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Bulu Box

Bulu Box has created a new company, Bulu Marketplace, to capitalize on the consumer data it collects. The company is growing its workforce as well.

Paul Jarret said he doesn't like to think of Bulu Marketplace as a "startup within a startup."

"But it kind of is," said Jarrett, CEO of Bulu Box.

Jarrett and his wife, Stephanie, founded Bulu Box, a company that provides sample boxes of nutritional supplements, several years ago.

He said their ultimate goal was to grow the company and be successful enough to get acquired by a larger company.

That goal was reached, as the company was approached by both retailers and manufacturers wanting to buy it.

But Jarrett said he and Stephanie had an epiphany -- that they were much more than a company that provides samples -- and that led them to look at doing something bigger.

"At our core, we're actually a data collection company," Jarrett said.

While they were sending out those sample boxes to customers every month, they were collecting all kinds of marketing data, such as what products were most popular.

"The box is nothing more than a fancy survey tool," Jarrett said.

They took that data and built a platform called Bulu Insights that they used to help with marketing.

But Jarrett said he realized that data would be valuable to others, such as the companies producing the products and the ones selling them.

So they came up with a whole new company -- Bulu Marketplace.

Jarrett said he already had retailers including large companies like Target and Walgreens coming to Bulu Box looking for trends on what products were popular.

The new Bulu Marketplace uses Bulu Insights -- the company's data-gathering platform -- to connect those retailers with manufacturers and others. The retailers get access to the data for free while others pay a small fee to list their data.

Jarrett called it a "LinkedIn for consumer marketplace data," referencing the social networking site for business professionals.

To focus on the data part of the business and help it grow, Jarrett said he split the company into two businesses -- Bulu Box and Bulu Marketplace.

He is keeping a small team in place to run Bulu Box and is working on building a team to run Bulu Marketplace.

The company has already hired seven new employees, including two key executives, and Jarrett said he plans to make three more hires over the summer. That will bring employment at Bulu Box up to around 25 people, and if it meets its business targets with Bulu Marketplace, the company could grow to about 40 employees by the end of the year.

To fund that growth, Jarrett said he got additional capital from investors, though he declined to say how much.

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On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.


Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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