RJ Talyor | ExactTarget to Shutterstock: A Brief History of MarTech

Media Thumbnail
  • 0.5
  • 1
  • 1.25
  • 1.5
  • 1.75
  • 2
This is a podcast episode titled, RJ Talyor | ExactTarget to Shutterstock: A Brief History of MarTech. The summary for this episode is: <p>To follow the career of RJ Talyor is to understand why Indianapolis is MarTech&apos;s capital. With early chapters at ExactTarget and Salesforce, to founding two companies in Geofeedia and Pattern89. Now Vice-President of Product Marketing for Shutterstock, after the company acquired Pattern89, RJ empowers marketers through the use of artificial intelligence.<br/><br/>In this episode, RJ talks about the history and future of marketing, the ups and downs of starting two companies, and how DE&amp;I influenced Pattern89’s core value of “building a company representative of the country”.</p><p><br/></p><p><br/><br/></p>

Mike Langellier (00:01):
In this interview series, we call The Circuit. TechPoint serves up the human stories behind the major tech headlines in Indiana. I'm your host, Mike Langellier, CEO of TechPoint. Today, we talk to RJ Talyor who is founder and CEO of Pattern89 an AI-powered software startup for marketers, recently purchased by global stock photography supplier Shutterstock, where RJ is now vice-president of product marketing. An English major, RJ's path into tech was non-traditional, but he ended up riding and contributing to the wave of marketing Tech's success as Indianapolis became a MarTech capital. He tells the stories behind starting Pattern89 in partnership with High Alpha and its acquisition by Shutterstock. He elaborates both on personal journey successes, as well as failures. Lastly, he shares how Pattern89 drove a diversity, equity, and inclusion commitment to building a company representative of the country.
Mike Langellier (01:28):
RJ Talyor (01:28):
Hey Mike.
Mike Langellier (01:29):
Welcome to The Circuit.
RJ Talyor (01:31):
Thanks for having me.
Mike Langellier (01:31):
We're excited to get into the story of Pattern89 and Shutterstock. And then also your story, here in Indy in the Indy tech community as well. So let's start with Pattern89 in 2016. You decided to found this company that you would be CEO of as well. What was happening? Why did you decide to do that?
RJ Talyor (01:54):
Yeah, well, when I graduated from college, actually, if I can go back even further to 2002, I, if you would've asked me, well, what do I want to do with my life? I would've told you I wanna be a professor and own a business. Like that's what I wanted to do. Like, you know, and, I am not a professor, but I've always wanted to, you know, start a business, own a business. And, at that time I had just left an another startup and I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do next, lots of cool opportunities, leading product, product marketing teams came my way after, you know, my experience at ExactTarget and Salesforce and, and another startup. And then, then I talked to Eric Tobias. And he said, what are you gonna do?
RJ Talyor (02:43):
And we having coffee. And I said, well, you know, I've got all these things and he's like, well, have you ever thought about starting business. I was like, well, yeah, that's actually been what I wanted to do since I graduated. And he was like, what kind of business would you start? And I said, well, I actually have three ideas for those and said, well, what are they? I was like, oh, they're, you know, bad ideas. They're dumb. And he said, well, no, come on, come on. And I was like, no, Eric, like, no, you know...
Mike Langellier (03:06):
Eric, one of the partners at High Alpha.
RJ Talyor (03:07):
Yes, exactly. Yeah. And he was like, well, cool. What are they? And I was like, okay. And then the first one I rattle 'em off. I was like, you know, marketers are trying to figure out what works all the time and they're experimenting over and over and again, and they need a better way to do that. And, you know, across my career in marketing tech...
Mike Langellier (03:24):
This is like, when they're designing a campaign or they needing to decide what to put on social media.
RJ Talyor (03:28):
Yeah. Everything. I mean, like every day there's some sort of new meme or trend or some new way of saying something there's a new offer. There's new technologies... at that time, social media, like there's like a new social media platform every day. And marketers are trying to figure out how to do more with less like the number of channels that they manage just went from like six, the ten years prior, to hundreds almost. So they needed a rapid experimentation platform yeah. To help them do that. And I was really excited about that idea.
Mike Langellier (04:03):
Hard to be creative on demand.
