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This profile is one in a series titled Monday Member Showcase. It was originally published on RecruitingBlogs.com, a recruiting and HR community, where I am a featured contributor. To read the whole series please click here.
Jim Fowler Quotables:
Jim is a Triathlete, a big time Giant’s fan, who loves playing hearts and “No Limit Hold Em”, and, not surprisingly, not a big fan of puzzles.
“Jigsaw was founded out of pain. I was sick and tired of the expensive and crappy lists the marketing team would buy for my sales teams … Twelve years in sales left me frustrated with the time-consuming practice of finding contact details. I said, ‘There’s got to be a better way.’”
We live in an economy now where people make a living with their brains as much as with their hands. I spend a lot of time creating and working with people”
“We are on a path to go public. We have the chops to become a billion-dollar company”
Over the last several years, I have had the pleasure of getting to know Jim Fowler at the various staffing industry conferences. He will spontaneously offer to find a bench to catch up, and is one of those executives without any pretentiousness. In fact he is a rare breed among the approachables: he will speak to you and recollect from the mundane to the significant that you have shared with him, and in each response he is direct, substantive and charismatic. For a CEO, he is less about watching the clock than he is more about getting to know you and the topic at hand. He didn’t build a business simply for a dollar’s glance – he truly wants to contribute to what we consider Game Changing ideas in the art of commerce. Prognosticators will tell you Information is the most powerful weapon of the 21st century. It isn’t simply about hardware and software – it’s also about field entries. The market for Database information is a $50 Billion dollar business. Billions within it are likewise exceptionally relevant in how our staffing industry generates and collates that data to produce and introduce prospective passive and active candidates to employers of choice. What more relevant subject for today’s feature than someone whose daily effort is to find knew ways to vett quality and quality utilizing the social aspect of community data sharing? For me personally, I cannot think of a more valuable way to verify my name generation leads and to contribute them to the broader concept of community. It’s a pleasure to introduce you to my friend, Jim Fowler.
As Chief Executive Officer of Jigsaw Corporation, Jim Fowler provides direction and leadership toward the achievement of goals and objectives at Jigsaw, a leading provider of business information and data services that uniquely leverages user-generated content contributed by its global business-to-business (B-to-B) community. A veteran sales executive, Jim has more than 12 years selling software for marketing and collaboration applications. Before starting Jigsaw, Jim served as VP of Sales at Digital Impact (DIGI), Paramark and TightLink. In these roles, he built sales departments from the ground up focusing on sales strategies and processes. He was able to leverage his experience as an outstanding sales manager at Personify and NetGravity. Prior to his career in software sales, Jim owned and operated Lookout Pass, a ski resort in Idaho. He also served in the US Navy as a Diving and Salvage Officer. Jim graduated from the University of Colorado.
Six Degrees: Tell us of your home world.
Jim: I have been married Holly Wiebe for ten years. We met through my wife’s best friend who was dating one of the ski instructors I knew and we were introduced to one another. We have a son named Six (who is eight years old) and a Labradoodle named Comet.
Our family skis/snowboards all winter and camps all summer. Our favorite type of camping is canoe camping. You go to really beautiful and remote places and still carry enough stuff to eat and drink really well. There is nothing better than an after dinner cigar around a campfire beside a high Sierra lake!
Six Degrees: Tell us about your Company, Jim
JIM: I am the CEO and Co-Founder of Jigsaw.com. We have 120 employees. Most of our employees are software developers or sales people, but we do have a full time recruiter!
Jigsaw is a Global Business Directory of company and contact information. Jigsaw was in Beta through summer of 2004 and officially launched in December 2004. We have over three million complete company records and 19 million complete contact records. Members get contacts they need to recruit, sell or market by adding, updating or graveyarding records.
Jigsaw Pioneers Data-as-a-Service. The ability to quickly find people in a target organization and contact them directly is an essential means to gain an edge in a very competitive marketplace. Jigsaw provides very simple, but required data that every single recruiter needs to do their jobs – company and contact records. Jigsaw is essentially an open database, along the lines of Wikipedia. Salespeople looking for say, a buying manager in a given company, swap one of their contacts to access the lead they need or they can buy it for $1. Every one of its contact records is complete with email and phone number. (Note: 72% of Jigsaw records have a direct dial.)
