Most industries are built on start-ups, none more so than the ad tech industry, which, since 2005 has seen thousands of start-ups born, the biggest spike since the 90s dot-com boom. While ad tech start-ups have slowed somewhat since that time, in a multi-billion dollar industry such as advertising, there is always room for companies with new innovations.
All start-ups need to start somewhere. In a world where so many fail, it’s important to set your business up for success from the beginning. With that in mind, what are the four key factors needed for success?
The key question for start-ups, whether looking for outside investment or not, should be “is my business scalable?” If the answer is no, but the idea is right, things should be worked around from the beginning to make it happen. Don’t be afraid to start again if you know the core concept will work but the direction you started out on wasn’t quite right.
A great idea will offer an original solution to consumer needs. Many ad tech companies have been formed with offerings that are already covered by more established companies in market. We’ve seen from the LUMAscapes a glimpse of how many companies are already well underway and those that do not differentiate themselves will fall by the way side. The winning start-ups will be those that worked to provide an innovative, scalable advertising solution for clients early on.
As with successful digital advertising campaigns, the only way to maintain steady growth in business is to test and learn. Put your customers first. Not every idea will resonate with your clients, so it is important to take the time to learn about their needs in great detail and try various approaches to solving their problems until you reach the best result.
Every market is unique and when expanding into different regions, it’s important to treat each country as a new start-up – you may even need to take some setup techniques right back to the beginning. As long as the core offering of your company remains the same and you can identify your unique selling points (USPs) over competitors in any region, differing in approach to packaging it up in each market should not be an issue. Never assume – do your research in each market and be prepared to change approach
All start-ups need a solid team of core management with a shared vision and matched dedication. As an investor in other ad tech companies myself, I look for teams who all work toward clearly defined goals.
Also it’s important to go into business with a partner. I met Tim Webster, who co-founded The Exchange Lab with me, when I founded MediaBrokers and Atlas Europe. I saw drive and ingenuity in Tim and knew instantly that together our combined ideas and determination would lead to great successes. When strategic direction can change from concept to completion, there needs to be a strong management base to carry your business forward. It’s incredibly important to have the ability to remain steady as a team as you experience the highs and the lows together.
The topic of transparency regularly arises as one of the core pillars of advertising success. The principle applies to both internal and external infrastructure. Being open and honest with your team, just as with your clients, will only build confidence and help solve any problems that might arise along the road to success.
It is important to keep innovating and think long-term. Luma Partners founder Terry Kawaja predicts that ad tech company creation will more or less keep pace with ad tech failures. With big success for start-ups odds pegged at around 1-in-10, any new players entering the ad tech market will need a combination of luck, perseverance and a solid management team.