RJ Talyor (04:03):
Well, right. Yes. Yeah. And then you gotta figure out like how to get budget for things, and then you don't want to over budget experimental channels, all that type of stuff. So the overall problem was around trying to figure out how to experiment in a more efficient way. Yeah. And so that was kind of the core idea.
Mike Langellier (04:22):
So then, so Eric, partner at High Alpha. And which we're in today in their awesome office, facility today and, this startup studio that helps companies get started and you made the decision, Hey, I'm gonna partner up with High Alpha to launch this company. Talk about what was your rationale to doing that,
RJ Talyor (04:41):
Well, I knew that I wanted to do something in marketing tech and I wanted to work with best and truly the High Alpha team is the best. I mean that, I don't think you can dispute that in marketing tech. And I wanted the biggest... If I was gonna take a big risk like this and start a business, I wanted to make sure to partner with people who were the best. And, it sounds a little bit, a little cheesy, but I wanted people that I liked to work with me and I'd worked with other VCs and PE folks, that I didn't really care for and I really wanted to work with the team that I liked, because, you know, in startup land, it gets, you know, good times and bad times. Right? And, wanted to make sure that there was that kind of foundational respect and, that we could get through it. And that's why, so then the combination of just excellence with, mutual respect that I liked them, made a good partnership.
Mike Langellier (05:45):
So you build this company, this, with this product, this AI powered, software product to help marketers with the daily challenges that you articulated before and then fast forward four plus years. Right? And Shutterstock comes along. The brand that we know of as the one of the global leaders in providing stock photography. And so for one, and, they offer to buy the company. And so you have a decision to make. Am I gonna say yes? To selling the company? And, Shutterstock has a strategy for why they would be interested in an AI powered software product. Talk to us about both: What was the decision on your side and then also, what was the strategy for, for Shutterstock?
RJ Talyor (06:27):
Yeah. So last summer in July or June, I probably, I got an inbound email from the head of corp dev at Shutterstock saying, Hey, we're looking at, purchasing AI powered creative solutions., you wanna talk? And, you know, I said, sure, okay. You know, like it's worth 30 minutes or whatever. Right? Not thinking that it would really be what it's to become. And we had partnered with some of Shutterstock's competitors on, some ideas around combining AI and creativity with, the content that actually marketers need to execute the campaigns that they wanna do. So, we had the conversation, one thing led to another, we, pitched the solution to a set of executives at Shutterstock and they loved it and we loved that. Hmm. And, we being Jeff Cunning, who is my co-founder, and then also the executive team at Pattern89. And we were like, wait, this really feels like a good connection. And as we were in a place where we needed substantial amounts of capital to be able to, take it from just an experimentation platform or just an AI power creativity solution to an actually where you could complete the work, we were looking at all these sorts of integrations and partnerships to go from just a siloed, piece of the pie to actually becoming a part of the creative workflow
Mike Langellier (07:50):
For those marketers that not, not only wanted to pick what to get, but then had to go get it, to go buy the asset.
RJ Talyor (07:55):
Right. Exactly. And so which just became more and more compelling to actually be a part of the place where you could not only make the decision, but then execute on the decision. And, it really tied into what our vision was for the, you know, the future of Pattern89 and it tied in nicely with them. So it, it all made sense and it was a good outcome. So yeah, it was, it's sort of surreal to be honest.
Mike Langellier (08:20):
So, and congratulations. I know that is a big milestone and a big, some big decisions to make along the way. And a lot of things that are, can be, can go either way. There's just some, there's some, every discussion matters so much, every negotiation matters so much., but now fast forward, what, six or seven months later. And now, Pattern89, now Shutterstock, this team is now a big part of Shutterstock's AI, future and assets, right?
RJ Talyor (08:52):
Yeah, absolutely. So what was cool is with the acquisition of Pattern89, as well as two other acquisitions, Shutterstock announced Shutterstock.ai. As the, kind of commitment to, next gen technology, powering the Shutterstock experience. So, the entire Shutterstock team, or the entire Pattern89 team became part of, Shutterstock. And, our software engineers, data science, and product teams are leading the charge on a lot of the big Shutterstock.ai solutions. So it's again, cheesy, it's like a real proud thing for me that like the, the team is leading the charge on a lot of this stuff. And, that it's a nice continuation of the work that we were doing. Like, we haven't been like sidetrack from the vision that we had for Pattern89, but instead it's just like we're running faster with more resources and the team is excited and interested in what they're doing.
