Epi. 58: Predicting data challenges with Marketing Mix Modeling – Mark Stouse, CEO of Proof Analytics

Learn more about Proof Analytics at: https://www.proofanalytics.ai/

Find Mark Stouse on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/markstouse/

JC: Welcome, everyone to another episode of the future of biz tech. I’m your host, JC Granger. And I have another fantastic guest on the show today. If you end up loving this episode again, please show your love and appreciation and follow the podcast wherever you are listening, give it a five star review and some comments because that is our techies like us fine, cool podcasts like this. Today, I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Mark Stoops, the CEO of Proof Analytics. Mark, thank you so much for being on the show with me today. Tell the audience a little bit about yourself. And what did you guys do?


Mark: Hey, thanks so much. So Proof Analytics basically has taken classic multivariable regression analytics, right. And we’ve automated the living heck out of it to solve what most people consider to be the biggest problem with analytics today. And that is it can’t really keep up with the clock speed of the business. Right? So you think about data science, the math is usually Awesome. All that kind of stuff is happening, but it’s happening so slowly. The latency on the answers that data scientists provide the business is so slow, so so high, right? That by the time they get it to the business, the business can’t do anything with it. It’s It’s like in the past already. Right. So the whole purpose of of analytics, from one perspective anyway, certainly from the business leader perspective, is to look down the road, right? Look around the corners, and particularly in the in the marketplace that we’re in today, the macro being what it is, the incredible volatility, that we’re experiencing the high speed change that we’re experiencing, that’s really what business leaders care about the most is being able to forecast, and then immediately in whatever speed or latency is relevant to their business, recompute that model and confirm that they were that the forecast was either on or off, and why is it off? And what can we do to bring it back on? Right? I mean, that’s essentially the, the nut of it. Right? 


JC: So Well, I mean, I saw on your website, I was doing some research and you know, looking and whatnot, and had a big Salesforce component here, it looked like that as well. So I mean, is that kind of your perfect client, just the types of companies who are using Salesforce? Or is that just a main target that you guys that integrate?


Mark: Yeah, Salesforce is a huge partner. For us, we actually have two products, I was really talking about the analytics product, we also have, you know, there’s kind of analytics, there’s also accountability. So we have a marketing ERP, it’s called an MRM, tool, marketing resource management tool. That’s the category that it’s in. And this is planning, budgeting, asset management, it’s all the stuff that you would normally expect to find in ERP, for any function inside of a corporation, but very focused on marketing. And so we are also unique right now, and that we have the only one that is native on Salesforce. So if you are already a Salesforce customer, and you’re looking for an MRM, we are your your choice, I mean that that imply,


JC: They can just go to the Salesforce marketplace, boom, boom, and it’s in, it’s already integrated.


Mark: That’s really automatic data saying, you know, if you got subscriptions to three or four different Salesforce clouds, and there’s data in those clouds, that is that you want to have in the MRM tool. As soon as you turn it on, I would say within 30 minutes after you turn on, prove him RM all that data is is there


JC: Already collected? already collected? Is there already default data? Is it already putting them into visual, like logical areas for them to go holy crap, we can actually.


Mark: Oh, yeah, no, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, it’s one of the reasons why, unless somebody wants a lot of customization. And that does happen. But I would say most customers implement it initially right out of the box. And that’s like a 30-40 day process, as opposed to over a year for a lot of other MRM tools. The implementation costs are maybe 50 to 60, 70 grand, as opposed to over a million million and a half for a lot of other tools. So we’re talking about a very significant paradigm shift when you’re talking about proof, right?


JC: That’s a massive savings. Right? Like, you know, I work with a lot of clients that work with tech companies almost exclusively and so I’ll have clients that are what I call platform-dependent software’s right so they like in health tech, right? That’s a big thing right now, you get a hospital on your software, no matter what it does, for the most part, that’s almost a permanent placement right, but it’s a big enterprise deal cost a lot of money to get it integrated, but Once they’re in, they’re not going anywhere. It’s almost permanent revenue for them. Right? And from what you’re saying, it sounds like that you’ve created an alternative to these huge, you know, ERP costs. And I mean, the integration costs are massive, typically. Right? And the timeframe, and you basically, you’re telling the audience here and me, scouts honor that, that when they click to integrate this on Salesforce, it just, it just works.


