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OPTIZMO Technologies: For Email Compliance

As seen in CIO Bulletin

For a successful digital marketing strategy, it is important to have a great email and SMS marketing plan. But as these marketing channels have grown over the years, so has their complexity. With data privacy and security in focus, marketing compliance has become a new challenge for every company. Austin, Texas-based OPTIZMO Technologies is helping businesses tackle these challenges through its solutions.

We interviewed Grant Fern, Co-Founder and CTO of OPTIZMO recently, who founded the company in 2009 with Khris Thayer. He talked with us about his leadership style and about how OPTIZMO provides robust, enterprise-class solutions in the Fortune 500 arena.

Q.Tell us a little more about how you came to co-found OPTIZMO.

I have been friends with our CEO and Co-Founder, Khris Thayer, since well before OPTIZMO came to be. From when we first met, we always enjoyed talking about business ideas. After numerous conversations over a few years, we hit on the idea that would become OPTIZMO. At the time, I owned a small web agency and was developing websites for various clients.

Once we started discussing the details for OPTIZMO, I really saw it as an exciting and challenging opportunity to develop software that could meet the needs of the market more effectively than the existing solutions.

So, it was really the perfect confluence of an intriguing development challenge and the opportunity to finally work with a close friend to build something from the ground up that made OPTIZMO happen. Here we are over 10 years later, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with what we have accomplished to date, along with what we have planned for the future.

Q. As a leader, what is your management style?

I believe in hiring talented and motivated people and then empowering them to make real contributions to the team and the company. Getting software products right is complex, so I encourage every employee to give input and voice opinions during the decision-making process which leads to better problem solving and innovation.

From a communication standpoint, I take a radical candor approach, where issues can be raised and addressed immediately, in a trusted environment. Communication is also very much a two-way street in order to maintain a cohesive team environment that allows diverse opinions, skills, and ideas to inform decisions.

Q. What is your philosophy when it comes to development?

At OPTIZMO, we follow an Agile development philosophy, focusing on code quality and automated testing to increase maintainability. We prioritize projects for each development sprint across various product enhancements, updates and fixes, and regular maintenance to make sure that we are constantly adding value and enhancing our system, while also ensuring the regular functioning of our software and systems. I also believe strongly that everyone on the development team should have a voice in the projects. We all work together on how to prioritize each project.

Q. How do you build and lead a high-performing development team?

We are very focused on building great teams. It spans across the business and development sides of the company. Specifically, on the development side, we create an empowered, inclusive, and supportive culture where we succeed as a team and fail as a team. We rotate the assignment of key development roles (scrum master, sprint reviews, support, etc) every sprint to maintain engagement and learning across the team and let every team member grow professionally.

Q. Tell us about your email compliance solutions.

There are several laws that companies need to understand and comply with, as they build out their email marketing programs. In the United States, the key regulation is the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, which lays out very specific rules and guidelines for using email marketing with recipients in the United States. The law imposes fines up to $43,280 per email in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act. So, non-compliance can carry significant financial penalties, along with damage to the brand and overall email campaign effectiveness going forward. The law provides a number of key elements for compliance, with two of the most significant points being focused on providing recipients with an easy method to opt-out or unsubscribe from future email campaigns and then the requirement that the company process and honor those requests within 10 business days.

OPTIZMO provides a technology platform that powers clients’ email compliance programs and overall suppression list management. It generates unique opt-out links that can be included in every email campaign sent by the client or its marketing partners and then automates the collection, processing, and storage of all of those opt-out requests and distributes the updated suppression file to all email marketing partners. The system effectively automates the entire email compliance process for clients and their marketing partners, saving them time and money while also making their compliance programs more efficient and effective.

Could you explain the function of SUPPRESS?

SUPPRESS is a convenient, web-based, and feature-rich compliance platform that enhances the security, visibility, and efficiency of email suppression list management throughout an entire ecosystem of channel partners. Providing one-click “unsubscribes,” automated file transfers, automated distribution of secure access keys, and alert notifications makes OPTIZMO the easiest email compliance platform to use and the industry’s most robust automation application for the collection, storage, and distribution of email suppression lists and customer files.

The platform effectively automates what would otherwise be a very time-consuming and costly, manual process. It also dramatically enhances data security and reduces the potential for human error that could easily lead to non-compliance.

The Development Visionary

Grant Fern, Co-Founder & CTO

With over 15 years of experience in coding, he is an entrepreneur and a development luminary. His career in development has seen him take on some interesting opportunities including building his own custom backend framework, and UI/UX development for a variety of SaaS platforms. He also holds expertise in infrastructural design, server setup and allocation, and the provisioning aspects of deploying web apps from infrastructure to the end-user.

He launched his first company, DynaDesign, in 2003. DynaDesign was a boutique web development agency focused on selling a proprietary, custom content management system (CMS) that Grant had previously developed. In 2009, he used DynaDesign to help co-found and launch OPTIZMO.

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