What does Ad Dynamo do?
We connect brands to the right, targeted audience. We achieve this by offering a range of digital marketing tools, including our own ad network & content marketing platform as well as integration with Facebook & Twitter.
Who is Ad Dynamo aimed at?
Most big brands in Africa use Ad Dynamo. At the same time, our platform is fully self-service so we attract many small businesses as well. Since most of our products are available on a bidding model, there is room for businesses of all sizes to participate according to their appetite for spend.
How does Ad Dynamo stand out against it’s competitors?
We offer a comprehensive digital marketing solution – ticking every box except search. Ad Dynamo has a strong tech focus – our proprietary technologies assist advertisers with real-time insights and data. From a publisher perspective, we operate the fastest paying ad network in the world – we pay our 52,000 publishers on the first business day of every month.
Why do you think that Europe and US companies that are doing business similar to yours, have not succeed in as well as you in Africa?
Africa is a unique environment with its own real challenges. ‘You have to be in it to win it’ and this is true from any market. I believe we have built good traction in Africa because of two key factors – (1) we have built differentiated, proprietary technology and (2) we gave focused on building a presence in our key African markets. No technology can replace people!
What steps did have you taken to become “Africa’s leading digital advertising marketplace”?
We’ve addressed the needs of publishers in Africa. By introducing a much lower payout threshold to that of Google Adsense ($20 vs. $100 with Google), our publishers and bloggers have been able to realise meaningful income source that is paid directly to their bank account. In Africa, $20 is a lot of money for many people. Ad Dynamo recognises this and works very hard to help thousands of bloggers earn a living.
Where did the idea for Ad Dynamo come from?
Prior to Ad Dynamo I operated a digital agency. Back in 2008, this basically meant you were a Google reseller. We had seen a few attempts to build ad networks fail and saw the need and opportunity to introduce some choice to a market which was largely dominated by a single supplier, Google.
What is your business background, and what got you interested in startups?
I’m a techy at heart. My only real ‘formal’ job was at Credit Suisse in London, where I built tactical applications for the bank. This role helped by understand the importance of understanding what the customer wanted – technology is just a tool. I returned to South Africa in 1998 and built South Africa’s first online share trading platform, which I sold to E*TRADE. After E*TRADE I co-founded Entelligence with a prominent local banker – Entelligence was a full services web firm that also had ambitions to spin various products out. We had many failures and a few successes… I learnt a lot about taking product to market! After 10 years, Entelligence founded Ad Dynamo. I’ve always been entrepreneurial in spirit, so I would say that I have always been interested in startups.
How did you initially raise funding for Ad Dynamo?
My previous business, Entelligence, funded operating costs and we raised a first round investment from the VC Invenfin.
What do you think is the difference between growing a business in an emerging economy like South Africa, compare to growing a business in Europe?
Developed markets have their own challenges – customers are spoilt by choice and competition is fierce. Emerging markets such as South Africa and many other countries in Africa, often have less competition but this is also due to the size of the market. These markets are much smaller (for now) so you still have to work hard to hit reasonable numbers. Emerging markets pose some other threats to businesses such as political instability and lack of industry regulation. Overall though, I find emerging markets to be vibrant and customers are very honest – you’ll always know what you need to do in order to win the sale.
What has been your biggest challenge so far as a startup owner?
Remaining nimble. As businesses grow, they incorporate structure and rules which are inevitable. I try to keep our business as nimble as possible despite some structure we’ve had to impose on the business. That’s not easy!
How long has the you’re company been in the making, and who is the team behind the business?
Ad Dynamo was founded in 2009 by myself, my COO Wayne Wilson, and CTO Clive Munro. Along the way we were lucky to attract a great CFO, Steven Edge, who keeps us honest!
In the coming year, what would you like to achieve with your business?
We are aiming to triple revenues this year. This will be achieved partly through growth in our existing African markets and entrance into a few new ones.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting a business, what would it be?
With funding comes responsibility. Many entrepreneurs don’t like the idea of answering to shareholders and investors, but if you raise external funding then this is inevitable. Remember that funding is the beginning of your startup journey – not the destination.