This week, EY (Ernst & Young) announced that Signal founders Marc Kiven, Mike Sands, and Eric Lunt are finalists for its prestigious Entrepreneur of the Year award. This honor recognizes the groundbreaking work that our founders are doing to grow a leading technology company, support Chicago’s entrepreneurial community, and serve our clients with technology that enables brand marketers to create engaging and personalized customer experiences.
Finalists for this annual award are selected by independent judges. “These honorees not only create and build market-leading businesses, but also help take the standard of excellence to new heights, transform the face of industry, create jobs, and contribute to the vibrancy of communities,” according to EY.
The story of Signal’s founding is one of great talent, hard work, and a big idea.
Each of the founders brought a wealth of experience and leadership to the table. Mike Sands, Signal’s CEO, had been a private equity partner at the Pritzker Group, and CMO and COO at Orbitz, as part of the company’s founding management team. Marc Kiven, Signal’s Chief Revenue Officer, had a long history of building ad tech companies into profit-making machines, from Avenue A to Right Media to Centro. Eric Lunt, Signal’s CTO, is a serial entrepreneur who had launched and sold five companies, including FeedBurner, which was acquired by Google.
In 2009, Marc approached Mike with his idea to solve the big problem in digital marketing: advertisers couldn’t effectively keep up with their always-on customers, and they couldn’t recognize the same user when the consumer engages on different channels—web, mobile, in store—to explore the brand’s products. This intractable problem created poor customer experiences and saddled brands with wasted marketing spend. Marc and Mike joined forces with Eric to create the Signal Fuse open data platform, built from the ground up to help marketers engage customers with the right message in the right channel, in real time.
The rest is Signal (and BrightTag) history. Mike, Marc, and Eric committed themselves to building and growing a major technology company that would lend strength and support to Chicago’s economy and tech community.
Collectively, this year’s finalists in the program generated more than $17.4 billion in revenue and provided over 25,000 jobs by the end of 2014.
EY’s Entrepreneurs of the Year will be named on June 17. Congratulations to all the finalists!