Jana, Formerly Txteagle, Unveils Strategy for “Giving 2 Billion People a Raise”—A Talk with CEO Nathan Eagle

10/11/11Follow @gthuang

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the technology—we’ve got a bunch of IP around it—but the core asset really for us is the people. Instead of putting more money in the pockets of people who own billboards, [let’s] put that money directly into the pockets of the consumer. That’s our plan for being transformative.”

He’s talking about billboards and advertising because that’s where the money to compensate consumers will come from—at least that’s the plan. “It’s naïve to think that that money’s coming from research,” Eagle says. “Research in these emerging markets is a reasonable business—and it’s a business that will be profitable—but if we want to give 2 billion people a raise, we need to think about where that money’s coming from.”

Not surprisingly, Eagle points out that global advertising has “massive inefficiencies.” He asserts that the developing world spends close to $200 billion a year on mainstream mass media: things like billboards, radio ads, and TV ads. “But the people who are actually being exposed to it, far fewer are prospective consumers,” he says. “It’s not like these global brands are unaware of the benefits of targeted marketing, but there’s just no way to go out and identify an individual, because the data about these people doesn’t exist.”

Which brings us back to what Jana is trying to provide. Of course, it will face obstacles, especially as a young startup, in trying to make big changes across the developing world. Eagle admits that “the biggest challenge is our location—the liability of being based in Boston or San Francisco when at the end of the day, the market is in India or Brazil.” But that’s where having local offices around the world will come into play.

Lastly, Eagle hinted at a possible future direction for his company: applying its technology to mobile commerce. “Coupons work in a place like Boston because we’ve got barcode scanners,” he says. “But in rural India, how are you going to redeem the coupon? I think we have something that is fundamentally different. While a lot of people have tried different mechanisms for couponing, what makes us fairly unique is our redemption strategy.”

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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