Hello! Who are you and what are you working on?
Ashwin, founded airtory in early 2016, been handling the engineering team and operations since.
What motivated you to get started with? how did you come up with the idea?
With over 8 years of experience in advertising technology, I went out to build the world's first Virtual Reality Experience Builder application. The Technology demonstrator for this project even though gained a lot of critical acclaims and won multiple hackathon awards, made very little business sense.
During the course of this product development, we worked closely with various ad agencies, and marketing teams.
This close interaction revealed various process flow problems faced by these teams, which we saw as an opportunity to build out an enterprise-class ad creative management platform.
What went into building the initial product? *
We started off with analysing the competitors out there, and all of them had a hefty price tag and a steep learning curve attached to it.
This involved team members going through specialised training processes which cost a lot, as well as forcing unnecessary technical knowledge on people who are best at things other than that.
For eg, all the other creative platforms out there have interfaces that do a poor job of mimicking a Photoshop"ish" workflow.
The problem with that is that the designers are most comfortable with the tools that they already know, and works best for them, and doesn't want to learn a new tool from scratch.
This lead to a huge technical knowledge gap within these teams which needed to be addressed. We identified this as a core problem and built out a creative builder that lets them stick to the traditional tools, but then later takes the output from those tools and convert them into a really cool interactive advertising experiences.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
We have worked on simplifying the experience of ideating, launching and managing digital marketing campaigns. this made the life of marketing and media management teams of agencies and publishers so much easier, that we saw high customer retention.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Constant feedback iterations helped us build what our customer wants.
What’s your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?
We have a super simple pay-as-you-go revenue model, which helped customers offset the cost over to their clients much easier.
We have taken away business from most of our primary competitors primarily due to our white-glove account management practices and a product that has zero complications to adopt.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and the obstacles you’ve overcome? What are your goals for the future?
The biggest challenge was also our greatest advantage. The Advertising industry is so fragmented, and the digital divide between end-users and the technical vendors was extremely wide. It was challenging for us to bridge this gap, but working closely with the early adopters, we have successfully managed to avoid this problem.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We have a steady stream of customers across the globe and we have built and delivered interactive experiences for major brands such as Apple, Burgerking, Mercedes Benz, BMW, Toyota, RetailMeNot, etc.
We work with Major ad agencies and publishers across the globe, including Ogilvy, Dentsu.
Our Major markets and Americas, India, and APAC Region. We are growing day by day with almost 70% MoM growth as we are nearing a scale-up phase.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Personally, I always believed in doing everything myself was the only way of getting things done right. But as we started to grow this "belief" caused me to a bottleneck for the growth of the company. Then, our early investor, and advisor, Mr. Roj Niyogi, gave me a piece of advice that changed everything.
He told me to make myself useless.
That advice fundamentally means to have the team work for you, rather than blocking them, get out of their way so that they can get things done.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Our systems handle multiple million requests on an hourly basis, so it was an engineering challenge to achieve that scale while on a shoestring budget. We chose technology that comes cheap, can be scaled easily and can live up to the task, rather than going aftermarket trends or what is considered cool.
Yes, node is cool, but PHP gets things done. We use all kinds of tools and stack is vibrant from everything to PHP, MySQL to AI algorithms and neural networks that determine and optimize a campaign performance on the fly.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Design thinking has helped us and influenced a lot on our process on a daily basis.
- The Art of Innovation, by Tom Kelley
- Weird Ideas That Work, by Robert Sutton
- David Allen's Getting things Done
are a few books I would recommend to anyone who is starting out.
What’s your advice for the fellow aspiring entrepreneur who is just starting out?
Ideas are dime a dozen, and barely has any value. Your idea should solve a real problem, and that will bring value to your users. Work closely with your end user, listen to them, and constantly evolve to identify and fill the gaps they have.
If you take 6 months to build an app, before you release it you are burning your precious time and runway. Ship today, and build as you go.