“Female Owned Tech Companies Merge as PopCom Acquires Game-Based Survey Company Wyzerr”
Longtime friends CEOs Dawn Dickson and Natasia Malaihollo announce far-reaching plans for the future. Wyzerr has built fun innovative game surveys helping businesses like Kroger, Paypal, McDonalds, Walmart, Google, Proctor & Gamble and Facebook better understand their customers and employees. PopCom will utilize gamified surveys to enhance their artificial intelligence, vending machines and contactless retail solutions.
Just reading that headline feels surreal. I met Wyzerr Founder Natasia Malaihollo through friends at CES in 2016, I had just pivoted PopCom (then called Solutions Vending International) to be a full technology company focused on building software for vending machines and kiosks. I had never built a software company before, I had so much to learn. When I met Natasia I was immediately impressed by her tech savvy — to be so young and already on her second tech company, this time working with SaaS and artificial intelligence. Wyzerr had just completed the Brandery accelerator, closed a $1M+ seed round and were well on their way to scaling. We hit it off right way and became fast friends. Not long after we met I asked her to join PopCom as an advisor. I knew I could learn a lot from her. PopCom had not yet raised any substantial funding and I was looking for an accelerator that would be a good fit for us. Natasia and her co-founders Bjorn (BK) Simmons and Stedman Harper were so helpful! They made several introductions for me in the start up community, one of those connections resulted in PopCom being selected for the Canopy Boulder Accelerator — our first institutional investor.
For the next few years Natasia and I continued to grow our friendship and she was always there as an advisor to guide me through the early parts of raising capital, building a team and setting up the company. When we built out the PopCom point-of-sale system (POS) we included Wyzerr smart surveys at the end and integrated it into our system as an add-on for customers. It was a perfect addition to our user and customer experience, the gamified surveys were fun for consumers and retailers can capture valuable feedback post-transaction.
When Natasia expressed to me her desire to exit I immediately felt that PopCom would be the perfect acquirer, not only because we use Wyzerr in our stack and the entire team knows and loves Natasia…but Wyzerr is an amazing product with customers that PopCom wants to work with! When I saw the Wyzerr customer list I was blown away, Natasia and her team were able to secure big enterprise customers, some of our dream customers. Wyzerr is best survey software on the market — that has always been my opinion, and I know it can be huge. When I presented it to the Board for approval, it was a no-brainer.
I had never acquired a company before so I did not know exactly where to start. That is where my other amazing friend and Board Member Brian Brackeen came in. Since 2016, Brian has been working with me as an advisor as I grew PopCom. He has been there every step of the way and when we formed a Board of Directors he happily joined along with Alexa McCulloch. Brian is no newbie to acquisitions, he has been a part of many M&A deals. He led the acquisition process along with Alexa, our attorney Kawa Foad, and myself.
The process took longer than I expected, it’s funny how when people know that other people want something, they suddenly want it, even if they didn’t pay attention to it before. Once the due diligence and deal was done, we invited Natasia to join the PopCom team as Head of Business Development. She is a phenomenal leader and product manager, she holds the vision for Wyzerr and I was excited that she accepted the role to join the team and help us see the vision through. She will be working on both Wyzerr and PopCom alongside me.
It took us weeks to make the press announcement, I was bursting at the seams! PopCom and Wyzerr, two female tech founders (with Ohio companies) joining forces means so much for the community, the culture and our investors. We recently closed another $1M+ Reg CF round and now our 4,500 investors in PopCom now own equity in another budding startup. How cool is that?