We make money by selling data and data hygiene services to corporations.
Six Degrees: How was Your Company Founded?
JIM: Jigsaw was founded by myself and Garth Mouton on Oct. 31,2003. We are venture backed and have raised $18M in venture funding. I came up with the idea for Jigsaw after 12 years in software sales left me frustrated with the time-consuming practice of finding correct contact details within a company. Prospecting lists were costly and usually full of outdated information.
Six Degrees: How did you get started in the industry?
JIM: Jigsaw was founded out of pain. I was sick and tired of the expensive and crappy lists the marketing team would buy for my sales teams. (I was VP of Sales at an email marketing company called Digital Impact). I knew there had to be a better way and the idea of a crowdsourced business directory popped into my mind. The idea for Jigsaw was germinated in the summer of 2003. We raised our first round of funding (of three total) in December of 2003 and formally launched Jigsaw in December of 2004.
When I was vice president of sales at online advertiser Netgravity (now part of Google’s DoubleClick), I asked a sales rep nicknamed Tark “to cold call into Sprint PCS until he got us a meeting. It took him two weeks. I said, ‘There’s got to be a better way.’”
Six Degrees: What is the broader picture of how the data business operates
Each year, corporations spend over $50 billion a year on B2B marketing data. Your usual data acquisition avenues – list rentals, online data services like Hoovers, OneSource, and that old technique cold calling – are hard and expensive and don’t provide automatic updates, maintenance or net new records.
Six Degrees: How/ where did you develop investors?
JIM: We are located in the Silicon Valley. This is the land of venture capitalists. Just follow the signs to Sand Hill Road!
Six Degrees: What is Your Company’s Value Proposition?
JIM: Our value proposition is that we are the best source of data for recruiters who do passive recruiting. Every one of our 19M records is complete with name, title, business phone and business email.
Our service is free. You can exchange business cards you have for business cards you need. If you don’t want to exchange you can purchase our records. Our data is the best available because we have one million members who clean and maintain the database (for credits). We are similar to Wikipedia in that many people build and maintain our database.
Six Degrees: How do you plan to make Jigsaw into a Game Changer?
JIM:The goal is to do the same exact thing to the data layer that salesforce has done to the software layer. Ten years ago, when Salesforce first got started procuring and managing software, Today if you look every company that sells B-to-B, they’re procuring and managing the records that populate their CRM solution. the lead records. contact records, the account and the lead records. What Jigsaw DataFusion provides is unlimited access to Jigsaw’s community vetted database. Overall, Jigsaw has established a robust database of over 19 million records, and it grows daily by 25,000. The Database as a service is their Game changing premise. It used to be known simply as a cool social aspect of keeping data fresh to make sure it is kept up-to-date, but now the concept has expanded by volume, accuracy and automation:
With DataFusion, What we do nightly is that we take that data and put it in the cloud and every night compare our client’s data to Jigsaw’s. Given Jigsaw doesn’t allow partial data – the data is refreshed and complete, coming in everyday, flagging records, piping all those changes every night in an automated way; Matching, filling in all the fields, flagging their dupes, a process of ‘stare and compare’ of records. We pipe in new data that matches the client’s administrative criteria. In an SaaS mode. It will no longer will be a one off, and will transform the data business.
Data Fusion comes as a monthly subscription service but companies can reduce the usage costs by contributing back to the Jigsaw system. It connects with a CRM system and automatically matches and updates records daily, with a dashboard to monitor activity and changes and the option of accepting or rejecting any specific updates. Administrators can pick which fields in each record they want to synch daily. After Salesforce, Jigsaw expects to add other CRM systems and databases this year and next. It has published an open API and a Developer Toolkit so any CRM or database vendor can integrate Jigsaw.
Data Fusion comes on a per-seat, per-month basis just like Salesforce and other SaaS providers. A full license like a big OEM just bought runs $500,000. With Data Fusion, if you have 25 seats of Salesforce, then you buy 25 seats of Jigsaw.
