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Bootstrapping an Ad Tech Company from Paris: Daniel Nathan, CEO of BidMotion (Part 2)

Posted on Friday, Jul 8th 2016

Daniel Nathan: After I studied Finance, I tried working in Finance. I did six months internship as an M&A Consultant in Deloitte. I really hated it. I was going to the restroom four times a day to sleep half an hour. They gave me a contract to work full time. I said, “I think I’m going to follow my passion and keep on doing Internet stuff.”

I went back to school and built another company. I did some research about the coffee machine. I understood that when you buy cheap coffee machines, 80% of the cost is actually the cup because the cup costs more than the coffee. I said to myself, “Why is it so expensive?” You had to pay somebody to change them, you had to build them, and import them. I said, “I’m going to call the coffee machine companies and tell them that I’m going to offer, for free, the service of changing the cup.”

On the other side, you should let me do whatever I want with the cup. What I did was I said, “If you want to advertise to a very targeted audience, I can print your ads on the coffee cup.” That’s what I did. I was putting ads on those cups. They told me, “It sounds great but it’s really hard to scale.” I stopped that business around 2010. I saw that was the start of the App Store. I thought that it was really cool. I wanted to build games on that phone. It was actually the beginning of augmented reality games.

Most parents take their children to museums and castles to show them history and culture, but children hate that. All they want is to play PlayStation. Now that you have a video game console in your hand, you just need an app that make museums a great playground. What I did was a simple app where children play games around the museum. For example, finding differences.

A parent will take a picture of a statue and bring another picture of a statue with seven differences. The child would have to find the seven differences. There are also video or photo challenges where the child would mimic the statue. At that time, no museum had their own app. I gave it to them for free. I’m going to build a white-label gamification. The only thing I asked from them is to do the communication for the app. Even though you have a great app, the hardest thing is to get your app used and downloaded. That was the first idea.

I didn’t work so well with my co-founder. I had some issues there. We had to split because we had a disagreement so I had to change my focus. At that time, I was an exchange student at Leipzig, which is an hour and a half from Berlin. It was a school for entrepreneurs. It was a super small school but had tons of great entrepreneurs. I was at a conference. I hear this guy pitch Groupon for video games.

At that time, Groupon was still very successful. I said, “I’m going to build a niche for video games.” At the end of the conference, I really believed in it but I think it should be done on mobile. Right now, there is nothing to get discovered when you build an app. At that time, it was not stupid to say it. He told me, “We’re going to pivot. You should come and work for us.”

This segment is part 2 in the series : Bootstrapping an Ad Tech Company from Paris: Daniel Nathan, CEO of BidMotion
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