An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Eric Mayhew (founder, president, and Chief Product Officer) of Fluency, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of Fluency – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
Historically, advertising operations have been challenged by margin compression, an intensive environment, and difficulty meeting client goals, so we set out to empower businesses to move much more earth with much less effort. From there, the four of us founded Fluency in 2017, the first digital advertising platform to use Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to automate the time-consuming, repetitive tasks related to digital marketing.
Take a look at the difference between a shovel and an excavator. This is an analogy I love to use to explain what the platform’s concept is. Sure, both of them can do the same job – manual work is of course possible with a shovel. However, you can empower the same people to do more in less time, with an excavator. That’s the passion story of Fluency – you’ll still get the same tasks accomplished, just with a lot less sweat to get there.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
As a product first thinker, I had a massive wishlist for our product, so the challenge was knowing when to bring in our first client, since they needed to be very patient and were highly likely to churn with this being an early product offering. Ultimately, you want to get to the point where you can get real user feedback, ensure assumptions are resonating with real clients, and that the product works in a real world environment. However, we didn’t want to do that before we had a compelling feature set and a narrative that met our clients needs. Finding the balance between having the right, minimal viable product, while also not overbuilding without real user feedback, was a huge hurdle initially.
What does the future hold for Fluency?
Growth is amazing right now. We have invested a lot over the last several years to build what we believe to be the best-in-class product for process automation for advertising. After a few years, we’re really starting to feel that benefit, which gives us some space to look forward to the future and help our clients become even more strategic with their time.
We love being the company that can find a way to make processes that allow agencies to rapidly embrace new technologies, test them, and move forward. It’s also important to help those agencies continue to improve labor savings through our platform. We believe the hypothesis is, if we save companies’ labor with what they do today, they will be the innovators of tomorrow. We have a lot at play right now for our clients to become more strategic with their time; it’s our priority to make analysts feel like superheroes in our platform.
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Burlington?
Being from rural Vermont, I am blown away by the innovators in the local area. We got our start at the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET) co-working space, which was critical to our startup story and where we met many other innovators. I just love the yin and yang of what Burlington can bring and how it cultures and fosters innovation. I am currently looking out the window at Lake Champlain, one of the most beautiful places on the planet, in a very technical environment that truly nurtures innovative thinkers. There’s creativity all over this town. There’s enthusiasm and energy, and a startup vibe that feels amazing to be part of.
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Be ready to put in the work. There’s a lot of people that go into starting a tech business with the philosophy that after a year or two they will have an amazing exit and everything is going to be easy, but the truth is that you will earn every dollar that you make. There’s no question about it. You and your families should be prepared for hard work – you cannot go into this naïve. That’s a recipe for disaster. The reward can be worth the risk, but you have to put in the energy to get there. We went into this well knowing that there would be many hard years in front of us before we were ready to have the celebration that we’re feeling right now. It was truly a journey to get here.