Mark: Yeah, cuz it’s native on lightning. Right? So I mean, there’s one. So right now, the only Salesforce cloud is not native on lightning is marketing cloud. Right. So but that’s being rewritten right now for lightning. So we have another way of integrating with that one. So it’s still flawless, seamless, it’s totally good. But when marketing cloud is published again, on on lightning, it’s going to be, you know, the total, the total deal.


JC: Sure. So what types of companies do you find? are getting the most use out of your product? Like what industries and size companies do you find? are using what you do with your platform? Or I’m sorry, your analytics the most?


Mark: You know, it’s not really industry specific at all, because the math is the math and the business questions or the business questions, right. And everybody kind of has their little take on it. Right? But that’s, that doesn’t really change anything in terms of like our platform, right? So I would say that, that our ICP are very mature companies when it comes to data and analytics, who are looking for significant savings and leverage economically. So they may be doing a lot of the stuff that that proof is automated. But they’re doing it the old way, right? And it’s very expensive, like when I was CMO at Honeywell aerospace, I was spending six, seven $8 million a year on analytics, mainly people, right. And that’s not where it’s headed. Right? That’s, it’s not that people aren’t going to be a critical part of the equation, they always will be. But we exist to speed them up. Right, we’re giving, we’re giving data scientists and business leaders not only a bridge, to talk and understand each other better, and deliver the results that one of them really needs from the other one, but also to do it very, very fast and very low cost, right. So that is, so I would say upper part of the mid tier, all the way up through the top of the enterprise segments would be our main addressable market. And within that, the ICP is are people who are more mature, you know, I mean, when we when we have a first meeting, we ask a few questions that are designed to help people understand, Am I really a candidate for proof, right? Because..


JC: Which industries do you find have that overwhelming amount of data that really does need to be filtered out and look visually, right? I mean, like healthcare, manufacturing, but I can see those two being high data industries, is there any are the ones that you find that get pretty good use out of this from that massive amount of data?


Mark: So I mean, one of the things that’s been kind of interesting about all this is that most business people think that big data, the term big data, is synonymous with, I have a lot of data. And it’s not.


JC: Okay, good point.


Mark: Big data is a particular type of data. And there’s two competing visions of this, you either check all five boxes, or all seven boxes, for a particular data set, and that makes it big data or not, and a lot of AI and machine learning. And again, these terms are also evolving in terms of what people think they mean. Those are big data solutions. And to be perfectly honest with you, most of what business leaders want to know is not a big data problem. So it can be served, it can really be answered or their interests can be served with what’s called lean data. Right? And they’re also they’re not really as interested in pattern recognition, although they are right, as they are cause and effect, right? They want to understand, Okay, I’m doing these 12 things, and I believe that I’m doing them because they deliver this kind of impact. Right, but I have no idea which of these 12 is the most effective. Right. And I also don’t understand how they combined together to get me there. Right. And I also have no idea how long it takes. So this is a concept called time lag. Right?  And if you don’t know the time lag, you will never find the value in the calendar.


JC: It sounds like this. And I like that you pointed out amount of data versus big data, right? So it sounds like the it’s a difference between volume and density. Right? You know, sounds like you guys really unpack dense data, and show it in an easier way? Right? Because I can have easy data and have a lot of it. But that, you know, I don’t need a board for a big giant analytics for that, right? If it’s, if it’s two different parallel points, and there’s just a lot of it, it’s like, okay, well, just two bars on the graph, like no big deal, right? But you’re saying dense data, essentially, where it’s so many different, but all


