Capitol Hill Tech | Colin Henry of SimplyMeasured

Colin Henry, Director of Engineering at SimplyMeasured (Photo by Adam Phillip of IRDeep)

New businesses come to the Hill all the time. Some of these startups are easy to see, like the bars and restaurants CHS writes about. Others end up being almost invisible. This series is about some of the new neighbors that are harder to spot: tech startups.  We want to talk them up because they’re doing some pretty amazing things.  Also, we don’t want Pioneer Square and South Lake Union getting away with thinking they have a lock on technological innovation.

The first Hill tech startup on the list is SimplyMeasured, a company obsessed with the idea that their customers should be able to have their beautiful social media metrics reports and their data too. According to their CrunchBase company profile, “SimplyMeasured provides easy to use social media measurement tools with flexible reports right in Excel … Instead of a rigid web dashboard, SimplyMeasured provides an easy way to access social media data and generate beautiful reports in Excel, the analysis tool of choice for marketers and PR professionals.” 

To find out more about SImplyMeasured, I talked with Colin Henry, their Director of Engineering and Employee #5 (#2 if you don’t count the founders).


What does SimplyMeaured do, one sentence.
Social analytics measurement and monitoring. The other one I would drop instead is marketing measurement and monitoring. The catch line on the website is “we build beautiful reports”.

 SimplyMeasured’s offices are right above Bowie Salon and Spa at 1507 E Pike (Image: Jen Power)

Who are some of your big customers?
AOL, Ultimate Fighting Championship, Fox Sports, Levis, Samsung, American Express, Microsoft.

How did SimplyMeasured get started? And what’s up with it starting out called “Untitled Startup LLC”?
There was absolutely no idea at the beginning. Literally [the original cofounders] Aviel [Ginzburg] and Damon [Cortesi] took the leap with absolutely no idea. They wanted to build products that customers wanted. They had both worked for companies’ that had products with a very strong market motivation but customers didn’t want them. They had a very strong philosophy of “we want to build what customers want and to make them happy”.

Originally they built a crowdsourcing platform for ideas because they had no clue, and they had people suggest ideas and vote on them. On a lark someone said they needed to get Tweets into a spreadsheet, and that was where RowFeeder came from. Export.ly came along, and it was an upgrade because it would do exports of Facebook pages. When [Ginzburg and Cortesi]looked at the two products, they realized it could be one product and it had a much larger market platform.  That’s when they turned everything into SimplyMeasured, and they launched that platform in April of last year.

How is SImplyMeasured different from competitors? Why is it awesome?
The product is amazing because it actually give marketers and people interested in marketing data the tools to do marketing really, really well. [Competitors] Radian 6 and Good Data give you a nice pretty dashboard, but they don’t give you underlying data or how they calculated it. They come up with magical metric where you don’t get to see how it’s put together. And we give you all of it. If you find our metrics satisfactory, you can use them and we crank them out in a presentable way. If you need something more, we give you the data. You can see everything.

Why is SimplyMeasured as a company awesome?
One word. People. We hire absolutely brilliant, amazing people and we give them awesome problems to solve. It’s amazing when a group of talented people together, you get fucking amazing work.

SimplyMeasured’s beautiful offices were once a photography studio. I have workplace envy already (Image: Jen Power)

What is it like working there? 
I don’t know exactly how to describe it. I always go back to the Steve Jobs interview in 2010, “I have the more incredibly awesome job in the world. I get to work with absolute brilliant people and build amazing things.”

It’s a collaborative environment. I have to actually block out time on the calendar to not talk to people. We believe in the directly responsible individual, with one person responsible for one project, but people can have their hands in a lot of projects. Anywhere you have a particular knowledge and experience that useful to the company, jump right in.

In a large enough company, people see you as a cog and that you are interchangeable, and that is totally not the case. You have to give them [your employees] interesting problems that they are actively interested in in order to engage them and retain them. Most people don’t leave their jobs because of money. Most people leave [their jobs] because their managers’ suck and they’re bored.

We’re different than the Microsofts and the Amazons.  They put in a management hierarchy and it’s run by professional managers. I don’t believe in that.  You have to be responsible for leading your team and doing your job. Your team won’t respect the manager if the manager isn’t doing the work with them, and the manager won’t understand the work the team is doing if he’s not doing it.

On your website, it looks like you’re hiring a lot. What would you say to people who might want to apply.
Those openings aren’t stale, we’re hiring. I would say if you like to work with ridiculously smart people and you like really, really hard problems, you need to work with us.

Why did SimplyMeasured locate on the Hill?
We found the right size space that we can grow into. There are meetups that meet on the Hill like Seattle RB. Seattle Interactive Developers Meetup usually happens at our offices. We’ve got three major coffee shops, a couple of great bars, lots of lunch opportunities. The Hill has a lifestyle and culture that very attuned to how we operate. I’m probably the most dressed up guy in the office, and I still have tattoos. I really, really like the Hill, it’s a great place to work.

There are a lot of tech startups in Pioneer Square and South Lake Union. There’s a few of us on the Hill. Part of the problem is business space is
a premium on the Hill. We got lucky, we got a 5000 sq ft space. There are people working out of 1000 sq ft offices that have 15 people. 

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If you want to take a look at what SimplyMeasured can do, check out their free reports. Just so you know, they’re REALLY popular (Henry mentioned a 60,000 report queue), so it’ll take a day or so for the results to get back to you. 

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