Bill McCloskey

Bill McCloskey is the founder of Only Influencers and eDataSource.

How I built eDataSource

How I built eDataSource

Today was the official announcement that eDataSource has acquired Boxbe. Congratulations to eDataSource's CEO Carter Nicholas who was instrumental in this: what started as a conversation at a trade show 2 years ago has led to a reinvention of eDataSource. 

Having created eDataSource out of my garage in 2003, obviously this is tremendously exciting for me. 

Here is a little history of the start of eDataSource: 

In August of 2000, I launched my first for profit company: Emerging Interest (previously I had started a non-profit called The Rich Media SIG and the money from that company helped provide the seed money for Emerging Interest). Emerging Interest was an interesting idea that is being copied today: I would take vendors in to meet decision makers at agencies and companies in a traveling road show. Over the years, agencies would hire us to find vendors for a particular project. One day Ogilvy contacted me and asked me to find a competitive intelligence vendor for email. One of their clients wanted to monitor the competitors email campaigns. 

After talking to every competitive intelligence company, I found out no one monitored email. Why, I wondered. Well, I reasoned, there was no easy technological solution. You couldn't scan people's inboxes. So what was my big idea? Why not sign up to every list out there and archive what came in? Here I had an idea and a potential customer. I shut down Emerging Interest over the next few months and launched Email Data Source. 

And better: why not create a "virtual panel" with different profiles (sex, interests,etc), so I went about creating all these different types of "profiles" and then signing up different profiles to the same mailing list to monitor segmentation. 

I contacted a guy I had worked with at Comet Systems, Cullin Wible, who created the first version of eDataSource tool. I would process each email by hand every night: which meant looking at each email and categorizing it by company and product type. Soon I was processing thousands of emails a day and had to hire more people to process. In addition, since we used my physical address in signups, suddenly my mailman was delivery huge piles of direct mail to my house all addressed to my different virtual people. It was pretty insane. 

Eventually we had dozens of people processing email and even a team in India, and we were still getting further behind until my CTO had a brilliant idea: instead of categorizing the emails by hand, why not just follow the links in each email and see WHERE the emails were driving traffic to! That turned out to be a game changer: suddenly we could monitor every affiliate marketer, see who was working with who, and we could monitor all the intermediaries along the way. We suddenly had insight into the email marketing world that was unprecedented and unique. 

Through a close contact, I was introduced to the New York Angels where we ended up raising our A round. Later B and C rounds followed. It was my first experience in dealing with investments and VC's. An incredible experience. 

A few years later, I no longer was interested in the CEO role, which took me away from coming up with product ideas as most of my time was dealing with investors, operations, etc. Carter Nicholas was introduced to us by one of our Board Members Bob Rice. Carter turned out to be great, so great in fact, that there was less and less for me to do which is when I decided to leave to start Only Influencers: I needed to build something from scratch again. 

To all you would be entrepreneurs out there: I always said, if I can do it, anyone can. My background was always in the arts, not business, but I found out later in life that building a business is one of the most creative and exciting art projects there are. 

Every day as I think about the direction of OI, I look back on my experiences building eDataSource with pride. Not bad for a theater major from Bucknell!

Related Posts

I'm excited to officially announce the launch of a new Conference for Email Marketers. The Email Innovations Summit! It will be held in Las Vegas on May 18-19th.

So why another email conference and why now? Over the past year, the old stable world of email marketing has seen some dramatic changes. Changes in the number of devices that the Email Marketer needs to be aware of and test for. Changes in Design and Coding. Changes in new and exciting Acquisition techniques. Changes in Email Security and Delivery. And marketers are having trouble just keeping up. In addition, Email Marketers want to accelerate their own careers, but often don't know how to do it. The Email Innovations Summit was designed to address the rapid changes in our industry. And we have assembled some of the best email marketing minds in the world to make it happen. 


In the area of Innovation we are excited to announce that speakers like Mark Robbins, from Rebelmail (who will be opening the show with the first keynote), Justine Jordan (the EEC's Email Thought Leader of the Year) from Litmus, Elliot Ross from Action Rocket, and John Thies from Email on Acid to discuss advances in email design and coding. Topics include going beyond Responsive Design, how colors effect response, designing for multiple devices and the latest tips and tricks to add to your email design arsenal. 

Brands like George DiGuido from, Kristin Bond from the Girl Scouts of the USA, Greta MacDonald from Service Master, Jared Blank form DealNews, Michael Nuss from Shoe Carnival and Shilpi Talwar from Western Uniion  will be discussing the programs and the latest acquisition techniques and how they have incorporated technologies from Fluent and LiveIntent to super charge their list building programs. 

