Erik Mumford of Piiku: Disrupting Content Access Models

Erik Mumford, the co-founder and CEO of Piiku, created his company on the fact that the consumer shift from print media to digital has created the need for publishers to pursue paid access models. As a result consumers respond by initially abandoning sites over 90% of the time when asked to register or pay.

Lauren Keyson: Can you tell me more about that?

Mumford: Analogue media is going away and digital content providers are pursuing online revenue streams.  We help them capture those consumers who are unwilling to pay by giving them video ads supporting access to the content — and ultimately cultivate them into paid subscribers. We are different because we are built from the ground up for publisher needs. We’ve spent a year talking with publishers learning exactly the technology that they need and how they would use it. We are disruptive in this industry because content access models are changing and this is just the beginning. Our next stage is mobile and we will always be on the leading edge on how consumers will have access to content in both ad supported and paid strategies.

Did you have any challenges that you needed to overcome?

Yes, the major challenge was achieving product market fit, and really learning and listening to what publishers wanted. We had the right vision but we didn’t have the right solution out of the gate. Our engine and the technology were right, but the implementation was off. So we’ve spent a lot of time listening, learning and alliterating until we found the market fit. Now publishers are saying “Wow, if we were going to build a solution around the problem, we’d build exactly like you did.”

Tell me about what kind of reaction people are having?

I think publishers and advertisers are excited because it gives them a way to capture revenue and also create new inventory that doesn’t cannibalize their other revenue streams. Also, it allows them to monetize longer form content as consumers become more engaged and are more willing to watch longer form ads. Brands are just as excited, because they get up in front the consumer.

Was it really hard to do? Did you or your co-founder Jim Rice ever want to quit?

It’s probably the hardest business we could ever conceptualize trying to start. But we were too excited about the opportunity.  We went through the standard stuff that everyone goes through. It takes longer hours than you think, it takes longer to get to success and it’s just something that you have to be passionate about. Our first client was excited about our early model, because they felt like we had the right thinking even though it still needed work. But once we went back to them and showed them that we worked on the implementation, they said “Wow, this is so much easier.” So it’s those little wins that you get that really keep you motivated. Because it’s the startup life.

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