Six Degrees: Are you importing contacts from sites like LinkedIn, Hoovers and others?
JIM: No. Every contact in Jigsaw has been added by a member. We started with 20K contacts and now have over 1.7M (and growing by 10K new contacts per day). Even if we wanted to import contacts from other sites we couldn’t because Jigsaw requires every contact to have complete information including phone, email, title, etc. Phone numbers and emails are hard to get and are usually not provided on other sites.
Six Degrees: How does Jigsaw use social media networks and your blog to connect with customers and prospects?
JIM: Like Wikipedia, Jigsaw links out to the best possible information. Every contact record has a link to Google and LinkedIn for automated research on the contact – such as looking at a biography. Because Jigsaw is a community of sales professionals our blog and message boards are critical for communicating closely with our community. We also have large followings on Twitter and Facebook.
Six Degrees: How do you control members from sending out spam emails to contacts in Jigsaw?
JIM: Jigsaw’s model isn’t a good fit for spammers. Too much work or money is required to get information off in the quantity needed by a spammer. Jigsaw’s members primarily do one-to-one marketing versus one-to-many marketing. If a member is caught doing anything unlawful or against Jigsaw’s rules, the member will be banned from Jigsaw permanently.
Six Degrees: What is the pricing structure for your services/products?
JIM: Most of our million members use Jigsaw for free (the add, update or graveyard records in exchange for the data they need). We sell subscriptions and lists that fit every budget.
Six Degrees: How has your Company adopted to the economic downturn? What is the long-term future for Your Company?
JIM: We expect to double revenue this year. We want to get companies out of the business of procuring and managing company and contact records. We want the Jigsaw database to power every CRM solution by providing all the prospecting data a company could ever need, and keeping those records up to date in real time. We are in heavy duty hiring mode. We’ve just released this product in beta and hope to see it take the market by storm!
Six Degrees: How has your company promoted its brand and aligned itself with Staffing Industry communities, both virtual and on-site ?
JIM: Not as well as we need to. We are getting ready to hire a marketing person who’s full time job will be to address the recruiting industry.
Six Degrees: What single event had the most impact on your overall staffing industry expertise?
JIM: I am an expert in only one narrow (but important!) part of the staffing industry – information. The single event that had the most impact on my expertise was founding Jigsaw and the people who I have met throughout the journey. I’ve learned an incredible amount over the past six years of Jigsaw’s life and it keeps feeding our passion to innovate.
Do you have a mentor to whom you attribute your overall outlook on modeling your career after?
JIM: I really admire Steve Jobs. Not his management style, but his vision. The guy is just an incredibly talented individual.
Six Degrees: Aside from simply the generic term “Networking” what specific efforts have you made on your own behalf, or on behalf of colleagues to broaden your opportunities.
JIM: The single biggest has been to been as a “Featured Networker” listing with SixDegreesfromDave.com. We became more motivated to connect and reconnect with our following within the recruitment industry in a big way. The process gave us a more approachable introduction to both our users and those who have inquired about our utility as a passive talent database. We will continue driving home the message to the recruitment community and to our database of 19M business contacts to drive awareness of Jigsaw and to recruit passive candidates to organizations.
Six Degrees: Given your own Trial and Error experiences as a Networker, what advice do you have for your peers on what NOT to do?
JIM: Use extreme caution when sending out a single message to your entire network. Networking is generally about one-to-one communications. Mass messaging is irritating within a social or business network.
Six Degrees: Do you blog?
JIM: No – my Co-Founder Garth Moulton writes our company blog.
Six Degrees: Reading up on you, I understand you are a Triathlete, a big time Giant’s fan, who loves playing hearts and “No Limit Hold Em”, and, not surprisingly, you are not a big fan of puzzles. Tell me something others may not know about you
JIM: I’m a complete history geek. I unwind by reading history. Curiously, I find studying history helps me in business. The decisions politicians and generals have had to make since the beginning of history are not unlike the decisions you have to make as a start-up CEO. There is usually less actual blood involved.