Globe 100 Innovators | Media and Advertising

Mentor to the startups

Rich Miner of Google Ventures is top media and advertising innovator

Rich Miner Rich Miner (Illustration by Joel Kimmel for The Boston Globe)
May 22, 2011

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1. Rich Miner, founding partner, Google Ventures Rich Miner, 46, admits that he attends local technology events “more often than my wife would prefer, at least a few nights a week,’’ but he said he enjoys “going out wearing a Google Ventures badge, helping people, chatting, giving out business cards, getting follow-up e-mails.’’

It’s easy to see why Miner could be the most popular guy in the room. He is a partner at Google Ventures, the search giant’s venture capital arm.

Google Ventures has funded such new media companies as the online marketing firm HubSpot and the mobile gaming company SCVNGR. It invested in 16 companies in 2010, up from nine in 2009, its first year in operation. Miner himself has cofounded and sold two companies, including Android Inc., which Google bought in 2005 to build its mobile platform. These days, Miner looks for “good ideas and people who are really smart and driven, and have that entrepreneurial DNA.’’

Miner also frequently mixes with fledgling entrepreneurs “as a way of paying forward.’’

He is a mentor at TechStars Boston, the investment program for aspiring start-ups; frequently gives feedback at local business plan competitions; and has participated in local college campus “open coffee’’ sessions.

“Boston is a good mix of seasoned entrepreneurs and a tremendous number of people who are doing it for the first time,’’ he says. “It’s a good talent pool.’’

– D.C. Denison

2. Brian Halligan, chief executive, HubSpot HubSpot Inc. chief executive Brian Halligan, 43, offered a premise that might seem odd for the head of a marketing company: "People are getting sick of being marketed to," he said.

Yet the comment contained the essence of Halligan's selling strategy, which he calls "inbound marketing."

"Outbound marketing," he said, relies on the old model of the television station broadcasting the same advertisement to a mass audience. Inbound marketing focuses on making individual connections online, to steer would-be customers to your site, product, or client. "How do you turn your website into a magnet that pulls people in?" he asked.

Since it was founded in Cambridge four years ago, HubSpot has raised $65 million in venture capital and amassed around 4,500 customers.

Halligan wants to spread the success. As an organizer of the Future M conference in Boston last September, which brought together people in media, marketing, and technology, Halligan wants to attract other online marketers and similar businesses to the region. The idea, he said, is to take over where Madison Avenue ends.

– John Dyer

3. Gail Goodman, chief executive, Constant Contact Gail Goodman's company Constant Contact Inc., based in Waltham, is the modern version of the old printing shop that made pamphlets for the local butcher's latest sales. The difference is, she has more than 400,000 customers in small businesses worldwide who engage with their customers by e-mail or over the Internet.

Goodman is a pioneer in online marketing, a field where the virtual world becomes an opportunity for tangible relationships with customers. A decade ago, online marketing wasn't essential, said Goodman, 50. Now, businesses need help in navigating the digital landscapes where their customers dwell if they want to succeed. "It takes more than good software," she said. "We give the know-how."

Seventy percent of Constant Contact's customers are businesses with less than 10 employees, said Goodman. For a monthly subscription of around $35, Constant Contact helps organize their online profiles and reach would-be customers with social media and other online tools.

The company expects to be serving at least 100,000 more customers at the end of this year. There are other online marketers in Boston that are experiencing growth, too, said Goodman, a sign that a new industry may be burgeoning in the city. "Boston," she said, "is actually turning into a hub for online marketing companies."

– John Dyer

Clarification: This story did not fully describe Rich Miner’s role in Google Ventures. He is one of the partners who runs the company.

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