Mike Langellier (09:53):
Which is cool. There's something about making an impact on a place. And to have a team that's that you help to build. And to lead based here in Indianapolis, that is on the future horizon for a major major company. And that's, that's something that has to be of pride for you as well. You grew up here, like, this is your hometown. This is a place where you've invested your career. And you said at one point in an interview that I heard that five years into your career, you stopped apologizing from being from Indiana. And that you said I'm gonna make this part of my legacy. Talk more about that.
RJ Talyor (10:30):
Well, I mean, like credit goes to the ExactTarget executives on, on that one, and I really got on board. We would go to these sales pitches at ExactTarget. And, some of our biggest competitors were coastal. Right? So they're on the west coast or the east coast. And, we would, they would say, oh, where, you know, where's your headquarters? And we would say Indianapolis, but we have an office in New York. You know, it was always like the, the one more like, oh yeah, we have two people in Seattle, you know? And then we realized that, actually the way that we did business and the, you know, the kind of Midwestern-ness of it was actually not just folksy and, you know, folksy, but instead it was actually a strategic advantage that people wanted to be treated with respect.
RJ Talyor (11:18):
And sometimes, some of the sharp elbows, with some of our competitors actually led to bad outcomes for customers. So, we kind of doubled... or ExactTarget really doubled down on, Hey, Indy's the office and Indianapolis is the global head for ExactTarget global. They would bring everybody in for training here in Indianapolis, as a company expanded across the globe and they branded the culture as Orange. And everybody talks about the Orange culture, which is, it's a lot of things, you know, but I'm something I'm really proud of. And so, you know, I now even, you know, throughout, since then, I've always been like, yeah, I'm in Indianapolis and people then have their perceptions or, you know, misperceptions or misconceptions about what we are, but that's okay.
Mike Langellier (12:03):
So, and that ExactTarget story for those that familiar, one of the leading marketing tech companies acquired by Salesforce, a $2.7 billion acquisition. And as like, as you said, they are now one of the most talked about examples about how a company can help to define and help to really put a place on the map and to make positive impact, not only, not only kind of physically in jobs, but also culture and identity. They are the biggest part of... and now Salesforce has their headquarters of their Marketing Cloud here, and one of the largest hubs in the Salesforce tower. So all those good things. Indianapolis has become one of the kind of marketing tech capitols globally, a place where there are a lot of marketing tech companies. And there's been a lot of success, billions of dollars in acquisition, obviously ExactTarget and, Salesforce being the, being the biggest portion of that. But you've been part of the journey for multiple of those companies. And, you've seen kind of the evolution of that journey. You were at ExactTarget, your were employee number...
New Speaker (13:17):
Like 60
Mike Langellier (13:17):
Number, 60. So super early on. What do you think when you look back and analyze the, the wave of that marketing tech journey? What are some of the biggest contributors to it? What do, what do you think are some of the biggest assets or ingredients for making that possible?
RJ Talyor (13:35):
Well I think, one is timing, because MarTech was just emerging at that point. And so, that ExactTarget was founded around that time and really was an early leader in the email marketing world, and then added in mobile and social, et cetera. So I think that we were right on the, we got the timing, right. I guess, the founders of ExactTarget got the timing right. And then I also think that, with the right partners, from like a board and a venture capital perspective that really believed in the solution and, poured lots of investment and, they had the right strategy to execute on it, And then I think that other folks saw the, talent and the lowcost of living and the return that you can get on Indianapolis as compared to other places and started saying, okay, this is actually a strategic advantage. And so I think it's just that snowball effect that more and more, talent and experience in MarTech then span out to other companies and you've seen other, you know, companies put their headquarters here or other MarTech companies come and invest here, or...
Mike Langellier (14:36):
Aprimo being another big example.
RJ Talyor (14:37):
Yeah, yeah. I mean then more and more startups, want to start here because there's so much talent that knows how to, to do it and was there in the beginning and has evolved with it.
