The Entrepreneurs: Quentin Le Pape and Guillaume Le Pape, MOBKOI
Discussing everything from cashflow and motivation to the impact of ad blocking, meet the brothers behind the £6.5m mobile marketing brand
Founders: Quentin and Guillaume Le Pape
Description in one line: Mobile advertising at its finest
Previous companies: None
12 month target: Double growth to £12m
Describe your business model and what makes your business unique:
- We create bespoke, high quality mobile advertising campaigns for premium brands
- Working with Celtra, we leverage innovative mobile technology to build and deliver campaigns that offer market-leading branding performance.
- In order to guarantee brand safety, we offer 100% direct inventory on the world’s most exclusive and trusted publishers.
What is your greatest business achievement to date?
We’ve achieved rapid growth – over 300% in less than three years – which has led to our international expansion with new offices in Paris and Frankfurt.
We’ve also made our own in-house creative studio available to publishers and creative agencies to bring mobile-first creative executions to the market.
What numbers do you look at every day in your business?
The two main figures we look at every day are the amount of client briefs we’re receiving and our cash-flow. These are the most crucial components of our sales pipeline.
To what extent does your business trade internationally and what are your plans?
We currently work with over 1,000 publishers in 35 markets. We opened our Paris office at the beginning of last year and we’re excited to have launched a brand new office in Frankfurt as we aim to target German, Swiss and Nordic markets.
As part of our strategy for further international growth we’ve appointed three managing directors to head-up each office, each with invaluable experience from the likes of the Financial Times and Yahoo.
Describe your growth funding path:
We are 100% self-funded. In the next year we hope to see revenue double.
What technology has made the biggest difference to your business?
For us, Celtra provides the most advanced, cutting-edge mobile formats and these have been essential for our creative team to develop highly effective and innovative mobile user experiences.
We’re excited to work closely with Celtra to have access to media-first formats and the latest innovation including 360 video ads, interactive videos, miniscroller and universal banners, which offer a non-intrusive experience for the user.
Where would you like your business to be in three years?
Ultimately, we’d like MOBKOI to be the go-to solution for global, premium mobile marketing campaigns.
The German and Nordic markets are our next targets. Having run several campaigns in Germany already it was the natural fit for us to open an office there and we’re confident for our future in this market. In three years’ time we’re looking to expand outside of Europe, with Singapore, Australia and the USA in our sights.
We’re currently achieving a 225% year-on-year increase in turnover and we expect this will continue. Our ambition is to continue to grow and exceed expectations!
What is the hardest thing you have ever done in business?
Hiring and firing at the right time. In the beginning we moved too quickly and fired too slowly.
While it’s important not to overthink the hiring decision, it’s also important to be able to admit when something’s not working and act on it.
Piece of Red Tape that hampers growth most:
Ad blocking is specifically impacting our industry. O2’s Mark Evans recently suggested that ad blocking control may soon be given to O2 users after Three faced criticism for its ad blocking proposal last year.
Ad blocking was first introduced as a result of the intrusive, low quality ads that were being produced at the time, however we’re pioneering ads that are polite, relevant, engaging and entertaining, rather than causing a nuisance.
We’re encouraging advertisers to produce creative ads that add to the user’s experience. If ad blocking tools are encouraged by networks, mobile users will either have to start paying for content, or the quality of the content will be affected.
What is the most common serious mistake you see entrepreneurs make?
Being afraid to grow. Growing is the most exciting part of being a business owner.
We’re always seeking new ways of developing by bringing in more talent. Considering how quickly mobile technology is developing, in our industry it’s either sink or swim; if you’re not growing, something’s not right.
The marketing and advertising industries move at an incredibly fast pace and if you’re not keeping up with them – always innovating and always thinking about your next move – it’s very easy to be left behind.
How will your market look in three years?
Brands recently came under fire for unwittingly funding terror and pornographic sites through their online advertising. As the investigation by The Times revealed, it's becoming increasingly difficult for brands to control their online ad placement via automated, programmatic tools. While programmatic will always play a role in the industry, it must be monitored and feature an element of control in order to avoid what we see here as the worst possible outcome for brands.
We provide 100% direct inventory and transparency to our clients and we expect this approach to grow significantly. We’re also expecting an increase of partnerships between publishers and advertisers both with direct placements and content creation. Through sponsored content strategies, we’ll also start to see more partnerships similar to Wall Street Journal and Netflix’s Narcos campaign.
What is the single most important piece of advice you would offer to a less experienced entrepreneur?
Don’t give up and always strive to have a positive mindset.
The biggest risk we ever took was choosing to start MOBKOI. We were always motivated to launch a company together as a family but in the beginning everyone was freaked out, which is to be expected when you’re 100% self-funded. You have to be completely committed to being an entrepreneur.
The most crucial step in starting a business is finding a product or service that genuinely fills a gap. Before launching MOBKOI we spent time talking to publishers and brands to find out their main challenges so that we could develop a solution that the industry was crying out for.
Having the opportunity to travel and discover new cultures throughout our studies, while growing MOBKOI internationally.
Executive education or learn it on the job?
Although we both have been through the higher education system, we believe work experience is most essential for your career. Your first experience on the job makes a huge impression on you and definitely moulds your ambitions.
Keep an eye out for those job opportunities that could take you on a career path you’d never even considered.
What would make you a better leader?
Working with different people and personalities and constantly learning from others whether it’s publishers, partners, clients or colleagues.
What one thing do you wish you’d known when you started?
Cash flow. When we first started we didn’t look to raise capital, but the gap between client and supplier payments quickly became apparent.
It’s inevitable that, at times, your suppliers will need to be paid before your clients have paid and if you want to maintain your reputation as a trusted business, sometimes you have to take the hit. It would have saved us some stress in the beginning if we knew about the options that are out there to help with cash flow.
Choose Yourself by James Altucher is our business bible.