What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
I think entrepreneurial people develop the itch at a very young age, with environment playing an important role in helping nurture and channeling this energy. That said, knowledge, passion and the desire to drive positive and disruptive change are all important qualities.
Working in an industry and becoming deeply connected and knowledgeable about a sector – in my case digital marketing and adtech – is what drove me to spot inefficiencies, a market gap and swoop-in to solve some major problems with Adbrain. At the heart of this was the belief that there has to be a better way to solve the complexities of mobile and cross-device advertising, and the realisation coming from a large company like Google was that someone will do this and be hugely disruptive in an exciting way, so why not me? The belief that the opportunity far outweighed the risk and that failure isn’t such a bad thing provided you fail fast and learn helped me make the leap of faith. Also having a hugely supportive wife (incidentally who is Israeli, where the risk of failure is perceived so differently from the UK) helped me make the jump. I’ve never looked back!
It’s often said that new ideas come from things that frustrate us. Can you name something that frustrates you right now?
Simply put – marketing inefficiencies and a lack of transparency.
Adbrain was born as a direct result of having experienced the frustrations that come with the surprising inefficiencies of mobile marketing. Despite 15 years of digital marketing innovation and best practice, with data and accountability as the cornerstones that drive marketing investment, mobile can at times feel like the early Wild West days of the pop-up banner and ‘blind’ ad networks. Despite widespread consumer adoption of smart mobile devices, there still remains a huge lack of transparency into mobile ad performance. Adbrain is successfully bringing transparency, efficiency, control and in turn performance back into the hands of advertisers. We do this by leveraging the efficiencies that come via real time programmatic ad buying (Real-Time Bidding) and by harnessing the power of big data to help advertisers make far smarter ad buying decisions.
What’s the best advice you have for entrepreneurs looking to raise money?
Do your homework and raise smart money from people that share your vision.
1. It’s a sales driven numbers game, so do your homework, build your key target investor list, invest time getting direct network introductions (no cold calling!) and understand why there could be a synergy. Build a powerful and concise deck outlining why you, your team and your tech are a game changer, pitch, listen and refine, close early and often. Rinse and repeat.
2. Find your lead anchors that share your vision and are genuinely excited about the space you’re in, and the value you can bring as a disruptor. Leverage their experience, reputation and network and above all listen, their battle scars can be invaluable!
3. Negotiate and respectfully create tension. Given that you’re likely to be working with your investors (you hope) for a pretty long time, test the relationship, understand what makes people tick. Likewise build demand and competitive tension for your round (fear and greed / animal spirits are powerful driving forces, and often stronger than the people give credit for).
4. Sweat the small stuff (legals) – read Brad Feld’s Venture Deals, surround yourself with trusted advisors, game plan the outcomes and negotiate with a big picture perspective, never point by point on the term sheet.
5. Take your time to really get the round right. Then close!
What have you learned in your career that you wished you’d known when you were starting out?
You don’t know what you don’t know, so surround yourself with people far smarter than you, and listen more than you talk. Passion, drive and curiosity will get you further than you knew possible.
What’s your favourite spot to relax, reflect and work stuff out?
Anywhere where I’m alone, outside and able to get perspective. Running, walking, anything active and ideally outdoors allows me to switch into that second gear.
Top on the list would be in the Japanese mountains in an outdoor onsen (natural hot spring). Just need to open Adbrain Tokyo!
CEO & co-founder, Adbrain