Matt Tyner | Wunderkind: The Rise of RaaS (Revenue-as-a-Service)

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This is a podcast episode titled, Matt Tyner | Wunderkind: The Rise of RaaS (Revenue-as-a-Service). The summary for this episode is: <p>Today we talk to Matt Tyner, Vice-President of People Operations and GM at Wunderkind. Wunderkind helps ecommerce marketers create one-to-one customer experiences at scale through all the channels they own. In this episode, we talk about Matt’s journey into tech, how the company has evolved since its start and what’s on the horizon for Wunderkind.  </p>

Jordan Isaacs (00:00):
Matt. It is so great to be at the Wunderkind office today in downtown Indianapolis, we are right by where the Pacers play. You get have a prime spot. This is awesome.
Matt Tyner (01:10):
Yeah, this is incredible. So our roots actually started at 91st and Meridian. Believe it or not. So coming down here, access to all the energy in downtown Indianapolis has just been an incredible change of pace for Wunderkind.
Jordan Isaacs (01:25):
Yep. You have two floors, like, this is, we walked through the entire space. This is really cool. So we're excited you're down here.
Matt Tyner (01:32):
We are trying to set the bar high for what it means to be a technology company here in Indianapolis.
Jordan Isaacs (01:36):
Yep. You're doing a great job.
Matt Tyner (01:37):
Thank you.
Jordan Isaacs (01:38):
So for folks that aren't, aware of Wunderkind or don't exactly know what you do, kind of give me the overview. So who are you? Who do you serve? What are you about?
Matt Tyner (01:49):
Yeah. So Wunderkind very simply is a market-leading performance marketing engine. And it really focuses on, retail and other verticals that operate like retail with a focus on email marketing, text message, marketing and onsite personalization to transform a consumer's experience on a retailer's website, to best meet their needs. Very simply we pair audience segmentation, technology — SmarterHQ now Wunderkind Audiences with Wunderkind's identity network to be able to guarantee Revenue-as-a-Service, to our customers, because that's where the SaaS industry is headed. No more SaaS. 2022 is really the beginning of what I think we will see in MarTech specifically, which is guaranteed Revenue-as-a-Service.
Jordan Isaacs (02:44):
Interesting. I wanna unpack a couple things there. So as I just think about the consumer experience, so I'm walking into the Target, we're having a baby, so going to be purchasing a lot of things, how does Wunderkind interact with me?
Matt Tyner (03:00):
Yeah. So what we're ultimately setting out to do and what the MarTech industry at large is trying to solve for is the creation of that one-to-one experience that you have at Target but in the online world. Okay. So think about your experience when you're walking through a mall or through a store and how those things can be replicated in your experience with a brand online.
Jordan Isaacs (03:23):
Got it. Got it. That makes good sense. You talked a little bit about how the, the industry's gonna change and I think, I'd like you to go a bit more deep into that kind of, what does that look like moving out?
Matt Tyner (03:38):
Yeah, totally. And I, I think I'll start with the challenges that retailers are faced with, right? Those challenges are very much the same that they've been since we got started in 2010, more traffic, more eyeballs, and an ability to convert those customers at a faster clip. So everything that we're doing in MarTech is in response to the retail challenges, the challenges that retailers face rather. Yep. today more so than ever with the onsite, our onset of, social media and influencer marketing, for example. Micro-brands, really pushing big box retailers, to take a similar approach in how they engage with the hearts and minds of their consumers. Really forces those retailers to leverage technology like Wunderkind to try to get as close to that one-to-one experience as possible that you had at Target.
Jordan Isaacs (04:33):
So MarTech is kind of a crowded space. How did, or what opportunity to Wunderkind see, and what specific challenges are you trying to solve for those customers or potential customers?
Matt Tyner (04:45):
Definitely. I think the opportunity is how retailers leverage the behavioral data that they have available to them, got to solve for who and how, what audience to, to receive what message at what time got it. and we leverage data to do that. so it's the combination of Wunderkind's platform with SmarterHQ now Wunderkind Audiences. That allows best of breed segmentation capabilities, the who, to be combined with, the best of breed identity technology that Wunderkind had, that really allows you to address that opportunity in this market.
Jordan Isaacs (05:22):
Got it. So timing's really key on that?
Matt Tyner (05:24):
Timing is huge.
Jordan Isaacs (05:25):
Trying to figure out when that customer potential customer is on a website, and being able to identify them and make sure you're serving correctly. Yeah.
Matt Tyner (05:35):
How do you capture that intent, right. When you're in a store, when you're in Target to your previous example, right? You have in-store reps, that can service you in a way that is tougher to replicate online. So there's enough data out there to inform the strategy. It's about codifying that data together to be able to address that opportunity. Ultimately increased conversions, which is why, we guarantee revenue for our customers Revenue-as-a-Service, is to say that we're willing to bet that our technology can change the way your consumers convert.