Mark: types component? Yeah. But also, I would say this, I mean, like, this is really key, you know, you can look at an NBA score. Right? So that’s two, two numbers, right? And that will tell you who won and who lost. But that is all it will tell you. Yeah. Right. It will not tell you why. It will not tell you the likelihood of that happening again. I mean, it’s so this is the issue with data by itself. Data by itself is fuel for analytics. Right? Data is always in the past. And it’s static, right? Because it’s, it’s already happened. you’ve measured it, it’s done, right? Analytics is all relational and dynamic. And it’s showing you these relationships. And as all everything changes, and moves around, and the macro changes and all this kind of stuff. It’s actually really great analytics works a lot like a GPS, and most business problems are essentially navigation problems, right? It’s like, Hey, I’m here, I want to go here, this is my goal, right? And I’ve got a forecast. So that’s my route to value sticking with the GPS analogy, right? And, and it’s tracking my progress. And it’s tracking all these other variables that are swirling around me, that will either speed me up or slow me down, or make me have a wreck or whatever, right? And it will then say, oops, you know what, you need to change course, right, you need to shift, you need to turn right, turn left and slow, speed up, slow down, whatever it is right, to stay on course, and ultimately achieve your goal. That’s why we often refer to not just us, it’s a fairly common data science reference, that business questions are usually navigation questions.


JC: So what, what motivated you to start the company? I mean, you were the CMO at a previous company, and you were dealing with this stuff from that point of view, what made you just throw your hands up and say, you know, what, screw it. I’m doing my own thing here. Like, what was the big problem that you saw no one else really solving?


Mark: Well, it’s, it’s this right? Well, we’re talking about I mean, so I was I had gotten to a very high degree of maturity, with my organization at Honeywell around being analytics lead, right? So and we were very successful as a global marketing team doing that so much so that, you know, we were featured in some earnings calls, and you know, all that kind of stuff, right. But it costs a lot of money, right. And the main reason why it costs a lot of money was we had to over hire the, you know, the staff, the data science staff, in order to get the speed of recalculation of models to where it was on par with the clock speed of the business. Right. Because we wanted to be able to, to say, Okay, this is what we’re seeing, materializing out there in the medium future, right. And that’s either something that’s really good that we want to do more of create more value by the time we get to that point in the calendar, or that’s not so hot, we need to make some changes so that we don’t get to that point in the calendar. Right? And so automation, it was super obvious that automation was going to be a big part of this, particularly since, like most marketing organizations, most business organizations have a lot of data, but not any big data. So this was not a class. This was not really an AI centric problem and so it was multivariable regression is really what it is, which is, that’s a type of math that essentially, is the most common form of data science. It’s what’s used to investigate — most data scientists would say 80 to 85% of the world’s questions are answered with multivariable regression. And so automating it making it faster to model create the models, where then the models become autonomous, right? They, they’re hooked up to the data flows. And every time new data rolls into the model that automatically recounts the model. And so you’re just constantly at whatever the relevant speed is for your business. Right? You’re getting an update, no real retail companies would probably do it hour by hour. Right. But Honeywell aerospace would do it. Monthly. Yeah. So I mean, it’s just that this is also where it’s very contextual. 


JC: So how are you getting? Well, first, how long have you guys been around how long? You’ve been in business?


Mark: About five and a half years. But like three of those three and a hal, we had some early customers, but it was we were not marketing it. We were not selling it. We were developing it. Right.


JC: I’m a marketing guy. Right? I was curious. What are you guys doing right now? Other than you, obviously, you’re doing podcasts, right? So that’s one thing you’re doing some PR, right? You get on the shows and, and get people to hear what you guys are doing, which is great. Other than that, what other things do you guys typically do to get the clients?  Do you just simply exist and stay in the Salesforce platform and allow the inbound? Or do you? Are you guys a little more aggressive? Do you guys do paid marketing or email and stuff like that? I just curious what a company of your of your stature does to drum up that that overall business?


