Almost Famous: Flowtown’s Ethan Bloch
This week: A coffee shop visit with, some questions for and a few pertinent stats about Ethan Bloch and Flowtown, software that enables users to enter an email address and get back a rich set of personal info farmed from more than 20 social networks and online services to which they might belong.
Who: Ethan Bloch
What: CEO, Flowtown
Why: Flowtown’s platform uses APIs and partnerships to deliver meaningful customer data to businesses with lists of email leads.
Who else: Infusionsoft.com
Five Stats You Won’t Find in His Facebook Profile
Worst Job: I drove a truck delivering industrial rags to Jiffy Lubes; that was probably the worst. I did work at Best Buy (BBY), but I actually liked that. I was “the closer.” I could get people who came in to get a laptop to leave with that, the service plans and the gold USB cables.
Has a Geek Crush on: Warren Buffett. I have a finance background and I just like his philosophy on life.
Gadget he wants for Christmas: A Kindle. I’m an Amazon (AMZN) fanboy.
Wishes There Was an App For: One that tells you about how much a taxi ride should cost between any two places in a major city. I always feel like I’m getting ripped off.
Freely Admits: He owns an AK-47 (a legal one).
Bio in 140 Characters
Ethan recently moved to SF, after finishing a finance degree at University of Florida. Flowtown is his first Silicon Valley venture.
The Five Questions
What problem are you solving?
Essentially, we are a platform to help businesses connect with their customers everywhere in the social Web. Starting with an email address, we can tell you who a person is [including] name, age, gender, occupation, location, and what social networks they are on. Then, we give [businesses] tools to go and interact with that person.
The problem that we are solving is that for a decade, businesses have been collecting email addresses but don’t know how to leverage them in the social Web. We help create those connections and let businesses have personal conversations with their customers.
How does a business have 10,000 personal conversations?
That’s the big problem we are going after. Right now, [the answer] is turning an email address into a social connection. Then you can start a conversation. The bigger issue is how you stay relevant to 10,000 people; whether you are a personal brand or Procter & Gamble (PG).
This sounds a little creepy. What does Flowtown know about me?
[Ethan enters three of my email addresses into the interface.]
Well, It looks like your given name is Edward, you are male, and live in San Diego, although that may be a little out of date. I’ve got a short resume here courtesy of LinkedIn that puts you currently in a Masters program at Stanford [University] and as an Intern at AllThingsD. It looks like you’ve got a couple Flickr accounts, a LinkedIn profile, Facebook; your Twitter handle is @withdrake, you subscribe to several newspapers online, have WordPress and Pandora accounts and are a member of Match.com [busted!].
Wow, that was almost scary good. Where are you harvesting this?
This is all APIs, except in the case of Facebook and LinkedIn. We show up to five social networks, along with Amazon. We search Facebook, by way of a partner. We get more data than that [as seen in the search we just ran], but we are unsure how far down we want to go as far as the individual user. We don’t want to get too “stalkerish.” We could tell businesses who an individual is based on their occupation, age, location, etc. We do show that in the aggregate, but currently won’t display it at the individual level.
What was the drive to get into this business?
Well, for both Dan Martell [co-founder] and I, it’s really about serving small businesses. In the late ’90s, my dad owned a small business and wanted to use the Internet to generate more business. He got sold on this online marketing package, this video, and really got taken advantage of.
Ever since then I’ve really been passionate about building products that really ad value to businesses and that really let you see the results you are getting. That’s really my North Star.