Mike Langellier (14:48):
So let's, let's now look toward the future of marketing tech. A lot has happened since you entered into the field and now you're working on the front edge of AI and marketing tech. What's on the horizon?
RJ Talyor (15:00):
I think tons. I think that, you know, I am biased, but I think that, artificial intelligence to help us make smarter decisions in marketing technology is just in its infancy, Forester, the analyst firm, said that AI-powered creativity is one of its 2022 predictions, like one of its big focus areas, in addition to other things like account-based marketing and, you know, other, other things, but I was excited to see that... Heard that last night actually. I think that, we are just at the beginning of 3D and augmented reality, virtual reality, the metaverse like, what does that mean? How do we connect in a digital and physical world? Like what does, what does that look like from a marketing perspective? And then I also think that there are giant problems to be solved in the privacy arena because people want personalized experiences and they value personalized experiences, but they also get freaked out when too much data about them is shared in DC.
RJ Talyor (16:03):
You know, there's been everything from, the new iOS to GDPR, to other privacy restrictions put on marketing, that's gonna force innovation. I mean, like I'm not exactly sure what all the solutions are gonna be, but how do you balance, personal data with the expectation that the brand knows me? You know, everything from like, I'm sure you've had somebody complain to you. They're like, well, I'm a man. Why would I get an email with, women's clothes on it? You know, it's like, like that brand doesn't know me. They're like, well, did you tell them that you're a man or that you prefer women's clothes? You know, I'm like, well, no, but I don't want to have them to have that data. You know? So it's this like balance, right? Yeah. Of, personalization versus privacy. That I think is really gonna be an interesting one to watch. So those three areas I'm giving my eye on yeah.
Mike Langellier (16:51):
Yeah, marketing in the metaverse that, that was... that, that will be with advertising capabilities built into it.
RJ Talyor (16:58):
Yes. I think that there's giant opportunities in there. And, you know, it's kind of cool because when I started my career, we were all still doing postcards. Like literally people sent out postcards and then we were trying to convince people at ExactTarget to like stop doing print or put some of their print budget into digital. And everyone was like, I don't know. I don't know. And now, and it felt like such a shift and then like, metaverse feels like, wow, that's another shift. Yeah., you know, I wonder how that'll play out. Like it, you know, that's, that's the opportunity in MarTech. So we'll see.
RJ Talyor (17:33):
So RJ, if somebody were to zoom all the way back and look at your career and just look at the highlights on it, it could look like a pretty linear success story in marketing tech. But when you then dial in a notc. You'll see that it was not so linear. There were ups and downs and there were some, there were some, some rocky stops or rocky chapters in there as well. Talk about that. It's not all just a rosey journey...
RJ Talyor (18:01):
Yeah. That's true.
Mike Langellier (18:04):
I mean your first job outta college, right?
RJ Talyor (18:06):
Well, so yeah, my... so when I first graduated from college, I took a job. I was the first class of Orr Fellows actually. And I had a placement at a company that went bankrupt, and so I truly, despite best efforts had not a lot to do. In fact, I like, one of my assignments was to walk the CEO's dog. So, and you know, I just, like, I came from like, you know, graduating on a high to like thinking, what have I, what have I done? You know, like, what am I doing? What have I done? And so I left there, so I worked for a small market research firm and I kind of got myself in there and it was a great experience, but I was like, what am I doing?
RJ Talyor (18:48):
Like, I wanted to be a professor or I wanted to start a business. And I, you know, like this isn't either of those. And so I was like, I'm gonna go to grad school. Right? Like, because that's what we do. Right? When you're like 24, you're like, I'm gonna go to grad school and that'll solve my problem. Because that's what I know. Right? Seriously go back to school. I'm good at that, but then I took a job at ExactTarget because a friend recommended it to me and I was like, sure, whatever. And they, ExactTarget was hiring for a deliverability consultant. And, I didn't know what that was and truly, I didn't know what it was. And, they said, well just, you know, you seem smart, you seem sharp. Why don't you come and join?
