This article is part of High Alpha’s CEO Spotlight series. We regularly sit down with High Alpha portfolio CEOs and leaders to dig into their business, team, and story. You’ll get an inside look at the companies in our portfolio and their incredible leaders and teams.
On August 17th, our newest High Alpha Studio company announced its official launch. The Juice, a business-to-business (B2B) content discovery platform, is the first on-demand hub for marketing and sales professionals to access, consume and organize thought leadership and educational content that’s uniquely tailored to their interests and roles.
The Juice is led by Co-Founder and CEO Jonathan Gandolf, an accomplished marketing leader who most recently served as the Head of Marketing at healthcare analytics leader Springbuk and was the Chief Marketing Officer of Braxton Brewing.
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Jonathan, to talk more about the company, his background, and the lessons he’s learned along the way.
In two sentences, tell us about The Juice and what it does.
The Juice collects and consolidates resources from across the Internet onto a single platform where you can save, share, and enjoy content on demand. We like to call it Spotify for B2B content.
Tell us a little about your background and how you got into the tech/startup world?
I had always thought I’d end up working in sports but started my career at ExactTarget, an email marketing software company acquired by Salesforce in 2013. I fell in love with the culture and pace. I learned a lot from that experience — this was also when I fell in love with the world of tech and marketing.
Fun fact: When I started, ExactTarget was out of space in their office so I ended up sitting right outside of the CEO’s office. This was when I first met Scott Dorsey, former ExactTarget CEO and current Managing Partner at High Alpha, and was lucky enough to get to know him informally from that experience.
Did you always know you’d become an entrepreneur?
I’ve always liked the early stage, where every decision you make and every conversation you’re in has a consequence. So, I think that’s also why I became an entrepreneur because you have a tangible impact on the business, but I never set out to be an entrepreneur.
After ExactTarget, I fell into entrepreneurship and helped launch a brewery called Braxton Brewing Company with some friends. I did that for a few years but ultimately decided that I wanted to return to the tech ecosystem.
How did your relationship with High Alpha originate, and why did you decide to start The Juice alongside High Alpha?
Scott Dorsey called me in March of 2020, which was a very interesting time for the world. We spent most of the call catching up, but in the end, he asked me if I’d be interested in any High Alpha opportunities. I told him that I was happy where I was at, but I’d always take his call. He said, “Well, that’s really good to hear because we like to hire happy people.”
I realized I walked right into that trap. Later, he introduced me to Kristian Andersen. Kristian took this idea and developed it during High Alpha’s Sprint Week for something like an “IMDB for B2B content.”
Honestly, I thought he was just looking for a marketer’s opinion and feedback on the idea, so I threw out there that I felt that the platform could go a bit bigger than IMDB by pairing B2B content with the consumer — similar to the recommendations you get from Spotify or Apple News.
He asked what I would think about leading the business, and I think I laughed (which was probably not the appropriate response). I knew that I still had a lot to learn, and I wasn’t sure the opportunity was right for me just yet.
We continued the conversation for three or four months and eventually, I came to the realization that I couldn’t imagine High Alpha starting The Juice without me. The rest is history, and here we are today, officially launched.
What are you most excited about in your upcoming product roadmap?
We’re in the process of developing something we like to call persona analytics. For marketers, so much of content production is constrained by what you’ve always done. You just do it because you’ve done it before.
With persona analytics, you’ll be able to share your persona with The Juice and our platform will share the exact topics they care about, their preferred content format, and the brands they follow based on our content engagement data.
This will help content marketers identify where they should focus their time and who they might want to partner with so they can finally make decisions based on real data as opposed to just doing things the way they’ve always been done.
What is a key lesson you learned from launching The Juice?
1. Talk to your customers. High Alpha encouraged our team to talk to as many potential customers as possible. So, I set a goal to talk to 100 marketers in our first 100 days. At the end of this process, we had validated our vision, identified new opportunities, created a beta program (because people were asking for it), answered tough questions, and had more conviction than ever around our idea. We’re still benefiting from that to this day, and we will in the future. I actually wrote about it on our blog and shared our template for it.
2. Hire smart people and get out of the way. I’ll admit that hiring may have been slower than I would have liked, but we’ve always ended up with the right person. I think I would trade speed for the right fit any day.
What advice would you have for other founders and CEOs of high-growth startups?
Starting a business is really hard. It can be lonely, but surrounding yourself with great people makes the entire process much easier. Bring in the right people, even if it takes a lot of time or more effort. These mentors, colleagues, team members, and partners will pay off in the long run.
If people are interested in learning more about using The Juice or joining The Juice team, where should they go for more information?
I think the best way to learn about The Juice is to jump into the app and start searching for content. It’s free to sign up on our website, and you can begin to explore over 50,000 pieces of content. There’s something for everyone.