KC Startup SquareOffs Rounds Up Great Debates

KC Startup SquareOffs Rounds Up Great Debates


by


The startup helps publishers and other clients keep the conversation going.


We’ve all been there: You get embroiled in a long, involved debate with a co-worker, an uncle or the lady on the bus. And though you know you’re right, you have no way to prove you’re right and win the argument.

A few years ago, Jeff Rohr and a buddy had one of those debates. And Rohr saw the idea for a business.

SquareOffs is an online platform that allows publishers, brands and other content providers to quickly add interactive polls to their websites. Rohr’s vision is to be the YouTube of social polling.

These aren’t like the old-school polls where you simply clicked a button to voice your opinion. SquareOffs lets users share videos, links and other proof to support their position. Other people can chime in. As a result, audiences tend to stick around longer, increasing engagement.

“Our job is basically to keep that conversation on the publisher’s site that started the conversation,” said Rohr, who launched SquareOffs in 2012.

Publishers can make money using SquareOffs. The polls include integrated advertising, which boasts a click-through rate that’s 15 times better than the industry average.

SquareOffs works with more than 40 publishers with millions of pageviews. Locally, the company recently landed two big partners: Pinsight Media+ and Andrews McMeel Universal.

Andrews McMeel is one of the world’s leading editorial syndicates, with a stable of talent that includes Dear Abby, Miss Manners and Ann Coulter among others. “We’re working on distribution with them,” Rohr said.

Thanks to app developer Pinsight, if you log into the free Wi-Fi network downtown, you’ll be directed to a landing page featuring SquareOffs questions designed to increase civic engagement.

What’s next for SquareOffs? Rohr and his team will launch a free-standing website that will highlight debates from all the company’s partners.

And last month, the company welcomed its latest hire: Todd Harris, a former senior vice president of sales for iHeartMedia, a major player in the radio industry.

Other people can see the potential in Rohr’s idea. SquareOffs was one of the first winners of the LaunchKC grant competition, taking home $50,000 from last fall’s Techweek Kansas City. And Rohr is a participant in this year’s Pipeline Entrepreneurial Fellowship, a program that helps young companies from Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska to scale up.

“It’s helped me, without a doubt,” Rohr said. “It’s been phenomenal.”

 

James Hart

Written by

James Hart is a freelance writer based in Kansas City.

Categories: Company to Watch

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