RJ Talyor (19:25):
And I said, I want... I just don't even know what that means. I don't, I don't know if I'll be successful. And then I said, you know what, nevermind, you guys seem great. I'll do it for six months. Because I'm going to grad school anyway. Ten years later, I was a vice-president for all messaging products at Salesforce. So, you know, through the acquisition, I just kept getting more and more responsibility at ExactTarget. I ran the mobile team and ran product marketing teams and then ran all the messaging stuff. So it aws an exciting journey. And that was awesome. And then I left there to go work for a startup that didn't exactly go belly up, but it kind of blew up in a bad way. And, that was definitely a rocky part. And then I started Pattern89 as we talked about.
RJ Talyor (20:07):
And yeah, that wasn't all a smooth ride either. I mean, you know, day-to-day to events, but yeah, it's definitely up and down and up and down. But through, throughout that you just, you know... I actually go back to DePauw where, you know, I went to... where we both went to college and, every semester I teach a class, as a part of the senior seminar, on failure and it's a three-hour course. And I talk about because at DePauw and at college, I think we talk about success so much, so we don't know what failure looks like. And every time I ask the students, I'm like, raise your hand if you've ever failed. And they're like, and they'll raise their hands and they'll say, and I'm like, well tell me about the failure. And they're like, well I was getting a C in my class. And then I went to meet with my professor and then I ended up getting an A-. I'm like, you didn't fail. You know, like what does it actually feel like to be a part of a company that just runs out of money or that gets shut down or goes bankrupt or, you know, a project that just loses a lot of money or you get fired, you know, like those types of things. And those are not experiences that a lot of people have. And certainly I didn't when I was that age either, but like getting resilience and getting through that stuff is something that, in tech world is if you can, it's super exciting because you can take risks. So yeah. Anyway, that whole failure idea, is equally important to the success and because you know, you gotta keep taking risks.
Mike Langellier (21:32):
You took a non-traditional path to tech. I mean you were an English major, right?
RJ Talyor (21:37):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I have a Master's, I did end up going to grad school while I was working. I did a part-time thing, but I have a Master's in English too. So in creative writing, so I've got this non-traditional thing and whenever people ask me about my background, they assume I have like an MBA or an engineer or something like that. And I say, no, no, I actually have a Master's in creative writing, but it it's been funny because one of, you know, I'm not, as technically deep as some of of software engineers or the data scientists or actually, you know, they're a lot more technically deep, but what I can do is I can read documentation and translate that into customer facing, stories, materials, presentations, and content. I can go out and sell it with authority.
RJ Talyor (22:23):
And, you know, my first job at ExactTarget, my first job in tech was as a deliverability consultant. And literally the first thing I did was read the CAN-SPAM act, which had come out the year before. And so I was then the expert in deliverability at ExactTarget for having read a giant boring piece of legislation, you know, but like I was, you know, then consulting with like the CMO of Home Depot on how to apply deliverability standards to a marketing program. So, you know, that non-traditional background, you can... Now, if I can't say I found that like if I went into, an interview or a meeting and said like, Hey guys, I'm an English major and I'm a storyteller and I'm a creative writer. How can I help you? You know? But instead I said, no, I'm an expert in CAN-SPAM and I can help you, you know, address your marketing strategy around this. It's like, how do you take the, what you're given and what you're good at and apply it to the situation, has always been kind of what I think about when I think about how English fits into, or my English background fits into the tech world.
Mike Langellier (23:24):
You've been a beneficiary of programs, namely the Orr Fellowship. Same with me. And I think one of the things that as I hear you tell your story, there's one component of a program like that can identify high potential individuals that maybe just don't exhibit in the box. And then can help to connect them into opportunities where they can flourish and they can add a tremendous amount of value. And then also the ability to surround them with the community of people so that when the Rocky times happen. It can help to a safety net.
RJ Talyor (23:56):
Yes, I, I would love to just like, for a second, Angie Hicks who started Angie's list in 2002, I interviewed with her for the Orr Fellowship. And I had gone through sets of interviews where people said, hey, what do you see yourself doing in five years? And I had said, I wanna own my own business or be a professor. And like I was interviewing at, you know, corporations. And they were like, okay, well maybe you're not a fit for what we want here. And so I talked to Angie, she interviewed me and she said, well, what do you wanna do in five years? And I kind of was like maybe a little bit too bold. And I was like, do you really want to know? You know, like, do you actually want to know? Or you want me to say like, I'll be working in marketing in Angie's list?
