Trending: 5 things no one tells you about starting a startup

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Outleads CEO Dorin Rosenshine (center) on stage at Internet Week.

Ever seen an advertisement, supposedly targeted for you, that clearly missed the mark? Maybe flower shopping led to a barrage of wedding dresses or planning a do-it-yourself project caused your news feed to flood with homes for sale.

These marketing mismatches happen because advertisers track your online activity, a metric that doesn’t show the whole consumer picture. Outleads, a Seattle startup, hopes to broaden that lens so that advertisers can more effectively target consumers.

“Our set of patented and proprietary technologies enable digital advertising to be superbly targeted, giving consumers a more relevant experience and advertisers a better ROI,” said CEO Dorin Rosenshine.

Outleads CEO Dorin Rosenshine
Outleads CEO Dorin Rosenshine

The Microsoft Ventures-backed startup tracks when users call or submit a form on a website, so marketers can follow up. Outleads hopes to leverage its technology to disrupt the digital marketing industry standard.

We caught up with Rosenshine for this Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature.

Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “We enable advertisers to adjust online advertising to a specific consumer based on that consumer’s offline activity — for example, a car dealership recognizing that a potential customer did a test drive (offline activity) and showing a specific online ad to that potential customer based on that activity.

Inspiration hit us when: “I realized that my technology can introduce a new industry standard. Advertising can only be adjusted based on online activity, not offline activity. Ad personalization is widespread — nearly every brand employs it to some degree — but incorporating offline activity into it is currently a cumbersome and highly inaccurate process.”

VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “I’ve bootstrapped the company thus far because I wanted to validate the product and gain initial traction before approaching investors. I do plan to raise a round later in 2015 to expand and accelerate adoption of the technology.”

Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “We use cookies to match online and offline activity, which has 100 percent accuracy. The industry standard is to use personal information, such as an e-mail address, phone number, or even mailing address. This method has very low accuracy rates — around 30 percent — meaning that the correct customer is only found 30 percent of the time.”

outleads

The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Accepting every invitation to pitch, even if we didn’t think we were ready or that anything would come of it. It’s how we ended up at Microsoft Ventures’ accelerator, which is helping us to move forward tremendously.”

The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Being afraid to speak about our technology and unique methods early on. We didn’t always have the open approach that we recommend to others — it has slowed or delayed our progress, and likely caused us to miss opportunities, as well.”

Would you rather have Gates, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “We believe that Gates will be the most valuable for us because he knows how to scale rapidly while maintaining profitability. We’re also a bit biased because we are a Microsoft Ventures company.”

Our favorite team-building activity is: “Ping pong.”

The biggest thing we look for when hiring is: “Passion to understand our technology and deep belief that it can change the digital advertising landscape.”

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “When your motivation lags, ask yourself how you’d feel if you shut down and a month later, found out that someone else launched the same service — would you feel like you’ve missed out?”

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