Sramana Mitra: It makes a big difference. At this point, were you still a solopreneur or were other people in the picture?
Kean Graham: There were other people in the picture. I hired my parents part-time. I outsourced certain operations to other people. We were looking into certain partnerships at that time. I was getting a little bit of help. It was in the early stages of that growth.
Sramana Mitra: How long did you continue with these two clients now?
Kean Graham: After two and a half years, that’s when things started to happen. Right before I was planning a trip to Easter Europe, we were able to sign a website called The Sims Resource, which is the largest website in the world released to The Sims video game. That was a really big client for us. There was a lot of opportunity to increase their revenue. By the time I was working on them, I was already in Russia. I was there for a month.
That’s where I was actually selling and meeting businesses in the countries and cities that I was traveling in. I was meeting businesses in Russia and Ukraine. We met a website called avisen.dk, which translates to newspaper. We were to sign them up as a client. I met up with The Sims Resource in Sweden and worked with them for a week. What I find is meeting these business owners in-person will turn a client into a lifelong client. In our industry, it’s very virtual. The expectation to meet in person is very low but if you do meet in person, the trust skyrockets.
Sramana Mitra: How were you finding these opportunities?
Kean Graham: I found PennySaverUSA in a conference. It was an association called ICMA. They have conferences two times a year. The Sims Resource was a referral from one of the complementary companies that we work with. We were able to meet Avisen in Denmark. Part of what I do when I go to a new city is I’ll see what’s going on in the startup community. I’ll see what large publishers are in the city. I’ll send them emails and give them phone calls.
Sramana Mitra: By the third year, how many customers were you working with?
Kean Graham: We had five large publishers that we were optimizing.
Sramana Mitra: What was the revenue level?
Kean Graham: Revenue level was about $120,000.
Sramana Mitra: $120,000 a year?
Kean Graham: Yes.
Sramana Mitra: You were still doing this solo?
Kean Graham: Solo with some part-time help.
Sramana Mitra: What happens in year four?
Kean Graham: In 2013, that’s when we were able to set up a partnership with Google. I met Google in their Irish office. It was essentially their EU headquarters. They were very interested in my business. I continued that conversation at the New York office. They wanted to set up a partnership where they have a product called Double Click Ad Exchange. It was essentially the premium version of AdSense. They would give us access to their technology and we would have the ability to offer this product to any of our clients.
This was a very useful product and a big part of our artillery for optimizing sites. It opened us up to a large amount of new publishers. Once we were able to set up that partnership, we opened that up. We were signing up new clients much quickly. It was definitely a catalyst to the business. All of a sudden, our revenues were growing really quickly. Our monthly revenues, three months into the partnership, tripled. That was going really well.
Sramana Mitra: Was Google sending you leads?
Kean Graham: They weren’t sending us leads. However with this product, we got a lot of interest within our industry. We were successful with our promotion. It was a more scalable product. At this time, we were also hiring team members from around the world. We were making our first full-time hire in February 2013. They still actually work for us.
Sramana Mitra: You have all this new visibility and clients. Where did you end the year in terms of revenues?
Kean Graham: This new product really increased our revenues. For year four, it was around $2 million.
Sramana Mitra: So you went from $120,000 from year three to $2 million in year four.
Kean Graham: Yes.