Company name: Brainient
Company age: 4.5 years
Number of employees: 40
Elevator pitch: Create, deliver and measure interactive video ads across any device.
How, when and where did you start out?
Brainient started out from a failure. About a year before I started Brainient, I founded an online TV channel called BrainTV – “TV for smart people”. After a year of building a production studio, hiring presenters, editors and producing a number of web shows, I realised we were never going to build a big enough audience to be able to actually make money. BrainTV failed, but there was a feature that was very popular – the ability to interact with the shows using various interactive features. So I decided to build a company all about interactive videos. It worked out quite well.
What digital technologies and innovations have helped you to establish and grow your company?
One of our unfair competitive advantages has been that our engineering team is located in Romania, which has enabled us to hire brilliant engineers much more cost effectively than in London. We wouldn’t have been able to do it if not for the wonderful collaboration tools out there – everything from Skype to Hangouts, Trello and so on. The world isn’t flat, but the internet is and that’s helped us a lot.
Are you a global company? And if so how have you been able to grow this side of your business?
We have customers that run campaigns in eight different markets, from Brazil to Singapore. We service all these clients from our two main offices in London and Bucharest, and have sales representatives or partners in many other locations.
Startups today can be both global and local from day one, thanks to things like the App Store (anyone in the world can buy your app from day one) or Skype In (create a physical phone number in Singapore that forwards to your UK mobile).
How and at what point did you begin to raise finance for the business?
We raised a seed round (£473,000) in 2009 and a Series A (£1.1m) in 2012. We raised the seed round when we knew we had product/market fit (had a product that the market wanted, for those uninitiated in startup slang) and raised the Series A when we were ready to scale our sales & marketing team.
Deciding when to raise capital for your business is a trick question that doesn’t have a right or wrong answer. The best way to do it is to think in milestones, and always raise 30% more than what you think you need in order to reach the next milestone.
What one piece of advice would you give to a home business or startup wanting to gain a foothold in your space?
There’s a wonderful speech Winston Churchill gave at a graduation speech in 1941, in the context of the second world war. He ended his speech with: “Never give in, never give in, never, never, in nothing, great or small, large or petty. Never give in to nothing except to convictions of honour and good faith. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
So, I’d say to never give in.
Author: Michael Berliner