Consider offering fully remote work — not only does this allow businesses to cut costs on rent, in-office amenities and services like cleaning, but it gets rid of the employee’s commute and can open up a much wider pool of talent and potential customers.
As part of our series about “How To Use Digital Transformation To Take Your Company To The Next Level”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Vince Cersosimo.
Vince Cersosimo is the co-founder and CEO of Webbula. Webbula is an industry leading authority on email hygiene and an innovative data aggregator. Webbula’s innovative data aggregation includes demographic, attributive, and behavioral data points which are available offline and online.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
My name is Vince Cersosimo, I’m the co-founder and CEO of Webbula. I launched the company out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where I grew up, but went to school at West Virginia University back in its heyday (when the Dean paid off Playboy not to call us a party school). Although I handle leading the company, and boring things like paperwork and taxes, I also stock the fridge with water and take out the trash — I wouldn’t call myself a traditional CEO. My favorite food is pizza, topped with pepperoni, black olives and green peppers and if I could have any superpower, it would be a photographic memory.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
Something I’ve learned from the early days of building a business; titles are problematic. When you are starting, you have a small team, and everyone wants a meaningful title. However, over time, positions change, or you outgrow an early-stage hire. If I could do it all over again, I would probably rethink titles and allow for more change without the negative and emotional stress title changes often cause.
One of the biggest things I’ve learned is everything takes longer than expected. The key is to keep doing the right things day after day, and eventually, with a little luck and perseverance, hard work begins to pay off. My advice: surround yourself with positive people or want each other to succeed. There are good days and bad days, and having the right team of people focused on a common goal makes it all worth it.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Webbula’s other co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, Douglas Egeth, has been through this journey with me since day one. We wouldn’t be where we are today without his innovation, foresight and leadership. Together, our experience in the email world compliments each other very well, coming from essentially two different sides of the same coin. Webbula was founded as an Email Service Provider, (ESP) but we soon quickly realized the overwhelming need within the industry, and that need was truth in data.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz is my personal favorite book. The reason being is that I am a “1st time” CEO so I am learning on the job everyday. Being a CEO comes with new challenges, so when you fail you have to fail fast and learn quickly.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?
Truth is incredibly hard to come by in the data industry, which is why it’s at the heart of what we do. Webbula set out to be the leaders in data accuracy and transparency while achieving and maintaining the scale our clients’ need to meet their growth objectives. We’ve been ranked as a leader in data accuracy by independent, third-party consumer intelligence organizations — doing it the right way isn’t always the easy way, but it’s worth it.
Are you working on any new, exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?
Yes! As previously mentioned, finding truth in data is core to what we do — and data is a fascinating way to learn more about people, but it can also be very biased. We’re working on addressing, and eliminating, bias in multicultural and inclusive identity data to create a more accurate representation.
Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion about Digital Transformation. For the benefit of our readers, can you help explain what exactly Digital Transformation means? On a practical level what does it look like to engage in a Digital Transformation?
When a company undergoes a Digital Transformation, they’re incorporating technology into your business to streamline processes, increase efficacy, save money and help employees to work smarter instead of harder. On a practical level, this can mean anything from digitizing records to synthesizing data from sales communications to determine the most successful approach, or most engaged audience. That’s where Webbula comes in.
Which companies can most benefit from a Digital Transformation?
In the time of COVID, nearly every company has been forced to initiate some types of Digital Transformation — whether that’s converting your physical offerings to digital offerings, or simply conducting business remotely for the first time. At Webbula, we find the companies that most benefit from our services are those that are trying to optimize sales funnels and don’t have insight as to what’s working and what’s not.
We’d love to hear about your experiences helping others with Digital Transformation. In your experience, how has Digital Transformation helped improve operations, processes and customer experiences? We’d love to hear some stories if possible.
Cedar Fair is one of the largest regional amusement resort operators in the world, owning properties like Cedar Point, Kings Island, and Knott’s Berry Farm. Each year, Cedar Fair hosts nearly 27 million visitors across all of its properties, making communication between the brand and its guests a primary focus.
From teens spending the day with their friends at a park to families with young kids and grandma and grandpa, Cedar Fair parks run the gamut of ages and number of visitors. All those guests create a lot of data for Cedar Fair — and very quickly, the data points increase exponentially, and tying behavior to customer profiles can be exceedingly difficult.
To learn more about their guests and create a better pre-park, in-park, and post-park experience, Cedar Fair works hard to de-anonymize data, which in turn improves Cedar Fair’s bottom line. One area of focus is the in-park wifi. Cedar Fair wants guests to have to register for it only one time, forever. Post email cleansing, the legitimate addresses Cedar Fair receives has made it increasingly more efficient to data farm on their channels. So much so that in one year Cedar Fair has increased its marketable population by 1.5 million people.
Has integrating Digital Transformation been a challenging process for some companies? What are the challenges? How do you help resolve them?
Digital Transformation can be super challenging depending on what the reason for it is — for many over the past year, they’ve implemented technology as a means of survival.
Ok. Thank you. Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are “Five Ways a Company Can Use Digital Transformation To Take It To The Next Level”? Please share a story or an example for each.
1. Enable real-time communication — tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, GChat and more can help your team work together while still remote, and make customers feel like they always have access to internal support.
2. Leverage email marketing — if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s what when customers aren’t getting to you, you have to meet them where they are.
3. Use data to tap into smaller audiences — your target demographic will likely find you naturally. Try to seek out the smaller, one-off use case customers that can add up to a significant segment of your overall audience and fuel growth.
4. Remember your employees — more often than not, work can be streamlined with a variety of add-ons, databases or insight. Determining which are most helpful can increase productivity and more offset the cost.
5. Consider offering fully remote work — not only does this allow businesses to cut costs on rent, in-office amenities and services like cleaning, but it gets rid of the employee’s commute and can open up a much wider pool of talent and potential customers.
In your opinion, how can companies best create a “culture of innovation” in order to create new competitive advantages?
Being open-minded, and giving employees a seat at the table. Sometimes, we’re so focused on the big picture that we can lose sight of the people on the ground every day making it happen — and often, they can have some of the best ideas.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.” — Arthur Ashe
When I met my co-founder Doug, we both recognized the overwhelming need for truth in the data industry, but I had no experience starting a company. I’ve always been motivated by the idea that every great company, or product, simply starts as an idea — and then you have to do whatever you can to make it a reality.
How can our readers further follow your work?https://www.pinterest.com/webbula/
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!