18 May 2021|Latest Posts, Meet the Successful Founder
Simon Kvist Gaulshøj joined Adnami as CEO in March 2019 after a decade working in ad-tech organisations. He has worked in companies of varying sizes, from AOL Europe to Danish tech-based data firm Audience Project.
Can you tell us a little about your company’s background?
Adnami is a creative marketing technology vendor that facilitates outstanding ad experiences for consumers and accelerated returns for publishers and brands. Adnami’s templated and platform-agnostic approach to high impact advertising provides a scalable and automated solution to run attention-grabbing and impactful advertising campaigns. Adnami was launched in 2017 by one of the front runners at the Nordic advertising scene. Adnami provides the technology and services that enable advertisers to run digital brand advertising campaigns directly with publishers, without being intermediated by middle men. We enable advertisers to create a full spectrum of ads with a single access point, and agencies to buy them programmatically, direct and at scale.
How did the idea for the company come about?
Adnami was founded in Denmark by a group of successful entrepreneurs who had identified a gap in the market for a technology solution that would make it easier and more cost-effective for media companies and advertisers to transact high impact ads at scale through the programmatic platforms. The impetus for the idea came was birthed by one of the leading programmatic sales houses for publishers in Denmark. They realised that high impact ad formats didn’t translate seamlessly into programmatic environments and this was a revenue blocker since they couldn’t monetise their inventory through a programmatic platform. Adnami was developed as a result of this challenge and now the business is going from strength to strength.
What are the key successes?
Adnami has enjoyed significant growth in 2020 and so far we have run over 10.000 campaigns for clients including Heineken, BMW, American Express, Disney, Lego, Samsung and Red Bull. We have offices in Copenhagen and Stockholm and we hope to triple our operation in 2021 alone, which reflects the widespread excitement around high impact digital advertising.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
We are continually working to get the message out there that the industry needs to up its game when it comes to improving the creativity in digital advertising. I think some corners of the industry have become a little complacent and opt for quantity over quality but the scattergun approach no longer works. Once it was accepted practice to throw an ad out to hundreds of websites using cheap formats and hope for the best. Creativity is the biggest driver of action – of sales – and now agencies don’t have to compromise. Thanks to the automation we facilitate, they can buy creatively impactful ads programmatically at little more than the click of a button.
How did you achieve awareness?
“The first hit is free,” is a phrase you often hear as an internal joke. Even if the phrase refers to a completely different context, it makes sense in the context of advertising, as the data behind a campaign’s delivery often leads to future campaigns, and to this day we still haven’t lost a client. When you see how powerful a creative comes across in a high impact format compared to a standard format, you intuitively see a great product.
Overall awareness for Adnami is still heavily driven by one-to-one sales supported by PR and marketing. However, the main thing that put us on the radar was the nature of our business model. When working with media companies and agencies, we often become a preferred vendor. This puts us in a good position to work closely with both the supply and demand side, together driving greater awareness within the advertising industry.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
We are still in the early stages of the business and while we just 2 years ago had no business plan, no agreements and no revenue, we had a great MVP (minimum viable product) we were confident in. After a strong launch in the Nordics, we secured angel investment which helped prove our product has plenty of potential outside Danish and Nordic markets, and that funding will help with our expansion. We are expecting to see strong growth again this year and next year, particularly in the UK. The great thing about gaining investment means you can plan ahead and be proactive with product development and recruitment in advance of your business growth, rather than always being behind with your next key hire.
What are your plans now/for the future?
The exciting thing about our industry is we have no real clue what the digital space will look like in a decade’s time. Adnami is focused on providing effective solutions to problems that the industry is facing today. While we are, of course, continually anticipating issues and working to address them before they become problems for our clients, I think the way we consume media and the way brands talk to their existing and potential customers will be as different in 2030 as it was in 2010. All I know is that Adnami is at an incredibly exciting phase of development and will certainly be here in ten years with a whole raft of further solutions for its international customer base!
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
What I will share is the importance of building a great team that is instrumental in helping your business grow. As Adnami expands, my role is shifting towards leadership and I appreciate having people around me I can trust so you need to learn to delegate effectively. You should be able to hand over responsibilities and trust while being confident in the fact that you have a capable team who can manage the work. Always hire people that are smarter than you to help you see the business objectively and bring some diversity of ideas.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
Surround yourself with people who you can always count on and discuss things openly with. Whether that’s advisors, business mentors or even a board member. We have a very proactive board consisting of investors who are also entrepreneurs and I can always lean into their advice.
Get out of bed early in the morning and get your body and mind ready to take on a new day. Being an entrepreneur means you have a million hats on all the time and you never get the luxury of feeling you are done with your tasks. Being able to focus on the most important and urgent matters means you get the right things done, and I believe that builds progress.
Remember starting a business is not a sprint, it’s more like a marathon. It is so easy to over-work yourself in the pursuit of trying to reach your own and everyone else’s expectations. I have learned to stop, breathe and stay healthy while also taking care of my family.
Who inspires you the most?
Athletes always inspire me, I always loved playing sports and am constantly inspired by the resilience, persistence and determination of high-performance athletes. I find motivation in champion sports stars who have succeeded in the face of adversity by doing something remarkable that required huge personal effort. I notice many crossover personality traits in business and sports mainly the ability to find the strength to overcome obstacles.
What is your favourite inspirational quote?
Luck is effort – this has been a mantra throughout my life and career.
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