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5555 Wall St.
Dublin, Ohio

Brian Zuercher of Venueseen

Meet Brian Zuercher, founder of Venueseen, a social media marketing company.

What is Venueseen?

Venueseen gives businesses and brands the ability to connect with their most loyal fans and followers on visual social networks, like Instagram, by providing marketers with a platform and access to their API to leverage consumer digital media for insights and promotion of their products and services. We’ve worked with companies and brands, including the Indy 500, Macaroni Grill and Office Depot.

How did you come up with the idea?

In 2011 we launched FlyMuch, a consumer travel site that curated social recommendations and user-generated photos in order to educate, inspire and empower travelers. When FlyMuch began to garner attention from business owners seeking access to the user-generated photography and data being posted from their location, we immediately saw an untapped opportunity: we could serve a much more valuable customer and provide a better solution set. So, we shifted gears.

Venueseen was initially designed to give businesses and brands the ability to monitor what their customers were saying and sharing through geo-tagged and hashtagged photos from their location. After several months of working with and listening to our customers, we heard that a major pain point many of them experienced was that there wasn’t an easy way to collect customer contact information on Instagram. So, we also introduced an Instagram campaigns tool in September 2012 that lets brands create, implement, and manage Instagram campaigns while collecting customer contact information. Then in January 2013, we gave brands the ability to extend the life of photo contests, campaigns and user-generated content by opening up our API. This lets brands unlock amazing Instagram photos and showcase them on their own websites or other campaign channels.

What was the biggest surprise in starting your business?

The biggest surprise has been how fast time goes by. As a company, we’ve been vigilant to follow a learning plan method for product development and marketing. Using this method, we create a hypothesis that includes metrics we feel we should be hitting to create a sustainable business. Despite the rigor and speed of moving the business forward, sometimes this method takes more time than we would like it to take. I think every entrepreneur wishes there was a pause button for some periods of the business.

Where did you find your first employee?

We used local networking and recruiters to pull in our first developers. Since then we have attended Startup Weekends, used employee referrals and job boards.

What does a typical day in your business look like?

Fast-paced and hard-working. Half of our office is dead quiet because our development team is wired in and focused. The other half is the sales and marketing team, who are on the phone with back-to-back calls. Despite their busy schedule, they still like to have a good time and are often found cracking jokes. If you were to walk in to our office you would see several standing desks and a lot of coffee and food.

What resources or organizations in Ohio did you take advantage of and how did they help?

We received $900,000 from the Ohio TechAngels Fund.

Can you share a funny or amazing entrepreneurial experience with our readers?

I went to the first Startup Weekend Columbus in 2008 and wanted to pitch my idea for Clearwish. I had been working on this pitch for a long time, so I was really prepared and asked to go first. My other reason for wanting to go first was that I also wanted to get out early to see the opening night of Batman. So, I pitched Clearwish and left. The next day I got a call from one of the Startup Weekend organizers and he told me that my pitch received the most votes and a team was working on Clearwish. I rushed back to Startup Weekend, joined the team, and we ended up starting the company that weekend. It’s funny to think that my love for Batman almost changed the trajectory of my life!

What inspires you?

Seeing our customers succeed. There is nothing more energizing than witnessing and knowing your customers achieved and exceeded their goals using a product your team created. We get fired up for the next thing we can build for them every time that happens.

What founders do you admire and why?

Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn. He is methodical and big thinking. I feel he has a knack for creating a vision for markets and executing on them. He also has a very realistic approach to the early stages of companies, thus he is not afraid of starting or investing in an ugly front-end.

Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter and Square. Dorsey is phenomenal at storytelling, which is so essential to pitching, selling customers and employees. He knows how to build the story of today for a company and show where it is going in the future. That is a trait I strive to build continuously.

What’s next for you? 

We are just getting started with Venueseen. We believe that this business is going to put Columbus on the map for digital media and marketing, and that we’re in a position to shift the market by enabling marketers to fully embrace the potential of Instagram. and translate outcomes from the photo-sharing network into metrics that will resonate with the C-suite.
After that, I’m not sure, but maybe another company, and then at some point I would like to angel invest in the next wave of talent.

Interview by Joe Baur

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