Mark: Sure, I would say that right now, about 50% of our business comes from either Salesforce or AWS, we do all of the classic stuff. I mean, we’re not reinventing the wheel here. In terms of our outbound marketing, you know, we are also right in the middle of AI mean, the market has never been more open to what analytics generally has to offer and prove, in particular has to offer them right now. That really started with the beginning of COVID. And, and then it just kept on going. I mean, so for what the last three years, it’s been kind of crazy


JC: With these big companies a lot of money, right? Because it tells a story they weren’t looking at before. I mean, everything was kind of bloated, in my opinion before, but it didn’t matter, right? Like, like the train was running fast. And everyone’s going we with our hands near it didn’t matter, right? They didn’t care about leakage and these little things. But when you hit something like COVID, and every single dollar counts now and every single, you need analytics to tell you, you know, Where Am I bleeding? And where am I gaining? Right? So 100% agree. And actually, that segues into my next question, which is the main question I always have on my show, because the future of biz Tech, I want to know where things are going. So, you know, you’ve been in business so long, I’d like to know, first, the first question is, where do you see the industry you’re in? Let’s just say the analytics industry in general. Where do you see that going in the next five to 10 years? Do you see any major shifts on the horizon? Whether it be legally, politically, culturally, technology-wise? Where do you see the industry, you and your competitors, like, affecting you going forward? 


Mark: Yeah. So I mean, I think that, for example, let’s take data for a second, right? I mean, I think regardless of whether we’re talking about the EU, or California or somebody else that might pop up, right? Privacy is going to be even more restrictive on data. Fortunately, what we do is not impacted by that at all, because we’re not using PII, in fact,


JC: Define that for the audience, just for the.. 


Mark: Personally Identifiable Information, right? So we are, you know, whether you’re doing regression modeling by hand or doing it in proof, you’re not dealing with PII. Right? So that right, there is a huge advantage that we have going forward, we are essentially future-proofed, on that issue. And I think that I was just reading within the last two weeks, were under pressure from the macro. A lot of EU companies are violating the law on data. Right? So in Europe, right. And so we are we’re basically saying, wow, you know what, we’re under the gun so bad. We’re just gonna take the risk, right? And we’re gonna, we’re gonna just reach out to people. So what’s going to happen? what’s already happening, according to this article is a lot of whistleblower action going on, right, a lot of consumer complaints, and a lot of comebacks from the European Union agencies that enforce it to basically say, okay, you know what we’ve tried to be nice about all this. And now we’re getting ready to really, you know, put the hammer down not only on companies, but on individual marketers if we can find evidence of their culpability right? There, they’re talking in ways that whether or not they’ll be able to do that is another story, but you’re talking about, essentially, the only way to do that is to criminalize the activity, because of the shield that a corporation usually provides for its employees. So it will be very interesting to see how that happens. So I think that that’s going to be a big, big part of it.


Mark: I also think that there’s a concept that was originated in 1950s, mainly for combat pilots, but has spread out all over the place called OODA. O O, D, A, stands for observe, orient, decide and act. And it’s the speed. The key thing about OODA is how fast can you move through those letters, right. So if you remember in Top Gun, right, speed is life, I feel the need for speed, right? All this kind of stuff. That is because you’re you know, as you’re dogfighting and you’re doing all this stuff. And, you know, at very high speeds, it’s your ability to move through to that keeps you alive, and keeps you on mission.


JC: Right like quick reaction ability.


Mark: Quick reaction ability. And so this is why, you know, the current generation of fighter aircraft has a lot of automation and a lot of AI on board, right to off load all these important but secondary and tertiary decisions, move it away from the human beings. So the human being can focus, right? Same thing is happening in business, right, we’re seeing more and more volatility, all this stuff, right? People are starting to really realize that two thirds of what matters in to their performance is stuff that they do not control. So we are all kind of surfing a wave, we do not control the wave, right? The only thing that really matters, that keeps us finishing strong, up right on the board, you know, on the beach, right, is our ability to gauge what the wave is doing at any particular moment, and react appropriately to it. Right. And that is that’s business today. That’s life today. And one way at least. And so businesses are going to say more and more and more, this is what we need. Because if you look at financial data, that’s a lagging indicator. And by the time you have this financial data, it’s too late to do anything about it. Right? And the only way that you can really determine what the true leading indicators are, is through analytics.


JC: Yeah. Well, then let’s let’s segue then to into your particular company itself. So same question, but where do you see proof analytics? And let’s say in the next six months, a year, two years, and specifically, if you have anything on the roadmap that’s launching soon? Audience does like to get the inside scoop on that? Do you have anything coming up? I have to ask.


