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Spotlight on: Poln, Digital.NYC’s Startup to Watch for June 2016

Each month as part of Digital.NYC’s Startups to Watch program we connect with the winning company to find out more about them. Here's what we learned in a talk with Aanarav Sareen, Co-Founder of Poln:

Digital.NYC: Tell us about your company. What does Poln do?

Poln (pronounced “Pollen”) is the first advertising platform designed specifically to help small to mid-sized online retailers acquire new customers easily & cost-effectively. Our missions is to create an ad platform simple enough for mom and pop online stores to use effectively yet powerful enough to meet the needs of Fortune 500 companies. We offer our clients big-agency expertise, packaged in the simplest consumer-prospecting platform on the market.

Digital.NYC: What is your background?

Poln’s founders, Aanarav Sareen, David Wagoner, Harm Lyall and Zack Werner, are serial entrepreneurs with a unique blend of expertise in advertising, retail, technology and marketing. Our diverse history allows us to build great products that reach millions of people every single day. 

Digital.NYC: How did you come up with the idea for Poln? Who is your target customer?

Collectively, we worked hundreds of online retailers at our previous companies and no matter the industry, the common thread among them was they were all looking for more effective ways to get their brands in front of new customers. After working in the advertising and eCommerce trenches, we realized that running truly effective campaigns was largely out of reach for most small to mid-sized online retailers. Traditional ad platforms are incredibly complicated, time consuming, and ineffective to use -- and to hire someone with the skill-set required to use them effectively is prohibitively expensive for most SMBs. There is a large community of underserved online retailers that are making amazing products and are getting lost in the noise of online retail because they don’t have an effective means to present their products to new customers. Online retailers live and die by the qualify of the traffic coming to their site and this is why we founded Poln. 

Digital.NYC: How do you think Poln might disrupt the market? What are the main differentiators between you and your competitors?

Poln is already disrupting the market in the same way that Apple did with the iPod in 2001. We’re offering a piece of technology that’s simple enough for anybody to use yet incredibly powerful. We’re democratizing advertising. 

Poln truly is the easiest online advertising display solution for online retailers. While most of our competitors require pages and pages of information prior to running a campaign, our platform is simple and effective. It takes less than 15 seconds to integrate our technology and less than 5 minutes to activate a campaign. 

Digital.NYC: Who are your main investors?

37 Angels, Start Garden and Foundry Group are Poln's main investors. 

Digital.NYC: Why did you decide to start your business in New York City? How long has Poln been in existence?

Having worked and lived in New York City, it was critical for us to build a company in a city that is the hub of global advertising, a rapidly growing technology market and more importantly – where we have access to some of the most intelligent business advisors and innovators in the world. 

Poln was founded in January of 2015. We’re thrilled with the progress we’ve made in such a short period of time but have plenty more in store for our customers and partners. 

Digital.NYC: What resources in the startup community have contributed to the success of Poln? (For example, co-working spaces, accelerators networking groups)

Networking events and the vast options of co-working spaces have definitely helped Poln meet new people - advisors, employees and investors alike. The support system of the closely knit startup community in New York is crucial for brainstorming, feedback, and growth. The NYC tech scene is growing quickly but still has a very communal feeling so people have been incredibly open to giving advice and feedback whenever we’ve called on it. 

Digital.NYC: How do you use Digital.NYC professionally?

Poln uses Digital.NYC to keep up to date about New York City startups and crucial events for finding new clients as well as hiring employees. 


Digital.NYC: What are the next steps for Poln?

We’re working tirelessly to improve our platform to make our customers more successful entrepreneurs and marketers. We’re currently in the process of rolling out a huge new group of features that we think our customers are going to love. Poln has grown incredibly quickly and with that we’re working to grow the Poln family with as many brilliant, thought provoking and ambitious people as we can find. Poln is the product of our a group of friends coming together to solve a big problem and we want to expand our family as quickly as we can find brilliant people. 


Digital.NYC: What is the most important thing our readers should know about Poln?

We want to hear from you. We love talking to entrepreneurs, retailers, marketers, technologist, thought-leaders or anyone with an opinion. We’re an incredibly open bunch at Poln and relish the opportunity to talk shop with our peers. Feel free to drop us a line and reach out for any reason. 

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