For my second weekly start-up profile, I'm returning to Southern California, my own stomping grounds -- and an appropriate choice of words for a profile of Underground Elephant, a three-year-old performance-based digital marketing company based in San Diego.
UE is centered on analytics-based technology that delivers qualified leads in social media and elsewhere for clients in the education, finance, and insurance industries; founder and CEO Jason Kulpa notes that "we're not compensated per click or per impression, we're compensated per valid inquiry." The company's NeoKeo 2.0 platform, unveiled less than two weeks ago, uses proprietary algorithms to analyze online media by its areas of quality, cost effectiveness and revenue maximizing optimization, with ad retargeting based on customer intent.
According to Kulpa, "We have a pretty good snapshot of not only someone who might be interested, but someone who will actually complete" an advertised opportunity -- say, a nursing degree or home mortgage application. As a result, "businesses are connected with the highest quality leads at the lowest possible cost." Kulpa said UE also controls "the media and content from soup to nuts. We don't outsource any part of the process." That includes "buying media, display advertising, social media, and handling content. We also have organic content traffic that's being generated from our own sites."
Unlike some other tech companies, UE isn't shy about the hardcore quantitative analytics at the heart of it business: the background wallpaper for the Web site is a bunch of fairly complex-looking mathematical formulas. Indeed NeoKeo boasts a number of quantitative capabilities, including data mining, data-warehouse-driven analytics, individual performance metrics, and real-time visitor statistics. It collects data at all points of the lead generation and sales cycle, and helps clients with dynamic, multivariate, and A/B landing page creation. "We get daily feedback from our clients on every piece of data we send to them, and we optimize feature data and feature messaging in real time," says Kulpa.
Interestingly, Kulpa says he built the company to its current size (with projected annual revenues of $25 million this year) with "zero debt, zero seed money, and zero outside investment." He also proudly notes that Underground Elephant was voted one of the ten best places to work in San Diego by The San Diego Business Journal.