Mark: My guys would kill me if I did that. So


JC: there is a delay in this recording to when that publishes. So you do have some time? And you can give them a heads up? I mean, you what’s what’s on what’s on the horizon for you guys? And where do you see the company going in general?


Mark: So I think that that the big the big opportunity going forward, is make is removing more and more of the friction for the business user, so that the business user can look at analytics screens and say, Wow, I totally understand what’s happening. And I can make a better decision over and over and over again, using this analytical information than I otherwise could write and that I’m comfortable with it, and that it’s transparently delivered. So it’s not just me that has this, all my colleagues have the same thing. And so whether you think of that as UX, or you know how, however you want to think about that, that’s where we’re really headed right now. I mean, I think we’re already we have a really strong UX for business users. Most analytics software dumbs down the analyst screens for the business user, right? The biggest issue though, and this is a this is something that repeats a lot is that most business users hate graphs and things like that. They, they have a, I think largely because of the way math has been taught for the last 40 or 50 years in this country and other countries, they tend to when you expose them to a graph that kind of freak out and shut down, it’s a more of a psychological response. It’s not that they’re suddenly stupid, they’re really smart people. But if you trigger them with a graph, a lot of times that it just doesn’t work, they just kind of shut down. So you got to find other ways to convey cause and effect relationships. And I think that in the same way that Tableau did this for data visualization, they did, Tableau just has such beautiful visualization libraries. Right. Yeah, I think that that is very much where we are going on analytics. Right. So we don’t compete with Tableau, we, in fact, they’re a Salesforce company. So we partner with them. Right? We and there, we’re kind of doing two different things that are highly complementary with each other. So I mean, you know, in terms of the future of proof, you know, that’s, you know, that’s kind of really, really tough for me, particularly as CEO to comment on, right. Where we’ll be in six months, or 12, or 24 months is really kind of anybody’s guess, in one sense, right. But I do think that we will continue to show really, really strong year over year growth.


JC: I mean, analytics is big right now.


Mark: It really is.


JC: And it’s already have a foothold there, which is nice. Not a startup in that sense.


Mark: Yeah. And I think also, you know, we have a reputation for really strong delivery, strong implementation of these tools. And so if you’re an average, you know, Salesforce sales guy, for example, and you’ve got a big deal, cooking with three, Salesforce clouds with this customer, right? And they say, oh, you know,  we need analytics, or we need an MRM or, you know, whatever it is, right? They know today that if they put us in the deal, that our part will be flawless. And that, that really means a lot. I mean, our churn is very low, historically. Right. And we had Customer Success teams before we had sales teams.


JC: Smart. So you already get a lot, especially if you had a lot of inbound coming in, because referrals and people just word of mouth. Right? Yeah, that makes sense.


Mark: I think that sustainability also, and this is where analytics really interacts with real life, right? Sustainability is going to be the watchword for business. And over the next say, two to three, four years minimum. Right. You know, there’s, there was a post on LinkedIn yesterday, talking about NRR. Net retain revenue, right? as being kind of like the new really important metric for SAS. Right. And, and my response was, Well, it’s a really super important metric for SAS, but it always has been, right, but when you could get away with spending way more money than you were making in revenue, because you’re being backfield by investors, right? And now you can’t now you have to be reasonably self-sustaining. All of a sudden, NRR is centerstage. Right. But that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t before. And so I think that, that this is where you’re going to see a very, very sober-minded approach to most businesses over the next say, 1000 to 1500 days from now. And it’s going to be very, there’s a lot of functions. Marketing is a great example of this, that are crap when it comes to making a business case, like literally formulating and delivering a business case that is compelling as to why the business should spend more money in this area, and not less, right? I think..


