always been important so my father went to college and I went to college.

He’s always been an inspiration. The way he went to college it was a lot more challenging than I did. My dad paid for it and nobody paid for his.

When I started the company I read the Sales Force CEO’s (Marc Benioff) book and I’ve always tried to follow those guidelines. I admire him. He keeps innovating and in 12 years that company is just amazing. I use that book a lot for inspiration and to create a good company culture: they do a lot to give back and allow people to work on their own projects and their employees seem really happy.

Athletes inspire me. Whenever I see somebody just win a championship or at the last minute make a comeback that inspires me. That means there’s always a chance. It doesn’t matter if you’re losing a tennis game six to one or five to one at triple match point, there’s still a chance.

It’s the same thing in business. You might be the underdog but there’s a chance. That’s what’s beautiful about this country; anybody has a chance, you’ve just got to work hard. There’s an opportunity for everybody. All entrepreneurs are just looking for that opportunity.

What’s next for Mineful in 2013?

We’re going to continue to expand and grow, get more clients, serve more clients. Our current clients are extremely happy with the service. They’re getting results. Before they were doing something they were getting one percent, now they’re getting three percent. That two percent difference is huge.

We’ve just got to put our word out there and we’re hoping for a few big clients, as well -- those clients that everybody knows about. Hopefully do the right things so that the company grows at a fast pace and we have a great year.

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