RJ Talyor (24:40):
And, I would not recommend saying what I said, but like, Angie said, well, no, I'd like to know. And I was like, I'd like own my own restaurant. And she was like, tell me about the restaurant. You know? And like, I think I haven't talked to Angie about this, but I think that what she heard was I wanna be an entrepreneur. I have an idea let's hear about your business plan for it. Let's hear about entrepreneurship. And I got the job as an, you know, like what I think what the Or Fellowship is looking for is entrepreneurs. And I was that, I just didn't have like an entrepreneurial degree. I was a part of a business program at DePauw but an English background, like how do you just, like, you're saying, how do you bridge that gap and find people who are, you know, maybe not resumed in that way, but like how do you find that talent and put them in the place...
Mike Langellier (25:26):
That takes an open mindedness. Not looking for, I've got a job rec and I'm looking for someone to fit that job rec.
RJ Talyor (25:31):
Correct? Yes. Yeah. Credit to Angie. And to the Orr Fellowship for that matter.
Mike Langellier (25:34):
Yep. Scott and bill and everybody here else make it happen. So the last thing that I wanted to touch on one of the things that I've respected about you and your, the way that you formed Pattern89 is a commitment to DE&I from the start. In the days when you weren't playing from a big corporation with a robust HR team and big budgets to go pursue DE&I initiatives. Like you, you built it in from the start. So much so that one of your stated core values was that you wanted to build a company that was representative of the country. Right? So will you talk more about, how you did that? And then what did you learn from that experience?
RJ Talyor (26:15):
So when we started Pattern89, we sat down and said, what are our core values gonna be? Core values were a big part of the success of ExactTarget. They were a big downfall of other companies that I have been a part of... like not having them. And so we said, alright, what are we we gonna stand for? And we have five core values, one of them was building a company that represents the country. Our five core values were written. They were recited in every weekly meeting that we had. Our entire team, I'm hoping would still be able to tell you the five, because we talked about them all the time and we talked about how we were living into them or not living into them and what we should do. And because of my experiences, I saw the good and bad effects of having a diverse team, an inclusive team.
RJ Talyor (27:00):
And, we wanted to have that from the very beginning because we knew that marketers look and act like all sorts of people, right. There are lots of different people who are marketers. So we needed to make sure that as we're building an AI platform that has, you know, a high probability of bias in it that we have a company that represents the country so that we can avoid some of those pitfalls. And in terms of bias, that, other platforms haven't done and gotten themselves in trouble. So by stating that up front, we found that, all sorts of people were attracted to working with us., people who come from, underprivileged or underrepresented backgrounds wanted to work with us because, as we put on our website, we want to build a company that represents the country.
RJ Talyor (27:47):
And we, you know, we showed up at events like Black Girls Code, or I was, the only man at a women's networking event. I did ask, if I could come. And they said, yeah, sure. But I was like, the only guy there out of like 120 women. Which, you know, is fine and because they said, yes, you can come. No problem, and, you know we sponsored events that were targeting, those underrepresented communities. We partnered with the Last Mile, which is a coding program for justice-involved, which is another name for formerly incarcerated individuals and gives them a career path and a path out of that, you know, experience that they have been through. And, we, invested in, sponsoring visas for international candidates who came out of, you know, top programs.
RJ Talyor (28:44):
But those are all things that startups normally don't do because they don't have the HR infrastructure to do it. And you know, I, in investigating some of this, I was told like, oh, that's complicated, it's expensive. It's not, I mean like there is money involved and you do have to read the documentation, but like it's not so much of a barrier that we should just go only hire people in the network. Right?
Mike Langellier (29:08):
And compared to the CAN-SPAM act, it wasn't that big of a deal.
RJ Talyor (29:12):
Correct. Right. Yeah. So, you know, so, we did make that early commitment and, and it paid off because not only did we have, top-notch people from, all sorts of backgrounds, but, other white guys wanted to work at our company because they're like, I wanna be a part of a company that is a part of the change. So we actually found a lot of people who were not the underrepresented people who said, hey, I want to work there because of your commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion. So, something we're really proud of and you know, we didn't do it all right. But we did it well.
