Ever wonder how other FreshBooks customers run a business? Customer portraits connect you with your fellow FreshBooks peers to share guidance and inspiration.
Anibal Damiao of runs his business, InfluAds, out of Copenhagen, Denmark; an advertising network that differentiates itself by valuing the end user’s browsing experience. Anibal shared his story of what it’s been like to hone his entrepreneurial instincts and discover the value of perseverance:
What your company is about and what do you do?
InfluAds is an advertising network. Like Google Adsense/AdWords, Facebook and others we allow site owners to drive revenue from ads placed on their site and advertisers to buy that space. InfluAds is different because we believe that online advertising cluttered and a bad user experience. People don’t like ads and that’s why they seldomly click on them. We are a quality-only ad network which means we enable site owners (publishers) and advertisers to work together by selecting them carefully on grounds of relevancy toward the end user. We also drive a minimalist ad presence by only allowing one ad per page: this increases the sponsorship value of one advertiser that doesn’t have to fight against other clutter while creating a simple, more meaningful browsing experience.
Did you do something similar before this, what made you work solo?
No, before this I was leading a small digital team in an advertising agency, developing advertising content. The economic crisis made me work solo. Unlike others that were either forced out of their jobs or were holding to their jobs afraid of the crisis, I always had Web Technology as a main interest so when the crisis hits and my previously exciting job gets boring projects due to budget cuts, I thought it was time to leave and go on my own. The challenge of creating a platform where relevancy is substantially higher, reducing clutter and turning advertising more efficient seemed like a live-long project that I needed to embrace.
My passion for quality design, web and minimalism (through awesome inspiration like The Laws of Simplicity) made sense for companies like Apple and others, so why not for advertising for people that care about quality?
Were there big surprises in running a solo biz?
I started as solo founder and the initial months were full-steam x 2. The amount of things to do is just never ending, but when things start normalizing there’s a transition period where being a team helps.
Two things that always amazed me are somewhat opposed. I was always amazed by how much one person can do when you only have yourself to do it. But on the other side, even today I keep thinking how much hard work and time it takes to do some things before anything palpable comes out of it. Being an entrepreneur may be all about going through those long periods of without loss of enthusiasm and focus.
Focus itself is also an interesting challenge. One must do everything aiming at perfection, but the nature of the game tells you to do as much as possible in different directions. Managing this is hard.
What do you love about your job?
Independence and the dream of building something that will make a difference.
What’s a typical day at your company?
It’s usually very much focused on caring an nurturing relationships + the focus on the three most important things (if not only one!). It’s about starting with something in mind and finishing the day achieving those. I always felt that non-bootstrapped companies sometimes loose some soul by not having to achieve short-term goals that can make or break your company and everything dependent on it. I think and try to focus on that a lot.
What the positives and negatives of being your own boss?
Who needs holidays, anyway? There’s a lot of negative aspects that entrepreneurs must love before facing them. It’s an insanely hard job, which is never highlighted in the romanticized entrepreneurship vision of the world that may portrait.
Positives are liberty, booking time with friends at odd hours of the week. There’s nothing like enjoying brunch with a friend on early Mondays while everyone is whining about how Mondays suck on Twitter. The sense of reward that comes out of hard work is also unstoppable.
I once heard that entrepreneurs tend to loose short-term memory more than others. Maybe that’s why they forget the pain that took to enjoy those special achievements, just to go back soon after and start it all over again).
What advice do you have for small biz owners just starting out?
Being good at one thing. It’s a challenge that everyone faces all the time, and constantly keeping that in mind is good.
Delegate stuff that you don’t want to do (or are not good at doing) but if you can’t, enjoy the process instead: I’m a geek and geeks usually don’t like sales: embracing it, even if i didn’t liked it, was one of my best learning experiences since the skills are hugely important in different levels (website copy, team communication…).
And finally, don’t be afraid to ask stuff. Surround yourself by amazing people, specially from different areas and with different points-of-view. It’s challenging but also an source of inspiration and energy when the down moments smack you right in the face.
What is the one thing you’d love to do or happen with your business?
Be recognized as the company that made the Web better through better advertising. We’ll be happy when people start looking back and asking: “How could we bare with crappy advertising clutter before InfluAds?”