JC: It’s always the first budget that gets frozen when things go to crap, right? Which is ironic, because it’s really just the beginning of the end, you basically solidified your downward spiral. That’s right, like and that’s one thing that the bigger companies like the companies that made it through COVID, they double down instead of like they went for broke, don’t get me wrong, they rolled the dice, doubling down on marketing and sales, when everybody was stopping what they were doing was either going to make them the biggest in the industry when they popped up the other end, or they were gonna be bankrupt, right? The ones who did it ended up becoming the biggest in the industry. It turned out and that’s what was everyone else just froze and just stood there like a deer in the headlights, you know, and they got hit by the car, right. And you know, that was when I made some videos about this actually in the beginning parts of COVID, about doubling down like how we were doing it. And this is how we suggest clients do it and it wasn’t self-serving, it’s like this new hire anyone you want. Just, you shouldn’t be doing this because a second you decide that that pipeline is frozen, you have a count on down of three to six months before you are an unrecoverable flat spin, right? Like there’s just nothing’s going to save you essentially, right. And so it’s an interesting point, especially when you bring up NRR. Because it’s so many companies that I saw, again, the nitrous was in the tank, and it was just blowing their hair back, we It didn’t matter that they were that they were there was leakages and they’re bleeding from other as long as they’re going fast and straight, it didn’t matter. But churn kills, right. And when you hit a wall, like COVID 


JC: But not while things are great. And so that’s why it gets so overlooked. When things are great. You’re like, Yeah, I’m bleeding 20%, but I’m making 200 on this. So whatever we write, and then But then once that train stops, all that catches up with you, and one of the best books I’ve ever read, was called Never lose a customer again. And I turn over the author, and it kills me, I’d look it up here for the audience in a second. But, um, and I remember that book, the whole point of that book was about how to retain, because essentially, and then I went into the math of it first and went and just did the ethics of it, like, you know, treat the customers well. And then it went a little bit of a referral basis, like, hey, you’ll even make more money, because they’ll refer people to you. But then it like dug deep into just the basic math like, listen, the amount of money you’re spending to attain a new client, you could spend a 10th of that to retain a current one. So what’s the point of getting a new $20,000? Client? If you lost a $20,000 client last month, all you did was actually break even. But if you’re looking forward, you’re like, Yeah, we got a new client, and you forget that you lost one. So all that money and effort you put into the new one, is more money than if you had just spent that time retaining the last one. Right. And when you get that system down internally in your company, you are so bulletproof, for things for these, you know, black swan events, essentially, right. You know, do you have to take a step back, we can maybe take a gut punch? Sure we did. But we’re still here. It’s because we had those processes in place. You know.


Mark: I think what I would say about that is that there’s two things. One is what you spend the money on. So even it’s not just about doubling down. It’s about figuring out what the what the levers are that are working, and what’s not really working in the current environment could work in a different environment, right. And so if you look at our clients, from 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022; same company, right? What was working in each of those four years, dot, you know, predominantly dominated by COVID. Right? was very different, year to year to year, right. And so they were able to use proof to identify what was falling off a cliff in terms of particular channel, and divest from that faster, and then move that money over here. Right. And so..


JC: Pivoting, the ability to pivot, we had to pivot to right, right, like we used to do, we used to, we’ve always done tech marketing for tech companies, for the most part, right? Because I’m just, I’m just a Bay Area nerd, originally hacking AOL when I was 12. And in my dad’s basement, like, that’s my villain origin story, right? But but we did everything for them. Right? When COVID hit, a lot of things became really irrelevant, right? Like, like, what’s the point of pitching a nine month SEO plan to a company that doesn’t know if they’re gonna be in business in three months? That’s right, right. So everything we did, we had to pivot and we sliced off, like 80% of our services, and we just dial down to appointment setting specifically because we realized is at the end of the day, for enterprise level tech, the only thing that matters is more appointments on the calendar for their sales team. That’s it, anything that gets it there, they don’t care how it got there, they don’t care, they don’t care. If you push a big red button, and an appointment hits, they’re like fine, whatever. We don’t care if you’re cold calling, I don’t care if you’re emailing just that is where we start our process to sell. And that’s where our bread and butter is. And we shaved off everything that didn’t basically shortcut to that exact endpoint, right? Because it because again, and we advise our clients to we’re like, listen, like, you need to shave stuff off, you’re gonna pivot towards this because the whole new world now, and the thing is a trauma set in, right? So even though COVID is essentially over, you know, in its large scale, right, it’ll be like the Cold Flu or whatever it’ll be, it’ll keep going forever, but not on that scale where it shuts down the country, or the world, but the traumas set and the people who are running companies, I mean, you will never going to forget that we’re never going to we’re never going to treat our business the same ever again. Later, it’ll take a whole new generation to go wee were never going to go wee again. Right like that’s I mean you look at the depression in the in the 20s or in Early 1900s.


