Military intelligence is a sophisticated machine. In 2012, the Department of Defense spent $21.5 billion on an intelligence budget. And while that network of intelligence is no doubt sprawling and layered, it affects every individual soldier and how he or she carries out a mission.
Anthony Pompliano III drew on that experience when he started his company DigaForce, which will launch mid next month. The Raleigh, North Carolina-based startup is a social media marketing firm that serves both large mobile enterprise companies and popular musicians. Pompliano would not share any of the company’s clients, but insists that the musical acts are “household names, very well-known.”
Pompliano was a sergeant in the Army, stationed in Taji, Iraq, about 20 miles north of Baghdad, from 2008 to 2009. While deployed, he was a leader in the Company Intelligence Support Team, a group of small teams that help a brigade commander to see a more complete picture of the ground. It was partly the skills he learned there that taught him the value of “actionable intelligence” — a piece of information that puts someone in a direct and good position to act.
“In the military world, if I could tell you who the players are, and how many of them there are, that’s great,” he says. “What’s even better is, ‘This is where they are,’ and ‘This is how secure it is.’” It’s this propensity towards immediate, direct action that Pompliano says he’s tried to apply to his marketing firm.
One thing the firm does is serve as a catch all for social media messages that don’t alert companies or bands that their customers and fans are engaging with them. For example, most concertgoers, Pompliano says, will Tweet about their excitement over being at a show, but might not include the band’s Twitter handle or a hashtag. DigaForce will find those Tweets and responds from the band’s account. Types of responses vary according to the client band or company’s preferences, but the reply might take the form of a Tweet back, or a coupon sent by email. Whatever the reply, it always includes a direct call to action – from promoting future ticket sales to driving the fan to a mobile site.
“What the fan sees is, wow, the band Tweeted back,” says Pompliano.
Pompliano isn’t the first veteran to use his or her unique experience from the military to go down the entrepreneurial route. Last summer, I met Mike Janke, a former Seal Team 6 member and chief executive and co-founder of Silent Circle, a mobile security firm that aims to create completely encrypted network for customers to use, without fear of wiretapping or hacking. And our own Hamish McKenzie covered Blake Hall’s TroopID last month. Google has also partnered with VetNet to let the group use Google Plus as a hub for veterans to access job listings and resources for starting their own businesses.
Oh and, lest we forget, this whole World Wide Web thing started as a military project as well.
[Image courtesy x-ray delta one]