More Than $1M Paid to Dayton RTA by Commuter Advertising

Dec. 3, 2015

On a cold day in the winter of 2008, fledgling startup CommuterAds ended a presentation how their company could deliver new revenue to the local Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority (RTA) agency and finished the presentation with nothing but the number one on the final slide.  The number, as co-founders Katie and Russ Gottesman would later recount represented the opportunity for theDRTA to be the first transit agency in the country to hop on board the company’s targeted messaging program.

Co-Founder Katie Gottesman recalls “We completed the presentation and thought this is going to be a really fun business and great for our partners.”  She continues, “As transit riders ourselves, we knew there was a need to create public-private partnerships and be a part of the overall solution to bring in new revenue to transit agencies across this country.  Now that we have surpassed $1M locally paid to the GDRTA, we feel that we have arrived.”  

In 2008, no one knew if the platform that delivers GPS targeted messages to captive riders along routes relevant to local businesses would work, yet alone generate revenue. 

“During the recession, we were looking for alternative revenue streams to support our ability to continue to maintain service levels,” said RTA Chief Executive Officer Mark Donaghy.  “When Katie and Russ made the pitch to leverage our existing GPS technology in the buses for location-based ads, we felt that there was really no downside for us, only revenue potential,” he said.

“The rest is history,” said Donaghy, citing the subsequent success of Commuter Advertising.  “It’s a national company headquartered here in our hometown.  It’s a result of our willingness to give them a chance.  A million dollars later we are patting ourselves on the back and looking forward to the next great idea,” he exclaimed. 

The Gottesmans made a promise they are proud to have kept.  During the presentation to the GDRTA executive committee, the husband-wife team committed to move to Dayton in order to launch the business and be “all-in” not only to their company but to the region.

“No one believed us that we were seriously considering leaving our hometown, families and careers to move to the Dayton region but that is exactly what entrepreneurs do. Entrepreneurs take risks and bring passion every day to turn great ideas into strong profitable businesses.  We count among our accomplishments; two beautiful kids, a successful business model along with an awesome team, incredible advertisers and a wonderful partner in the Greater Dayton RTA.  Looking back we couldn’t be any happier to have made that success happen right here in the Dayton area.”

Advertisers such as CareSource, Sinclair Community College, MVRPC and Megabus are clients of CommuterAds that currently engage GDRTA riders by playing messages in front of or near their storefronts.  GDRTA was on the forefront of location based advertising as the first transit agency in the country to contract the targeted messaging program.

On Dec. 2, the company presented their partners at the Greater Dayton RTA an oversized check to signify the net payment of $1M+ to the transit agency.