How this Minnesota startup grows by putting people first

by Son Huynh


ShoppeSimpleIt was around 1996, when the Internet was just becoming mainstream, that online privacy began to enter the conversation.  Then, in 2000, a $1.7 billion merger threatened the sanctity of personal information when DoubleClick, an Internet advertising delivery network, acquired consumer data-collector Abacus DirectThe fear was that that the combination of Internet surfing data and personal consumer habits would lead to online profiling.

It was throughout this era that Jeff Giesener began to envision a different relationship between Internet advertisers and web surfers.  Giesener, a VP of DoubleClick who reported to the CEO, fundamentally believed in the ethics behind protecting the consumers’ personal data.  He also saw the the commercial value in enabling the same consumers to retain their digital rights and control their online shopping preferences.

Eventually, Giesener would go on to launch RSSCheck in 2008 as a name play upon both the technology of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) and also the motto of “Really Simple Sales.” However, according to Giesener, the name RSSCheck made branding difficult when talking to investors  because nobody had yet figured out how to monetize RSS, resulting in undue skepticism. As a result, the company underwent a rebranding in 2009, upgraded the technology and became known as ShoppeSimple — a product of parent company RSSCheck.  (Needless to say, this has made those conversations much more effective).

The ShoppeSimple platform is a web-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) suite that uses the lightweight technology of RSS feeds to help retailers and online merchants send targeted, relevant advertising directly to consumers. When a category specific merchant signs on with ShoppeSimple, they can create, publish, share and measure deals and promotions which are aggregated into RSS feeds that can be organized and viewed by consumers from anywhere in real time: a homepage, web/mobile browser, Facebook, Twitter or a specific aggregator/reader of their preference.

ShoppeSimple emphasizes the belief that the consumer knows best: advertisements and sales should only be targeted to people who are interested, engaged and looking to buy. “The best time to move people to action is when they’re paying attention,” says Giesener. Consumers can choose what brands they want to look at, when they want to, and even frequency. In a time when most online mass marketing techniques are proving to be a losing proposition for both sides of the equation, ShoppeSimple creates a targeted sales channel between the merchant and the consumer acting as a catalyst for creating transactions. Giesener compares using E-mail marketing as “throwing mud on the wall and hoping something sticks.” ShoppeSimple also stresses the importance of protecting personal privacy, as the service is on an opt-in/opt-out basis and promises an anonymous shopping experience.

The company provides a “social cluster” of 10+ digital media properties and is paid only a revenue share basis withno implementations fees.  Their unique approach is a growing business, now approaching a dozen customers including: PBS, The Sportsman’s Guide and JoS. A. Bank.


  • hslawik

    It would be nice to know more about the Minnesota conncection. Why is Jeff here? Any thoughts about the local software technology talent pool?

    • Jeff

      I/Jeff was recruited to come to Mn by one of the states largest Consumer Direct Catalog/Internet companies. I arrived in Mn in 2005. ShoppeSimple is using technology talent exclusively from the Twin Cities Metro Area. We currently have 3 technologists working under the direction of our CTO John Hogie.