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"The truth is, my story is not a traditional one." That’s how serial entrepreneur and reformed drug addict Marco Broccardo sums up his unconventional background. Broccardo is the 38-year-old CEO and founder of Colony Live, a data analytics platform for radio stations that he started in SA and recently took to the US a nation with 16,000 radio stations. The company’s platform lets stations aggregate text messages, e-mails, and social media interactions from listeners onto a single messaging dashboard, while at the same time tracking and analysing this data to provide useful insights.

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With early backing from Johannesburg-based Tritech Media, the company started off in 2015 with a fairly rudimentary offering in SA: it provided stations and brands with a platform that facilitated basic SMS communication. "Over time we realised that there was value in the data and the conversations that we’d been collecting on behalf of our clients and that no-one else was providing this service," says Broccardo, who has no formal tertiary training.

After making his mark in SA, Broccardo moved to Austin, Texas, where he opened the company’s first US office in early 2018. The southern state is home to the most radio stations in the US, he says, while living costs in Austin are relatively low even though the city is becoming a major technology hub. Philadelphia’s More FM and Seattle’s Star FM are the first US stations to have signed with Colony Live. Nine more will go live towards the end of July.

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