Plura Interactive Founder Timothy Paskowski spoke with Innovation Destination Hartford Website Curator Nan Price about his startup’s mission to help other companies do well—and do good.
NAN PRICE: Tell us about your business concept.
TIMOTHY PASKOWSKI: The concept is simple: We aim to help small- to medium-sized online stores realize their potential. We do this by bringing downmarket many of the technologies and practices used in large-scale operations, such as data science and digital marketing.
The premise is that our clients already have great products—they simply need the right tactics and tools to really bring them to market.
NAN: Have you had to pivot along the way as you were starting out?
TIMOTHY: At first, I knew we had great talent and experience, but I wasn’t sure how to best package everything into a solution that could deliver true value. I focused a lot on what each of our five business practices would do, but not who would benefit most from these services.
The broad-market approach failed to result in a value proposition we were comfortable with, so we went back to the drawing board and focused instead on the client. It wasn’t until we put our services in the context of their needs that we could construct an offering we were confident would deliver meaningful value.
NAN: How has your experience helped you in your entrepreneurial journey? What have you learned along the way?
TIMOTHY: Our company is new, but even early in the process I learned how important it is for entrepreneurs to remain both flexible and positive.
NAN: Who is your target market and how are you reaching that market?
TIMOTHY: We think we can best help brands that generate between $2 to $15 million in direct-to-consumer online sales. These companies might have a little seed capital but are often in a pre-fund situation where it’s important to be efficient up and down the value chain. It’s a large and naturally underserved market because most high-end consulting firms and digital agencies are too cost-prohibitive to consider.
To reach this market, we try to create useful content in a variety of different mediums. For example, we publish a monthly podcast called the PluraCast that features guests from all over the world who talk about marketing, advertising, and eCommerce. Aside from that, we also have entrepreneurial spotlights called Plura Presents, where we share stories from peer brands, and a vlog series called Driving Commerce, which has turned my car into a studio of sorts. The goal is to provide thought leadership in unique and informative ways.
NAN: What has been the biggest startup challenge?
TIMOTHY: It’s really important to me that Plura Interactive—no matter how big it gets—remains a value-driven business that creates a material positive impact on its customers, society, and the environment. It’s even written into our bylaws. With that in mind, the most critical and therefore challenging aspect of my job as Founder is orienting the team around our values to ensure that everything we do is in service or respect of the mission.
NAN: Why did you choose to locate the company here in Hartford?
TIMOTHY: Hartford is a great city to house an eCommerce consulting firm like Plura Interactive. Its proximity to both New York and Boston makes for efficient trips to the many clients and partners based in either of those cities, and local universities like Yale provide a world-class forum for thought leadership and networking.
vNAN: What’s next?
TIMOTHY: One of the things I’m most proud of is our work toward Pending Certified B Corporation status. It means a lot to me to join a community of people focused on using business as a force for good.
Aside from that, I’ve been working hard on developing partnerships with the other agencies and vendors our clients already use. For the longer-term, we’re also considering ways to capture the spirit of our mission and translate that into self-service tools that have the potential for wide-scale adoption.
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