Alumni Spotlight: Meet Jason Davis of Radico

Jason Davis is a an entrepreneur, data scientist, and cofounder of NYC based startup Radico. Radico provides data, analytics, and advertising services to online marketplaces. Prior to Radico, Jason founded the venture-backed startup Adtuitive acquired by Etsy in 2009. Adtuitive provided simple, automated, and effective ads for online retailers. Post acquisition, Jason managed several teams at Etsy spanning data, search, and advertising.

3 Day Startup Austin 

Prior to his entrepreneurial journey, Jason was a doctoral student studying Machine Learning, Data Mining, and Statistics at The University of Texas at Austin. In 2008, he participated in the first 3 Day Startup program founded at UT Austin. “Throughout my Ph.D. program I was always working on startup projects. I thought 3DS would be a great way to meet fellow entrepreneurial folks. In an interview or meeting, you can talk aspirationally about your startup idea, but working along side someone to build something is an entirely different experience,” says Jason.

During the 3DS weekend, Jason pitched an idea that participants voted to work on. At the time there was no integrated experience for people to search for live music listings in Austin. The team aimed to solve this problem with turn2live, a platform that allowed users to search for live entertainment in real time. After the program, Jason did not join the founding team at turn2live. Fellow participating team member Nik Daftary ran with the idea instead, which eventually became the startup Moodfish.

The Beginnings of Adtuitive

After graduating in the summer of 2008, Jason partnered with an old colleague from his undergraduate studies at Cornell to work on technologies he was studying at the time. For six months they bootstrapped the startup and started signing on early customers. They also brought on a third cofounder from Amazon. Some of Adtuitive’s early customers made introductions to VCs, and the team ended up raising a series A round from 406 Ventures. “From there we relocated to NYC. The product worked really well and we were looking to scale our revenue up to the millions of dollars a year,” says Jason.

Acquired by Etsy

In 2009, Adtuitive was in talks with Etsy about a deep integration. “We soon realized they wanted to be more than just a customer of ours, and in December we finalized a deal with them,” says Jason. At that time, Etsy did not have much of engineering or data culture. “It was an exciting opportunity to work in a new problem domain, and bring our product in a context that was ten times bigger than how we were currently serving it,” says Jason.

Post acquisition, Jason spent three years at Etsy in various leadership roles to help expand the platform’s search, advertising, and analytics features. “Beyond applying our ad technology, we got to build a whole bunch of things,” he says.

The Future of Radico

After his time at Etsy, Jason spent some time evaluating different opportunities for new ventures. “I realized that there was a large gap in marketplace service providers,” he says. Thus, Radico was born, a startup that grows marketplaces with big data, analytics, and advertising. “We started raising money in October of 2013 and we are currently running pilots at the moment,” says Jason.

The Radico team currently consists of three cofounders and two engineers. This year the team is looking to find a good product/market fit, develop more client relationships, and hit key product milestones to test their hypotheses.

Advice for Young Entrepreneurs

“I like the 3DS model that forces someone to produce something in three days, but there are certain skills that are required to be successful and move forward,” says Jason.

  1. Complete what you start.
  2. Everyone has their sweet spot of what they’re good at. Try to start something that you have a specialization in.
  3. Get outside your comfort zone. If you’re a tech person, talk to customers and face the fact that your awesome idea might be terrible.
  4. Try to build the best product that executes on the vision of your idea.
  5. Be objective to whether what you are building works for your customers or not.

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