Jonathan Zimmerman

Of all the events at ad:tech New York, the four Startup Spotlights may be the most entertaining. In these short, hourlong sessions, the audience gets to watch four hungry startups, selected from an initial pool of hundreds, compete for a monetary prize and business relationship with a major brand. They pitch on the merits of their company and their vision for how they could improve business in four separate fields: Shopper, Mobile, Data & Analytics and Social Video & TV. It’s like a live episode of Shark Tank, but without all the dramatic music and bickering.

In fact, in the case of the Gap Shopper Marketing Challenge, the representatives from Gap had such a hard time selecting a winner that they agreed to talk afterward with all four companies about their digital marketing plans. But still, only one could win the prize. Let’s go through each of the companies and the cases they made and then see who won.

Point Inside

Point Inside helps retailers engage their customers by leveraging mobile technologies. By imputting the customer’s search history, purchase history, location data and other information into their algorithms, they can automatically output targeted messages, ads, coupons, etc.

“We are able to know where the shopper and the products are inside the store within a few feet,” boasted CMO Todd Sherman. This precision allows them to actively affect the customer’s in-store shopping experience, as well as the out-of-store experience.

As for their pitch to Gap, Todd focused on the Athleta brand of women’s sports apparel, offering all sorts of ways to extend the brand experience, including in-store kiosks to set up a custom profile for targeted rewards.


Roximity is a location-based ad messaging service targeting customers with highly specific location-based SMS and Push messages. With a successful track record of campaigns for major companies like Qdoba, Roximity has positioned itself at the front of the mobile marketing field. “We’re capitalizing on the holy grail of advertising: Right ad, right place, right time, right customer,” said President and COO Austin Gayer.

That’s not all they’re capitalizing on. “Connected cars are the next big mobile platform,” he continued, introducing their partnership with four major car companies to display messages on car screens. Messages of this type included displaying deals as a customer pulled up to a store or mall.

For Gap, Gayer emphasized the kinds of unique data he could gather from customers. For example, he revealed their finding that customers are more likely to be around Gap stores Saturday evening than Sunday afternoon.


Another innovative targeted marketing startup, Pursway sets it sights on targeting and identifying one extremely attractive type of consumer: Influencers. “We use big data proprietary algorithms to identify those who, when they buy something, cause their friends to buy something as well,” explained founder Ran Shaul.

Shaul was very careful to explain these terms, emphasizing that “friends” means real friends, not just Facebook friends or social media contacts, and “influencers” means someone who directly influences at least two or three other people to buy a specific product. “Once we can identify the influencer,” he added, “we can communicate with them in a way that makes them feel special.

He seemed visibly excited about what Pursway could do with Gap’s customer information in their system, “If Gap gives us access to the client base, we can come back to them and say ‘these people are friends with these people, and these people influence these people’s purchasing.”


ifeelgoods helps marketers incent, convert and reward their audience with instant fulfillment of gifts from companies like Facebook, Amazon, Apple and more. With a huge buzz and over 100 clients including Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola and Universal Pictures, ifeelgoods was the clearly the most established of the four startups.

Founder Michael Amar asserted that “digital rewards boost ad performance, increase vitality and earned media, and improve conversion rates.” He said the company could incentivize virtually any action. He hoped to replicate their success with other major brands by using the prize money to build a robust system to target and reward Gap customers.

But in the end, the winner was…Point Inside! And really, all four of the companies, who impressed both the judges and the audience, and who seem poised to herald the next level of digital marketing.

This article is part of Allvoices’ series on ad:tech, the largest digital marketing and technology conferences and expositions. Check out for more of Allvoices’ ad:tech New York event coverage. This series is supported by ad:tech.