Exactly fourteen months ago, I contacted the ad:tech London organisers with a slightly unusual proposition. I had recently founded a new adtech startup called Good-Loop and was keen to learn and absorb as much about the industry as possible. So the event was the perfect opportunity for some knowledge osmosis.
When I say ‘startup’, I mean it in the most literal sense that I had only just started. I was a team of one, with an idea, a few tertiary emails with potential partners and a bunch of over-enthusiastic PowerPoint slides.
I proposed that I’d start a blog, in collaboration with ad:tech London, writing about my experiences and perspectives as a fledgling business in the space in exchange for free entry to the event. The team wholeheartedly embraced the idea - keen to put into action their ambition to be a uniting and enabling force within the advertising industry – and we began planning immediately.
Looking back one year later, those few PowerPoint slides have transformed into a talented team of people, a product I’m genuinely proud of and paying customers. I can confidently say that the support of the ad:tech London team laid the foundations of the business I run today. In an industry as crowded, complex and mature as advertising, having those first few early champions who backed me and gave me a leg up was the difference between flying the nest and sitting on a pile of twigs. Here’s how…
Getting inspired by other innovators
It was through my collaboration with ad:tech London that I met the people who would later become the first investors in Good-Loop. Collider is the leading adtech and martech startup accelerator in Europe and their co-founder Rose Lewis is a regular speaker at the event. As part of my blog series I interviewed Rose about the Collider application process and grilled her on what exactly they look for when identifying the hot new players in the advertising space.
In December 2016 we were accepted onto the Collider startup accelerator ourselves (thanks in no small part to the inside scoop Rose gave me) and we spent the next three months refining the proposition, building our minimal-viable-product, perfecting the sales pitch, meeting potential customers and firming up our financials. It was a rigorous and exhausting process, which I would wholeheartedly recommend to any founder who is serious about building a successful business in advertising.
Learning from industry thought-leaders
Through writing the blog series and attending the event, I had the opportunity to hear from some of the most respected and experienced people in adland. I chatted to Ben Williams, Head of Operations at Adblock Plus about their not insignificant mission of empowering users within a free internet. And I also spoke to Heather Andrew, CEO of Neuro-Insight, about how they use unique neuroimaging technology to get ‘under the skull’ of consumers and offer a deeper, richer understanding of the psychology behind brands. These conversations helped me to think about my own offering in new ways and there are snippets of learning I gathered from those conversations that I still use in my own pitches today.
Last year I was in the audience, looking up at the startups whose eloquent pitches, confident founders and slick products seemed light-years away from where I was. This time around, I’ll be up on that same stage pitching Good-Loop as The Next Big Thing, thanks in no small part to the opportunity the ad:tech London team gave me. So this experience has taught me that in our fast-paced and somewhat intimidating industry, an open-minded and supportive approach to innovation really can go a long way.
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