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Houston startup has created a less intrusive video advertising experience

Houston-based LogoBar has created an advertising model that doesn't annoy the viewers. Getty Images

Steven Jones knows people dislike ads. Actually, he reasons, it's less that they dislike ads, but more that they don't like having those ads interrupt what they're doing.

"They want to be in control of their experience," he says. "And we've nearly always had things that allow consumers to skip ads – the remote control, where you could change the channel; now there are DVRs that let you skip them. That's all about control."

Jones knows, however, that consumers do want the information ads contain. And he thinks one of the best ways to give that to them in this splintered and ever-changing media environment is for advertisers to concede that concept of audience control. That's what LogoBar aims to do. Where a traditional commercial on television or before an online video might be 15 or 30 seconds, LogoBar features a company's logo or a product it's selling at the bottom of the video. The ad or logo will also appear when the viewer hits pause (or some other engagement) on the video. The viewer, if interested in the product can then choose to engage with it by clicking on the offer that's being advertised or on the product itself, which would then take that viewer to the advertiser's site.

The goal, says Jones, is two-fold: get the products and services in front of potential buyers, and allow those buyers to be the ones who determine if they want to engage.

"It's not intrusive at all," says Jones about the concept. "It allows a brand to be seen, which can spur interest. But keeping control in the hands of the intended audience is the key. This allows advertisers to think about their brands as a call to action. And this method of delivery aligns with the experience the viewer is already having."

Jones realizes that many people view ads as interruptions. He says that one of the reasons Google began making three-second ads right about 2015 was to capture on the shortening attention span of viewers who, he says studies show, were looking to skip ads the second they appeared.

LogoBar created digital technology that allows its clients to create its own ads. LogoBar installs the tech and then the client's team can build on it. But LogoBar can also create the advertising from end to end as well. The tech plugins work across multiple platforms including Brightcove, Kaltura, Flowplayer, and native iOS/Android players. By building that compatibility into its technology, Jones says that LogoBar can be easily and widely used.

"I think of us as still being an early startup," he says of the company. "But we have a strong team of five here, and I see us growing the business and the team across the next few years."

LogoBar has worked with ESPN+ and other local and national clients. And he believes LogoBar is poised to create what thinks of as a win-win for consumers and advertisers alike.

"Firms are still creating 30, 60-second 'stories' in their ads. Those aren't going to go away. And people will watch them – when they want to, on their own time. What we're offering is something that complements traditional advertising and gives consumers both an interactive experience and control over their viewing and time."

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Building Houston

 
 

SeekerPitch exists to update the job hiring process in a way that benefits both the job seekers and recruiters. Photo via Getty Images

Companies across the country have been requiring resumes and cover letters from their new hire hopefuls since the World War II era, and it's about time that changed. A startup founded in Houston has risen to the occasion.

Houstonian Samantha Hepler had the idea for SeekerPitch when she was looking for her next move. She felt like she had developed a formidable career in digital transformation and had worked with big name clients from Chevron to Gucci. However, she couldn't even get an interview for a role she felt she would be a shoe-in for.

"I knew if I could just get through the door, a company would see the value in me," Hepler tells InnovationMap. "I wasn't being seen, and I wasn't being heard. I didn't know a way to do that."

And she wasn't alone in this frustration. Hepler says she discovered she was one of the 76 percent of job candidates who get filtered out based on former job titles and keywords. At the same time, Hepler says she discovered that 80 percent of companies reported difficulty finding talent.

Samantha Hepler had the idea for SeekerPitch based on her own ill-fated job hunt experience. Photo courtesy of SeekerPitch

"I was just a symptom of a larger problem companies were facing," Hepler says. "Companies were using algorithms to dilute their talent pool, and then the hires they were making weren't quality because they were looking for people based on what they've done. They weren't looking at people for what they could do."

SeekerPitch, which is in the current cohort of gBETA Houston, allows job seekers to create an account and tell their story — not just their job history. The platform prioritizes video content and quick interviews so that potential hires can get face-to-face with hiring managers.

"We empower companies to hear the candidates' stories," Hepler says. "We're bringing candidates streaming to computer screens. We are the Netflix of recruiting."

Hepler gives an example of a first-generation college graduate who's got "administrative assistant" and "hostess" on her resume — but who has accomplished so much more than that. She put herself through school with no debt and in three years instead of four. SeekerPitch allows for these types of life accomplishments and soft skills into the recruiting process.

SeekerPitch profiles allow job seekers to tell their story — not just their past job experience. Photo courtesy of SeekerPitch

Over the past few years, a trend in hiring has been in equity and diversity, and Hepler says that people have been trying to address this with blurring out people's names and photos.

"Our belief is that connection is the antidote to bias," Hepler says, mentioning a hypothetical job candidate who worked at Walmart because they couldn't afford to take multiple unpaid internships. "They can't come alive on a resume and they won't stand a chance next to another person."

SeekerPitch is always free for job seekers, and, through the end of the year, it's also free for companies posting job positions. Beginning in January 2022, it will cost $10 per day to list a job opening. Also next year — Hepler says she'll be opening a round of pre-seed funding in order to grow her team. So far, the company has been bootstrapped, thanks to re-appropriated funding from Hepler's canceled wedding. (She opted for a cheaper ceremony instead.)

Right now, SeekerPitch sees an opportunity to support growing startups that need to make key hires — and quickly. The company has an ongoing pilot partnership with a Houston startup that is looking to hiring over a dozen positions in a month.

"As a startup, your key hires are going to make or break your company — but you have to hire quickly," Hepler says. "That's the ultimate challenge for startups. ... But if you don't hire well it can cost your company a lot of money or be the demise of your company. It's people who make a company great."

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