And Parry Malm from Phrasee, Kath Pay from Holistic Email, and folks from Persado will be demonstrating the newest subject line and machine learning techniques and tools, guaranteed to increase open rates and engagement. And Tim Watson will be teaching new ways to test your campaigns. 

Heidi Lehmann will be moderating a panel on Wearables and the Internet of Things: what do you need to know as an email marketer about the latest wearable technology and messaging to these devices. 

And Simms Jenkins, Founder of BrightWave Marketing, will be curating and moderating a fast paced Technology Shoot-out, showcasing 10 of the leading innovators in a fast paced 45 minute session. and Dela Quist founder of Alchemy Worx and Loren MacDonald, First winner of the EEC's Email Marketer of the Year award, will be delivering riveting keynote addresses on Innovation and email. 


Have you ever come away from a conversation with your IT department scratching your head? Fear no more: Laura Atkins, founder of Word to the Wise, will be explaining everything you need to know in 2016 about Email Security, ISP's, and Delivery. It will be a technical talk for a non-technical audience and you will learn the terms you need to know and why they are important.

And how do you implement all these new Innovations into your program?  Brands like Alessandra Souers (the EEC's Email Marketer of the Year) from JibJab, Kelly Haggard from Synchrony Financial will be discussing techniques for getting buy in at the C-Suite and Chris Marriott and Jeremy Grecco will be talking about successful integration from RFP to Implementation. 

Maybe you have always wanted to start your own Email Consultancy? Karen Talavera, Kath Pay, and Jeanne Jennings will be giving you the low down on the Ups and Downs of putting out your own shingle. 

Shanon Strahl will be discussion Attribution and Mitch Lapides will be giving you the Ins and Outs of properly Calculating ROI. Others speakers include Bob Frady, John Caldwell, Chris Donald, Nicholas Einstein, Jeremy Swift, and many others. 


And because this is an Only Influencers event, community and networking will be a major part of the show. Programs like Dinner with a Stranger, morning jogs, mentorship and other networking events are planned, and of course, everyone is welcome back on the OI community site to continue the conversations and the relationships you forge at the show. 

This is only a small fraction of the content, innovations, and networking opportunities we have planned. Reserve your slot now and check out the growing list of speakers and presentations at

Elliot Ross, Action Rocket: 

"We’ve been adding lots of new features to our email CMS Taxi for Email – This week we’ve made our pricing plans more accessible for all email teams, so they can make email campaigns faster and improve their email workflow.

Our Essential plan starts at $62.50/mo (paid annually) and has no limits on the amount of users on your team, or the amount of email campaigns you can produce. We have also launched a Growth plan for larger teams, which joins our existing enterprise plan.

More details & take a trial here –, also happy to arrange demos for any OI folk who are interested!"

Robert Massa, Bounce Exchange

Not really a product pitch, but I was excited to announce that Bounce Exchange is hosting our annual  Conversion Conference in April. The one of a kind conversion assembly will take place this year in beautiful Austin, Texas. 

We have received a lot of interest from sponsors, but still have some slots available. Please see below for details:

Its going to be full of brilliant content, fun events and of course the best BBQ food.

Feel free to reach out to me if you have questions. Will be great to see a large part of our email community there!


Andrew Bonar, EmailExpert

Not much of a pitch really, but as part of a series of new free tools emailexpert will be releasing in the next few weeks, we have an email verification tool of sorts. Email examination tool really as it examines the information as opposed to making third party calls for verification. 

Typos, disposable email address' and the like are checked for, the code for including our Ajax in your own forms is not yet available, but the batch verify is fully operational.

Laura Chau, Movable Ink

Movable Ink and Taboola are hosting a webinar next Wednesday: Guiding Consumers Through the Funnel.  We'll be talking about awesome content strategies for email acquisition and then how to turn those leads into customers through innovative email nurturing.

You can register here:

Sam Arnold, Kahuna

Hi all, if you are interested in email marketing as part of an omnichannel strategy and would like to learn how some companies are driving significantly higher engagement by incorporating customer behavior, we would love to have you join our upcoming webinar.

VentureBeat analyst Wendy Schuchart will be moderating a discussion between Brian Witlin, COO of Yummly (15M monthly users and growing) and Doug Roberge, Strategic Services Consultant at Kahuna.

You can read VentureBeat's write-up of the webinar here and can register directly here. This will be live on 1/27 at 1:00pm ET and available on-demand afterwards.

- Sam

Today we launch a new Only Influencer's feature where we "unbox" the email marketing programs of top brands around the world. Today we will be exploring the email programs of ServiceMaster®, a leading provider of residential and commercial services. Their brands include ServiceMaster Restore (disaster restoration), ServiceMaster Clean (janitorial), Merry Maids (residential cleaning), Terminix (termite and pest control), Furniture Medic (furniture repair), American Home Shield (home warranties), and AmeriSpec (home inspections).

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