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October 04, 2021 | Tom Ballard

Former “Traction Award” winner at “Startup Day” rebrands as Shep Digital Solutions

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

A Knoxville company that we have spotlighted numerous times on has a new name that better reflects the diversity of services it offers.

NewsBreak Media Networks, founded in 2009 as a local advertising platform that took advantage of convenience store customers’ dwell time, is now known as Shep Digital Solutions. The rebranding, announced late last week, better represents the company’s full range of customizable digital merchandising services for convenience stores and other retail businesses. While NewsBreak started primarily as a forecourt media company, Shep offers comprehensive digital shopper marketing solutions.

“In the last couple of years, we have expanded our services to address where the industry is going, and the new brand identity reflects that,” said Bob Bradley, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Shep Digital Solutions. “We’ve been a leader in digital merchandising and shopper marketing, but now we can provide even more value to new and existing clients with a broad range of customizable options.”

The then named NewsBreak won the “Traction Award” at Knoxville’s 2016 “Startup Day” for the progress that the three-person company has made. Ironically, that award has been renamed the “Impact Award” and will be presented later today at the 2021 “Startup Day” event.

We first spotlighted NewsBreak in this early 2015 article where Bradley described how he became the leader of the company that he did not start. He’s a Louisiana native with a strong background in media, entertainment and technology who was commuting from Knoxville to Qualcomm Inc. in La Jolla, CA, working on the development and launch of a new broadcast technology platform for mobile devices called FLO TV, when he decided in 2011 that enough was enough. It was time to return to his adopted hometown.

One concept that Bradley found intriguing was NewsBreak that had been founded two years earlier by golfing buddies Jim Grant and Dave Southard. The attraction made sense, considering Bradley had served previously as head of Content Partnerships at FLO TV and Senior Vice President of Affiliate Sales at Scripps Networks Interactive.

“I wanted to be closer to home, but I also saw a totally different model for the business,” he said in the 2015 article. So, like any good entrepreneur, he made a bet, becoming an active investor in the company and very soon its CEO.

In addition to a new name and logo, Shep is launching a new website that highlights the company’s core services like marketing automation and content procurement and production. Shep automates the forecourt media process and integrates it into the overall shopper marketing strategy with targeted messaging.

Shep’s product should be familiar to readers who shop at convenience stores. Whether at screens on the gas pump or inside the store, the content is curated locally and features local news, weather, and lifestyle content, making it more engaging and relevant to customers. The consumer experience and merchandising messages are driven by the company’s proprietary data analytics platform, which uses information like historical sales, loyalty program data, weather, time of day, and neighborhood demographics to increase conversion rates.

“Our customizable platform helps convenience stores turn fuel-only customers into in-store, multi-product purchasers,” said Brian Nelson, Shep’s President. “Shep focuses on creating episodic transactions to convert visitors into higher profit margin customers.”


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