Q1. Hello Todd, Would you please introduce yourself(background stories, etc) to Korean OnSuccess readers and share your thoughts on Korea?
First of all, thanks for the interview James and being interested in what I might have to say I’m 29, married, and I live in Boston, Massachusetts. I have been a web designer/developer since about 18 years old and I love building stuff online. What is exciting for me about building a business online is how quickly and inexpensively this can be done.
Q2. What inspired you to start you own business?
I have never liked working for someone else, and while I do enjoy working with other people, I would much rather be able to execute my own vision. And, part of me likes to prove people wrong, and many many people told me that starting BuySellAds.com would not work… and so launching this company was my way of proving them wrong and doing something that I was passionate about and believed in.
Q3. Please tell readers a bit about history of BuySellAds? What’s the concept of your company that you are trying to show to clients?
I started BuySellAds.com in February of 2008. I had been working on the project off and on for about 6-9 months before that. It was not originally called BuySellAds.com, but once I acquired this domain name it just felt so perfect that I pushed through and launched the business. The reason for staring this company was to make buying and selling ads very simple. That was my only goal. I wanted to be able to sell ads on my websites, without having to do a thing. The motivation here was to solve my own problem.
Q4. and I understand that your business system is very unique, What's the revenue models of your company? Would you please introduce that in easy way : )
What is the most unique about BSA is that we just made buying and selling ads very easy. Ads are sold in 30-day increments, and we pay the publishers (the people who own the websites) 75% of the price they set for each ad. So, BSA keeps 25% for processing the payment, facilitating the sale & delivery of the ads, and of course for generating the sale in the first place. 25% is very low for the advertising industry, so low that some people think we are crazy. The only way we’re able to do well at 25% is because we are an extremely efficient company.
Q5. The ad market is very competitive and hard to succeed in this field. But you are doing best still now, What do you attribute your business’ success to?
Well, first, I think we have a long way to go. The company is still very young and we see new competitors challenging us almost every 2-3 weeks now. Part of what has helped us continue to grow is that we won’t stop pushing forward. We are constantly working to improve the software, our service, and everything about the BSA experience. We still do software release each week, and are working on new ways to maintain our simplicity, yet help publishers increase their revenue and help advertisers find the right placements. I believe that we will continue to do well, because I believe that we want it more than anyone else that competes with us. We’re fierce competitors and we like to win.
Q6. Where did your initial source of funding come from? Did you need more or less money than you expected? How did you manage your cash flow in the early days?
We actually didn’t need much money to get started at all. I built the first version of the product 100% on my own, so there wasn’t any employee overhead up front. The only real money that was invested into the startup was basic stuff like servers and payment gateway’s. Total startup cost, excluding my time, was under US$2,000. Cash flow in our business is very easy to manage because we charge for the advertisements up front, and then pay the publishers later.
Q7. In korea, nowadays there are many young people who try to open internet business specialized in PR, SNS, Onineshop, etc. In your experience, what are the tips and steps to run the successful internet business?
I think what is important is that you are solving a problem. If you are not solving a problem, then nobody is going to want what you have. I also think that you need to have a very practical business model that makes money. Companies like Twitter and Facebook are the exception, not the rule.
Q8. When you first launch your brand. It must be hard to PR your company and generate revenue. How long did it take you to become profitable? And what has been your most effective marketing strategy?
Because of our business model and startup costs we were actually profitable after the first month after launching the business. We generated PR from our users by being passionate, intelligent, and through our willingness to do whatever it took to help make our users successful. We still operate the same way today, it’s how we do business. Therefore, our most effective marketing strategy has been our people – we treat people the way we want to be treated, we offer honest advice, and we are very reliable.
Q9. and Would you please introduce about your teams? How’s your team consisted of? And what’s the role for each person in BuySellAds?
Certainly, this is the best part about BSA! Right now, we have Nathan (dev), Sergiu (support), Anca (research & recruiting), Catalin (social media & recruiting), Michael (social media), Matthew (user experience & support) and myself. We just hired one more support/developer/anything else person who will help us out as well. In general, everyone on the team contributes where necessary and while we all have specialties we all perform various duties.
Q10. and Todd, what’s your advice for the guys who want to start up his business?
My advice is to just do it. Having other commitments in your life is not an excuse. If you make excuses, then that is your problem. In my mind there it’s either you start a business or you don’t. Anything in between doesn’t matter. Sure, it’s easy for me to say this since I have a business I started on my own and it is doing well; however, I was in this same position before: full-time job, family commitments, etc. I made the time because I wanted it and was passionate about making it happen. So, my advice it that if you really want it, just make it happen. Nobody else will make it happen for you, it is up to you.
Q11. Any advice on allocating start-up equity among co-founders?
BSA is a single founder startup, so I did not have to experience this first hand. However, should I be in a position to start another company in the future with a co-founder, I would write up a proper agreement that had certain vesting milestones and potentially buy-out clauses. Having a clear view on expectations before a company is started is very important.
Q12. and Todd, what’s your philosophy of life, company and success?
Hehe, good question. My philosophy in life is that nothing else matters but your friends and family. I want to do well in business so that I can help provide my family with what they need. And, while I truly enjoy what I do, deep down that is why I do it and what makes the hard work worthwhile: family.
Q13. how do you try to get motivated everyday, what’s your ways of feeling fresh and happy?
The users and the team at BuySellAds.com motivate me a lot, actually. Helping them all succeed is what I enjoy the most.
Q14. Have you any plans (personal or business) that you can share with us about your future plans / goals / lifetime goals?
Right now, what we are working toward is 5,000 active advertisers and publishers who either bought or sold ads in a calendar month. We’re getting close, and we believe that this will be an important milestone for us. For personal goals, the only goal that really matters to me is being a good father (one day) and husband.
Q15. And would you please say the things that you want to say to korean readers especially to future entrepreneurs before saying good bye?
Don’t let anything stop you from starting your business. When people tell you “no”, use that as motivation to prove them wrong. Starting a business doesn’t happen fast and growing a business will take even longer. Find something that you truly believe in and make it happen.