Explain your venture kiip.
Kiip is a rewards network that allows you to play any mobile game and win rewards. We leverage advertisers on achievement moments and give brands opportunity to reward consumers in those particular moments.
How does the “moments” model kiip supports differ from traditional advertising?
The moments model leverages new factor of time into advertising; it is the theory of allocating a piece of the screen depending on moment in time in which you are seeing it (as a consumer). This is our hypothesis we decided to test out with kiip.
What was your inspiration? How did you secure the rest of your founding team?
I had gotten laid off from job at digg and was playing a lot of mobile games and realized even though it’s a crowded space there was opportunity to leverage attention people spend on games. Impetus for me to really start was wanting to not be screwed over and I decided to change that by starting my own venture.
How did you meet your founding team?
I met the rest of my team through previous position at digg, including both cofounder and friends of cofounder.
How did you initially launch your venture? Do you recommend bootstrapping, lean startup, angel investment– what do you feel is most effective based on your experiences?
Combination of luck and people believe in our model. I championed a group of people in the first place, and people felt I was in ideal situation to act on it. Young, single and nothing to lose. Having the obsession and drive to do this allowed me to do it without abusing that opportunity. We have been very lucky. In August I met Adam D’Augelli for a coffee. Two days after I got a call to go in for partners meeting. I had no idea what it a partners meeting even was, and noticed it was a large group of people who had direct control over the fund. I did really well and magical things happened. Initial round was in September of last year. We continue to kick ass and what we have created was substantial but needed additional capital. We started pitching for our Series A round after that.
How did the Guinness partnership happen?
Guinness is now owned by Canadian company. They were UK based, Holland, and then they got bought by Pattison Group (umbrella corporation run by magnate Jim Pattison). The President, Glen Clark, was the premier of province in Canada. His son happened to play hockey was my older brother. He knew my family and ten years go by. I got covered on front page of providences newspaper, and forwards it off to Guinness headquarters and reached out to me in London. It’s pretty crazy. Pure serendipity.
How do you feel about immigration issues within the US?
I’m very excited about Startup America and Startup Visa. It’s one of those things that happened when I was doing my thing. I got out with a good deal and was fairly lucky but most aren’t that lucky.
What is the most difficult challenge you have faced as an entrepreneur thus far?
I don’t call them challenges I call them opportunities. Advertising industry and how traditional they are in media-buying. Chicago is a big culprit and we are setting out on a way of changing this model and the dynamic of how media can be bought in the first place. It forces people to think outside the box.
How has your age affected your venture whether positive or negative?
It has been an enabler for me more than anything. It’s a tall order to be expected to be innovative and I take it as a challenge to do what I need to do. We have been very lucky over the past year. The movie Social Network changed how we are viewed and it honestly a movement. We do it, and now there is a fear in a lot of industries that our generation of entrepreneurs is going to take them out. And we will succeed.
How do you define failure? And success?
I’m happy and feel I have made the most out of what I have. I try to be as productive as I can and enjoy life and those around me are happy. Seeing others around me as a result of doing well as a result of my influence is something that is success to me. It’s all relative and continuing to aim higher is the only way to not feel like a failure. Happy person but never satisfied.
What do you think is the most defining feature of an entrepreneur?
Psychopaths. The legal definition is a mental disorder…but I’m stating in a joking way. You have to be totally removed from your work and completely engulfed in it. Disconnected and engulfed in many other ways so you are most efficient. If I want to go and change something in such a ridiculous way using such intensity it will take much more than apathy to be effective. Most people are going to respect that or be afraid and you can’t care what other people think.
What are you most excited for coming to Startup Weekend Ideas Week? Who are you looking to connect with?
I have been involved with SW and love what they do and support them. I think it will eye-opening to see types of ideas coming out of Midwest and I don’t get a lot of chance to come to the Midwest since most of my business is on either of the coasts. It’s easy to think the center of technology universe is in Valley but there is growing group in Chicago.
One piece of advice for young Chicago entrepreneurs: ___________ (mad libs style).
Don’t give a flying ass where you are located. Make use of city you are in. Chicago is great hub for finance, CPG, and advertising companies and don’t forget that. A lot of our partners are there so in the meantime don’t forget about opportunities around you. And you can get to SF and NY in equal time. That’s pretty cool.