In hopes of bolstering the area’s budding culture of innovation, Pitney Bowes Inc. has chosen two startups as winners of its first entrepreneurial competition.
Movable Media, which was already based in Stamford and XYverify Corp., previously based in New York City, last week took up residence at Pitney Bowes’ Stamford headquarters, where they are each entitled to a year-long, rent-free stay after being selected as winners of the competition.
The two startups were awarded based on the viability of their respective business models and on their abilities to leverage Pitney Bowes’ technology platforms, said Art Parkos, vice president of the company’s Strategic Technology and Innovation Center.
“We’re very pleased to see the interest and the response that we got from the competition,” said Parkos, who headed up the competition. “We have a certain set of customers, but we wanted to see what other ideas and businesses were out there.”
Pitney Bowes is a software, equipment and business-services provider with more than $5 billion in annual revenues, 29,000 employees and clients in more than 100 countries.
Parkos said the company created the competition because it wanted to be more connected to the startup community in the tristate region. By partnering with entrepreneurs, Parkos said the company hopes to be able to gather ideas about what services and software platforms Pitney Bowes could provide for markets or fields it doesn’t yet serve.
Movable Media, founded in 2010, is a platform that links companies to established bloggers, who are then paid to market those companies through their blogs, with the bloggers compensated based on the size and depth of their respective followings.
XYverify Corp., founded last December, is an analytics platform that works with companies to integrate location-aware intelligence in hopes of preventing fraud in mobile transactions.
In addition to being awarded rent-free office space at Pitney Bowes’ headquarters, the winners will receive access to Pitney Bowes’ technology platforms, capabilities and expertise.
Additionally the winners will have access to programming and mentorship at the Stamford Innovation Center, for which Pitney Bowes is a corporate sponsor.
Parkos said that in hosting the two companies, he hopes current Pitney Bowes employees will feed off of their entrepreneurial mindset.
“We can support each other with our strength and co-leverage each other,” Parkos said.
After two years of boot-strapping his operations, Andrew Boer, president of Movable Media, said he agreed the partnership would be a win-win.
“I think it will be great for both of us,” Boer said.
XYverify founder Elliot Klein said the chance to partner with Pitney Bowes was “an unprecedented opportunity.”
“It’s really a new model of hybrid innovation, mining both internal and entrepreneurial talent for ideas and growth,” Klein said.
A new way to blog
Movable Media — described by Boer as a pay-for-performance blogging platform — has a network of nearly 3,000 writers, bloggers and influencers, Boer said. About 10 Fortune 500 companies are already using the service, including General Mills, Proctor and Gamble and Williams-Sonoma, he said.
The platform is the first to pay writers by measuring the traffic their content creates, Boer said. At a time when Forbes gets 50 percent of its traffic from its own contributors’ followers, he said it is a great tool for marketers to be able to pay what they actually get.
The idea for the Movable Media partially came out of the criticisms surrounding deceptive paid endorsements from YouTube users and bloggers with large followings, Boer said.
Movable Media aims for more transparency and to allow companies to know exactly what they’re paying for. A writer can earn as much as $1,000 per article, which Boer said companies are happy to pay.
“It’s definitely a new space but it works particularly well for brands,” Boer said. “They don’t have the experience creating content themselves, besides maybe writing corporate blogs that are uninteresting. Instead they’re working with people with personality and opinions that can create great, compelling content.”
A winning combination
Klein founded XYverify in December 2011 after working for credit card giant American Express.
After observing the amount of fraud occurring on a daily basis, Klein said he saw an opportunity for a location intelligence platform that could assist merchants in preventing abuse in cases of mobile transactions.
“Geolocation is attracting attention from the financial services, from gaming and other markets, to allow consumers to use their cell phone location to better verify and authenticate transactions,” Klein said. “Based on my background at American Express, where I led a division that saw a lot of fraud, I realized that the newer technology and data capabilities of mobile devices could make a real difference in the market.”
Klein said Pitney Bowes recognizes the value of using location services to verify transactions, adding that the opportunity to work alongside current Pitney Bowes employees and other startups is “a winning combination.”
Patrick Gallagher contributed to this story.