Jordan Isaacs (06:13):
All of those challenges you've been solving for your customers and really season that opportunity. you guys have been growing like crazy,
Matt Tyner (06:19):
Like crazy. Yeah. Like crazy. So we were acquired in November of 2020. Here in Indianapolis alone, we went from 26 headcount to over 175 here in Indianapolis today. That's in 16 short months since that acquisition, that we've been able to witness that type of growth. and I really think that's driven by a couple of factors first, anytime that you combine forces with a competitor in space you stop cannibalizing each other from a go-to-market perspective. The second is the customer gets the combined offering of both entities. Yeah. so whether it's growth oriented or to stave off customer churn. That becomes, a really strong strategy in market. And then ultimately to meet the needs of that growth, we need, the best of breed talent here in Indianapolis. Here in our office in New York. In London. We just open a space in Montreal. A space in Amsterdam. Focusing on growth in APAC, with the potential presence in Australia. To meet the needs of that growth really, really exciting time here at Wunderkind.
Jordan Isaacs (07:29):
Matt. So you're a Hoosier.
Matt Tyner (07:32):
I am.
Jordan Isaacs (07:32):
You started your journey here in Indianapolis IU grad, big IU fan.
Matt Tyner (07:37):
Jordan Isaacs (07:37):
Went to Kelly, and got an MBA there. And then during the year started your journey with SmarterHQ in the early 2010s. So did you always think you were going into tech?
Matt Tyner (07:49):
No, it's, it's interesting. It's something that, you know, I've, I've talked to TechPoint a lot about. I've talked to my peers about, because the offerings at IU when I went to school was entrepreneurship. Right? Not finance, accounting, marketing, some of these other, you know, typical paths that you'll take in business school, but this blanket umbrella. Entrepreneurship, what it didn't offer, was exposure to just how challenging and how much fun the technology industry can be. So I actually studied accounting and finance, down at IU, got an MBA in accounting and spent two years at a public accounting firm, before I joined forces with SmarterHQ, I got access to this opportunity, because I had a career mentor at the time ex-CMO of Simon actually who had made an early-stage investment Smarter, who really was, the catalyst for what's taken place over the last 10 years. Me jumping head-first into technology, into entrepreneurial finance. And really loving every moment of that journey up to this point.
Jordan Isaacs (09:02):
Yeah. It sounds like that, that was my question. I was gonna ask, how did Smarter come up? So it sounds like a mentor really, that was investing, in Smarter as it grew, was someone who led you down that path.
Matt Tyner (09:17):
Yeah. I was 24 when I started at SmarterHQ. It was incredible, actually. I can remember the conversation. Hey, we gotta get your resume tight. We're gonna go ahead and, apply for this role. Best case scenario where we're gonna get some great feedback from the board. I tell people to this day, I think I got the role because I was the cheapest of the candidates available. I was employee number eight in January of 2012. We're at 1100 employees in nine countries today at Wunderkind.
Jordan Isaacs (09:49):
You've seen it since this genesis. I mean, through every, change through every new direction. You've been right there.
Matt Tyner (09:57):
No doubt. Yeah, no doubt.
Jordan Isaacs (09:59):
So you've probably with that journey and keep me honest in the stats here. You've been like through, and being front and center on finance and accounting, you have seen the 17 rounds. I think that the funding rounds that SmarterHQ went through, obviously help lead through an acquisition. And now are continuing to serve in a leadership capacity here in Indianapolis, but also for the broader company. I gotta ask, like how much of, what you've leaned on throughout this journey has been, you know, the professional schooling you've got at Kelly and through IU and how much has just been trial by fire?
Matt Tyner (10:37):
Totally. And, and, you know, honestly, it's been a mix of both. Yeah. I think first and foremost, what, what makes MBA school in particular so impactful is it teaches you how to think. It challenges you to solve problems that don't always have an answer. But it's about how you think and how you approach that problem. Rather than focusing on what the right answer is. Oftentimes there's a best answer, but there's not a right one. Take that into two years in public accounting. and really, that experience laid, the foundation for me and my understanding of financial statements and how businesses work and then in the last 10, 11, years, the journey here at SmarterHQ now Wunderkind Audiences now Wunderkind Global has really just, been a bit of leveraging that foundation trial by fire, taking on challenges with the same type of mindset that was, that was set during my MBA journey. Yep. and, and just, you know, yearning for learning over those years.
Jordan Isaacs (11:43):
You talked about mentors, kind of that got you. Just in the door at Smarter and helped you, helped you do that. How has mentorship continued to help you grow throughout that?