JC: You know, there was great grandparents of my great great grandparents that still had money in their mattress because they didn’t trust the banks, because you can tell them all you want that the FDIC insures their money in that it’s digital and it’s fine. It doesn’t matter. Tell that to the person who was standing in line with a run on the banks. And in bread bowl lines, right. Like that’s, you can’t undo that experience. Right. But I think that that’s actually a good thing for a lot of businesses because we are on we are on such a high, it was just like stratosphere launch to the moon no looking back. And you know, that’s just kind of a house of cards at some point, right? And COVID was a really good wake up call. And I think it actually took out a certain percentage of businesses that I think it should I think we were overinflated, on a lot of industries. And the quality became less, because just so much volume. So you know, there’s a correction that happened there a little bit. So I think that was really cool. Um, before, before we go, there is..


Mark: One thing I just want to say real fast. And this goes to the turn thing, right? So if you’re a marketer, and you’re basing your budgets, your spin levels, on LTV, right, but you’ve got a high churn business.


JC: That’s not a good equation.


Mark: That’s a really bad equation. But you have no idea how common that is.


JC: Oh, I’m very aware of competence. I watch it every day. But you’re right. Most people don’t.


Mark: I wasn’t really talking about you I was talking about your audience has no idea.


JC: Well, you see that a lot with these, especially with startup software companies, we get big investments from Silicon Valley, right? It’s just all nitrous and they’re going for, you know, they’re going for the user acquisition quick, quick, quick and showing these graphs and stuff. But it’s like, dude, back here, you’re leaking bad, right? Like you, you can’t have this, you can’t do a quarter mile. Right? Drag Race. If you’re leaking transmission fluid at the back, at some point, your engine will blow it’ll be close to the finish line. And then everyone else is gonna pass you. Right? That’s just that’s the straight analogy right there. So, but I’m, I want to switch gears from for one last question for you. Yeah, I want to learn about you personally here. So I gave him a little quick I did my little villain, villain origin story, right? As a kid, what did what would you? What did you want to do? When you grew up? Like when you were a kid or teenager? Like, what was your goal? And then is this it? Or was it something else? And if so, how did that? Like? How did you get how to transition to this? Right?


Mark: And I’d have to say that I’m very eclectic, in terms of my background, right, I started out is as a journalist, and then as a political speechwriter in Washington, DC. Okay. And then basically, you know, there’s a long time ago now, and, and was really good at it was started to feel very icky. A lot right away. And so I decided I was get out of that. And I leapt out of the frying pan into the fire, so to speak, by joining large agencies, right. And then that, you know, it’s been a constant process of kind of, like leaving up, right, which is whatever everyone really does, right? But so I wouldn’t brand side and I kind of never went back. I stayed in very large companies and became extremely senior, you know, C suite type person in large companies. And then you kind of get I kind of, honestly, I got to a place where I kept on feeling that I had seen this movie before, over and over and over. And the people were awesome. The people were never boring, right? A lot of the business scenarios started to get a little trope ish, right? And so I was kind of like going, Man, I feel like I’m stagnating. Right? I really do. I feel like I am the frog in the boiling water. Right? And I don’t want to be the frog in the boiling water. I mean, I’m not the kind of person who will probably ever retire. Not because I can’t but because I don’t want to. Right? I mean, it’s it’s, I mean, the idea of playing golf four times a week, and doing a little bit of charity on the side is just not enough. Not not not even remotely enough for that purpose.


Mark: And so, you know, I had done everything that I had really wanted to do with analytics in sight of large corporations. And that had taken me the better part of 15 years to scale that ladder. I’m probably one less way less than 10, probably less than five B2B, CMOS, who could say that they’ve done what I’ve done in terms of by linking all of that go to market to business impact in a way that the Board says, Yeah, I believe that. Right. And so I just saw this opportunity. You know, one of the things I would say is that life is not about swing for the bleachers as much as it is solid record of singles and doubles over and over and over again, right, you look at great baseball players, you know, the the ones with really high batting averages, it those averages are built on singles and doubles.