Mike Langellier (29:45):
Yeah. So, so the things you commented on are the regular obstacles that get thrown up. Visa sponsorship? It's hard. I can't, I can't hire somebody who's previously incarcerated. Because what about data security issues? I've got secure data and customers, what I'm I gonna say to them? So how did you... can you just drill down a bit more tactically in like, alright, now knowing what you know what would you do again or what would you recommend to others who genuinely have a desire express a value of representation and diversity like you did? Or maybe getting the headwinds of the barriers that, that you heard as well.
RJ Talyor (30:24):
Well, the easiest one is just to show up, there is a networking event every week in Indianapolis for an underrepresented community, either in tech or not in tech. For me, I would message that the person who runs that and say like, hey, hi, I would like to come and just be a part of your community as an ally. Can I come and support you in some way? You know, we're also looking to hire in, in your community and we're trying to increase that. But listen, I just want to understand, you know, how to be a part of the community sort of ask to be invited if you will, and that's normally free, then you can move on to time commitments or time investment that everyone's looking for mentors or for, you know, opportunities to, help with career development or that type of stuff.
RJ Talyor (31:19):
That's an easy way, get on all the job boards, partner with historically black colleges and universities, like all of those things are free, you know? And then, hopefully just by showing up and being a part of the community, that's an easy way to... you know, investing time is often more expensive to an individual than throwing out a sponsorship amount, you know? And then spread the love too. Like, I would ask our team to go. I can't go to every breakfast, every morning, you know, but with a team of 25 we can set, we can spread it out and make, you know, do some nice connecting there. So those are two tactical things, and then, the third is talk to your board, you know, we went to the board and talked about ways that we wanted to increase diversity and inclusion efforts.
RJ Talyor (32:13):
And, that was super helpful, you know, because like on the risk management side, specifically working with Last Mile, the questions about that. We want to make sure we had support, you know, in the world that we were living in data AI, it's, you know, data security is a big thing. So the, the other thing is like just talking about equity, diversity and inclusion, showing up to the conversation for somebody who looks and has my background, like just being there is, is a step, you know? And, I also, from an attitude standpoint, always went into these conversations like, listen, I'm gonna make a mistake. And often people don't want to put their toe in the water because like they don't want to get zinged, you know, for saying the wrong thing or whatever. And I just sort of went in with a lot of humility, like, listen, I don't, you know, point me in the wrong, the right direction if I go in the wrong one. And, let's talk about it. And even with our team, there were some scenarios where people were made some unknowingly insensitive remarks, or you know, there was potential conflict bubbling up and I would just call the person and say like, hey, let's talk about this. What happened?, that stuff. So there's a little bit of a time component there. So those are some tactical things I think are worth pursuing.
Mike Langellier (33:36):
Well thanks for setting an example of how it can be done. And it doesn't have to be one of those things that gets deferred until later when you have the resources or you have the time or you have the bigger team.
RJ Talyor (33:46):
I think you're...the problem I hear that. And then the problem is you're so down the far down the path and you find yourself just with a team of people from your network who only look like you, and then it makes it even harder to bring in talent who is not of that demographic or whatever, because it's like, wait, I'm gonna be the only one, you know, I hear that from, candidates who are like, well, I don't wanna be the only person, you know? And so then you end up having to get over that hump. You can just start with that in mind., we heard that over and over like, oh, you guys made an early commitment to it. It creates this pipeline and then people want to join. Because they're not gonna be the only, the only one, at the table.
Mike Langellier (34:25):
Well that's wonderful. RJ. This has been a pleasure.
RJ Talyor (34:29):
Yeah. Thank you. Thanks for taking the time.
Mike Langellier (34:30):
And we're thrilled for what your leadership and your team's leadership here in marketing tech and the AI landscape is going to lead for the future here of our tech community.
RJ Talyor (34:42):
Well, thanks to youou and the TechPoint for helping enable all that too.


To follow the career of RJ Talyor is to understand why Indianapolis is MarTech's capital. With early chapters at ExactTarget and Salesforce, to founding two companies in Geofeedia and Pattern89. Now Vice-President of Product Marketing for Shutterstock, after the company acquired Pattern89, RJ empowers marketers through the use of artificial intelligence.

In this episode, RJ talks about the history and future of marketing, the ups and downs of starting two companies, and how DE&I influenced Pattern89’s core value of “building a company representative of the country”.