Matt Tyner (11:54):
Absolutely. I think what's unique about Indianapolis is the tremendous amount of talent that we have here. But it's also the approach that they take to mentoring and growing. People like me. I started when I was 24 years old, I had a lot to learn. And I get a chance to lean on mentors, partners, vendors. Law firms that all had much more exposure to technology in the industry at large than I did. And they were tremendously helpful and sort of expediting that ramp period, that I went through for the first couple of years at Smarter,
Jordan Isaacs (12:33):
So why was Wunderkind the right acquisition partner, so it is Q4 or, or maybe it's 2020 as your team starts to ramp up and kind of think about how we continue to grow, as you look at over horizon and see the variety of marketing technology organizations. Why Wunderkind?
Matt Tyner (12:52):
Really three reasons. Fist I think with SmarterHQ now Wunderkind audiences did really well, was create best of breed segmentation technology. The who of the equation that we referenced earlier. What Wunderkind did, and is this really robust and innovative identity network. So now it's not just about what we understand from a behavioral perspective. Actions that you take on the website, but now we learn about you from like device ID perspective. How do you like to engage brands? Is it a tablet? Is it a laptop? Is it a cell phone? To inform at a more granular level who you are and how you'd like a brand to engage you? The second thing that I think Wunderkind got right, was their go0to-market approach. This concept of Revenue-as-a-Service guaranteed revenue for customers allowed them to scale faster than anyone in our space. and what SmarterHQ really needed was a partner in the space to help get the message out, to help get technology to those customers. and we found since the acquisition, the tremendous growth that we've seen here in Indy globally, right. that, that bet really paid off. It worked. And then thirdly, the people, I think this is one of those, reminders to all of us that as we're thinking about, what makes M&A transactions successful, it's really important to focus on the people element, right? Teams have got to jive together, because it's ultimately the combination of those people that makes a transaction successful
Jordan Isaacs (14:41):
Wunderkind puts a lot of emphasis on its people. I see that just the second I walk in your office, working with a lot of your team here at TechPoint. You guys have a great staff. There's a wonderful team that has been assembled, here and throughout the world now. With your offices, what are some of the things that your team focuses on and really doubles down on when it's working with its employees?
Matt Tyner (15:03):
Yeah. I think right now, especially, you know, given the last couple of years, the pandemic, some of the other things that have been happening, especially here in America, it's really embracing this concept of individuality, right. Meeting employees, really, really talented employees where they are. Providing a safe space for which they can thrive. And that's, I think, Wunderkind beyond anything else that we've talked about today, that's something that they've really gotten.
Jordan Isaacs (15:32):
So after the acquisition Wunderkind was headquartered in New York, also opened offices in London. Now you're in Montreal, continuing to grow. Smarter was in Indianapolis and there has continued to be a growth around the city. What, going from 26 employees at the end of 2020 to, now I think you said in the high...
Matt Tyner (15:55):
We're getting awfully close to 200.
Jordan Isaacs (15:58):
There you go. You gotta keep me honest cause it keeps changing. But, they made a decision and your team made a decision to invest in Indiana. Why is that?
Matt Tyner (16:08):
What's unique about Indianapolis here is just the tremendous amount of success stories we have in marketing technology specifically. It was an absolute, no brainer post-acquisition to double-down on the talent pool that exists here, from CS, to client services, to tech services, to our engineering, talent that is here, for the last 15-20 years. They all have experience in exactly what it is that we're doing, in marketing technology. So, of course when they made the acquisition, the decision to double down here, was top of mind for them.
Jordan Isaacs (16:48):
I think that mentor community you talked about and how you got to where you are and how Wunderkind continues to do that is so important.
Matt Tyner (16:54):
Absolutely kudos there. Yeah. I think and honestly, when we try to highlight like where the work is to be done. We have to continue that, right. Take what I experienced over the last 10 years and really pay it forward and find as many opportunities to do that as possible.
Jordan Isaacs (17:14):
As we think about continuing to hire and grow the share of technology talent in Indiana and Indianapolis, you talked a bit, a bit about your journey and how you got to Smarter. You were in public accounting were able to find that mentor, that person that helped open a door for you. You've been very, very much engaged in Xtern over the years have Xterns right now. What do you say to some of that talent out there that is in Indiana-based universities? Or maybe somewhere else about starting their career here in Indianapolis?
Matt Tyner (17:49):
I think honestly, especially with what we've seen, over the last call it two and a half years, the approach to work has changed. And, I'd really task all students, looking for, you know, where they want to head out of university, to take a deeper look at the opportunities that are here. And opportunities that are abroad that can be serviced from here, because I think things like cost of living, the people that we have here, what we're doing as a city, is really special. And I think it is worth taking a deeper look at what can be accomplished here, coming out of those, Indiana-based universities, because I've had a tremendous amount of success you've been here having, a tremendous success story of your own with TechPoint, there's ample opportunity, to thrive. And I think you can do that, in a way that just affords you opportunities, that you don't really get on the coast. With, you know, twice, twice as costly of living arrangements and other things. So, yeah.
