Robot or Human aka the Enbrite.ly story

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I got kind of excited when I was walking for this interview. Almost 4 years have passed by since I entered the door of this building last time, back then it was the office of my former employer, Prezi.

Since Prezi left, the office was empty for a while, but 1-2 years ago a new generation of promising startups took it over, this time I was coming to interview Oszkar, the co-founder and CEO of enbrite.ly, the company that was winning the 2014 Slush 100 pitching competition in Helsinki with a surprisingly doubled prize.

What is enbrite.ly all about?

enbritely team

Enbrite.ly develops the next generation decision support system for digital advertising professionals to secure the trust in transactions through strict quality assurance measures in brand safety, ad viewability, ad fraud and traffic quality.

Enbrite.ly validates that digital advertisement is served: (1) properly and in view, (2) in brand safe environments, (3) on legitimate media channels and (4) to valid audiences.

What makes you unique / different?

The team and our approach! We have a handcrafted company culture, spiced up with ‘can do’ attitude. And we truly believe we do something good. We also believe in independency and full transparency.

Also, our technology evaluates brand risk, audience quality and visibility by multiple contextual signals and by anonymously tracking and analysing user behaviour and interactions at the session level.

What does differentiate you from others on the market? Who do you consider as competitors?

We have some competitors like WhiteOps, Doubleverify, Meetrics, Integral Ad Science, Forensiq or Pixalate mostly with an USA or Western-Europe focus. We are primarily active in the CEE, DACH and the Nordics but that is not the point.

Competitors primarily validate, flag and blacklist domains based on past analysis and fraud scores. At the next level, real-time contextual signals are taken into account, such as mismatched location settings, software versions, device IDs, adware, malware and the likelihood of domain spoofing.

Beyond historical performance and real-time technical signals, the enbrite.ly technology also monitors user behaviour and interactions at the session level, e.g. mouse/cursor movements, keyboard and touchscreen events, clicks, scrolls and numerous other metrics. Each session is deeply analysed (with respect for user privacy) using detailed heuristics, then pitted against other sessions in the same campaign or publisher portfolio environment to reveal cases that deviate from the regular patterns.

Who are the founders, the core team? 

Former members, who are not active any more:

Can you tell a bit more about the business model?

Yes some part of it, as we are just introducing new products.

The basic model is impression based (impressions are kind of page downloads). We also have percentage based models in place, where our cost is based on the cost of the advertisement. Both are easily implementable into digital marketing or media agency’s pricing models.

In case of other projects which can also start with some unique development or related education, let’s call’em “consulting” – all fitting into our goals.

Can you say a few words about your Slush story?

We pitched on a few events before and on Startup Sauna in Budapest were giving usfeedback on our pitches. The Startup Sauna programme also helped us to refocus. We did have a solid case but we managed to fine tune it based on the feedback we received: what is the best customer segment to target, what activities to prioritize etc.
Through Startup Sauna we had access to Slush, one of the leading startup events in Europe. After winning Slush we literally went from zero to 600,000 mentions on the internet – we suddenly got ‘on the map’.

slush8

What are your growth plans? Are you planning to raise more money? If so, for what?

We have been focusing on learning and teaching so far, and this year is about delivery and going after series A investment. I cannot go into details at this stage 🙂

What is your personal story? Where do you come from?

OszkárI was working for a big company for seven years, by the time I quit, there were about 700 or so people working there, for me too many. The reason why I left was the fact that the company did not want to go in the direction that I would have liked, and I wanted the freedom to do what I like to do, in my own way. I wanted to create my own world with like-minded people.

How did you get the idea to start up? What did inspire you?

Back when we started, half of the founding team was dealing with anti-fraud and affiliate marketing and the other half of the team was made up of some of the best experts in big data and data analysis, and from these two halves. We came up with this idea while drinking a beer with my co-founders, that’s how the story started. We decided that we wanted to change the world of online advertising. There are many companies out there   building business models on quantity KPIs, they just don’t know where the impressions are coming from. So our main goal is to change all sorts of KPIs and measurement methods within the online advertising value chain to give real value to advertisers and publishers.

How do you see the CEE region, and specifically Budapest for startups?

To be honest I haven’t watched it very closely, mostly because we do not have any Hungarian investors, which is something we wanted to avoid at the time. Maybe I would revise that today because now, by talking to other startup founders and investors, I can feel that something is really changing.

When we started, investors also wanted to take over half of your company, every negotiation started with 51%. This pretty much ruined the whole ecosystem, because there were founders who took the deal, then they realized that half of their company was gone, then that they were not motivated enough to manage it and then the investors realized they were not able to manage the companies – now what?

This seems to be changing, I hear of more and more investors from abroad who are looking at the Hungarian startups, like Speedinvest, some Russian funds and many more. The mentality is totally changing. What I think that we founders should do more of – and I also feel guilty for not doing enough for this – is to raise attention and bring together smart minds.

I think there are loads of opportunities for a vibrant startup community and knowledge sharing. What we need is some sort of catalyzer. I know that the demand is there, even for playing football with each other and then having a small discussion, but it seems like no one has the time to organize it.

What have been you main challenges?

One of them stems from people management. You need to keep people motivated, and to keep them motivated you need to be full of energy every day, no matter what. But the motivation is there and the energy source is there.

The other one arises from the fact that we are at an early stage which means that we are still in the process of finding the product-market fit, that is why we are talking to many people and target groups in advertising. In order to find it, you have to produce revenue, you have to develop the product and realize what the product is, which involves playing with your limited resources cleverly without knowing what the outcome is going to be.

You will actually never know, you just hope that what you believe in is right and you have to make decisions very quickly. That is one of the biggest challenges, especially if you’re dealing with software, as you never have enough resources and managing them is really tough.

I think being a founder is like a nightmare of which you enjoy every second. Even if I’m really down, I always say that tomorrow will be a different day and go to the office with this in mind.