The Power of Sharing Ideas – Pivoting Pardot 1.0

Today I enjoyed hearing Bill Nussey (@bnussey) give the commencement address at the 2013 ATDC Startup Showcase graduation. I’ve enjoyed talking to Bill over the years and hearing him speak at several events. There was one piece of advice he gave me that changed the trajectory of my career.

Way back in April 2007 we had just launched Pardot 1.0, which was a pay-per-click bid arbitrage system to generate leads for technology companies. Much like LendingTree.com, Pardot 1.0 was a platform where prospects would put in their information and vendors would compete for their business. I had reached out to Bill as I wanted to share the vision for Pardot 1.0, and he graciously agreed to meet me for lunch at the River Room on the Chattahoochee River.

We were sitting outside on a beautiful Spring day and I was selling hard on the benefits of a Pardot 1.0 platform and how they could buy higher quality leads at a lower cost. After a few minutes talking about Pardot 1.0, he shared that there was this marketing automation company called Eloqua that was of great interest to him. Eloqua focused on the B2B segment of online marketing and was a combination email service provider and micro web analytics tracking platform.

Now, at the time, I had never heard of Eloqua or marketing automation software, but the functionality sounded similar to several of the Pardot 1.0 modules we’d already built. I thanked him for lunch and returned to the office to tell my cofounder about Eloqua. We’d been struggling with Pardot 1.0 and the market opportunity of generating leads on behalf of vendors. What if we pivoted and starting selling pickaxes to gold miners instead of mining gold on behalf of vendors?

After a week of analyzing things, debating what was and wasn’t working, and researching Eloqua, we decided to pivot Pardot into a SMB marketing automation platform. We already had a good bit of the core functionality including landing pages and micro web analytics tracking. The missing pieces were CRM integration, automation rules, and email marketing. With a new course charted, we went heads-down and decided to build the updated product with the goal of a beta launch in September 2007.

Bill introduced us to Eloqua and the idea that put Pardot on course to becoming a major success. For that, I’m forever thankful.

Sharing ideas is powerful. You never know who you can help or who can help you.

What else? What are some other examples of the power of sharing ideas?

2 thoughts on “The Power of Sharing Ideas – Pivoting Pardot 1.0

  1. Cool story David. Bill certainly has a lot of wisdom to go along with exceptional talent and experience. He was one of the key early people that pushed me to launch BrightWave as he pointed out a void in the email services world. For that I am grateful as well.

  2. Great story! The lesson is to talk to anyone and everyone, always. Including potential customers. Get out of the building and meet with anyone you think could add value. Do not keep it a secret, do not go into “stealth mode:

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