Cataboom And The Game Of Behavioral Marketing

By Common Desk - December 16th, 2014

Who are you and what are you up to?

CataBoom is a simple concept. We are a marketing platform that rewards your company’s desired behaviors from consumers on mobile, online and social. We give your target audience a powerful incentive. We allow you to randomly or systematically reward people with both guaranteed prizes and covered prizes through a game mechanic.

And now we have made it so easy to work with us—from “Click and Go”, which allows you to be up in minutes, to a totally custom solution.

The core technology has been used for 15 years for companies such as McDonalds, Sony, AT&T and more for promotional purposes. Now we have automated the technology to be a reward system for behavioral marketing. We are finalizing deals with NBC, Fox, Sarcom MediaVest, Viacom (Comedy Central, Spike TV, MTV), Williams Interactive, The Richards Group and Curse.

We do have a parent company (SCA Promotions), but we get to run wild and free….for the most part. We have a few employees that still reside at their offices in north Dallas but the main team in here at the wonderful Common Desk.

Tell us your story.

It started as a consulting agreement for me in September of 2012 to help SCA Promotions build a digital strategy. It became clear there was an advantage to run it as a separate entity.

We knew from the second month in we were up to something big but knew it would take time to get the brand and product to where it needed to go. It started out as Tony Ebert (president) and myself (CEO). We built an SDK (software development kit) initially but knew, long term, automation was the key. Once we convinced the parent company (summer of 2014), the real fun began. We brought on Wally Schlaegel, who ran digital for Fossil, as our Chief Product Officer and Bill Kennedy (Chief Technical Officer), who built the original technology for our parent company. Then we added two more team members to help Bill build the product (Erik Hoagenson: UI/UX and Trent Straughan: Front End). We also utilized team members in the corporate office to help spread the word and a great creative designer from Austin. And just 2 weeks ago we added Chris Gannett as our Chief Revenue Officer (Sony, American Idol/Core, Nabisco, Dr. Pepper). He is in NYC but will be moving to Dallas in April or May to join us at The Common Desk. Please welcome him when he arrives.

What sets you apart from others in your industry?

No one can do what we do when it comes to:

  1. The ability to provide prize coverage (similar to insurance) for up to $1 million within minutes when you want to offer a life-changing prize but don’t have the budget
  2. Time to market between 10 minutes and 10 days. Anyone else takes 12 weeks.
  3. Instant fulfillment of prizing for guaranteed-to-win prizes (i.e. coins for mobile games to digital gift cards).
  4. Several game mechanics we have created to allow our client or ourselves to build branded gamified promotion in minutes (i.e. scratch and reveal, scratch-offs, slot machines, polling, etc.)
  5. The simple link we provide to launch the HTML5 responsive design game mechanic across social, mobile and web that is completely secure against things like bots.
  6. And the best part, your ability to reward on multiple customer touch points from a single link. We even scrape twitter data in real-time to deliver links when people Tweet what you want them to tweet.

How are things going?

Wow. The size and magnitudes of the deals are fun and scary at the same time. We have a road-map to not only expand the current technology but do some other cool things that we can’t quite reveal yet….

What are your biggest challenges?

Two issues are what we face the most: 1. New clients pulling us away from completing our platform timelines. This is the typical challenge of revenue versus product development. Balancing this is a delicate situation and a challenge when you have investors, or in our case a parent company, footing the bill.

  1. Focus is another challenge. Our product can help lots of different verticals. As small team, we have to pick where to give our focus. Too much focus on a smaller set of industries can also lead to lack of growth and revenue if you don’t knock it out of the park. It’s all about balance.

Our future challenge will be managing growth and ensuring we can scale in both technology and general growth of the company.

What are the two most valuable things you have learned since starting your business?

  1. Hire the best: It’s a lesson that I learned in all my startups, but it sometimes can be forgotten if you are working within a budget. That said, I would rather have one strong dedicated person that cost me the same as 10 people who do an OK job.
  2. Focus on the Product: If you are not going to make it the best, don’t bother. Again, this is not a new lesson, but is an important one.

What’s your favorite part of your work?

Oh the travel…not!

I love our team. They have consumed the juice and come in each day wanting to build a great company.

It’s also fun to see the expressions I get when I demo our product to companies when we truly solve a major issue for them.

What is the most time-consuming part of your work?

Did I mention travel…

Do you get much free time? How do you spend it?

We believe in and encourage a strong work and family balance. Family comes first, but there is a good chance you will see work emails flying after the kids go to bed. I think the new work schedule (due to technology) allows you to plug in work outside the 9 to 5 and plug in family/play within the 9 to 5.

Me personally, I love to run and go the gym (time permitting). Running is my chance to meditate and let my brain rest.

Where are you going from here?

To some degree, your clients and markets drive this answer. I really try and listen to what the clients say. Even little things in passing can lead to innovation.

We do have a road-map, and again I can’t give details. I can say that the company will build technologies to expand in the area of behavioral marketing and within the present focus and verticals.

Are you thinking about expanding your team?

Every day. Right now we need developers. Come find Wally Schlaegel to find out what we are looking for now.

What is the impact of your business/ industry on your local community? On society?

We want to change the mindset and way marketers and consumers interact. We believe consumers deserve to be rewarded when a brand asks them to do something. We also believe brands can expect more from consumers when they do.

Why did you decide to office at The Common Desk?

We needed to find a place of our own and not inside our parent company. We love the owners, space and the idea of being around innovative, motivated people. The energy is undeniable.

Are you working on a Mac or a PC?


What are two mobile apps that you couldn’t work without?

LinkedIn and Asphalt 8

What’s your favorite place to eat in Deep Ellum?

I am on a diet so I just eat protein, so I go to Baker’s Ribs for a slab of smoked turkey breast.

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Common Desk isn’t just a coworking space; it’s a tight-knit community of game-changers, difference-makers, and global influencers.
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