Jordan Isaacs (18:59):
Wunderkind and SmarterHQ have utilized TechPoint's talent programs now for several years. And I believe you were like one of the initial adopters of the Xtern program in the early, early stages for when we started it. Can you talk a little bit about some of the talent you've been able to work with from that program and how they've done in your organization?
Matt Tyner (19:20):
Yeah. I think couple of comments there, what's unique about the program, especially for startups and scale-ups, is it allows us to have a presence at universities that we couldn't have ourselves. So our ability to look like a Google or Apple or a Salesforce at these universities, to be able to create a program, that gives us access to the type of talent that we've been able to. To have access to through the Xtern program, is an incredible plus for us, you know, small startup and Scale-Up companies here in Indianapolis. Some of our Xterns became some of our best software engineers, during this 10 year run that we've had. It's been incredible from the likes of a Valparaiso University, that's not something that a, you know, short staffed, GNA function can support. We can't be at all those career fairs. We can't afford to have that type of presence at these universities. So tremendously helpful to be able to leverage a partner like TechPoint, and providing access to that talent.
Jordan Isaacs (20:33):
That's great. So Matt, Wunderkind was Scale-Up of the Year, this year at the Mira Awards, our first Mira Awards back in person in two years, since the pandemic, you guys took home the 2022 Scale-Up of the year award. And if we think back just 10 years ago, the SmarterHQ team was Startup of the Year. So you've come full circle.
Matt Tyner (20:52):
No doubt. It was awesome to see in 2014, if you would've asked, I thought that was one of the greatest moments of my career fast forward, you know, eight, nine years. And here we are. Eclipsing that milestone, just a tremendous success story. I think really highlights the grit and persistence, for all of the, the folks that have worked with us, invested in us, believed in us over the last 10 years. Yeah. What a great story for, for Indianapolis. And, and for all involved with SmarterHQ now Wunderkind.
Jordan Isaacs (21:22):
So some of the things I think, as they introduced your team, and as you submit your application, something like 50% revenue growth, significant headcount growth that's right. what's the future look like here locally and beyond?
Matt Tyner (21:36):
So I think we are, you know, doubling down our go to market approach. We gotta open new verticals. Verticals that act like retailers. Travel and hospitality, financial services. We gotta open new markets. Right. I mentioned that we open a small office in Amsterdam. We're looking at a space in Australia. That is really trying to take Wunderkind global in ways that we hadn't before. So absolutely committed to chasing revenue at all costs. But I think what we've, what we've seen, especially in the last six months with some of this macroeconomic uncertainty is that companies really gotta be smart about how they scale. So although we, you know, 300%, three times ourselves, rather in the last 15 months from a headcount perspective, what we're really focused on right now is making sure that we scale efficiently. Innovating the product, focusing on how we service that revenue as we scale. It is incumbent on us and frankly, everyone, in the private space, that's, that's private funded.
Jordan Isaacs (22:44):
Yeah. So what does the future look like in, in e-commerce? I mean 2020 completely changed how the behavior plus the who of how folks are engaging with brands and how they're purchasing items, what does that mean for you and the business and put your crystal ball out? What are we looking towards and what do we see?
Matt Tyner (23:07):
Sure. I think it'll start at, at the highest level, right. Global populations on the rise. We now have computers in our pocket access to information is like, it never has been before. People always need stuff. Forced them to stay at home for two years, eCommerce shoots out like a rocket. You experience exponential growth. Spotify put out a message yesterday, that they were betting on that type of exponential growth to persist. I do think that it will cool off in a post pandemic era, but I still think stable, incredible growth in eCommerce. And really a transition from eCommerce to commerce, because with globalization, this is the approach that you have to take. And I think it's here to stay, frankly. For Wunderkind specifically great place to hang out. Especially with the Revenue-as-a-Service model. So as we see growth in e-commerce or commerce, our ability, to guarantee more revenue on behalf of our customers. And ultimately we get credit for that.
Jordan Isaacs (24:21):
Matt, thank you so much for hosting us today. I, and I speak for the entire team at TechPoint on this, we are grateful for the partnership with Wunderkind and of course the work we've done with you over the past 10 years and your entire team. So we look forward to, your continued presence and growth here in Indiana. And, look forward to continued work to do thank you. Being a part of this circus today.
Matt Tyner (24:42):
Hey, thank you so much. anyone watching this, if you wanna come stop by our office downtown we're in this century building for three and four, we'd love to have you having.


Today we talk to Matt Tyner, Vice-President of People Operations and GM at Wunderkind. Wunderkind helps ecommerce marketers create one-to-one customer experiences at scale through all the channels they own. In this episode, we talk about Matt’s journey into tech, how the company has evolved since its start and what’s on the horizon for Wunderkind.