After a short hiatus from the startup scene, Jason Cianchette has bought back in—literally.
Cianchette, who has experienced both success and failure as a startup founder, has acquired Group MarketShare, a local, but little-known, market research and data company that serves the insurance industry.
The company is not a startup, having been founded in 2001 by Frederick Brown. But based on what Cianchette was willing to say and a new job he posted on LinkedIn, it sounds like he plans to relaunch the company and treat it like a startup.
Cianchette confirmed for Maine Startups Insider that he acquired the company in May 2017 and is now the sole owner, but said he wants to hold off on discussing his reasons for acquiring the company or his plans for it until he relaunches it with a new name and brand sometime in early 2018.
“It’s good to be back in tech,” he said.
Group MarketShare currently aggregates sales data from 22 leading insurance companies, according to the company description on LinkedIn. It then sells access to that data to its insurance-industry customers, who are seeking data to help tailor its business plans. They access the data through an interactive web-based platform. The company’s core products provide market statistics for the group life, group long-term disability, and group short-term disability insurance sectors.
Cianchette’s plans for the company are hinted at in a job he posted on LinkedIn. He’s looking to add a full-time senior developer—the company’s first. The description of the job includes this telling paragraph: “The company is under new ownership by an experienced technology entrepreneur and the entire legacy platform is being replaced with a modern solution. This role is for the first full-time developer who will lead this effort and have a large influence on the software development process and platform at the company.”
Group MarketShare was previously headquartered at Pineland Farms’ office campus in New Gloucester, but one of Cianchette’s first decisions was to move the company to downtown Portland. Its offices are now on Washington Avenue at the base of Portland’s Munjoy Hill. It’s unclear how many employees the company currently has.
A Falmouth native, Cianchette founded his first startup, Liquid Wireless, in 2008 to sell ads appearing on websites and games accessed via mobile devices. He sold the company in 2012 to Publishers Clearing House for an undisclosed sum.
In 2014, Cianchette founded a startup called Huzzapp, which he touted at the time as developing a new way for people to interact with online video. It also released a mobile trivia app, which gained some popularity. However, Huzzapp failed. After that Cianchette took a few years away from tech, including the acquisition and operating of a tent-rental company.