JC: Moneyball, Moneyball, it’s only four runs, gets a four, four base hits, gets a run into, you know, always swinging for the fences is actually not overall great strategy.


Mark: That’s right. And so, actually, proof has automated Moneyball from a certain perspective. I mean, if you want to kind of make it super conversational, right, yeah, that’s really what it is. And so, but it’s not the only idea that I have, you know, and so where I’m going with this is that a lot of founders tend to try to maximize an exit. Let’s just say an exit presents itself, right? And they will, a lot of times turn it down. Because, you know, it’s not 25x, or, you know, whatever it is, right. And I think that what that says more than anything is that they feel like that this is whatever this is, is their only great idea. And if they don’t get them, you know, if they don’t leverage it to its absolute max in the exit, then they’re screwed. Right?


JC: Because is it for them? Yeah, yeah. A good friend of mine once told me money now is always better than money later. Because if you’re a creative person, you will be able to leverage the money now into more money than you would have gotten later on that same deal. Essentially, totally agree. But to your point, if you’re honest with yourself, and you unicorn on accident, yeah, sure. Maybe it is better to do it to go for the big exit. Because if you don’t really have another bag, then you


Mark: You know, one of the things that Dave Cody at Honeywell taught me, you know, to really focus on is not statistical possibilities, but probabilities, probabilities, right? 


Mark: Anything is possible, very few things are probable, right?


Mark: And if we just look at unicorns as a percentage of the total, right, yeah, not a very, very, very small.


JC: It’s literally why they call them unicorns like, I’d like the name should give you a tip as to how rare and impossible that almost is, right?


Mark: And how much how much luck is involved? Right? How much? How much of that whole thing is outside of anyone’s control?


JC: Yeah, accent on timing, market shifts, technology, politics, legal state. Yeah. So many things factored into it. Mark, this was awesome having you on here really quick, though. But I want to know, first, how can the audience reach the company specifically? And then how can anyone maybe at the higher level, if it’s another CEO of another, you know, tech company that’s trying to work with you or whatnot? How can they reach you personally? Anything you’re comfortable given?


Mark: Sure, absolutely. So proof analytics.ai is the URL for proof. So if you want to learn more about what we’re doing, that’s the place that I would certainly encourage you to go first. There’s also a lot you alluded to this earlier, there’s a lot of podcasts out there, we’re talking or other people approved for talking. So there’s a lot of let’s call them third party sources of information. 


JC: They could just search your name on Spotify, by the way for anyone listening because if you if you put Mark Stouse S T O, U S, E, in Spotify, it’ll pull up any episodes you’re on, also, so it’ll show all the different podcasts and that your episodes are I do that when I’m trying to follow certain people as well. So that’s the way they can find you.


Mark: Yeah, and then I’m been accused of being hyperactive on on LinkedIn. Right. And so if you want to reach me, you know, either out in the open, which I don’t mind, or wild, or, you know, a private message through LinkedIn, either one is great. It you don’t have to be another CEO or another senior person. I will respond. You know, if you’re trying to sell me something that’s clearly not for me. I’m not going to respond. Fair enough. Right. But if it’s a genuine thing, even if you have no intention of buying anything from proof, right, I’m happy to get to know you a little bit. Right. So totally, you know, in fact, I don’t sell a lot on LinkedIn. Because I realized that I can either sell on LinkedIn or I can help people on LinkedIn


JC: Providing values better.


Mark: Right. Can’t do both.


JC: Yeah, absolutely. Well, it’s for everyone listening out there again, if you liked what you heard today, be sure to subscribe to this podcast. Give it that five star review put some writing behind it, so the techies like us can find it. Enjoy all these amazing and helpful b2b software’s and platforms on the market today. Mark, thank you so much for being on the show. I really appreciate it and I look forward to speak with you again soon.


Mark: Hey, thanks, man. Have a good one.


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