Amperity: When It Comes To Selling CDP Tech, Honesty Is The Best Policy

This is the third in AdExchanger’s “Meet the CDPs” series. Read previous interviews with mParticle and Acquia-owned AgilOne.

Amperity is more than happy to explain to clients and prospects what its technology isn’t designed for.

Candor helps win deals, said CEO Kabir Shahani, who co-founded the company in 2016. Amperity came out of stealth mode the following year.

“When we ask clients why they selected us, one of the top things they say is, ‘Because you’re honest about what you do and what you don’t do,’” Shahani said.

Amperity has API connectors, but it doesn’t specialize in data movement; journey orchestration isn’t a core offering; and customer data is the only kind of data it handles.

“We get asked all the time, ‘Can you do product data?’ We get asked for B2B use cases or about sending email or doing marketing activation,” Shahani said. “If what you need is sophisticated journey orchestration, that’s cool, we’re probably not the right choice for you now – but you also clearly have a data problem.”

And solving data problems is Amperity’s main jam.

“We focus on the customer pain and needs, not on what everybody else is doing,” Shahani said. “It’s amazing to me how many companies do things just because a competitor is doing them.”

Amperity’s customer roster includes Brooks, Alaska Air, Lucky Brands, MGM Resorts, J. Crew and Starbucks. Headcount is 160 with roughly 75% of employees focused on engineering and/or product. The plan is to grow to around 200 people by the end of the year.

AdExchanger spoke with Shahani.

AdExchanger: Did you start as a CDP?

KABIR SHAHANI: One hundred percent yes. The problem we solve has been the same since Day One, which is to help people know their customers. But everyone says they started as a CDP, which can make it hard to break through.

What data sources do you commonly connect?

It’s really everything to do with the customer: transaction data, including ecommerce and in-store; web analytics; mobile analytics; mobile response data; marketing and email response data. We believe that literally any time there is an engagement between a customer a brand, that has to be captured.

Who is your typical customer?

We sell exclusively to B2C across travel, hospitality, retail, healthcare, automotive and financial services. Our customers are generally mid-size and higher. If you have sub-$50 million of revenue, we’re probably not a great fit for you today, although maybe over time we’ll have SMB products.

What is the main problem your customers are trying to solve?

Problem No. 1 is data silos. They’ve got data in a bunch of different places and they can’t bring it together. Some have a data lake or some kind of customer hub, but they simply can’t connect it.

How many customers do you have?

Two years ago we had two customers, and we’ve tripled the business every year. With our acquisition of Custora, our customer count is now in the many dozens.

How long does it take to onboard a new customer?

We’re passionate about the idea of speed to value. Most vendors will say it’s really easy to get data into their systems – and then they hand the customer a six-inch thick manual with all of the things they have to do to format the data to get it to the vendor. The process is error prone and laden with challenges and delays.

We built a system that allows you to dump in your raw data without any transformation. We have the scale and sophistication to clean it up and train machine learning models. A customer’s internal processes also really impact the timeline. If they have their data co-located, it will be faster. It can be as fast as 30 days and we’ve seen it go as long as six or seven months. We stood up Planet Fitness, for example, in 30 days from start to finish.

Who are your biggest competitors?

It’s mostly internal builds, companies choosing between home-grown solutions and licensing Amperity. We’re hearing Adobe and Salesforce come up a ton. More customers are saying, “We know they have a solution, how do you guys compare?”

Salesforce and Adobe are getting more aggressive, because they know this is a big opportunity to help customers, and they’re investing more in marketing and sales to get their message out to the market.

How does your product differentiate?

With our ability to assemble a customer 360 at scale and give you all the insight you need to make decisions and activate those customer profiles. Every other company that claims it’s a CDP – and I’m not saying they’re not – is usually really focused on something else, like email optimization or personalization or journey orchestration; something that is not core to the customer data. The really hard technical problem is being able to connect data at scale without a common key, and that is what we do.

How much money have you raised?

$87 million, and we don’t have immediate plans to raise more capital.

What do you think about the marketing clouds getting into the CDP space?

It’s a validation and a challenge. These companies will pump a bunch of spend into the market for education and awareness. Our job is to show up consistently for our customers and prospective customers.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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