This message for you is from Robert Farazin (@rf45), co-founder and CEO of Double Recall, a Slovenian advertising technology company. Robert and others from the Double Recall founding team have been in Silicon Valley for the past several months, during which they participated in the prestigious Y Combinator program, grew their business well beyond Slovenia, and met investors.
The idea for Double Recall came about when Robert and his co-founders were talking about an article in TechCrunch discussing the pitfalls of paywalls around online content. Some publishers lost as much as 90% of their online readership after attempting to put up paywalls. Robert also has a background in online advertising and knew how inefficient banner ads could be. Brainstorming a form of advertising that would be efficient enough to fetch the kind of price that could sustain publishers, they came up with the idea to ask readers for a quick interaction with the ad, improving brand recall.
You might find having to type keywords into an ad a bit tedious and you wouldn’t be alone. After their initial launch, Double Recall learned that these ads had an unacceptable drop-off rate. However, they were able to iterate and innovate quickly and devise an algorithm that only shows Double Recall ads when it judges that the user is interested enough in the content behind the hurdle. This kind of unexpected innovation only happens when interacting with real customers and Robert’s advice to other startups is loud and clear: launch as fast and as cheaply as possible, iterate even faster, and add all the nice things later, once you have real interest in your product.
Double Recall is the second startup for the team in its current form and third for Robert Farazin. When working on the previous company, the team spent more than a year in development before ever interacting with the market. With Double Recall, they knew from the start that they wanted to launch within 2 months. This strategy worked and, according to their estimates, they covered 70% of the market in Slovenia in three months. You could see how one might have global ambitions at this kind of speed.
This summer, the founders moved to Palo Alto in order to participate in Y Combinator, the leading startup incubator. I asked Robert what he liked best about being in Silicon Valley and the short answer was: “Everything is better.” In a bit more detail and in Robert’s words:
Everything is moving faster. For example, Double Recall already raised angel funding in Slovenia, but when compared to how fast and at what valuations this occurs in Silicon Valley, it’s totally different. To get an investment in Silicon Valley is a completely different world. Also, people are more open to new ideas and have a better understanding of [technology and entrepreneurship].
These are all significant assets for a new company. While they are still keeping a development team in Ljubljana and also doing some business development out of there, the founders have decided to move to the US. And for any new startup they do in the future, they would definitely start it in Silicon Valley.
Robert’s final words of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs are: “Don’t limit yourself.” He observed that many people in Slovenia and Central Europe have ideas, but also excuses, concluding that many things are not possible. His words might not convince that kind of a skeptic, but he points out that if you don’t think you can do something big, you never will. Robert also advises entrepreneurs to aim to be the best in the world, not the best in their city, and to plan to immediately go beyond the borders of their country. Double Recall really does live by this creed, and they are already building a team in Japan. They already have a strategic partner there, Digital Garage, and aim to start with the first publisher by the end of the year.
To summarize: dream big, move fast, and check out the Valley.