We interviewed Samer Tarazi, the founder of RedTroops, an online platform that simplifies mobile advertising while allowing it to go mainstream. RedTroops is participating in the MIT Enterprise Forum competition for Arab Startups, so Samer shared some of the challenges of entrepreneurship, and ways to keep thriving when things get tough.
1) Inspiration: A couple of years back we had our own apps and games. We decided to spend a budget on marketing, so when went out to look for channels to do so, we spent about a 1,000USD in less than 24 hours. It was truly the worst experience ever. We understood very little and that’s exactly why we felt like we’ve just been robbed or tricked. After looking around we found nothing that caters for in-experienced/low budget advertisers/app developers, and we sought out to fix that — to enable mobile advertising to go mainstream.
2) Childhood inspiration? I was personally inspired by Michael Jordan as a child. I mean, the guy was a legend. Although he was simply a basketball player, he was able to accomplish so much. However as I grew older, my inspiration moved towards Steve Jobs, who had such an awesome career. I mean the guy was kicked out of the door and he came back kicking the door down! Both characters never gave up and that’s what it takes. Persistence!
3) What would the benefits of the competition be?
Well, it’s 50,000USD! Definitely the exposure to top notch experience from all around the region will be of immense value and will help us realize power/weakness points in our model. I won’t lie and say that the money won’t help, as we are at a point where a bridge round is imminent and this amount of no-strings-attached money will allow us to sign our first big customers and take our company to a whole new level, allowing us to have the upper hand when we raise our next big round.
4) Skills in overcoming hard times: I’m stubborn, and as I said, I never give up! Life in all its aspects is tough, I mean it’s not just about handling the company! There’s a great saying that sums it all up: “It’s not the burden on our backs that’s hurting us, it’s the way we are carrying it.”
5) What would you like to do with RedTroops? Go global, move the whole company to the San Francisco Bay area and start tackling international clients, because we have a product that’s centered on mobile advertising, which is still a very immature market in the MENA region, and takes less than 5% of the whole mobile advertising market. We have a unique product that allows mobile advertising to go mainstream, allowing average people to access this new unexplored medium with absolute ease & that’s why the silicon valley would be the perfect place for RedTroops to “go boom”.
7) What was your primary goal with RedTroops? Well the point is to transform the lousy experience of mobile advertising into a natural e-commerce experience that everyone is already comfortably using. So instead of buying an iPhone over eBay or Amazon, you’re actually buying ad space to place your ads within any app, directly from the app owner. However to get rid of the chicken and egg problem of a marketplace, we offer the whole thing in white-labeled package to premium publishers (who have a large number of downloads/users) to become their own, self-servicing mobile advertising platform, giving them access to all these 2nd tier advertisers that they currently don’t have the capacity to incorporate.
8) What’s your plan B? If anyone answers this question, they’re not real entrepreneurs! There is no plan B because plan A has to work!