The Entrepreneur: Emi Gal, Brainient

Having raised almost $4m, the co-founder of the interactive video platform talks 400% yearly growth, being aggressive on the US and his love for Levi's

Founders: Emi Gal & Andrei Baragan
Company: Brainient
Website: www.brainient.com
Description in one line: Europe’s leading interactive video platform
Previous companies: BrainTV, eOK, Skimlinks
Turnover: Not public
12 month target: Not public

Describe your business model and what makes your business unique:

  • We help large media companies increase revenue by making their video ads perform better, through interactivity.
  • We work with leading brands and organisations such as ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.
  • Brainient is the only interactive video platform in the world that’s truly cross-device working across mobile, tablets, connected TV’s and online.

What is your greatest business achievement to date?

I’m really proud of the incredible team we have built at Brainient. We’re continuing to grow and recently appointed a French-speaking salesman to help build Brainient in France.

What numbers do you look at every day in your business?

Engagement rate – this tells us whether the campaigns our customers run using our Brainrolls platform are successful. It’s all about customer success, and we make a point of continually providing tips for our customers to drive better engagement.

Revenue – as a B2B (business to business) company, the way we measure our success is by our revenue growth. We’ve been growing at 400% year on year since we started.

To what extent does your business trade internationally and what are your plans?

We have customers in eight international markets, and we’re currently expanding aggressively internationally. Europe and Asia are key markets for us, and not far behind that we’ll be looking towards the US.

Describe your growth funding path:

We’ve raised almost $4m in two rounds of financing. A seed round in 2010 and a Series A in 2012. We’re backed by some of the most prominent investors in the world, including Seedcamp, 500Startups, Atlas Venture, Credo Ventures and Sherry Coutu.

What technology has made the biggest difference to your business?

Our ability to deliver interactive video ads across any device. People consume media across multiple screens, therefore being able to deliver interactive video ads across any screen is incredibly important to both publishers as well as advertisers.

Where would you like your business to be in three years?

The largest interactive video platform in the world. We strongly believe every video ad in the world should be interactive (why wouldn’t it be), and we’re just at the beginning.

Growth challenges

What is the hardest thing you have ever done in business?

Firing people. I hate it, but someone’s got to do it. It’s never going to be something anyone enjoys, but when you’re trying to build the right team in a growing small company, sometimes you have to cut ties with employees that don’t fit with your vision and plans.

What was your biggest business mistake?

Not being more aggressive on the US earlier on in the company’s development. The US is the largest video market in the world, around three times bigger than the whole of Europe combined. It would’ve been easier to scale the company if we had moved there. Nonetheless, now that we’ve managed to scale to Europe we have a key strategic advantage against our US competitors.

Piece of Red Tape that hampers growth most:

“Strategy” meetings.

What is the most common serious mistake you see entrepreneurs make?

A lot of entrepreneurs can come up with what they think is an incredible good idea, but unless there is actually a market for it and they have done their research, then inevitably they can build a product or service that people simply do not want. Research and spotting where there is a gap in the market should be key when you first think of your idea.

How will your market look in three years?

TV ad spend currently stands at $200bn globally, over the next three years we’ll see a huge proportion of this shifting into digital video. More and more, people are living on their mobile devices, so it is key that the ad spend switched to match where people are spending most of their time.

What is the single most important piece of advice you would offer to a less experienced entrepreneur?

Never give up. I’m not going to lie, building a business is challenging and there may be moments when you question what you’ve started. But never give up, if you have moments where you think you want to, it’s always worth having mentors, investors, or supportive friends and family around you who can give you the pep talk you need when the going gets tough.

Personal growth

Biggest luxury:

Levi’s, New Balance and ASOS t-shirts. I’m quite low maintenance, you see.

Executive education or learn it on the job?

Just do it.

What would make you a better leader?

To be a better listener.

Business book:

The Four Steps to The Epiphany by Steve Blank.

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