A Q&A with StrikeAd founder and CEO Alex Rahaman. The New York-based company was founded in 2010 and raised $500K in new funding in late June. Investors include SoftTech, DFJ Esprit, Siemer Ventures and Applied Semantics co-founder Gil Elbaz.
SUB: Please describe StrikeAd and the value proposition you offer to advertisers and ad agencies.
Rahaman: StrikeAd is a leading mobile advertising specialist and developer of the world’s first dedicated mobile advertising Demand Side Platform (DSP), allowing media agencies, advertisers and brands to plan, optimize and deliver effective global mobile campaigns. StrikeAd’s platform allows media buyers and planners to create dynamic campaigns across multiple Supply Side Platforms and territories, reducing time, cost and complexity while offering greater control, better data and improved ROI. This allows them to deliver and monitor the effectiveness of any number of mobile campaigns globally and in real-time. StrikeAd Fusion includes sophisticated automated optimization, tracking and analytics to give clients unparalleled insight and control over their mobile advertising campaigns.
SUB: Who are your target users?
Rahaman: Due to the nature of our industry, we have a very diverse accumulation of target users including trading desks, agencies, advertisers and brands.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Rahaman: It’s very difficult to actually state our direct competitors, as the industry is constantly evolving—both existing and new companies constantly change their positioning in the market. Companies we currently see as competitors are Turn, DataXu, Millenial, Mobclix, Tapad, etc. However, rather than seeing them as solely competitors, we also find ourselves united in promoting the same goals. As one of our SVPs put it: “there is no such thing as an ad category of one.” In other words, to a degree anyway, the more people there are out there promoting mobile RTB with buyers, the more budget will be shifted towards mobile and hence it helps to market our industry. From there, we are happy to compete for share.
SUB: What differentiates StrikeAd from the competition?
Rahaman: StrikeAd is very unique in its approach and service and hence offers numerous aspects that differentiate us from our competition. To name a few, StrikeAd is the only self-service DSP built for mobile and we also offer a managed service option. We can target in-app and mobile web on mobile phones and tablets—both for direct response and also supporting rich media campaigns, which gives our clients a great variety to find the right solution for their mobile campaigns. Further, our advanced optimization leads to increased response rates and fewer wasted impressions combined with inventory intelligence to inform buying decisions. In order to guarantee a fast and easy set up of campaigns, StrikeAd testing and the initial implementation do not require any technical integration effort.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Rahaman: StrikeAd was founded in 2010. We manage our global DSP from our headquarters in New York and have offices in London, Los Angeles, Singapore, Dusseldorf and Kiev.
After receiving $3 million in the first round of our Series A funding from European venture capital firm DFJ Esprit including follow-on from German ad tech entrepreneur and seed investor Thomas Falk of eValue, StrikeAd has secured an additional $500,000 to close the round from three West Coast Investors: Venture capital firms SoftTech VC and Siemer Ventures, as well as angel investor Gil Elbaz, co-founder of Applied Semantics.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for StrikeAd? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Rahaman: There was definitely a moment when I realized that the advertisers and more specifically the media agencies did not need another seller selling mobile to them, but rather a partner to help them navigate through these new waters. Having come from a digital ad background, I was familiar with the technologies used to help build that market over ten years, and knew these technologies needed to be created and offered to media agencies to track and buy in a much more transparent way than they had seen. Basically allowing them to feel like they could persuade their advertiser client without fear to really invest in this exciting new channel.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Rahaman: I live in London which unfortunately is not the epicenter of venture investing or ad technology. It also is part of a very disparate set of ad markets that make up Europe, meaning it is very hard to do an ad buy across Europe from London. As a result I’ve made the decision to expand and actually headquarter the company in New York. So one of the most significant obstacles has been starting an office and managing it remotely and whilst visiting, even for extended periods. The great news is the investment is paying off and the USA is becoming a very successful market for us now.
SUB: How do you plan to use the $500K in additional funding you recently secured?
Rahaman: This additional capital allows us to fund StrikeAd’s expansion into the U.S. We will continue to enhance our proprietary technology and, overall, it positions ourselves to take advantage of this growing marketplace.
SUB: Do you plan to raise more outside funding in the near future?
Rahaman: Not in the near future, but we are considering raising a larger U.S. round to accelerate our growth.
SUB: What are your goals for StrikeAd over the next year or so?
Rahaman: The mobile ad market is still very immature, so one of our goals is to continue to educate the market to invest into mobile, track the success of campaigns, and buy more intelligently. Brands will soon realize that partners like ourselves can offer audience buying as well as very sophisticated location context targeting.
Another goal for this year is the launch of StrikeAd’s mobile ad-serving solution, built and developed for the agency market. This Adserver aims to provide a simple, effective and intuitive mobile ad serving solution to solve the planning, buying and reporting problems of a fragmented mobile ad serving market.
StrikeAd – www.strikead.com