Freshly Funded Integrate, steered by Skier and NFL Vet, Storms NYC
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of eyeballs.” So they started building a technology that would boost MDInfo’s distribution across the Web. Meanwhile, they watched in amazement as one ad-tech startup after another burst onto the scene. “Hundreds of companies were offering technology for advertising on Facebook, hundreds were offering it for TV. There were many companies offering one or two channels,” Bloom says. “We wanted to use our technology to integrate both the methods of advertising and the performance metrics.” Bloom and Cunningham turned their attention away from MDInfo and began focusing on Integrate.
Bloom believes his company’s multi-pronged approach will help it stand out against the competition, though he’s well aware he could face some formidable rivals. Google, for example, has started to automate some of its channels, he says. “No matter what we do, we’re going to be competing for advertisers,” he says.
Needless to say, Bloom knows a thing or two about competing. And after initially shying away from his past life as a sports celebrity, he has learned to embrace the lessons he learned from being a successful athlete. “When you look at the competitive nature of ad tech—all the companies getting funded, all the innovation happening—it’s really no more competitive than the NFL,” he says. “I think I understand what needs to be done to be successful.”
Bloom adds that he learned the importance of teamwork and communication from Michael Tomlin, head coach of the Steelers. “What I took away from the way he led the team is that group dynamics are really important,” Bloom says. “And I knew where I stood with him every day. I respected that.” Bloom says he applies that knowledge to his interactions with Integrate’s salespeople, whom he works closely with to build action plans and assess performance.
Bloom did learn one hard lesson from a not-so-positive sports experience—a run-in with the National Collegiate Athletic Association. After playing football for the University of Colorado for two years, the NCAA ruled that Bloom couldn’t take endorsement contracts related to his skiing and still play amateur football. So he gave up his collegiate football career, took the endorsements for the 2006 Games, then was drafted into the NFL. The lesson? “Life’s not always fair,” he says. “It’s true in business, as well.” An NFL-sponsored education program allowed Bloom to complete his business degree at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. (In the video below, Bloom talks about how his sports experiences shaped his business career.)
Now Bloom is focusing on deploying Integrate’s new funding towards improving the company’s reach and capabilities. The company is working on integrating audience-analysis tools that will be able to profile people based on their e-mail addresses, he says. “Say you sign up for a daily-deals site,” he says. “That company can see what you’re buying and use the information to better target campaigns to you.” Integrate may also eye a European expansion with help from Integrate’s new VC Liberty Global, which is the second-largest cable provider in the world, Bloom says. He plans to expand his New York staff to 20 by the end of the year.
All in all, Bloom’s ambitions for his startup are about as big as the sports dreams he had when he was a kid. “We want to be the go-to platform for advertisers,” he says.