Music-marketing startup catches ear of customers, investors

High-end car wash chain executive Brent Oakley used to have trouble getting customers' attention with visual messages amid an oversaturated marketing environment. So last summer he figured he'd cut through the noise with custom audio messages for customers sitting in his Prime Car Wash lobbies.

Over the ensuing months, his concept materialized into a startup called Fuzic Inc., whose name stems from the idea of fusing music and messaging. And customers and investors seem to like what they've been hearing. In addition to attracting 100-plus clients across the country and growing to 20 employees, the Fishers-based company has won the support of a couple of Indianapolis business heavyweights, including former Salesforce Marketing Cloud CEO Scott McCorkle.

"December of last year was our first effort in having a software platform that people could actually purchase," said Oakley, who ditched his Prime CEO title to focus on his jobs as Fuzic CEO. "And from December until today, we've just been going like gangbusters."

Fuzic is a software platform for on-site audio advertising. It allows  clients—mostly brick-and-mortar operations—to create custom messages with licensed music woven in.

Country Club operators can share updates to members with a classic rock underlay, and a restaurant can promote specials with whatever genre matches its style. Fuzic has auto dealers, clothes retailers, trampoline parks and more on its swelling customer list.

It works like this: Copywriters at Fuzic help clients craft messages and find "voice talent" from hundreds of professionals across the country. Those professionals record audio clips of the submitted script, and the Fuzic team adds the desired music.

Once the finished product is in hand, clients control when it runs through a mobile app that operates a device connected to the PA system.

"Humans are social creatures—we will always congregate in physical places" McCorkle said. "And to be involved in a marketing platform that helps out those physical places is really fun."

McCorkle, who stepped down from Salesforce in August, heard about Fuzic through his wife, Tiffany, who co-runs their angel investing entity Excelsior Partners. In December, McCorkle started lending a recruiting hand in the business, tapping two former ExactTarget tech colleagues to see if they'd be interested in Fuzic. 

The two alums were Chris Keaney, who's chief technology officer at Fuzic, and Barry Geipel, who's its lead architect.

Oakley's co-founder is Nathan Miller, who spent about a decade at Fishers web development firm Tarion Media. Besides McCorkle and Oakley, Fuzic's other board member is veteran businessman Ted Schenberg, owner of Strand Diagnostics and Animated Dynamics.

The company has been fueled in part by a $300,000 seed round that Oakley raised last year, but it's in the middle of a $3 million equity financing round.

Oakley said the company is operating in about 3,000 square feet in a two-story building at 8766 South St. in Fishers, but it's looking for new space that would accommodate 100 employees.

"We won't have a 100 people in the next few months," he said, "but we've got to find a place to grow into 100 people. We're already busting at the seams here."

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