The genesis of Crossbeam, the third startup to have the founding imprint of Philly Startup Leaders president Bob Moore, can be traced back to a prophetic 2014 all-hands meeting at Center City data darling RJMetrics.
“I don’t remember the exact wording but he said something like, ‘I’d love to see everyone in this room start a company after RJ,’ and I thought, yeah, I’m on board with that,” said Buck Ryan, then a senior software engineer at the company, which was acquired by West Coast ecommerce company Magento two years later. Ryan, now 30, first started working with Moore in 2012, before leaving RJMetrics/Magento in 2017 to start a consulting firm. What’s now Crossbeam was one of Ryan’s early clients.
“I knew he could code and design circles around me,” Moore said. “Theoretically I could have taken a crack at building the first version of this but one of the things we learned early on at RJ is that when you find talented people, you work with them as much as you can and try to never let them go.”
How early is Crossbeam? It doesn’t have a logo, paying customers or a full-time staff beyond Moore and Ryan. The analytics startup is looking to provide companies with data insights. (More on how that works in a bit.) But the vision in Moore’s eyes is one of significant potential.
“The most important thing [for people to know] is that we genuinely believe that we can build an important significant, long-lasting technology company in Philadelphia with this business,” Moore said. “We wouldn’t have signed up to do it if not. This is the right mix of opportunity in the market and the team’s ability to make it work.”
Crossbeam is tucked away at a corner of Stitch’s office — the RJMetrics spinout cofounded by Moore and Stitch CEO Jake Stein — on the 15th floor of the Widener Building. For now, its staff is comprised of five part-time interns from PSL’s Start Stay Grow program, one of whom has been taking stabs at Crossbeam logo mock-ups.
— PhillyStartupLeaders (@startupleaders) June 28, 2018
Stitch and Crossbeam remain different institutions, but Moore said there’s lots of ways the two will intertwine. “For one, Jake is our landlord,” Moore joked. “And we’re using the Stitch technology to aid how Crossbeam works.”
As with most startups in the data analytics space, we asked the question of rigor: What does Crossbeam actually do?
“It’s all about collaboration and combining the insights and opportunities that exist between two different companies,” said Moore, who stepped down as Head of Magento Business Intelligence in January to focus on Stitch (where he remains board chair and cofounder) and Crossbeam.
In a hypothetical use case, the company will help identify — through its “collaborative intelligence platform” — opportunities for other companies to find common ground and share data with one another, in a privacy-minded, post-GDPR environment.
“If companies knew what the overlap was between their customer lists and characteristics in common, it might encourage them to market together, go to trade shows together or build tech integrations,” Moore said.
Within the next six months, Crossbeam looks to raise a seed round to build on that premise.
We asked Moore, officially now a serial entrepreneur, what he expects to repeat this time around.
“Well, one thing we did with RJ that I would love to repeat is investing heavily in people,” Moore said. “That doesn’t just mean paying people, but spending time and energy to cultivate a career for them.” (They’re hiring, by the way.)
And what’s one think he’d like to avoid?
“We started RJ the same week Lehman Brothers collapsed. We spent years growing the company very conservatively but profitably with an eye towards caution and thoughtful growth. And then the market heated up again, we raised $25 million dollars and hired way ahead of what our needs were in pursuit of a really aggressive vision,” said Moore, alluding to a round of layoffs in 2016. “To be honest with you, when we were bootstrapping we were too conservative, and when we flipped the switch we lost sight of some those values we started the company around. There were opportunities to spend capital more intelligently and build the team in a more thoughtful way.”
Conversely, Moore said, Stitch is being built in a more thoughtful way.
“I love the way Jake is managing the thoughtful growth,” the founder said. “I think I’ll use him as a role model for that.”-30-